BYU

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

Topic(s): History of the Church: Late Nineteenth Century, 1878–98
What was the Manifesto of 1890?
The Manifesto of 1890 was a proclamation by Church President Wilford Woodruff that the Church had discontinued plural marriage. It ended a decade of persecution and hardship in which Latter-day Saints tenaciously resisted what they saw as unconstitutional attempts by the federal government to curb polygamy. The Manifesto was issued as a press release that followed President Woodruff's revelatory experiences. Antipolygamy legislation had disincorporated the Church and confiscated its properties. After much consideration, Woodruff realized that the choice was between continuing plural marriage and thereby losing the temples and stopping all the ordinances therein, or ceasing plural marriage in order to continue performing essential ordinances for the living and the dead. President Woodruff explained that he acted under the Lord's direction in ending plural marriage, and had God not revealed this to him he would have let the temples be taken and let himself and every other Latter-day Saint man go to prison. A limited number of unauthorized plural marriages were performed over the next several years until the First Presidency, in 1904, issued a second manifesto that emphatically prohibited plural marriage and proclaimed that offenders would be subject to Church discipline, including excommunication.
Written By:
Paul H. Peterson -
Paul H. Peterson has worked at Brigham Young Unversity.
References
  • "Manifesto of 1890," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 2:852–53.