Excerpts from ‘Evidences and Reconciliations’ by Apostle John A. Widtsoe, 1943: 1
“Plural marriage has been a subject of wide and frequent comment. Members of the Church unfamiliar with its history, and many non-members, have set up fallacious reasons for the origin of this system of marriage among the Latter-day Saints.
The most common of these conjectures is that the Church, through plural marriage, sought to provide husbands for its large surplus of female members. The implied assumption in this theory, that there have been more female than male members in the Church, is not supported by existing evidence. On the contrary, there seem always to have been more males than females in the Church. Families — father, mother, and children — have most commonly joined the Church. Of course, many single women have become converts, but also many single men.
The United States census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, uniformly show a preponderance of males in Utah, and in the Church. Indeed, the excess in Utah has usually been larger than for the whole United States, as would be expected in a pioneer state. The births within the Church obey the usual population law – a slight excess of males. Orson Pratt, writing in 1853 from direct knowledge of Utah conditions, when the excess of females was supposedly the highest, declares against the opinion that females outnumbered the males in Utah. The theory that plural marriage was a consequence of a surplus of female Church members fails from lack of evidence.
Another conjecture is that the people were few in number and that the Church, desiring greater numbers, permitted the practice so that a phenomenal increase in population could be attained. This is not defensible, since there was no surplus of women…”
Census of Population and Housing – https://www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html
|‘Evidences and Reconciliations’, John Widtsoe – https://archive.org/details/evidencesreconci03widt