Topic(s): History of the Church: Late Nineteenth Century, 1878–98
What significant events in Church history occurred during the late nineteenth century (1878–98)?
From 1878 to 1898, the Church met many challenges under Presidents John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff. During this era, Church membership doubled; auxiliary organizations in the Church were expanded; an organization for children, the Primary, was created; Church publications increased; over one hundred new Latter-day Saint colonies were established, including colonies in Mexico and Canada; and new temples were completed in Logan, Manti, and Salt Lake City. Despite such growth, an 1879 Supreme Court ruling upheld antipolygamy legislation and introduced a decade of difficulty for Latter-day Saints. Persons practicing polygamy were fined and jailed and lost many civil rights. Wives who refused to testify against their husbands were sent to prison. Otherwise law-abiding citizens became fugitives in a Mormon "underground," frequently moving from place to place. All women, thousands of LDS men, and all convert-immigrants were disenfranchised. Church leaders were forced into hiding, and the Church was dissolved as a legal corporation, requiring the forfeiture of property and funds. In 1890, with an economically crippled Church and members without political rights, President Woodruff consulted with Church leaders and prayed earnestly. After receiving divine revelation, he issued the Manifesto, announcing an official end to plural marriage. Later, Church leaders made it clear that all who persisted in the practice faced excommunication from the Church. In 1896, Utah became a state with a constitution that prohibited polygamy and ensured separation of church and state. During the 1890s, the Church and Utah joined the American mainstream economically and politically. Also, the Church began encouraging converts to build up the Church in their homelands rather than immigrate to Utah.
Written By:
William G. Hartley -
William G. Hartley has worked at Brigham Young University.
Gene A. Sessions -
Gene A. Sessions has worked at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.