Wife No. 19: The Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy

Written by Ann Eliza Young

Ann Eliza Young was twenty-four when Brigham Young, the sixty-seven-year-old leader of the Latter Day Saint movement, married her.

During the course of his life Brigham Young married a total of fifty-five wives so when Ann married him she joined the eighteen other women in his house to become his nineteenth living wife.

Ann Eliza Young’s book Wife No. 19 is a cutting criticism of nineteenth century Mormonism and the beliefs that were held by the Latter Day Saints at that time.

Beginning with the advent of Mormonism she provides a history of the religion from the moment when it was founded by Joseph Smith through to the moment that she left Young’s household and divorced him.

This book covers the persecution that the Church suffered in its early days, such as the war in Missouri in 1838 when Mormons were targeted, and at points massacred, by local inhabitants.

Ann, however, makes very clear that these attacks in no way justified Mormonism’s later murky history when the Mountain Meadows massacre occurred against immigrants to Utah and the Church’s association with ruthless men like John D. Lee.

But she reserves her strongest criticism for the Later Day Saint’s doctrine of “Celestial Marriage”, which in the nineteenth century largely referred to the practice of polygamy.

She had been brought up within polygamist household and so therefore knew the woes associated with it.

Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances forced Ann, like her mother before her, into a polygamist relationship.

Wife No. 19 is one of the most powerful critiques of polygamy, written by a woman who had actually lived through its hardships.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints largely distanced itself from polygamy in the later-nineteenth century, much due to the work of Ann Eliza Young. On the books publication The New York Times stated that “Polygamy has received a heavy blow.”

Ann Eliza Young 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. Her book Wife No. 19 was first published in 1875 and she died in 1917.

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