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Brigham Young

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Brigham Young

Brigham Young (; 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. Young also led the foundings of the precursors to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.

Young had many nicknames, among the most popular being "American Moses"[1] (alternatively, the "Modern Moses" or the "Mormon Moses"),[2][3] 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.[4] 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.

Contents

  • Early life and succession to Latter Day Saint leadership 1
    • Migration west 1.1
  • Governor of Utah Territory 2
  • Church Presidency 3
    • Educational endeavors 3.1
    • Temple building 3.2
    • Controversial teachings 3.3
    • Conflicts 3.4
    • Death 3.5
  • Legacy 4
    • Impact 4.1
    • Family and descendants 4.2
      • Notable descendants 4.2.1
  • Literature references and works 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Early life and succession to Latter Day Saint leadership

The five sons of John and Nabby Young
From left to right: Lorenzo Dow, Brigham, Phineas H., Joseph, and John.

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.[5] Young was 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 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.

In 1844, while in jail awaiting trial for treason charges, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and other potential successors emerged to lead what became other denominations of the movement.

Migration west

Repeated conflict led Young to relocate his group of Latter-day Saints to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.[13]

After three years of leading the church as the First Presidency and was declared president of the church on December 27, 1847.

Governor of Utah Territory

As colonizer and founder of Fillmore as the territory's first capital.

Young organized a Board of Regents to establish a university in the Salt Lake Valley.[14] It was established on February 28, 1850, as the University of Deseret; its name was eventually changed to the University of Utah.

In 1851, Young and several federal officials, including territorial Secretary Broughton Harris, became unable to work cooperatively. Harris and the others departed Utah without replacements being named, and these individuals later became known as the Runaway Officials of 1851.[15]

In 1856, Young organized an efficient mail service. In 1858, following the events of the Utah War, he stepped down to his successor Alfred Cumming.[16]

Church Presidency

Young was the longest serving President of the LDS Church in history, having served for 29 years.

Educational endeavors

Having previously established the University of Deseret during his tenure as governor, on October 16, 1875, Young personally purchased land in Provo, Utah, to extend the reach of the University of Deseret.[17] 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."[18] The school broke off from the University of Deseret and became Brigham Young Academy,[18] the precursor to Brigham Young University.

Within the church, Young reorganized the young men (1875).

Temple building

Young was involved in Manti (1875), and Logan (1877) temples. He also provisioned the building of the Endowment House, a "temporary temple" which began to be used in 1855 to provide temple ordinances to church members while the Salt Lake Temple was under construction.

Controversial teachings

Though polygamy was practiced by Young's predecessor Joseph Smith, the practice is often associated with Young. Some Latter Day Saint denominations, such as the Community of Christ, consider Young the "Father of Mormon Polygamy".[20] In 1853, Young made the church's first official statement on the subject since the church had arrived in Utah. He spoke about the issue nine years after the purported original revelation of Smith, and five years after the Mormon Exodus to Utah.

One of the more controversial teachings of Young was the Adam–God doctrine. According to Young, he was taught by 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, Adam and Eve returned to their heavenly thrones where Adam acts as the god of this world. Later, as Young is generally understood to have taught, Adam returned to the earth to become the biological father of Jesus. The LDS Church has since repudiated the Adam–God doctrine.

Young is generally considered to have instituted a church ban against conferring the priesthood on men of black African descent, who had been treated equally in this respect under Joseph Smith's presidency.[21] After settling in Utah in 1848, Young announced the ban,[21] which also forbade blacks from participating in Mormon temple rites such as the endowment or sealings. On many occasions, Young taught that blacks were denied the priesthood because they were "the seed of Cain",[22] but also stated that they would eventually receive the priesthood after "all the other children of Adam have the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity."[23] In 1863, Young stated "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."[24] These racial restrictions remained in place until 1978, when the policy was rescinded by LDS Church president Spencer W. Kimball,[25] and the LDS Church subsequently "disavow[ed] theories advanced in the past" to explain this ban,[26] thereby "plac[ing] the origins of black priesthood denial blame squarely on Brigham Young."[27]

Conflicts

Shortly after the arrival of Young's pioneers, the new Mormon colonies were incorporated into the United States through the 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.[28] 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 force. During the defense of Utah, 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.

Brigham Young (seated near the middle, wearing a tall beaver hat) and an exploring party camped at the Colorado River in 1870

The degree of Young's involvement in the Mountain Meadows massacre, which took place in Washington County in 1857, is disputed.[29] Leonard J. Arrington reports that Young received a rider at his office on the day of the massacre, and that when he learned of the contemplated attack by the members of the LDS Church in Parowan and Cedar City, he sent back a letter directing that the Fancher party be allowed to pass through the territory unmolested.[30] Young's letter reportedly arrived on September 13, 1857, two days after the massacre. 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 no debate concerning the involvement of individual Mormons from the surrounding communities by scholars. Only children under the age of seven, who were cared for by local Mormon families, survived, and the murdered members of the wagon train were left unburied. The remains of about forty people were later found and buried, and Union Army officer James Henry 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 memorial 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".[31]

Death

Young is buried on the grounds of the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument in Salt Lake City.

Before his death in Salt Lake City on August 29, 1877,[32] Young was suffering from cholera morbus and inflammation of the bowels.[33] It is believed that he died of

Political offices
Preceded by
None
Governor of Utah Territory
1850–1858
Succeeded by
Alfred Cumming
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Joseph Smith
President of the Church
December 27, 1847 – August 29, 1877
Succeeded by
John Taylor
Preceded by
Thomas B. Marsh
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
March 17, 1839 – December 27, 1847
Succeeded by
Orson Hyde
Preceded by
David W. Patten
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 14, 1835 – December 27, 1847
Succeeded by
Heber C. Kimball

External links

Public Domain 

Further reading

References

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ ; Harper 1996; ; ; ; ; ; ;
  10. ^ However, historians have come to different conclusions on whether the occurrence of such events is supported by contemporary records. Van Wagoner observed of contemporary accounts that "none of these references an explicit transfiguration, a physical metamorphosis of Brigham Young into the form and voice of Joseph Smith," and "[w]hen 8 August 1844 is stripped of emotional overlay, there is not a shred of irrefutable contemporary evidence to support the occurrence of a mystical event either in the morning or afternoon gatherings of that day.":
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ . Online reprint, with permission, at HistoryToGo.utah.gov by the Utah Division of State History, Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, State of Utah.
  15. ^ Randal S. Chase, Church History Study Guide, Part 3, 2012, p. 85.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ . See also: miscegenation.
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ .
  29. ^
  30. ^ Brigham Young to Isaac C. Haight, Sept. 10, 1857, Letterpress Copybook 3:827–28, Brigham Young Office Files, LDS Church Archives
  31. ^ Sally Denton (2003). American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857 (New York: Vintage Books, ISBN 0-375-72636-5) p. 210.
  32. ^ "Death of Brigham Young", The New York Times, August 30, 1877.
  33. ^ "Brigham Young's Health", The New York Times, August 29, 1877.
  34. ^ a b
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Brigham Young's Funeral", The New York Times, September 3, 1877.
  37. ^
  38. ^ a b c
  39. ^
  40. ^ a b c d e f g
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ "Descendants of Brigham Young to Hold Annual Mass Meetings", New York Times, 1902-06-22.
  44. ^ . Online reprint, with permission, at HistoryToGo.utah.gov by the Utah Division of State History, Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, State of Utah.
  45. ^

Notes

See also

  • LDS Church publication number 35554

Since Young's death, a number of works have published collections of his discourses and sayings.

[45] The actor

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." 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."[44] 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 Young before she wakes to discover she's been dreaming. Mark Twain devoted a chapter and much of an appendix to Young in Roughing It.

Literature references and works

In 1902, 25 years after his death, the New York Times established that Young's direct descendants numbered more than 1,000.[43] Some of Young's descendants have become leaders in the LDS Church, while other have become notable for events outside of LDS Church service.

Notable descendants

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.[40] 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 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."[42] 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.[40] One of his wives, Zina Huntington Young, served as the third president of the Relief Society. 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.[40]

Sources have varied on the number of Young's wives, due to differences in what scholars have considered to be a "wife".[40] 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.[40] 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.[40] This is in part due to the complexity of how wives were identified in the Mormon society at the time.

Young was a polygamist, marrying a total of 55 wives, 54 of them after he converted to Mormonism.[40] 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."[41] By the time of his death, Young had 56 children by 16 of his wives; 46 of his children reached adulthood.[34]

Caricature of Young's wives, after his death

Family and descendants

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;[39] and a statue atop the This is the Place Monument in Salt Lake City.

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.[38]

He credited Young's leadership with helping to settle much of the American West:

[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.[38]

A century after his death, one writer stated that

Impact

Legacy

[37]

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