The History and Practice of Mormon Polygamy
Mormon polygamy is a practice that allows one man to marry, or have, more than one wife; polygamy is illegal in the United States, but there are still sects in Utah that participate in this act, although they live their lives shrouded in secrecy. For the Mormons, the practice began with Joseph Smith, Jr, at that time considered a leader of the church, who claimed to have had a revelation on July 17, 1831, that advised him that certain men of the church were to have more than one wife. At the time, those chosen to participate were allowed to choose their wives, some of which were as young as 11. Despite the fact that those pushing for polygamy were disciplined in a harsh manner, and that it was publicly condemned, polygamy continued to flourish with the Mormon church.
The public condemnation of the act of polygamy forced the Mormon church to splinter, pitting groups for polygamy squarely at odds with those who were not. Several sects came about from this split, and the Mormon church sought to distance itself from them as a result. To this day, polygamy carries with it a stigma it cannot shake, and there is still evidence of polygamists living under this arrangement, despite the best effort of the Mormon church and the government to root it out.