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When did Mormons stop practicing polygamy?

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Kevin Prince

Source Expert

Kevin Prince serves as the Source Authority at Mormonism Explained. Mr. Prince is a religious scholar as well as a technology industry CEO and entrepreneur.

Updated July 3, 2024

Joseph Smith, how many wives did he have? Smith married around 30-40 plural wives. Most of Joseph Smith’s sealings did not include any sexual relations or cohabitation. Smith did not have children with any woman other than his wife Emma. Many of Smith’s plural marriages were sealings for eternity, not marriages for time.

After Smith’s murder, members of the Mormon church continued to practice polygamy. In Utah, Mormons practiced polygamy openly until it was forbidden by federal law in the 1880s. By that time, many single women had been given opportunities for marriage, childbearing, and economic equality. Many members of the Mormon Church feel that polygamy had accomplished its purpose of raising up a righteous people, like the Book of Mormon says in Jacob 2:27-30. 

The practice of plural marriage ended with a formal manifesto issued by President Wilford Woodruff in 1890. The end of plural marriage was re-emphasized by Joseph F. Smith through a Second Manifesto in 1904. These manifestos required that members of the church only practice monogamy.