Edmunds–Tucker Act

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Co-sponsors of the Edmunds–Tucker Act
Edmunds–Tucker Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An act to amend an act entitled "An act to amend section fifty-three hundred and fifty-two of the Revised Statutes of the United States, in reference to bigamy, and for other purposes," approved March twenty-second, eighteen hundred and eighty-two.
Nicknames Edmunds–Tucker Act
Enacted by the 49th United States Congress
Statutes at Large Chapter 397, 24 Stat. 635
Acts amended Edmunds Act
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 10 by Sen. Edmunds and Rep. Tucker on December 8, 1885
  • Signed into law by President Grover Cleveland on March 3, 1887
Major amendments
Repealed by Pub.L. 95–584, § 1, 92 Stat. 2483 (1978)

The Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1887 was an Act of Congress that focused on restricting some practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It was passed in response to the dispute between the United States Congress and the LDS Church regarding polygamy. The act is found in US Code Title 48 & 1461, full text as 24 Stat. 635, with this annotation to be interpreted as Volume 24, page 635 of United States Statutes at Large. The act is named after its congressional sponsors, Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont and Congressman John Randolph Tucker of Virginia.

The act was repealed in 1978.


The act disincorporated both the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund on the grounds that they fostered polygamy. The act prohibited the practice of polygamy and punished it with a fine of from $500 to $800 and imprisonment of up to five years. It dissolved the corporation of the church and directed the confiscation by the federal government of all church properties valued over a limit of $50,000. The act was enforced by the U.S. Marshal and a host of deputies.

The act:

  • Disincorporated the LDS Church and the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, with assets to be used for public schools in the Territory.[1]
  • Required an anti-polygamy oath for prospective voters, jurors and public officials.
  • Annulled territorial laws allowing illegitimate children to inherit.
  • Required civil marriage licenses (to aid in the prosecution of polygamy).
  • Abrogated the common law spousal privilege for polygamists, thus requiring wives to testify against their husbands.[2]
  • Disenfranchised women (who had been enfranchised by the Territorial legislature in 1870).[3]
  • Replaced local judges (including the previously powerful Probate Court judges) with federally appointed judges.
  • Abolished the office of Territorial superintendent of district schools, granting the supreme court of the Territory of Utah the right to appoint a commissioner of schools. Also called for the prohibition of the use of sectarian books and for the collection of statistics of the number of so-called gentiles and Mormons attending and teaching in the schools.[4]
  • Text of the act scanned from the U.S. Statutes at large. [5]

In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the seizure of Church property under the Edmunds–Tucker Act in Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States.

This act was repealed in 1978.[6][7]

See also


  1. L. Rex Sears, "Punishing the Saints for Their "Peculiar Institution": Congress on the Constitutional Dilemmas," 2001 Utah L. Rev. 581
  2. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  3. Women's Suffrage in Utah Jean Bickmore White, Utah History Encyclopedia
  4. Edmunds–Tucker Act: Section 25
  5. File:Edmunds-Tucker Act Volume 24,page 635 of United States Statutes at Large 1887.pdf
    Edmunds-Tucker Act Volume 24,page 635 of United States Statutes at Large 1887
  6. The practice of polygamy: legitimate free exercise of religion or legitimate public menace? Revisiting Reynolds in light of modern constitutional jurisprudence Richard A. Vazquez, Journal of Legislation & Public Policy (New York University School of Law), Volume 5, Number 1, Fall 2001
  7. Past and Present Proposed Amendments to the United States Constitution Regarding Marriage Edward Stein, Washington University Law Quarterly, Volume 82, Number 3, 2004

Further reading