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Series

Law and Gender

2010

Race

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Articles 1 - 1 of 1

Full-Text Articles in Law

Race Treason: The Untold Story Of America's Ban On Polygamy, Martha M. Ertman Jan 2010

Race Treason: The Untold Story Of America's Ban On Polygamy, Martha M. Ertman

Faculty Scholarship

Legal doctrines banning polygamy grew out of nineteenth century Americans’ view that Mormons betrayed the nation by engaging in conduct associated with people of color. This article reveals the racial underpinnings of polygamy law by examining cartoons and other antipolygamy rhetoric of the time to demonstrate Sir Henry Maine’s famous observation that the move in progressive societies is “from status to contract.” It frames antipolygamists’ contentions as a visceral defense of racial and sexual status in the face of encroaching contractual thinking. Polygamy, they reasoned, was “natural” for people of color but so “unnatural” for whites as to produce ...