Brigham Young was born in Whitingham, Vermont on June
1,1801. Young was the son of John and Abigail Howe Young. Young was the ninth
child out of eleven. When Young was three years old, he and his family moved to
western New York where he spent his early life. As a child, he had little
schooling, but was taught by his mother and father.
In 1832, at the age of 22 Young was baptized as a Mormon after reading a Mormon
Book written by Joseph Smith in 1830.In 1833, Young joined the Mormon settlement
in Kirtland, Ohio. After three years of being a Mormon, he was appointed an
apostle in the Mormon Church in 1835. He later on became leader of the Mormons
when Joseph Smith was killed by an angry mob in 1844.
After being run out of Missouri, Young led 5,000-8,000 men safely to Illinois.
In 1847, Young was formally elected leader. In 1850, Young was appointed first
governor of the Territory of Utah. Terrible trouble came and Young was removed
Throughout Young's life he led many people into being Mormons. He is famous for
leading the Mormons out of danger and keeping them together. Young preached and
practiced plural marriages. He himself had 27 wives and 56 children. Young died
on August 29, 1877.
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president of the Mormon church, born in Whitingham, Vermont, 1 June, 1801; died
in Salt Lake City, 29 August, 1877. His father, John, a farmer, served in the
Revolutionary war. In 1804 Brigham went with his parents to Sherburne, New York,
where, until he was sixteen, he received only eleven days' schooling. He then
engaged in business and was a carpenter, joiner, painter, and glazier in Mendon,
In 1830 he first saw the "Book of Mormon," and a year later
he was converted by Samuel H. Smith, the prophet's brother. On 14 April, 1832,
he was baptized and began to preach in the vicinity of Mendon. In the autumn of
1832 he went to Kirtland, Ohio, where he became the close friend of Joseph
Smith. He was ordained an elder, and in the winter of 1832-'3 was engaged in
Canada, preaching, baptizing, and organizing missions. His advancement in the
church was rapid, and on 14 February, 1835, he was chosen one of the twelve
apostles, becoming their president a year later. Meanwhile much of his time was
spent in Kirtland, where he was occupied in working on the Temple and in
studying Hebrew, also in travelling, preaching, and making converts.
During 1836-'7 an effort was made to depose the prophet
Joseph and appoint David Whitmer president of the church. A council was held for
this purpose, at which Young made an earnest plea for Smith, and the meeting
terminated unpleasantly. On 22 December, 1837, Brigham Young left Kirtland. He
purchased land in Far West, Missouri, in 1838, and settled there; but, in
pursuance of the order of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, he and his family left
their home and much of their personal property on 14 February, 1839, and
returned to Quincy, Illinois
Later he was one of the twelve that founded Nauvoo, and in
September of that year set out on a mission to England. His experience there is
given in his own words:" We landed in the spring of 1840 as strangers in a
strange land and penniless, but through the mercy of God we have printed ...
5,000 ‘Books of Mormon,’ 3,000 hymn-books, 2,500 volumes of the 'Millennial
Star,' and 50,000 tracts .... emigrated to Zion 1,000 souls, yet we have lacked
nothing to eat, drink, or wear."
The death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage jail was
announced to him by letter while he was on a mission in Peterborough, New
Hampshire, and he returned to Nauvoo on 6 August. Sidney Rigdon was then
claiming leadership in the church, but two days later Young was chosen successor
In the autumn the people of Hancock and adjacent counties
clamored for the removal of the Mormons from the state. In reply to such a
demand, Young said, on 1 October, 1845, that it was the intention of from 5,000
to 6,000 persons to leave Nauvoo early in 1846 to seek a home in the wilderness.
Subsequently the charter of Nauvoo was revoked, and the Mormons suffered
house-burnings, plundering, whippings, murders, and the fury of mob violence. In
pursuance of his promise, many of the Mormons crossed Mississippi river early in
February, 1846, and on the 15th of that month President Young and his family set
out. On 1 March, while there were still several inches of snow on the ground,
the exodus began with about 400 wagons in line. Brigham Young was chosen
president in "Camp of Israel " on 27 March, and captains of hundreds, of
fifties, and of tens were appointed to conduct the march.
By command of Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, a call was made on
President Young, on 26 June, 1846, to furnish 500 men for one year's service
during the Mexican war. "You shall have your battalion at once," he replied, and
the quota of what was known as "the Mormon battalion" was filled within three
On their arrival near what is now Florence, Nebraska, on 21
July, the Omaha and Pottawattamie Indians received them kindly, and urged the
fugitives to establish a camp in their midst. President Young accepted this
offer, after obtaining the consent of President Polk, and made his
winter-quarters there. They laid the settlement out in streets and blocks, on
which comfortable log-houses were built and a grist-mill was erected.
On 7 April, 1847, Young, with 142 men, set out in search of
a suitable place for a settlement. They entered Salt Lake valley on 24 July,
1847, and, after a survey had been made of the locality and the first house
erected, Young returned to winter-quarters on 31 October, 1847, and on 5
December was elected president by the "twelve apostles," with Heber C. Kimball
and Willard Richards as counsellors.
On 26 May, 1848, he set out again, accompanied by his
family and 2,000 followers, for Salt Lake City, and arrived there on 20
September A provisional government being requisite until congress should
otherwise provide, he was elected on 12 March, 1849, governor of "Deseret,"
which is understood by the Mormons to signify "the land of the honeybee."
The territory of Utah was established on 9 September, 1850,
and on 3 February, 1851, Young took the oath of office as its governor,
commander-in-chief of the militia, and superintendent of Indian affairs, to
which places he had been appointed by President Fillmore. Under his
administration extensive tracts of land were brought under cultivation and large
numbers of converts were brought from Europe.
On 29 August, 1852, the doctrine of polygamy was first
announced as a tenet of the Mormon church by Brigham Young. He claimed that a
revelation commanding it had been made to Joseph Smith: but the widow and four
sons of Smith denied ever having seen or heard of any such revelation. Polygamy
is strictly forbidden in the "Book of Mormon," the "Doctrine and Covenants," and
all Mormon publications that were issued before Smith's death, and many left the
church on this question. Subsequently they formed an independent organization
under the leadership of one of the sons of Smith. To sustain the new
dogma, papers and periodicals were established in various parts of the world.
Meanwhile the Federal judges were forced by threats of
violence to leave Utah, and the laws of the United States were defied and
subverted as early as 1850. Colonel Edward Steptoe was sent in 1854 to Utah as
governor, with a battalion of soldiers; but he did not deem it, prudent to
assume the office, and, after wintering in Salt Lake City, he formally resigned
his post and went with his command to California.
Most of the civil officers that were commissioned about the
same time with Colonel Steptoe arrived in Utah a few months after he had
departed, and were harassed and terrified like their predecessors.
In February, 1856, a mob of armed Mormons, instigated by
sermons from the heads of the church, broke into the court-room of the United
States district judge and compelled him to adjourn his court. Soon afterward all
the United States officers, with the exception of the Indian agent, were forced
to flee from the territory. These and other outrages determined President
Buchanan to supersede Brigham Young in the office of governor, and to send to
Utah a military force to protect the Federal officers. (See CUMMING, ALFRED, and
JOHNSTON, ALBERT SIDNEY.) The affair terminated with the acceptance of a pardon
by the Mormons, who on their part promised to submit to the Federal authority.
Throughout his life Young encouraged agriculture and
manufactures, the opening of roads and the construction of bridges and public
edifices, and pursued a conciliatory policy with the Indians. He successfully
completed a contract to grade more than 100 miles of the Union Pacific railroad,
was the prime mover in the construction of the Utah Central railroad, aided in
building the Utah Northern and Utah Western narrow-gauge roads, introduced and
fostered co-operation in all branches of business, and extended telegraph-wires
to most of the towns of Utah.
Young took to himself a large number of wives, most of whom
resided in a building that was known as the "Lion house," from a huge lion
carved in stone that stands upon the portico. In 1871 he was indicted for
polygamy but not convicted. At the time of his death he left seventeen wives,
sixteen sons, and twenty-eight daughters, and had been the father of fifty-six
Besides his office of president of the church, Young was
grand archer of the order of Danites, a secret organization within the church,
which was one of the chief sources of his absolute power, and whose members, it
is claimed, committed many murders and other outrages by his orders. By
organizing and directing the trade and industry of the community, he accumulated
great wealth. His funeral was celebrated with impressive ceremonies, in which
more than 30,000 persons participated.
See" The Mormons," by Charles Mackay (London, 1851); "The
Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints, in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake," by
Lieutenant John W. Gunnison (Philadelphia, 1852); " Utah and the Mormons," by
Benjamin G. Ferris (New York, 1856); "Mormonism; its Leaders and Designs," by
John Hyde, Jr., formerly a Mormon elder (New York, 1857);" "New America," by
William Hepworth Dixon (London, 1867);" "The Rocky Mountain Saints," by Thomas
B. H. Stenhouse (New York, 1873); "History of Salt Lake City" (Salt Lake City,
1887); and "Early Days of Mormonism," by James Harrison Kennedy (New York,
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