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A Foreign KingdomMormons and Polygamy in American Political Culture, 1852-1890$
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Christine Talbot

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038082

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038082.001.0001

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“We Shall Then Live Together as One Great Family”

“We Shall Then Live Together as One Great Family”

Mormonism and the Public/Private Divide

(p.34) Chapter 2 “We Shall Then Live Together as One Great Family”
A Foreign Kingdom

Christine Talbot

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores Mormon communitarian practices in Utah after the public pronouncement in 1852 that Mormons practiced plural marriage. Mormons made little distinction between the home and the community outside it, but rather constituted that community as a kind of broad, privatized family they juxtaposed to a broader American “public” polity and state. Indeed, Mormons attempted to “live together as one great family,” constituting a privatized community governed by God through His government. Polygamy also accompanied a communitarian economic vision of communal property ownership that undermined notions of private property. In arguing for the compatibility of polygamy and Americanness, Mormons attempted to construct a vision of American citizenship and polity unrelated to marital structures. This entailed dissociating Americanness from the monogamous family and claiming that Church government itself was a perfection of American political principles.

Keywords:   Mormon communitarianism, privatized family, privatized community, polygamy, Americanness, Church government

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