Official Declaration 1 and "Excerpts from Three Addresses …": The Lord Ends the Practice of Plural Marriage

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 182

The Church began the practice of plural marriage after the Lord revealed it to the Prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 132:1–6). Because of the intense persecution and the laws that were passed by the United States government against plural marriage, President Wilford Woodruff asked the Lord what the Church should do. He later said:“The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. …“… I [would] have let all the temples go out of our hands; I [would] have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do. … I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write” (“Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto” [included afterOfficial Declaration 1], paragraphs 6–7). The revelation he received was presented to and sustained by the members of the Church. It was called the “Manifesto” and now has the title “Official Declaration 1.” It followsDoctrine and Covenants 138.

Understanding the Scriptures

Official Declaration 1

Press dispatches(par. 1)News reports 
Allege(par. 1)Say, claim 
Solemn(par. 2)Serious 
Solemnized(par. 1–2)Performed 
Territory(par. 2)The area of Utah before it became a state 
Endowment House(par. 3)A building on Temple Square that was used for temple ordinances before the Salt Lake Temple was completed 
Constitutional(par. 4)Legal, conforming to the United States Constitution 
Submit to(par. 4)Obey 
Construed to inculcate(par. 5)Understood to teach or approve 

“President Lorenzo Snow offered the following:”

Move(par. 1)Propose 
Binding(par. 1)A requirement 
Foregoing motion(par. 2)Previous proposal 

“Excerpts from Three Addresses …”

Astray(par. 1)In the wrong direction 
Oracles(par. 1)Revelations 
Confiscation and loss(par. 5)The government taking possession of 
Adherence(par. 5)Obedience 
Compelled(par. 6)Forced 
Manifested(par. 6)Shown 
Contemplate(par. 8)Think about, ponder 
Felt disposed(par. 9)Was willing 
Decreed(par. 9)Commanded 
Thwart(par. 9)Prevent, hinder 

Official Declaration 1—Were Plural Marriages Performed after the Manifesto Was Given?

Some members of the Church continued to practice plural marriage outside the borders of the United States. They thought that new plural marriages could continue to be performed if they were done outside the United States. On January 8, 1900, President Lorenzo Snow stated “that the manifesto extended to every place, and that ‘the Church has positively abandoned the practice of polygamy, or the solemnization of plural marriages in this [Utah] and every other state, and that no member or officer thereof has any authority whatever to perform a plural marriage or enter into such a relation’” (“Slanders Are Refuted by First Presidency,”Millennial Star,May 4, 1911, 275).

Some refused to follow the commandment of the Lord. In April 1904 President Joseph F. Smith made an official statement in general conference: “I hereby announce that all [plural] marriages are prohibited, and if any officer or member of the Church shall assume to solemnize or enter into any such marriage he will be deemed in transgression against the Church and will be liable to be dealt with, according to the rules and regulations thereof, and excommunicated therefrom” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1904, 75). Since then, every President of the Church has repeated this instruction against the practice of plural marriage.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A or B as you studyOfficial Declaration 1.

Activity A iconTeach a Lesson

Imagine you are to give a lesson aboutOfficial Declaration 1and the excerpts from addresses printed with it in the scriptures. Write what you would teach about President Wilford Woodruff’s announcement and include answers to the following questions:

  1. 1.

    What did the Lord reveal to President Woodruff about plural marriage?

  2. 2.

    How could the message of President Lorenzo Snow, then a counselor in the First Presidency, help the Saints to accept this revelation?

  3. 3.

    Why is it important that Church members follow the living prophet?

  4. 4.

    How do you feel about the promise President Woodruff gave in the first paragraph of “Excerpts from Three Addresses …”?

Activity B iconGive an Explanation

StudyDoctrine and Covenants 124:49–50and briefly explain how this scripture can apply to the practice of plural marriage at the time of President Wilford Woodruff.