SW09011: Where Big Love Began: The Inception of Mormon Celestial Marriage at Nauvoo, Illinois

Mormon polygamy (sometimes called “big love”) might have roots in Hebrew writings; however, Mormon Celestial Marriage was first alluded to in the Book of Mormon and was later shared with 200 men and more than 700 women in Nauvoo, Illinois, between 1841 and 1846. at first practiced in silence because it was against Illinois law, Nauvoo polygamy was disrupted by an internal revolt which resulted in the arrest and assassination of the Mormon prophet and expulsion of the saints from Illinois. Polygamy was first announced in the salt lake valley in 1852, but was never retroactively included in the adumbrated history of Nauvoo. When the U.s. government pressured the saints to end plural marriage circa 1890, a process of institutional forgetting ensued. More than a century later, the HBO series Big Love portrays family life in modern polygamous households, while those men who pioneered the early practice of Celestial Marriage in Nauvoo are still inaccurately depicted in Church instruction manuals as having had only one wife. Come hear more about the intricate and lesser-known history of Celestial Marriage in Nauvoo

George D. Smith