chapter  2
47 Pages

The Mormons of the Territory of Utah

Distinguishing between belief and action
ByKathryn Montalbano

This chapter analyzes the government monitoring of nineteenth-century polygamous Mormons in the Territory of Utah by focusing on the details of six significant United States Supreme Court cases. It provides a brief overview of the anti-Mormon cultural environment against which the surveilled Mormons launched their appeals in court, followed by an explanation of the key legislation that shaped the approaches toward monitoring the Mormons. The chapter then analyzes the central themes from the selected Supreme Court cases related to how territorial agents collected information about the Mormons, as well as how the justices retrospectively assessed the religious beliefs and expression of the Mormons. The next section analyzes the gradual shift in the monitoring system from dismantling polygamy to preserving monogamy as statehood became an increasingly viable possibility for the Territory of Utah. The chapter concludes on the adjustment of the Mormons to United States society after Utah became a state in 1896.