Wife No. 19

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-09-15
  • Publisher: Applewood Books
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[From Wikipedia] Ann Eliza Young (nee Webb) (1844 - date unknown) was one of Brigham Young's fifty-five wives and later a critic of polygamy. She spoke out against the suppression of women and was an advocate for women's rights during the 19th century. Webb married Brigham Young, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), when he was 67 years old and she was a 24-year-old divorcee with two children. Although she later called herself Young's "wife no. 19", and others have referred to her as his "27th wife", she was in fact the 52nd woman to marry Young. She filed for divorce from Young in January 1873, an act which attracted much attention. Her bill for divorce alleged neglect, cruel treatment, and desertion, and claimed that her husband had property worth $8,000,000 and an income exceeding $40,000 a month. (Young countered that he owned less than $600,000 in property and that his income was less than $6000 per month.) She was excommunicated from the LDS Church on 10 October 1874. The divorce was granted in January 1875 and Brigham Young was ordered to pay a $500 per month allowance and $3000 in court fees. When Young initially refused, he was found in contempt of court and sentenced to a day in prison and a $25 fine. The alimony award was later set aside on the grounds that a polygamous marriage was legally invalid. Ann Eliza Young subsequently traveled the United States and spoke out against polygamy, Mormonism, and Brigham Young himself. She testified before the U.S. Congress in 1875; these remarks were credited with contributing to the passage of the Poland Act which reorganized the judicial system of Utah Territory and made it easier for the Federal Government to prosecute polygamists. In 1876, she published a autobiography entitled Wife No. 19. In it she wrote that she had "a desire to impress upon the world what Mormonism really is; to show the pitiable condition of its women, held in a system of bondage that is more cruel than African slavery ever was, since it claims to hold body and soul alike." Her account was the basis of Irving Wallace's 1961 biography, The Twenty-Seventh Wife, and of David Ebershoff's 2008 novel, The 19th Wife.

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