I remember how I felt, but which would be a difficult matter to describe-the various thoughts, fears and temptations that flashed through my mind when the principle was first introduced to me by my father [Heber C. Kimball], who one morning in the summer of 1843, without any preliminaries, asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives, can be better imagined than told. But suffice it to say the first impulse was anger, for I thought he had only said it to test my virtue. My sensibilities were painfully touched. I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure for to mention such a thing to me I thought altogether unworthy of my father, and as quick as he spoke, I replied to him, short and emphatically, "No, I wouldn't!" I had always been taught to believe it a heinous crime, improper and unnatural, and I indignantly resented it.
There doesn't seem to be any concrete evidence that Joseph admitted that polygamy was a mistake, although there are reports that he did say something to that effect before he died. The following two quotes are of interest, however, it must be noted that both of these quotes are from men who were heavily involved in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which rejected polygamy. No firsthand sources corroborate these statements.
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I went to the Beehive House in Salt Lake City last month. What could and should have been an informative historical tour was turned into a sentimental, vapid, and dishonest PR tour. The sister missionaries intoned weepy rhetoric about families while desperately trying to hide the fact that Brigham Young was a polygamist. They constantly referred to his 'wife.' When one of the guests called them on their lie, they pulled out the old 'caring for widows and orphans' BS. It was deeply embarrassing and painful to watch. My dad, an inactive saint living in Utah, was mortified. This is how the Church is handling polygamy at the Beehive House and it's a shamelessly dishonest performance. poster Kishkumen on 8/24/15
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In the United States, marriage is a legal contract regulated by the various states. When the Mormons went to Utah in 1847, all married Mormons at that time had been married under laws of the states they had come from. Utah became U.S. territory in 1848 after the Mexican War, and thus all citizens living therein became subject to the common laws of the nation, including marriage laws. (To use an analogy, you get your drivers' license from your state, but it is recognized as being legal in all the states. Marriage licenses are similar.)
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Once in Utah, Young attempted to establish the "Territory of Deseret," and operate the area as a theocracy, under the "Law of the Lord," which included plural marriage and blood atonement. However, Congress rejected Young's attempt, and in 1850, the area was officially established as Utah Territory, with territorial overseers appointed from Washington D.C. President Millard Fillmore appointed Young as governor. Thus, polygamy became specifically illegal under U. S. common laws in 1850; but, since polygamy was also illegal under Mexican laws beforehand, there was never a time when polygamy was legal in Utah.
Mormon Polygamy, Polyandry & Underage Brides
Note: The author of the LDS essay seeks to soften the tone by saying that monogamy was the only legal form of marriage instead of simply saying the more to-the-point "polygamy was illegal in the United States." Also, by specifically identifying the "United States," this gives the impression that polygamy was legal in other nearby countries like Mexico & Canada which is where a lot of early Saints fled to escape the laws of the U.S. However, polygamy was also illegal in Mexico & Canada.