Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act Law and Legal Definition

Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act is the first basic federal legislation by the Congress of the United States that was designed to punish and prevent the practice of polygamy in the U.S. The Act banned bigamy and limited church and non-profit ownership in any territory of the United States to $50,000. Any amount exceeding the value of $50,000 was to be forfeited and escheated to the United States. The act was mainly targeted at the Mormon Church ownership in the Utah territory and it annulled all acts passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah pertaining to polygamy and spiritual marriage. However, no officers were appointed to enforce the law and no funds for enforcement were allotted. Although President Lincoln had signed the bill, he adopted the policy of leaving the Mormons alone.

The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act was later amended in 1882 by the Edmunds Act, and then again in 1887 by the Edmunds-Tucker Act.