Brigham Young (/ˈbrɪɡəm/; June 1, 1801 – August 29, 1877) was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and asettler 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 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 regardingblack people and the Priesthood, the Utah War, and the Mountain Meadows massacre.
Early life and succession to Latter Day Saint leadership Edit
Young was born to John and Abigail "Nabby" Young (née Howe), a farming family inWhitingham, 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 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, Joseph Smith, president of the church, was killed by an armed mob. 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 arevelation which stated the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was "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 Smith, to which they attributed the power of God. Young was ordained President of the Church in December 1847, three 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.
Migration west Edit
After three years of leading the church as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in 1847 Young reorganized a newFirst 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 the Salt Lake Valley, 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. On August 22, just 29 days after arriving, Young organized the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Governor of Utah Territory Edit
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 present-day Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, and parts of southern Colorado and northern Mexico. Under his direction, the Mormons built roads and bridges, forts, irrigation projects; 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. 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.
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.
Church Presidency Edit
Young was the longest serving President of the LDS Church in history, having served for 29 years.
Educational endeavors Edit
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. 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).
Temple building Edit
Young was involved in temple building throughout his membership in the LDS Church and made temple building a priority of his church presidency. Under Joseph Smith's leadership, Young participated in the building of the Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples. Just four days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Young designated the location for the Salt Lake Temple; he 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). 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.