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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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“The Foulest Ulcer on the Body of Our Nation”

“The Foulest Ulcer on the Body of Our Nation”

Race, Class, and Contagion in Anti-Mormon Literature

(p.129) Chapter 6 “The Foulest Ulcer on the Body of Our Nation”
A Foreign Kingdom

Christine Talbot

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the ways that the interrelated practices of polygamy and theocracy motivated cultural campaigns to remove Mormons from the body politic. Anti-Mormons used racial, particularly Orientalist, tropes to mark Mormons as nonwhite. They also employed a rhetoric of social class to illustrate Mormonism's danger to the body politic. They argued, for example, that Mormon converts from Europe were “ignorant, almost pauper emigrants of the Old World” who threatened to degenerate the racial stock of America. These cultural campaigns against Mormons compelled and informed the reform and legal campaigns of the late 1870s and 1880s that resulted in Mormonism's capitulation to national demands.

Keywords:   polygamy, theocracy, cultural campaigns, anti-Mormons, racial tropes, Orientalist tropes, social class, Mormonism

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