Brigham Young

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search
Brigham Young
Full Name Brigham Young
Born June 1, 1801
Place of birth Whitingham, Vermont
Died August 29, 1877
Place of death Salt Lake City, Utah
Ordained December 27, 1847
Predecessor Joseph Smith
Successor John Taylor

Brigham Young (June 1, 1801August 29, 1877) was the second prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church; see also Mormonism).

Young had a variety of monikers, among the most popular of which is "The American Moses" [1], (sometimes "The Modern Moses" or "The Mormon Moses" [2]) because, like the biblical figure, he led his followers in an often arduous "exodus" through a desert, to what they saw as a "promised land". He was also dubbed "The Lion of the Lord" for his bold personality.



Young was born to a farming family in Vermont and worked as a traveling carpenter and blacksmith, among other trades. Young first married in 1824.

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 Canada as a missionary. After his first wife died in 1833, Young joined many Mormons in establishing a community in Kirtland, Ohio.

Young was strongly committed to his new faith. He was ordained an apostle and joined the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as one of the first members on February 14, 1835. During the anti-Mormon persecutions in Missouri in the late 1830's, he suffered the loss of all his property, and other hardships. In 1840 and 1841, he went to England as a missionary for his church. Many of those Young converted moved to the United States to join Mormon communities there. In the 1840s Young was among those who established the city of Nauvoo, Illinois on the Mississippi River. It became the headquarters of the church and was comparable in size to the city of Chicago, Illinois.

While in jail awaiting trial for treason charges, church president Joseph Smith was killed by an armed mob of vigilantes in 1844. Several claimants to his role as church president emerged during the succession crisis that ensued. Sidney Rigdon, the only surviving member of the First Presidency put himself forward as "guardian of the Church," but at a meeting of a congregation in Nauvoo, Young successfully counter-argued that the Quorum of the Twelve should instead lead the Church. This motion carried and Young, as president of the quorum, became the de facto president of the church at Nauvoo. Rigdon became the president of a separate church organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and other potential successors emerged to lead what became separate denominations of the movement. See Latter-day Saint movement.

Prominent former football player Steve Young and Father of Minimalism composer La Monte Young are descendants of Brigham Young.

Actions as Church President

After three years under the Quorum of the Twelve, Young reorganized a new First Presidency and was declared President of the largest remaining schism in 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 Utah's Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, a date now recognized as a Utah state holiday and known as Pioneer Day. Jonathan Browning, father of gun designer John Browning, accompanied the migration of pioneers to Utah.

In Utah, Young directed 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. Some have accused Young of being an autocrat during his leadership in Utah [3]. Others disagree with this assessment, recognizing Young as a strong, inspiring leader during a challenging era, and further noting that his reputation and legacy are generally well-regarded. Abraham Lincoln, at the time the transcontinental telegram wire was laid across Utah, worked together with Brigham Young rather than with the federally-appointed governor of the territory.

A recurrent question is the nature or extent of Young's involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the killing of some 120 members of a non-Mormon wagon train near Cedar City, Utah in 1857. Authorities in Cedar City had sent a messenger to Salt Lake City seeking direction from Young, but his response—directing them to leave the wagon party alone—arrived too late to avert the massacre. Some historians are unconvinced that this would absolve Young from responsibility, given the extent of his authority and influence as the leader of the Mormons.

In addition to founding the University of Utah, Young also organized the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Brigham Young University is named after him. In 1950, the state of Utah donated a marble statue of Young to the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection. For an overview of Brigham Young's philosophy and teachings, see the book "Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints," by Hugh Nibley.

Plural Wives

Young was perhaps the most famous polygamist of the early church. Young married some 50 women and had 56 known children. These marriages were not recognized as legally binding according to U.S. law, and in response to a suit for alimony from one of his "ex-wives," Young successfully argued in court that he owed no alimony because they were never legally married. In 1856 he built the Lion House to accommodate his sizable family. This remains a Salt Lake City landmark, together with the Beehive House, another Brigham Young Family home.

What follows is a listing of Brigham Young's wives. An asterisk indicates "a wife not recognized in traditional histories, even though there is evidence of at least one of the following: the ceremony, sexual cohabitation, or a formal divorce"; names in parenthesis are the surnames of previous husbands; "divorce" indicates a formal dissolution of the marriage through secular or ecclesiastical procedures; "remarried" indicates later marriage of the wife to another husband. See D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1994, 685 pages, ISBN 1-56085-056-6; Appendix 6, "Biographical Sketches of Officers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, 1830-47" pp. 607-608).

  1. Miriam Works 1824 (2 children), included in his will.
  2. Mary A. Angel 1834 (6 children), in will.
  3. Lucy A. Decker (Seeley) 1842 (7 children), in will.
  4. Harriet E. Cook (Campbell) 1843 (1 child), in will.
  5. Lucy Augusta Adams (Cobb) 1843 (no children), requested cancellation of her sealing 1846, sealed by proxy to Joseph Smith 1848, from 1850 onward asked Brigham Young to give her to various men in civil marriage but still included in will.
  6. Clarissa C. Decker 1844 (5 children), in will.
  7. Clarissa Ross-Chase 1844 (4 children), in will.
  8. Louisa Beaman (Smith) 1844 (4 children).
  9. Zina D. Huntington (Jacobs, Smith) 1844 (1 child), in will.
  10. Emily D. Partridge (Smith) 1844 (7 children), in will.
  11. Eliza R. Snow (Smith) 1844 (no children), in will.
  12. *Elizabeth Fairchild 1844 (no children), divorced 1855.
  13. *Clarissa Blake 1844 (no children).
  14. *Rebecca W. Greenleaf Holman 1844 (no children).
  15. *Diana Chase 1844 (no children), separated about 1848, remarried 1849.
  16. Maria Lawrence (Smith) 1844 (no children), separated 1845, remarried 1846.
  17. Susannah Snively 1844 (no children), in will.
  18. Olive G. Frost (Smith) 1844 (no children).
  19. *Mary A. Clark (Powers) 1845 (no children), divorced 1851.
  20. *Mary Harvey Pierce 1845 (no children).
  21. Margrette W. Pierce (Whitesides) 1845 (1 child), in will.
  22. *Rhoda Richards (Smith) 1845 (no children).
  23. Emmeline Free 1845 (10 children), in will.
  24. Mary E. Rollins (Lightner, Smith) 1845 (no children), remained with legal husband yet considered herself deserted by Brigham Young 1846.
  25. Margaret Maria Alley 1845 (2 children), in will.
  26. *Mary Ann Turley 1845 (no children), divorced 1851.
  27. *Olive Andrews (Smith) 1846 (no children).
  28. *Emily Haws (Chesley, Whitmarsh) 1846 (no children), separated 1848.
  29. Ellen A. V. Rockwood 1846 (no children).
  30. *Abigail Marks (Works) 1846 (no children).
  31. *Mary E. Nelson (Greene) 1846 (no children).
  32. *Mary E. de la Montague (Woodward) 1846 (no children), divorced and returned to legal husband 1847, then returned to Brigham Young 1851.
  33. *Amy C. Cooper 1846 (no children).
  34. *Julia Foster (Hampton) 1846 (no children), separated 1846, married another man, returned to Brigham Young 1855 only to leave him bitterly later.
  35. *Abigail Harback (Hall) 1846 (no children), returned to legal husband 1846.
  36. Naamah K. J. Carter (Twiss) 1846 (no children), obtained cancellation of her sealing by 1871, anointed to deceased first husband but still included in will.
  37. *Nancy Cressy (Walker) 1846 (no children).
  38. *Eliza Babcock 1846-53 (no children), divorced 1853.
  39. *Jane Terry (Tarbox, Young) 1847.
  40. Mary J. Bigelow 1847 (no children), divorced 1851.
  41. Lucy Bigelow 1847 (3 children), in will.
  42. *Sarah M. Guckin (Malin) 1848 (no children).
  43. Eliza Burgess 1852 (1 child), in will.
  44. *Mary Oldfield (Kelsey) 1852 (no children).
  45. *Catherine Resse (Clawson, Egan) 1855 (no children).
  46. Harriet E. Barney (Sagers) 1856 (1 child), in will.
  47. Harriet Amelia Folsom 1863 (no children), in will.
  48. Mary Van Cott (Cobb) 1865 (1 child), in will.
  49. Ann Eliza Webb (Dee) 1868 (no children), divorced 1875; her story was fictionalized in Irving Wallace's 1962 novel The Twenty-Seventh Wife.
  50. *Elizabeth Jones (Lewis, Jones) 1869 (no children).
  51. *Lydia Farnsworth (Mayhew) 1870 (no children).
  52. *Hannah Tapfield (King) 1872 (no children).

See also

Famous sayings by Brigham Young:

"He who takes offense when none is intended is a fool. He who takes offense when it is intended is usually also a fool."

"Prayer will keep a man from sinning and sinning will keep a man from praying. On those occasions when you do not feel like praying, get on your knees and pray until you do feel like praying."

"Never let a day pass that you will have cause to say, I will do better tomorrow."

"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." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, page 110.)


External links

Preceded by:
Joseph Smith, Jr.
President of the LDS Church
December 27, 1847August 29, 1877
Succeeded by:
John Taylor
Preceded by:
Thomas B. Marsh
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
March 17, 1839December 27, 1847
Succeeded by:
Orson Hyde
David W. Patten
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 15, 1835December 27, 1847
Heber C. Kimball
Personal tools