Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Roberta L. Wollons

Second Advisor

Julie P. Winch

Third Advisor

Benjamin D. Johnson


A Dogged Resolve is an analytical micro-history of the theology and marital practices among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1841 to 1890. In the spring of 1841, Joseph Smith, Church founder and leader, took another wife; an act which launched a long and controversial practice of polygamy by a small minority within the community. After the Latter-day Saints migrated west, the isolation of the Rocky Mountains fostered a period where plural families could thrive and the first generation endeavored to establish marital norms. However, with advancements in technology and transportation, the younger generations adopted nineteenth century attitudes toward marriage and the practice of plural marriage did not achieve a lasting acceptance. Polygamy disturbed a general public locked in Christian monogamy, and its presence on American shores galvanized opponents to challenge every petition by the territory of Utah for statehood and the citizenship of every person who not only practiced polygamy, but believed in or supported the idea. By the 1880s and with the affirmation of United States Supreme Court rulings and Congressional legislation, the federal government relentlessly prosecuted and convicted hundreds of polygamists while successfully stripping the community of voting and other constitutional rights. For members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, an attack on one principle was an attack on all. The external opposition actually prodded the Saints to staunchly defend plural marriage even though they were already content to let the practice fade on its own.