Nineteen Wives

(This is an interlude.  I’ll get back to San Diego.)

Because of the book that I’ve just finished reading, The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff, a murder mystery combined with historical fiction regarding Mormon polygamy1I thought to look up Romney’s great grandfather, who fled to Mexico to escape “religious persecution”.

(All of the following quotes are from http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/romneys-grandfathers-polygamist-fled-me which quotes from the book, The Story of George Romney, by Tom Mahoney.)

What was more incredible than the 12 wives,

Mormon genealogical records, among the most detailed and complete of any religion, show that two of Mitt Romney’s great-great grandfathers, Miles Romney and Parley Pratt, had 12 wives each.

and that the governor of Michigan when I was a kid there in Detroit had been born in Mexico (problem for birthers when he had a shot at being the Republican presidential candidate in 1968?),

Mitt Romney’s father, George S. Romney was born in Mexico in the Colonia Dublan colony in 1907.

was that when they fled Mexico due to the Revolution, the American government bailed them out.  Imagine the Republicans in Congress today doling out money to people escaping from Mexico.  Imagine Romney wanting them to!

…as the 2,300 Mormon polygamist refugees fled Mexico, leaving many of their belongings behind, it was the U.S. Government that helped bail them out of their dire situation.

“They had just twenty-five dollars, two suitcases and three bedrolls. Many families were installed in vacant tenements and several hundred were quartered in huge empty lumber sheds on Magoffin Avenue which the Long Lumber Company made available. The U.S. Army supplied rations and loaned tents from Fort Bliss. Mayor C. E. Kelly and city officials joined Church leaders in finding homes and jobs for the refugees. Congress voted $100,000 for their transportation and relief.” (pg. 60)

If you calculate $100,000 for inflation from 1912, the figure turns into over $2.2 million in 2011. That’s a lot of government money to people who were basically felons in the eyes of the law. Another fascinating thing happened in 1938. Mexico paid out a huge settlement to those early Mexican colonies because of the revolution.

“The colonists eventually in 1938 received from Mexico $2.65 for each $100 of loss during the revolutionary disorders. Gaskell Romney’s losses were so great that he received enough to purchase a comfortable house in Salt Lake City in which he lived his last years.” (pg.61)

Anyway, Romney’s not talking about his family history, and doesn’t mention that he has 165 first cousins.

 Here’s Joseph Smith’s “revelation” commanding a plurality of wives.

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded 12 July 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant, and also the plurality of wives.  Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831.

 1–6, Exaltation is gained through the new and everlasting covenant; 7–14, The terms and conditions of that covenant are set forth; 15–20, Celestial marriage and a continuation of the family unit enable men to become gods; 21–25, The strait and narrow way leads to eternal lives; 26–27, The law is given relative to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; 28–39, Promises of eternal increase and exaltation are made to prophets and Saints in all ages; 40–47, Joseph Smith is given the power to bind and seal on earth and in heaven; 48–50, The Lord seals upon him his exaltation; 51–57, Emma Smith is counseled to be faithful and true; 58–66, Laws governing the plurality of wives are set forth.2

And quotes from Brigham Young:

“Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 266). Also, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy,” (Birgham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, page 269).3

Joseph Smith had somewhere between 29 and 48 wives.  Brigham Young had 51.4

Back to the book, which became a made-for-TV movie.  The title obviously comes from a memoir, written by Brigham Young’s 19th wife, Wife No. 19, which many believe was influential in the outlawing of polygamy.  

In 1876, Ann Eliza Young published an autobiography entitled Wife No. 19. In it she wrote that she had “a desire to impress upon the world what Mormonism really is; to show the pitiable condition of its women, held in a system of bondage that is more cruel than African slavery ever was, since it claims to hold body and soul alike.

And, since I heard about Mormon underwear during George Romney’s governorship, and it was in the book, I googled it.  Guess only places like Colorado City, Arizona (see photo below), where polygamy is still practiced, and where the murder mystery takes place, although it’s called Mesadale, mandate it all of the time, as in Utah there are now Mormon bathing suits and Mormon prom dresses.

You’ll have to read the book to discover whether the 19th wife in Mesadale murdered her husband, and you’ll learn tons about the LDS, Latter Day Saints, in the bargain.

1http://www.ebershoff.com/about.html
2http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/132?lang=eng
3http://www.ismormonismchristian.com/quotes_by.html
4http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_polygamy

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2 Responses to “Nineteen Wives”

  1. leslie sawyer Says:

    I have read the book and thought it was very good. Don’t think Romneys grandfather should be part of the discussion of his religion and suitability, even if I am solidly behind B. Obama. Leslie

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