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Abstract

Mr. Peay was a family man. From a legal standpoint, he was also a man with a problem. The 1872 Edmunds Act had recently criminalized bigamy, polygamy, and unlawful cohabitation, leaving Mr. Peay in a bind. Peay had married his first wife in 1860, his second wife in 1862, and his third wife in 1867. He had sired numerous children by each of these women, all of whom bore his last name. Although Mr. Peay provided a home for each wife and her children, the Peays worked the family farm communally, often taking their meals together on the compound. How could Mr. Peay abide by the Act without abandoning the women and children whom he had promised to support?

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