Today in History – September 24

Courtesy of our friends at History.com, I am pleased to begin each and every day of the week here at Bulldog Pundit with a snippet of some important event that occurred on this date sometime in the past. Some events might come readily to mind while others may take a bit of effort to recall. Not all are historically portentous and some may even seem whimsical. Nevertheless, each and every one is a grain in the hourglass of human history.

Question: If the federal government has the authority to define marriage as a purely monogamous arrangement, does it not likewise have the authority to define marriage as a purely heterosexual arrangement?

On this day in 1894, President Grover Cleveland issues a presidential proclamation pardoning Mormons who had previously engaged in polygamous marriages or habitation arrangements considered unlawful by the U.S. government. At the time, and to this day, plural marriages between one man and multiple women; one woman and multiple men; or multiple men and women are illegal in the United States.

In October 1890, under increasing social and political pressure, the president of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) had issued his own manifesto claiming that Mormons would no longer sanction the practice of polygamous marriage. In 1893, then-President Benjamin Harrison pardoned those Mormons who had been in polygamous marriages on the condition that they and their fellow church members stick to monogamy from then on.

In September 1894, Cleveland decided that convicted polygamists from the Church of LDS had since mended their ways. His proclamation ensured that their property and civil rights, which had been taken away during the government’s efforts to weed out polygamy in the Utah territory, were restored. Still, the U.S. government continued to monitor the Mormon community closely for possible violations of polygamy laws.

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