The Second Manifesto

The Manifesto (Official Declaration 1) issued by President Wilford Woodruff in 1890 officially signaled the end of plural marriages being taught or practiced by the Church. It was sustained as being authoritative and binding in the following general conference. The actual process of ending plural marriage was more difficult, however, and a number of plural marriages were performed by Mormons during the years following the Manifesto. Many of these marriages were performed in Mexico where the Saints were not being prosecuted by the law. After Elder B. H. Roberts was excluded from the U.S. Congress based on the fact that he was a polygamist, President Lorenzo Snow issued a statement that clarified that new plural marriages were not performed with the Church’s approval and that the Manifesto extended to Latter-day Saints in all parts of the world, regardless of whether those countries allowed polygamy or not. During the Reed Smoot hearings, the Church came under intense scrutiny again and President Joseph F. Smith publically promised to clarify the Church’s position about plural marriage. At the April 1904 general conference, President Smith issued a forceful statement which attached penalties to entering into plural marriage, which is the document presented below.[1] It was accepted by the Church and Church leaders at all levels of the Church were told to enforce it strictly. President Francis M. Lyman of the Quorum of the Twelve explained that “When [the Manifesto] was given, it simply gave notice to the Saints that they need not enter plural marriage any longer, but the action taken at the conference held in Salt Lake City on the 6th day of April 1904 made that manifesto prohibitory.”[2]

[President Joseph F. Smith stated:] Now I am going to present a matter to you that is unusual and I do it because of a conviction which I feel that it is a proper thing for me to do. I have taken the liberty of having written down what I wish to present, in order that I may say to you the exact words which I would like to have conveyed to your ears, that I may not be misunderstood or misquoted. I present this to the conference for your action:

OFFICIAL STATEMENT

Inasmuch as there are numerous reports in circulation that plural marriages have been entered into contrary to the official declaration of President Woodruff, of September 26, 1890, commonly called the Manifesto, which was issued by President Woodruff and adopted by the Church at its general conference, October 6, 1890, which forbade any marriages violative of the law of the land; I, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hereby affirm and declare that no such marriages have been solemnized with the sanction, consent or knowledge of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I hereby announce that all such marriages are prohibited, and if any officer or member of the Church shall assume to solemnize or enter into any such marriage he will be deemed in transgression against the Church and will be liable to be dealt with, according to the rules and regulations thereof, and excommunicated therefrom.

JOSEPH F. SMITH,

President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

They charge us with being dishonest and untrue to our word. They charge the Church with having violated a “compact,” and all this sort of nonsense. I want to see today whether the Latter-day Saints representing the Church in this solemn assembly will not seal these charges as false by their vote.

President Francis M. Lyman presented the following resolution and moved its adoption:

RESOLUTION OF ENDORSEMENT

“Resolved that we, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in General Conference assembled, hereby approve and endorse the statement and declaration of President just made to this Conference concerning plural marriages, and will support the courts of the Church in the enforcement thereof.”

The resolution was seconded by a number of Presidents of Stakes and prominent Elders. Elder B. H. Roberts, in seconding the resolution, spoke as follows:

“In seconding the resolution that has just been read—which I most heartily do—I desire to state at least one reason for doing it. As remarked by the president, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been accused of being covenant-breakers with this nation. Of course, there never was, and could not be, any compact between the Church and the general government of the United States. But there could be a compact between the State of Utah and the United States, and there was such a compact made in the Constitution of our state, by and through the Constitutional Convention. And now I am pleased with the opportunity of the Church saying in its official capacity that the Latter-day Saints not only now are, but have been, true to the compact between the State of Utah and the United States, and that they are true to the Constitution of the state, which, by express provision, forever prohibited plural or polygamous marriages, and made that irrevocable, without the consent of the United States. The adoption by the Church of this resolution should put to silence those who have accused us of being covenant-breakers.”

The resolution was then adopted, by unanimous vote of the Conference.


[1] April 1904 General Conference report, 75-76.

[2] “President Lyman Very Emphatic,” Deseret Evening News, October 31, 1910, 1.

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