Elder Northfield's Home: Or, Sacrificed on the Mormon Altar, a Story of the Blighting Curse of Polygamy

Elder Northfield's Home: Or, Sacrificed on the Mormon Altar, a Story of the Blighting Curse of Polygamy

Elder Northfield's Home: Or, Sacrificed on the Mormon Altar, a Story of the Blighting Curse of Polygamy

Elder Northfield's Home: Or, Sacrificed on the Mormon Altar, a Story of the Blighting Curse of Polygamy

Synopsis

The practice of plural marriage, commonly known as polygamy, stirred intense controversy in postbellum America until 1890, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first officially abolished the practice. Elder Northfield's Home, published by A. Jennie Bartlett in 1882, is both a staunchly antipolygamy novel and a call for the sentimental repatriation of polygamy's victims. Her book traces the fate of a virtuous and educated English immigrant woman, Marion Wescott, who marries a Mormon elder, Henry Northfield. Shocked when her husband violates his promise not to take a second wife, Marion attempts to flee during the night, toddler son in her arms and pulling her worldly possessions in his toy wagon. She returns to her husband, however, and the balance of the novel traces the effects of polygamy on Marion, Henry, and their children; their eventual rejection of plural marria≥ and their return to a normal and healthy family structure.
Nicole Tonkovich's critical introduction includes both historical contextualization and comments on selected primary documents, providing a broader look at the general public's reception of the practice of polygamy in the nineteenth century.

Excerpt

Sad as the scenes depicted by the succeeding pages may seem, revolting though they appear to a right-minded community, savoring as they do of barbarism and superstition, and displaying tyranny and oppression which our so-called free America should blush to tolerate, yet not one representation of the workings of Mormonism and Polygamy has here been given which has not its parallel in actual life in Utah at the present day.

The pollution of the marriage relation, the wife literally giving away (being forced to do so) other so-called wives to her husband, the invasion of her home-happiness by those fiendish attributes— hate and jealousy— the neglect and often cruelty woman must suffer from him who should love, cherish and honor her, by the forcing of young and innocent girls into repulsive matrimonial alliances— these are not vagaries of fancy, portrayed to excite the emotion of sensation-loving minds, but facts, which exist in defiance of our laws to the contrary in our otherwise glorious republic.

This horrible system is said to have had its origin with Joseph Smith, the great founder of Mormonism, and was introduced by him as a religious institution, to screen his own wrong-doing from public censure. It was claimed by him to be the direct revelation from God, and as founders of new religions are often believed in by their followers as almost supernatural or infallible, so the followers of this man received his teachings with the unreasoning faith that fanaticism and religious excitement will sometimes produce in even the most . . .

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