Biography of Brigham Young

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American Leader Brigham Young Biography

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Brigham Young was an American leader of the Latter – day Saint movement. Brigham Young was popularly known as American Moses, Modern Moses and Mormon Moses, because, quite similar to the biblical figure, Brigham Young led his followers, through a desert, to a land of opportunity.

Reflecting a bold personality, Brigham was referred to as ‘Brother Brigham’ by Latter – day Saints. Brigham Young is regarded as the most prominent Mormon polygamist. Apart from being the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – day Saints, Brigham donned the cap of the founder of Salt Lake City, Brigham Young University and Brigham Young Academy.

For his immense contribution towards the colonization of US, the state of Utah donated a marble statue of Young to the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection, in 1950.

Brigham Young’s Childhood

Born on 1st June 1801, to John Young and Abigail ( Nabby ) Howe, Brigham Young was the ninth of the eleven children in his family. Though Brigham Young was born in Whittingham, Vermont, the family was constantly on the move. Three years after Brigham was born, his family moved to central New York State. When Brigham Young turned ten, they relocated to Sherburne, in south – central New York.
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Brigham, in his childhood days, did a lot of menial tasks, such as clearing the land for farming, trapping animals for fur, fishing, building sheds and digging cellars. In the field, Brigham Young gave help in planting, cultivating and harvesting crops. Little Brigham also cared for his mother, who was seriously ill with tuberculosis.

Brigham Young Early Life

Brigham was only 14 years old when his mother died. Though his father remarried, Brigham preferred not to stay with his new mother and new siblings, which she brought along with her. Rather, Brigham Young started working as an apprentice carpenter, painter and glazier, in nearby Auburn. At the age of 23, Brigham married Miriam Works ( October 5, 1824 ).

The couple lived in Aurelius Township, where they joined the Methodist Church. A year later, they were blessed with a child, whom they named Elizabeth. However, after giving birth to their second daughter, Miriam contracted chronic tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, Brigham, after reading the Book of Mormon, was drawn to Mormonism. After his wife’s death, Brigham Young established a community in Kirtland, Ohio, along with other Mormons. Ordained as an apostle on February 14, 1835, Brigham joined the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as one of its inaugural members.

In 1840, after suffering a loss of property, Brigham Young went to England as a missionary. In the same year, Brigham Young, along with others, established the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, on the Mississippi River. The city, eventually, became the headquarters of the ‘Quorum of the Twelve Apostles’ church.

Death of Joseph Smith

The death of Joseph Smith, the President of the church, brought several claimants for his position. Though Sidney Rigdon, a senior member of the church’s First Presidency, argued that he should be made the ‘Protector’ of the church, Brigham strongly opposed this theory. Brigham Young stated that all the apostles of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were equivalent, in terms of authority and power, to the First Presidency.

Brigham’s opposition was taken as a sign that Brigham will lead the church, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In 1847, the skillful Brigham successfully took over the position and became the principal leader, or President, of the church . However, on and off conflicts and the anti – Mormon violence forced him, along with his group of Latter – day Saints, to change base from Illinois. It was, thence, that migrating with the mass Mormon, westwards, Brigham came to Great Salt Lake Valley, on July 24, 1847.

Ban on Priesthood

Brigham, following the settling in Utah, proclaimed a priesthood ban in 1848, thus preventing the black African descents from holding the priesthood position. Brigham Young canceled the priesthood and temple blessings from black members of the LDS faith, in contrast to the equality that was practiced by his predecessor, Joseph Smith. This move of Brigham disallowed the blacks from performing Mormon temple rites, such as the Endowment or Sealing.

However, this rule remained effective only till 1978, after which it was withdrawn by the President of the Church, Spencer W. Kimball.

Brigham Young Governor of Utah Territory

Apart from being the colonizer and founder of Salt Lake City, Brigham was also appointed as the first governor of the territory and the superintendent of Indian affairs, by President Millard Fillmore. As a governor, Brigham did a lot of work. Right from building roads and bridges, forts, irrigation projects to establishing public welfare, organizing militia and pacifying the Native Americans. Brigham Young established settlements in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and parts of southern Colorado and northern Mexico, thus becoming the one of the foremost colonizers in American history.

However, Brigham’s relation with the federal government was not smooth, mainly due to his public acknowledgment of polygamy, in 1852. In 1857, President James Buchanan dispatched United States Army troops to Utah and Brigham was removed from the position of governor.
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Brigham Young’s Other Works

Brigham Young organized the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In his initial years as the Governor of Utah, Brigham Young founded the University of Deseret, which is today known as the University of Utah. Apart from this, Brigham also founded Brigham Young Academy in 1875, known as Brigham Young University today.

Brigham Young Personal Life & Death

Brigham Young is one of the famous polygamists of the early American church. Brigham Young is said to have a total of 55 wives, out of which 54 came after Brigham Young had become a Latter – day Saint. Of his 55 wives, 21 had been spinsters, 16 were widows, 6 were divorcees, 6 had living husbands and the marital status of the rest 6 is unknown.

Young had a total of 57 children, from his 16 wives, but only 46 of them reached adulthood. When Brigham died, at the age of 76, 19 of his wives had predeceased him. Along with that, Brigham Young was divorced from 10 and 23 survived him, while the status of rest three is unknown.

Brigham Young Timeline

  • 1801 – Brigham Young was born.
  • 1815 – Lost his mother.
  • 1824 – Married Miriam Works.
  • 1835 – Joined Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as one of its inaugural members.
  • 1840 – Moved to England, as a missionary, and then to the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, which was the headquarters of the church.
  • 1847 – Became the President of Church. Later, moved to Great Salt Lake Valley.
  • 1850 – Founded the University of Deseret ( University of Utah ).
  • 1852 – Publicly acknowledged his polygamy.
  • 1857 – Was removed from the position of governor, after President James Buchanan dispatched United States Army troops to Utah.
  • 1875 – Founded Brigham Young Academy ( now Brigham Young University ).

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