For other uses, see Brigham Young (disambiguation).
, Brigham Young c. 1870
2nd President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
December 27, 1847 (1847-12-27) - August 29, 1877 (1877-08-29)
Joseph Smith, Jr.
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 14, 1840 (1840-04-14) - December 27, 1847 (1847-12-27)
Became President of the Church
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 14, 1835 (1835-02-14) - December 27, 1847 (1847-12-27)
Became President of the Church
LDS Church Apostle
February 14, 1835 (1835-02-14) - August 29, 1877 (1877-08-29)
Initial organization of Quorum of the Twelve
Reorganization, at end of term
No apostles immediately ordained
Governor of Utah Territory
February 3, 1851 - April 12, 1858
(1801-06-01)June 1, 1801, Whitingham, Vermont, United States
August 29, 1877(1877-08-29) (aged 76), Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, United States
Cause of death
Brigham Young Cemetery, 40°46′13″N 111°53′08″W / 40.7703°N 111.8856°W / 40.7703; -111.8856 (Brigham Young Cemetery)
See List of Brigham Young's wives
John and Abigail Young
Biography portal Latter-day Saints portal
Brigham Young (/ˈbrɪɡəm/; June 1, 1801 - August 29, 1877) was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1847 until his death in 1877. He founded Salt Lake City and he served as the first governor of the Utah Territory, United States. Young also led the foundings of the precursors to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.
Young had a variety of nicknames, among the most popular being "American Moses" (alternatively, the "Modern Moses" or the "Mormon Moses"), because, like the biblical figure, Young led his followers, the Mormon pioneers, in an exodus through a desert, to what they saw as a promised land. Young was dubbed by his followers the "Lion of the Lord" for his bold personality, and was also commonly called "Brother Brigham" by Latter-day Saints. Young was a polygamist and was involved in controversies regarding black people and the Priesthood, the Utah War, and the Mountain Meadows massacre.
1 Early life and succession to Joseph Smith,
2 Governor of Utah Territory,
3 Church Presidency
3.1 Migration west,
3.2 Educational endeavors,
3.3 Temple building,
3.4 Controversial teachings,
4.2 Family and descendants,
5 Literature references and works,
6 See also,
9 External links,
Early life and succession to Joseph Smith:
Young was born to John and Abigail "Nabby" Young (née Howe), a farming family in Whitingham, Vermont, and worked as a travelling carpenter and blacksmith, among other trades. Young first married in 1824 to Miriam Angeline Works. Though he had converted to the Methodist faith in 1823, Young was drawn to Mormonism after reading the Book of Mormon shortly after its publication in 1830. He officially joined the new church in 1832 and traveled to Upper Canada as a missionary. After his first wife died in 1832, Young joined many Mormons in establishing a community in Kirtland, Ohio. Young was ordained a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835, and he assumed a leadership role within that organization in taking Mormonism to the United Kingdom and organizing the exodus of Latter Day Saints from Missouri in 1838.
While in jail awaiting trial for treason charges, Joseph Smith, president of the church, was killed by an armed mob in 1844. Several claimants to the role of church President emerged during the succession crisis that ensued. Before a large meeting convened to discuss the succession in Nauvoo, Illinois, Sidney Rigdon, the senior surviving member of the church's First Presidency, argued there could be no successor to the deceased prophet and that he should be made the "Protector" of the church. Young opposed this reasoning and motion. Smith had earlier recorded a revelation which stated the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were "equal in authority and power" to the First Presidency, so Young claimed that the leadership of the church fell to the Twelve Apostles. The majority in attendance were persuaded that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was to lead the church with Young as the Quorum's President. Many of Young's followers would later reminisce that while Young spoke to the congregation, he looked or sounded exactly like Joseph Smith, to which they attributed the power of God. Young was ordained President of the Church in December 1847, more than two and a half years after Smith's death. Rigdon became the president of a separate church organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and other potential successors emerged to lead what became other denominations of the movement.
Governor of Utah Territory:
As colonizer and founder of Salt Lake City, Young was appointed the territory's first governor and superintendent of American Indian affairs by President Millard Fillmore. During his time as governor, Young directed the establishment of settlements throughout Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, and parts of southern Colorado and northern Mexico. Under his direction the pioneers built roads and bridges, forts, irrigation projects, and established public welfare, organized a militia, and pacified the Native Americans. Young organized the first legislature and established Fillmore as the territory's first capital.
Young organized a Board of Regents to establish a university in the Salt Lake Valley. The university was established on February 28, 1850, as the University of Deseret, the precursor to the University of Utah.
In 1856 he organized an efficient mail service. In 1858 he stepped down to his successor Alfred Cumming.
Young was the longest serving President of the LDS Church in history, having served for 29 years.
See also: Mormon pioneers
After three years of leading the church as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, in 1847 Young reorganized a new First Presidency and was declared president of the church on December 27, 1847. Repeated conflict led Young to relocate his group of Latter-day Saints to a territory in what is now Utah, then part of Mexico. Young organized the journey that would take the faithful to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, in 1846, then to the Salt Lake Valley. Young arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, a date now recognized as Pioneer Day in Utah. Young organized the Mormon Tabernacle Choir just 29 days after arriving for a conference of the church on August 22, 1847.
Having previously established the University of Deseret (the precursor to the University of Utah) during his tenure as governor, on October 16, 1875, Young personally purchased land in Provo, Utah, to possibly extend the reach of the University of Deseret. Young said, "I hope to see an Academy established in Provo... at which the children of the Latter-day Saints can receive a good education unmixed with the pernicious atheistic influences that are found in so many of the higher schools of the country." The school broke off from the University of Deseret and became Brigham Young Academy, the precursor to Brigham Young University.
Within the church, Young reorganized the Relief Society for women (1867), and he created organizations for young women (1869) and young men (1875).
Young was involved in temple building throughout his membership in the LDS Church and made temple building a priority of his presidency. Under Joseph Smith's leadership, Young participated in the building of the Kirtland (Ohio) and Nauvoo (Illinois) Temples. Just four days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Young, who was now church president, designated the location for the Salt Lake Temple and presided over its groundbreaking on April 6, 1853. During his tenure, Young oversaw construction of the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and he announced plans to build the St. George (1871), Manti (1875), and Logan Temples (1877) -- all in Utah. He also provisioned the building of a "temporary temple" called the Endowment House, which began use in 1855 to provide temple ordinances to church members while the Salt Lake Temple was under construction.
Mormonism and polygamy
, A Mormon Polygamist Family in 1888.
Origin of Latter Day Saint polygamy,
Late 19th century Mormon polygamy,
Modern Latter Day Saint polygamy,
Second Manifesto (1904),
Joseph Smith, Jr.
Joseph Smith's wives,
Brigham Young's wives,
List of Mormon polygamists,
Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act,
Related case law
Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act,
Polygamy in North America,
History of civil marriage in the U.S.,
Freedom of religion in the U.S.,
Latter-day Saints Portal,
Book of Mormon Portal,
Though polygamy was practiced by Young's predecessor Joseph Smith, the practice is often associated with Brigham Young. Some denominations, such as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, consider Young the "Father of Mormon Polygamy". In 1853, Young made the church's first official statement on the subject after the church had arrived in Utah. He spoke about the issue nine years after the purported original revelation of Joseph Smith, and five years after the Mormon Exodus to Utah following Smith's death in Illinois.
One of the more controversial teachings of Brigham Young was the Adam-God doctrine. A doctrine that has since been rejected by the Church. According to Young, he was taught by Joseph Smith that: Adam is "our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do". According to the doctrine, Adam was once a mortal man who became resurrected and exalted. From another planet Adam brought Eve, one of his wives, with him to the earth, where they became mortal by eating the fruit of the Garden of Eden. After bearing mortal children and establishing the human race, they returned to their heavenly thrones where Adam serves as the god of this world. Later, as Young is generally understood to have taught, Adam returned to the earth to become the literal father of Jesus.
Brigham Young is generally credited with having been responsible for revoking the priesthood and temple blessings from black members of the LDS Church, who had been treated equally in this respect under Joseph Smith's presidency. In 1863, Young reported that he said, "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." After settling in Utah in 1848, Brigham Young announced a priesthood ban which prohibited all men of black African descent from holding the priesthood. In connection, Mormons of African descent could not participate in Mormon temple rites such as the Endowment or sealing. These racial restrictions remained in place until 1978, when the policy was rescinded by President of the Church Spencer W. Kimball.
Shortly after the arrival of Young's pioneers, the new Mormon colonies were incorporated into the United States through Mexican Cession, Young petitioned the U.S. Congress to create the State of Deseret. The Compromise of 1850 instead carved out Utah Territory, and Young was installed as governor. As governor and church president, Young directed both religious and economic matters. He encouraged independence and self-sufficiency. Many cities and towns in Utah, and some in neighboring states, were founded under Young's direction. Young's leadership style has been viewed as autocratic. When federal officials received reports of widespread and systematic obstruction of federal officials in Utah (most notably judges), U.S. President James Buchanan decided to install a non-Mormon governor. Buchanan accepted the reports of the judges without any further investigation, and the new non-sectarian governor was accompanied by troops sent to garrison forts in the new territory. The troops passed by the bloody Kansas-Missouri war without intervening in it, as it was not open warfare and only isolated sporadic incidents. When Young received word that federal troops were headed to Utah with his replacement, he called out his militia to ambush the federal column. During the defense of Deseret, now called the Utah War, Young held the U.S. Army at bay for a winter by taking their cattle and burning supply wagons. The Mormon forces were largely successful thanks to Lot Smith. Young made plans to burn Salt Lake City and move his followers to Mexico, but at the last minute he relented and agreed to step down as governor. He later received a pardon from Buchanan. Relations between Young and future governors and U.S. Presidents were mixed.
A controversial issue is the extent of Young's involvement in the Mountain Meadows massacre, which took place in Washington County in 1857. Leonard J. Arrington reports that Brigham Young received a rider at his office on the same day. When he learned what was contemplated by the members of the LDS Church in Parowan and Cedar City, he sent back a letter that the Fancher party be allowed to pass through the territory unmolested. Young's letter supposedly arrived two days too late, on September 13, 1857. As governor, Young had promised the federal government he would protect immigrants passing through Utah Territory, but over 120 men, women and children were killed in this incident. There is still debate concerning the involvement of Mormons by scholars. Only children under the age of seven survived, the murdered members of the wagon train (known as the Fancher Party) were left unburied, and the surviving children were cared for by local Mormon families. The remains of about forty people were found and buried and Carleton had a large cross made from local trees, the transverse beam bearing the engraving, "Vengeance Is Mine, Saith The Lord: I Will Repay" and erected a cairn of rocks at the site. A large slab of granite was put up on which he had the following words engraved: "HERE 120 MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN WERE MASSACRED IN COLD BLOOD EARLY IN SEPTEMBER, 1857. THEY WERE FROM ARKANSAS." For two years the monument stood as a warning to those travelling the Spanish Trail through Mountain Meadow. Some claim that, In 1861, Young brought an entourage to Mountain Meadows and had the cairn and cross destroyed, while exclaiming, "Vengeance is mine and I have taken a little".
Before his death in Salt Lake City at 4:00pm on August 29, 1877, Young was suffering from "cholera morbus and inflammation of the bowels". It is believed that he died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix. His last words were "Joseph! Joseph! Joseph!", invoking the name of the late Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith. On September 2, 1877, Young's funeral was held in the Tabernacle with an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people in attendance. He is buried on the grounds of the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument in the heart of Salt Lake City. A bronze marker was placed at the grave site June 10, 1938, by members of the Young Men and Young Women organizations, which he founded.
This section requires expansion. (October 2011)
A century after his death, one writer stated that
Joseph Smith was succeeded by one of the outstanding organizers of the 19th century, Brigham Young. If the circumstances of his life had worked out differently he might have become a captain of industry--an Andrew Carnegie or John D. Rockefeller or a railroad builder. Instead, this able, energetic, earthy man became the absolute ruler and the revered, genuinely loved father figure of all Mormons everywhere.
He credited Young's leadership with helping to settle much of the American West:
During the 30 years between the Mormons' arrival in Utah in 1847 and his death in 1877, Young directed the founding of 350 towns in the Southwest. Thereby the Mormons became the most important single agency in colonizing that vast arid West between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada.
Memorials to Young include: a bronze statue in front of the Abraham O. Smoot Administration Building, Brigham Young University; a marble statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the United States Capitol, donated by the State of Utah in 1950; and a statue atop the This is the Place Monument in Salt Lake City.
Memorials to Brigham Young
Statue on campus of Brigham Young University
Statue in Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol
This Is the Place Monument, Salt Lake City
Brigham Young Monument, Salt Lake City
Family and descendants:
See also: List of Brigham Young's wives
Young was a polygamist, marrying a total of 55 wives, 54 of them after he converted to become a Latter Day Saint. The policy was difficult for many in the church. Young stated that upon being taught about plural marriage, "It was the first time in my life that I desired the grave." By the time of his death, Young had 56 children by 16 of his wives; 46 of his children reached adulthood.
Sources have varied on the number of Young's wives, due to differences in what scholars have considered to be a "wife". There were 55 women that Young was sealed to during his lifetime. While the majority of the sealings were "for eternity", some were "for time only". Researchers believe that not all of the 55 marriages were conjugal. Young did not live with a number of his wives or publicly hold them out as wives, which has led to confusion on the number and identities. This is in part due to the complexity of how wives were identified in the Mormon society at the time.
Young's ability to keep dozens of wives from quarreling and so many children from overwhelming him would in itself prove that he must have been a remarkable, not to say a master, diplomat.
Of Young's 55 wives, 21 had never been married before; 16 were widows; six were divorced; six had living husbands; and the marital status of six others are unknown. In 1856, Young built the Lion House to accommodate his sizable family. This building remains a Salt Lake City landmark, together with the Beehive House, another Brigham Young family home. A contemporary of Young wrote: "It was amusing to walk by Brigham Young's big house, a long rambling building with innumerable doors. Each wife has an establishment of her own, consisting of parlor, bedroom, and a front door, the key of which she keeps in her pocket." At the time of Young's death, 19 of his wives had predeceased him, he was divorced from ten, and 23 survived him. The status of four was unknown. In his will, Young shared his estate with the 16 surviving wives who had lived with him; the six surviving non-conjugal wives were not mentioned in the will.
Three of Young's sons were ordained as LDS Church apostles by their father: Brigham Young, Jr.,John Willard Young, and Joseph Angell Young. Other leaders in the LDS Church who were descended from Young include his children Maria Young Dougall and B. Morris Young. A daughter, Susa Young Gates, was a prominent women's rights activist in Utah. A son, Don Carlos Young, was an LDS Church architect. A granddaughter, Leah D. Widtsoe, was wife of apostle John A. Widtsoe and herself a leading expert in home economics. Other grandchildren include sculptor Mahonri Young;Richard Whitehead Young, U.S. Army Brigadier General and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines;William Hooper Young, a convicted murderer; opera singer Emma Lucy Gates Bowen; hymnwriter Hugh W. Dougall; and sociologist Kimball Young. More distant descendants include Mormon critic Sandra Tanner, novelist Orson Scott Card, and NFL Hall of Fame athlete Steve Young.
In 1902, 25 years after his death, the New York Times established that Young's direct descendants numbered more than 1000.
Literature references and works:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based his first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, on Mormon history, mentioning Young by name. When asked to comment on the story, which had "provoked the animosity of the Mormon faithful", Conan Doyle noted, "all I said about the Danite Band and the murders is historical so I cannot withdraw that though it is likely that in a work of fiction it is stated more luridly than in a work of history." However, Doyle's daughter stated that "You know father would be the first to admit that his first Sherlock Holmes novel was full of errors about the Mormons."Florence Claxton's graphic novel The Adventures of a Woman in Search of her Rights (1872), satirizes a would-be emancipated woman whose failure to establish an independent career results in her marriage to Brigham Young before she wakes to discover she's been dreaming. Mark Twain devoted a chapter and much of an appendix to Brigham Young in his book Roughing It.
Brigham Young authored several books and discourses during his lifetime.
Young, Brigham (1952). The Best from Brigham Young: Statements from His Sermons on Religion, Education, and Community Building. selected by Alice K. Chase. Deseret Book Company. ,
Everett L. Cooley, ed. (1980). Diary of Brigham Young, 1857. Tanner Trust Fund, University of Utah Library. ,
Brigham Young (1925). Discourses of Brigham Young. selected by John A. Widtsoe. Deseret Book. ,
Dean C. Jessee, ed. (1974). Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons. Deseret Book Company. ,
Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801-1844. Eldon J. Watson. 1969. ,
Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846-1847. Eldon J. Watson. 1971. ,
Teachings of President Brigham Young: Salvation for the Dead, the Spirit World, and Kindred Subjects. Seagull Press. 1922. ,
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1997. LDS Church publication number 35554.,
Young, Brigham (2009). Richard Van Wagoner, ed. The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 5. Smith-Pettit Foundation. ISBN 978-1-56085-206-3.
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