Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

A decade prior to the Civil War, there were two major political parties in the United States: Democrats, who favored freedom of choice to own slaves; and Whigs, who tried to be a big tent party to stem the loss of members to the Know-Nothing Party.

In Ripon, Wisconsin, anti-slavery activists met for the first time on Feb. 28, 1854, then held their first state convention in Jackson, Michigan, July 6, 1854.

This new political party took a stand on social issues regarding the value of human life, being against slavery. Also, in response to a movement in Utah to redefine marriage, this new party stood for marriage being between one man and one woman. They named their party “Republican.”

The chief plank of the Republican Party was “to prohibit … those twin relics of barbarism: polygamy and slavery.”

Those attempting to redefine marriage were denounced by Republican President Ulysses S. Grant, Dec. 4, 1871: “In Utah there still remains a remnant of barbarism, repugnant to civilization, to decency, and to the laws of the United States. … Neither polygamy nor any other violation of existing statutes will be permitted. … They will not be permitted to violate the laws under the cloak of religion.”

On Dec. 7, 1875, President Grant stated: “In nearly every annual message … I have called attention to the … scandalous condition of affairs existing in the Territory of Utah, and have asked for definite legislation to correct it. That polygamy should exist in a free, enlightened, and Christian country, without the power to punish so flagrant a crime against decency and morality, seems preposterous. … As an institution polygamy should be banished from the land. … I deem of vital importance to … drive out licensed immorality, such as polygamy and the importation of women for illegitimate purposes.”

Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes stated, Dec. 1, 1879: “Polygamy is condemned as a crime by the laws of all civilized communities throughout the world.”

President Hayes stated Dec. 6, 1880: “The sanctity of marriage and the family relation are the cornerstone of our American society and civilization.”

Republican President Chester Arthur stated, Dec. 6, 1881: “For many years the Executive … has urged the necessity of stringent legislation for the suppression of polygamy … this odious crime, so revolting to the moral and religious sense of Christendom.”

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Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison Waite, appointed by Republican Ulysses S. Grant, rendered the Murphy v. Ramsey, 1885, decision: “Every person who has a husband or wife living … and marries another … is guilty of polygamy, and shall be punished. … No legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth … than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement.”

The stand against polygamy is in the comprehensive annotated “John Quincy Adams – A Bibliography,” compiled by Lynn H. Parsons (Westport, CT, 1993, p. 41, entry #194, Essay on Turks, 1827): “Mohammed poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy.”

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field, appointed by Republican President Abraham Lincoln, rendered the Davis v. Beason, 1890, decision: “Bigamy and polygamy are crimes by the laws of all civilized and Christian countries. … They … destroy the purity of the marriage relation … degrade woman and debase man. … There have been sects which denied … there should be any marriage tie, and advocated promiscuous intercourse of the sexes as prompted by the passions of its members. … Should a sect of either of these kinds ever find its way into this country, swift punishment would follow.”

Justice Stephen Field concluded: “The constitutions of several States, in providing for religious freedom, have declared expressly that such freedom shall not be construed to excuse acts of licentiousness.”

Republican President Theodore Roosevelt stated to Congress, Jan. 30, 1905: “The institution of marriage is, of course, at the very foundation of our social organization, and all influences that affect that institution are of vital concern to the people of the whole country.”

For an in-depth comparison of political parties, past and present, see Obamacare decision: Today’s Dred Scott

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