'The Liberty of Self-Degradation' : Polygamy, Woman Suffrage, and Consent in Nineteenth-Century America
Journal of American History
'The vote of women in Utah framed and intensified theories of the relationship of marital and political structures, adding depth and texture to debates over woman suffrage and is likely efect on the integrity of marriage.' 'The answer is that the woman's vote in Utah highlighted the central problem of consent in a political cluture that embraced individual choice as the basis of state power. The apparent endorsement of polygamy by Utah women who voted for polygamists, the voluntary assumption of a relationship that was widely condemned as the negation of marriage, served as a lightning rod for concerns about women's political participaiton and mariage that affected the country as a whole. The woman's vote in Utah also created significant, even insurmountable, difficulties for suffragists, whose failure to disaggreate polygamy and the francise moarked the 1880s as a low point in the woman suffrage movement' 'But antipolygamists of all stripes shared a central convcition that polygamy was dangerous politically -- that polygamy was fundamentally at odds with liberty, that the freedom to choose could be negated by wrong choices.'