Read To Mr. Charles Gray of A Woman of the World, free online book, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, on

Concerning Polygamy

All that you say, regarding the excitement over the seating of your Salt
Lake Senator, is quite true.

I have visited your city, and have made the acquaintance of many of your people, and I know the private life of the gentleman you sent to represent you in Washington is beyond reproach.

He is a good husband, a good father, a good citizen.  He was born of a polygamous father and mother, and his childhood’s home was a happy one.  He was educated in the belief that it was wrong for a man to cohabit with any woman not his wife, but right for him to marry many wives.

He has not married many wives, however, and does not intend to.  His private life, his domestic life and his financial record are all clean and clear of stain.

So much cannot be said of many other Senators and Representatives at our capitol.

Good women are horrified when seeking government positions to find how the sacrifice of virtue is demanded as payment for influence.

These statements cannot be evaded or denied.  Let one who questions them investigate the conditions existing in Washington in the past and to-day.

What a record it would be were every girl and woman who had been led into the path of folly by married Senators and Representatives to come forth and tell her story!

There are clean, decent, high-minded men in both houses.  There are good citizens, good patriots, good men there.

But so long as one married seducer and misleader of women retains a seat in either house unmolested, so long as one man stays who is unfaithful to his marriage vows, the opposers of the Senator from Utah should base their objections on other than moral grounds.

But despite the facts you bring to bear on your argument, that polygamy leads to more morality in the homes of the land than our present conditions illustrate, I must disagree with you.

I am opposed to polygamy.  Any social arrangement which licenses men to possess several women, to give full rein to their desires, is a block to the wheels of progress.

Not until man learns the lesson of self-control, as woman has learned it, will humanity reach its highest development.

Not until man ceases to place himself on a par with the unreasoning male animal, when he argues on the subject of the sexual relations, will he become the master of circumstance he is meant to be.

One man and one woman living sexually true to each other is the ideal domestic life.  Better strive toward that ideal, and fail and strive again, than to lower it and accept license and self-indulgence as the standard, under some religious name.

Polyandry and polygamy are both evidences of a crude and half-evolved humanity.

They belong to a society which has not learned the law of self-control as a part of its religious creed and the march of progress.  The light of science makes havoc of all such primitive conditions.

You tell me that your father was the husband of three wives, and that all lived under one roof in sisterly love, and that you never heard an unkind word spoken in your home, and that all three wives loved you as a son.  You tell me your father held high ideals of womankind, and that the existence of a fallen woman was impossible in your community.

Now I contend that any woman who accepts less than the full loyalty of the man to whom she gives herself for life has fallen from woman’s highest estate.  She lowers not only herself, but the whole sex.

To take a third of a man’s love, and to share his physical and mental and spiritual comradeship with two other wives, is far more immoral, to my thinking, than to take the whole of a man without legal authority.

It drags down and belittles woman in the eyes of man.  It is useless to contend that such conditions lead to respect.

There is too much of the big male I, and the little female you, in the arrangement.  There is too much of the old idea that God made man, and accident made woman, for man’s use.  There is too much of self-indulgence for the man, and repression for the woman,-a condition which has blocked the highest development of the race for centuries.

Meanwhile, I think it a great pity that society does not hold the expectant mother in the same reverence as in your community.  That is certainly a lesson we can learn from the Mormons.  And that explains why your children, born of polygamous mothers, are stronger physically, and more universally endowed mentally, than the average children in the world at large.

Mothers were guarded and protected and revered, and children were made welcome, and no such crime as darkens our own social world-the crime of destroying embryo life-was known in your midst.

It is a glorious heritage to give a child this parental love and welcome.  It lasts through eternity.

But it does not seem to me that it is necessary to have polygamy prevail in order to produce right conditions for the propagation of offspring.  In time the world will realize the importance of teaching men and women how to become good parents.

It will learn, too, the magnificent results to be obtained from one moral code for both sexes, and this result could never be obtained in a polygamous community.