Though Mormons such as Mitt Romney are now viewed as thoroughly entrenched in the US conservative mainstream, his ancestors only a few generations back were counter-cultural crusaders, upholding a non-standard marriage system they believed was commanded by God— polygamy. It was also illegal, often secret, and publicly denied by Church leaders, frequently forcing people in polygamous marriages into exile in Mexico and elsewhere. Many Romney ancestors, including Parley P. and Mary Wood Pratt, Archibald Newell Hill, Charles Henry and Eliza Christine Wilcken, Miles Park and Hannah Hood Hill Romney, and Helaman and Dora Wilcken Pratt, practiced polygamy. Their stories offer a revealing cross section of the principle, showing what it meant to live in plurality in nineteenth-century Nauvoo, Utah, Arizona, and Mexico.

Todd Compton