Inviting Infamy, Reframing Freedom: Nineteenth-Century Anti-Polygamy Lecturer, Ann Eliza Young, and the Dynamics of Incremental Persuasion

J.P. Hanly

Abstract: This essay reintroduces the nineteenth-century anti-polygamy lecturer, Ann Eliza Young; examines the rhetorical strategies the estranged nineteenth wife of Brigham Young employed to achieve her aims; and argues that she emerges for historians and theorists of rhetoric as an unexpectedly heuristic figure, affording insights into the dynamics of incremental persuasion and the networked nature of rhetorical agency. After familiarizing readers with her career and the criticisms she faced, I analyze how, by drawing on the resources offered by anti-Mormon rhetoric and fiction and by developing embodied and ethical arguments that challenged audiences to form identifications expanding their conceptions of who could be a speaker, Young was able to reframe the Mormon question so that her listeners and readers might engage more productively with what was ultimately at stake in cultural conversations about the problem of polygamy.

Keywords: nineteenth-century, women, rhetoric, agency, history

Inviting Infamy, Reframing Freedom


Hanly, J.P. "Inviting Infamy, Reframing Freedom: Nineteenth-Century Anti-Polygamy Lecturer, Ann Eliza Young, and the Dynamics of Incremental Persuasion." Peitho 20.1 (2017): 12-36.