Brigham Young

Brigham Young (/ˈbrɪɡəm/; June 1, 1801 – August 29, 1877)[4] was an American religious leader and politician. He was the second 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 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.

Brigham Young
Brigham Young by Charles William Carter.jpg
Brigham Young c. 1870
2nd President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
December 27, 1847 (1847-12-27) – August 29, 1877 (1877-08-29)
PredecessorJoseph Smith
SuccessorJohn Taylor
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 14, 1840 (1840-04-14) – December 27, 1847 (1847-12-27)
PredecessorThomas B. Marsh
SuccessorOrson Hyde
End reasonBecame President of the Church
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 14, 1835 (1835-02-14) – December 27, 1847 (1847-12-27)
Called byThree Witnesses
End reasonBecame President of the Church
LDS Church Apostle
February 14, 1835 (1835-02-14) – August 29, 1877 (1877-08-29)
Called byThree Witnesses
ReasonInitial organization of Quorum of the Twelve
at end of term
No apostles immediately ordained[1]
1st Governor of Utah Territory
In office
February 3, 1851 – April 12, 1858
PredecessorPosition established
SuccessorAlfred Cumming
Personal details
Born(1801-06-01)June 1, 1801
Whitingham, Vermont, U.S.
DiedAugust 29, 1877(1877-08-29) (aged 76)
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, U.S.
Cause of deathRuptured appendix
Resting placeBrigham Young Cemetery
40°46′13″N 111°53′08″W / 40.7703°N 111.8856°W / 40.7703; -111.8856 (Brigham Young Cemetery)
Spouse(s)See List of Brigham Young's wives
ParentsJohn and Abigail Young
Signature of Brigham Young

Young had many nicknames, among the most popular being "American Moses"[5] (alternatively, "Modern Moses" or "Mormon Moses"),[6][7] 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.[8] Young was dubbed by his followers the "Lion of the Lord" for his bold personality and commonly was called "Brother Brigham" by Latter-day Saints. A polygamist, Young had 55 wives and 56 children. He instituted a ban prohibiting conferring the priesthood on men of black African descent, and led the church in the Utah War against the United States.[9]

Early lifeEdit

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

Young was born the eighth child of John Young and Abigail "Nabby" Howe[10][page needed], a farming family in Whitingham, Vermont. When he was three his family moved to upstate New York settling in Smyrna, New York.[11][page needed] At age 12 he moved with his parents to Aurelius, New York close to Cayuga Lake. When he was 14 his mother died of tuberculosis. After that he moved with his father to Tyrone, New York.

At age 16, Young's father made him leave home. He first worked odd jobs and then became an apprentice to a John C. Jeffries in Auburn, New York. He worked as a carpenter, joiner, glazer and painter.[12] One home that Young helped paint in Auburn was that of Elijah Miller, which later became the residence of William Seward. It is now a local museum. It is claimed by locals that the fireplace mantle of the house was created by Young.[11][page needed] With the onset of the Panic of 1819, Jeffries dismissed Young from his apprenticeship and Young moved to Port Byron.[11][page needed]

Young converted to the Reformed Methodist Church in 1824. This was after a period of deep reading of the Bible. He insisted when joining the Methodists on being baptized by immersion instead of their normal practice of sprinkling.[13][page needed]

Young was first married in 1824 to Miriam Angeline Works, whom he had met in Port Byron. They first lived in a small unpainted house adjacent to the pail factory which was at the time Young's main place of employment. Also in Port Byron, Young joined a debating society. Shortly after the birth of their first daughter the family moved to Oswego, New York on the shores of Lake Ontario. Later on in 1828 they moved to Mendon, New York. Most of Young's siblings had already moved to Mendon, or did so shortly after he moved there. It was here he first became friends with Heber C. Kimball. Here he worked as a carpenter and joiner and built a saw mill that he operated.[11][page needed] In 1832, Miriam died and Young and his two young daughters moved into the household of Kimball and his wife, Vilate.

By this point Young had for all intents and purposes left the Reformed Methodist, becoming a Christian seeker, unconvinced that he had found a church with the true authority of Jesus Christ. As early as 1830, Young was introduced to the Book of Mormon by way of a copy his brother, Phineas Howe, had obtained from Samuel H. Smith. In 1831, five missionaries of the Latter Day Saint movement—Eleazer Miller, Elial Strong, Alpheus Gifford, Enos Curtis, and Daniel Bowen—came from the branch of the church in Columbia, Pennsylvania to preach in Mendon. A key attraction of the teachings of this group to Young was their practicing of spiritual gifts. This was partly experienced when Young traveled with his wife and Kimball to visit the branch of the church in Columbia.[11][page needed]

Young was drawn to the new church after reading the Book of Mormon. He officially joined the Church of Christ on April 14, 1832, being baptized by Eleazer Miller. A branch of the church was organized in Mendon, and Young was one of the regular preachers to the branch. He quickly expanded his area of sharing the restored gospel, traveling southwest to Warsaw, New York and southeast to various towns along Lake Canandaigua.[11] Shortly after this, Young saw Alpheus Gifford speak in tongues and in response Young also spoke in an unknown language. In November 1832, Young travelled with Kimball to Kirtland, Ohio and visited Joseph Smith. During this trip Young spoke in a tongue that was identified by Smith as the "Adamic language".[11][page needed]

In December 1832, Young left his daughters with the Kimballs and set out on a mission with his brother, Joseph, to Upper Canada, primarily to what is now Kingston, Ontario. Later they extended their preaching to various towns along the north shore of Lake Erie. In February 1833, they returned to Mendon. A few months later Young again set out on a mission with his brother, Joseph, this time traveling into the north of New York and then on into modern Ontario.

In the summer of 1833, Young moved to Kirtland, Ohio. Here he met Mary Ann Angell and they were married on February 18, 1834. In Kirtland, Young continued to preach the gospel; in fact Mary Ann first encountered him through hearing him preach. Young also resumed work on building houses. In May 1834, Young became a member of Zion's Camp. He traveled to Missouri and was part of it until it disbanded on July 3, 1834. After his return to Kirtland, Young focused his carpentry work on the Kirtland Temple and also prepared for the birth of his third child, his first son, Joseph A. Young. Mary Ann had largely provided for Young's two daughters on her own while pregnant with her first child while Young was away with Zion's Camp.[11][page needed] In Kirtland, Young was involved in adult education including studying in a Hebrew language class under Joshua Sexias.

Church serviceEdit

Brigham Young c. 1857

Young was ordained a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in May 1835. Later that month, Young left with the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve on a proselytizing mission to New York state and New England. In August 1835, Young and the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve issued a testimony in support of the divine origin of the Doctrine and Covenants. He was then involved in the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in 1836. Shortly after this Young went on another mission with his brother, Joseph, to New York and New England. On this mission he visited the family of his aunt, Rhoda Howe Richards. They converted to the church, including his cousin Willard Richards. He then returned to Kirtland where he remained until events related to anger over the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society forced him to flee the community in December 1837. He then stayed for a short time in Dublin, Indiana with his brother, Lorenzo, and then moved on to Caldwell County, Missouri.[11]

Young became the quorum president in March 1839. Under his direction, the quorum served a mission to the United Kingdom and organized the exodus of Latter Day Saints from Missouri in 1838.

In 1844, while in jail awaiting trial for treason charges, the church's president, Joseph Smith 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.[14] Young opposed this reasoning and motion. Smith had earlier recorded a revelation which stated the Quorum of the Twelve was "equal in authority and power" to the First Presidency,[15] so Young claimed that the leadership of the church fell to the Twelve Apostles.[16] The majority in attendance were persuaded that the Quorum of the Twelve 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, which they attributed to the power of God.[17][18][19][20] 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 westEdit

Repeated conflict led Young to relocate his group of Latter-day Saints to the Salt Lake Valley, which was then part of Mexico. Young organized the journey that would take the Mormon pioneers to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, in 1846, then to the Salt Lake Valley. By the time Young arrived at the final destination, it had come under American control as a result of war with Mexico, although U.S. sovereignty would not be confirmed until 1848. Young arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, a date now recognized as Pioneer Day in Utah. Young's expedition was one of the largest and one of the best organized westward treks.[21] On August 22, 29 days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Young organized the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.[22]

After three years of leading the church as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Young reorganized a new First Presidency and was sustained as the second president of the church on December 27, 1847.

Governor of Utah TerritoryEdit

A beardless Brigham Young in 1853

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 on February 3, 1851.[23] During his time as prophet, Young directed the establishment of settlements throughout present-day Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, California 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; issued a "selective extermination" order against male Timpanogos[24] and after a series of wars eventually made peace with the Native Americans. Young was also one of the first to subscribe to Union Pacific stock, for the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Young organized the first Utah Territorial 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.[25] It was established on February 28, 1850, as the University of Deseret; its name was eventually changed to the University of Utah.

Brigham Young photographed by Charles Roscoe Savage, 1855

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.[26]

Young supported slavery and its expansion into Utah, and led the efforts to legalize and regulate slavery in the 1852 Act in Relation to Service, based on his beliefs on slavery.[27][28] Young said in an 1852 speech, "In as much as we believe in the Bible ... we must believe in slavery. This colored race have been subjected to severe curses ... which they have brought upon themselves."[29] Seven years later in 1859, Young stated in an interview with the New York Tribune[30] that he considered slavery as a 'divine institution and not to be abolished'[31]

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.[32]

LDS Church presidentEdit

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

Educational endeavorsEdit

On October 16, 1875, Young deeded buildings and land in Provo, Utah to a board of trustees for establishing an institution of learning, ostensibly as part of the University of Deseret.[33] 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."[34] The school broke off from the University of Deseret and became Brigham Young Academy,[34] the precursor to Brigham Young University.

Within the church, Young reorganized the Relief Society for women in 1867, and he created organizations for young women in 1869 and young men in 1875.

Temple buildingEdit

Young was involved in temple building throughout his membership in the LDS Church, making it a priority of his church presidency. Under 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.[35] 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 (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.


The majority of Young's teachings are contained in the 19 volumes of transcribed and edited sermons in the Journal of Discourses. The LDS Church's Doctrine and Covenants contains one section from Young that has been canonized as scripture, adding the section in 1876.[36]

Though polygamy was practiced by Young's predecessor Joseph Smith,[37] 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".[38] In 1853, Young made the church's first official statement on the subject since the church had arrived in Utah. Young acknowledged that the doctrine was challenging for many women, but stated its necessity for creating large families, proclaiming: "But the first wife will say, 'It is hard, for I have lived with my husband twenty years, or thirty, and have raised a family of children for him, and it is a great trial to me for him to have more women;' then I say it is time that you gave him up to other women who will bear children."[39]

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.[40][41][42] The LDS Church has since repudiated the Adam–God doctrine.[43]

Young also taught the doctrine of blood atonement, in which the atonement of Jesus does not redeem an eternal sin, which included apostasy, theft, fornication (but not sodomy), or adultery.[44][45] Instead, those who committed such sins could partially atone for their sin by sacrificing their life in a way that sheds blood.[46] The LDS Church has formally repudiated the doctrine as early as 1889,[47] and multiple times since the days of Young.[48][49][50]

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 Smith's presidency.[51] After settling in Utah in 1848, Young announced the ban,[51] 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",[52] 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."[53] These racial restrictions remained in place until 1978, when the policy was rescinded by LDS Church president Spencer W. Kimball,[54] and the LDS Church subsequently "disavow[ed] theories advanced in the past" to explain this ban,[55] thereby "plac[ing] the origins of black priesthood denial blame squarely on Brigham Young."[56]

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."[57]

Young was a vocal opponent of theories of human polygenesis, being a firm voice for stating that all humans were the product of one creation.[58]


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.[59] 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. 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 eventually 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.[citation needed]

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.[60] 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.[61] 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 40 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".[62]


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,[63] Young was suffering from cholera morbus and inflammation of the bowels.[64] It is believed that he died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix.[2] His last words were "Joseph! Joseph! Joseph!", invoking the name of the late Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith.[65] On September 2, 1877, Young's funeral was held in the Tabernacle with an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people in attendance.[66] He is buried on the grounds of the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument in the heart of Salt Lake City. A bronze marker was placed at the grave site June 10, 1938, by members of the Young Men and Young Women organizations, which he founded.[67]

Business ventures and wealthEdit

Young engaged in a vast assortment of commercial ventures by himself and in partnership with others. These included a wagon express company, a ferryboat company, a railroad and the manufacturing of processed lumber, wool, sugar beets, iron, and liquor. Young achieved greatest success in real estate. He also tried to promote Mormon self-sufficiency by establishing collectivist communities, known as the United Order of Enoch.[68]

At the time of his death, Young was the wealthiest man in Utah, with an estimated personal fortune of $600,000 (equivalent to $14,600,000 in 2020).[68]



A century after his death, one writer stated that[69]

[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.

He credited Young's leadership with helping to settle much of the American West:[69]

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.

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

Young's teachings were the 1998–99 course of study in the LDS Church's Sunday Relief Society and Melchizedek priesthood classes.[citation needed]

Views of race and slaveryEdit

Young had a somewhat mixed view of slavery.[71] In January 1852, he declared in a speech that "no property can or should be recognized as existing in slaves."[72][73] This suggests Young was antagonistic towards the existence of slavery. However, two weeks later he declared himself a "firm believer in slavery."[74][75][76] There is also evidence to suggest Young believed in the racial superiority of white men. His manuscript history from January 5, 1852, which was published in the Deseret News, reads:

The negro . . . should serve the seed of Abraham; he should not be a ruler, nor vote for men to rule over me nor my brethren. The Constitution of Deseret is silent upon this, we meant it should be so. The seed of Canaan cannot hold any office, civil or ecclesiastical. . . . The decree of God that Canaan should be a servant of servants unto his brethren (i.e., Shem and Japhet [sic]) is in full force. The day will come when the seed of Canaan will be redeemed and have all the blessings their brethren enjoy. Any person that mingles his seed with the seed of Canaan forfeits the right to rule and all the blessings of the Priesthood of God; and unless his blood were spilled and that of his offspring he nor they could not be saved until the posterity of Canaan are redeemed.[77]

On this topic, Young wrote: "They have not wisdom to act like white men."[78] Young adopted the Curse of Ham doctrine applying it liberally and literally. This designated black Africans and their descendants as servants to the white man. Young also predicted a future in which the Chinese and Japanese people would immigrate to America. He averred that Chinese and Japanese immigrants would need to be governed by white men as they would have no understanding of government.[79]

Family and descendantsEdit

Young was a polygamist, marrying a total of 55 wives, 54 of them after he converted to Mormonism.[80] 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."[81] By the time of his death, Young had 56 children by 16 of his wives; 46 of his children reached adulthood.[2]

Sources have varied on the number of Young's wives, as well as their ages, noting that some Mormons of the time were known to marry girls as young as 12 or 13, sometimes even members of their own family. This is due to differences in what scholars have considered to be a "wife".[80] There were 55 women who 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.[80] 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 their identities.[80] This is in part due to the complexity of how wives were identified in the Mormon society at the time.

Caricature of Young's wives, after his death

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 is unknown.[80] 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."[82] 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.[80] 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.[80]

Notable descendantsEdit

In 1902, 25 years after his death, The New York Times established that Young's direct descendants numbered more than 1,000.[83] Some of Young's descendants have become leaders in the LDS Church.

Cultural referencesEdit

In comicsEdit

Brigham Young appeared at the end of Le Fil qui chante album, the last Lucky Luke album written by Goscinny.[84]

In literatureEdit

The Scottish poet John Lyon, who was an intimate friend of Young, wrote Brigham the Bold in tribute to him after his death.[85][86]

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.

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", 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: "You know father would be the first to admit that his first Sherlock Holmes novel was full of errors about the Mormons."[87]

Mark Twain devoted a chapter and much of an appendix to Young in Roughing It.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., talking about his fondness of trees, joked in his The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table: "I call all trees mine that I have put my wedding-ring on, and I have as many tree-wives as Brigham Young has human ones."[88]

In moviesEdit

Brigham Young was played by Dean Jagger in the 1940 film Brigham Young. Brigham Young was also played by Terence Stamp in the 2007 film, September Dawn. In the 1995 film The Avenging Angel, the role of Brigham Young was played by Charlton Heston.

In televisionEdit

Byron Morrow played Young in a cameo appearance in the Death Valley Days 1966 episode, "An Organ for Brother Brigham". In the story line, the organ built and guided west to Salt Lake City by Joseph Harris Ridges (1827–1914) of Australia becomes mired in the sand. Wagonmaster Luke Winner (Morgan Woodward) feels compelled to leave the instrument behind until Ridges finds solid rock under the sand.[89]

In another Death Valley Days episode in 1969, "Biscuits and Billy, the Kid", Michael Hinn (1913–1988) of the former Boots and Saddles western series was cast as Young. In the story line, the Tugwell family, Jason (Ben Cooper), Ellie (Emily Banks), and Mary (Erin Moran), are abandoned by their guide while on a wagon train from Utah to California.[90]

Gregg Henry depicts Young in the fourth (2014) and fifth (2015) seasons of the TV series Hell on Wheels, a fictional story about the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad. As the competing rail lines approach Utah from the east and west coasts, Young supplies Mormon laborers to both railroad companies and negotiates with the railways to have them make Salt Lake City their meeting point. In the Season 5 mid-season finale, "False Prophets", Young's son, Phineas, attempts to murder his father. Persuaded by The Swede, Phineas believed he was the chosen one to go forward to lead the Mormons, instead of his father.[citation needed]

In theaterEdit

In the 2011 musical The Book of Mormon, Young is portrayed as a tyrannical American regional warlord, cursed by God to have a clitoris for a nose—a parable cautioning against female genital mutilation.[91] He encounters Joseph Smith and attempts to ambush his party of Mormons, but, rather than engaging with "the Clitoris Man", Smith shows mercy, rubbing one of the frogs that God has given him to have sex with to cure his AIDS on Young's face, curing his AIDS, and so moving him that he decides to convert to the faith. Later, after taking up the mantle of Mormon leader following Smith's death from dysentery, Young is among those visited by Jesus and told to have as much sex as they possibly can, to ensure the propagation of the Mormon faith.[91]

Literary worksEdit

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

  • Teachings of President Brigham Young: Salvation for the Dead, the Spirit World, and Kindred Subjects. Seagull Press. 1922.
  • Brigham Young (1925). Discourses of Brigham Young. selected by John A. Widtsoe. Deseret Book.
  • Young, Brigham (1952). The Best from Brigham Young: Statements from His Sermons on Religion, Education, and Community Building. selected by Alice K. Chase. Deseret Book Company.
  • Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801–1844. Eldon J. Watson. 1969.
  • Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846–1847. Eldon J. Watson. 1971.
  • Dean C. Jessee, ed. (1974). Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons. Deseret Book Company.
  • Everett L. Cooley, ed. (1980). Diary of Brigham Young, 1857. Tanner Trust Fund, University of Utah Library.
  • The Essential Brigham Young. Signature Books. 1992. ISBN 1-56085-010-8.
  • Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1997. LDS Church publication number 35554
  • Young, Brigham (2009). Richard Van Wagoner (ed.). The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young. 5. Smith-Pettit Foundation. ISBN 978-1-56085-206-3.

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ A year after Young's death, Orson Hyde died and Moses Thatcher was ordained an apostle. The First Presidency was not reorganized until October 10, 1880, after which Francis M. Lyman and John Henry Smith were ordained. Orson Pratt died in 1881, and the Quorum of the Twelve did not have twelve members again until October 16, 1882, when George Teasdale and Heber J. Grant were ordained.
  2. ^ a b c "Brigham Young Biography: Facts of Faith", Y Facts, BYU, archived from the original on September 20, 2013, retrieved September 19, 2013
  3. ^ Smith 1994, p. 16
  4. ^ "Brigham Young (1801–1877) | FamilySearch". Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  5. ^ "Topics and Background: Topic – Brigham Young", Newsroom (, LDS Church
  6. ^ Gibbons, Francis M. (1981), Brigham Young: Modern Moses, Prophet of God, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, ISBN 978-0877478584
  7. ^ Steorts, Jason Lee (October 29, 2012), "The Mormon Moses", National Review
  8. ^ Nelson, Russell M. (July 1999), "The Exodus Repeated", Ensign, Many instructive parallels exist between the exodus from Egypt of the Israelites under Moses and the exodus from the United States of the Latter-day Saint pioneers under Brigham Young. We can learn much from these stalwarts of ancient and modern Israel.
  9. ^ Roberts, David. "The Brink of War". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution.
  10. ^ Thomas G. Alexander. Brigham Young and the Expansion of Mormonism, University of Oklahoma Press]
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Alexander, Brigham Young
  12. ^ Sheret, John G. (Fall 2006 – Winter 2007), "Brigham Young: Carpenter and Cabinet Maker", The Crooked Lake Review (141)
  13. ^ Aldexander, Brigham Young
  14. ^ Roberts, B. H. (ed.), "XVIII", History of the Church, 7
  15. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 107:23–24
  16. ^ Roberts, B. H. (ed.), "XIX", History of the Church, 7
  17. ^ a b Quinn, D. Michael (1994). The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power. Signature Books. p. 166. ISBN 1-56085-056-6.; Harper 1996; Jorgensen, Lynne Watkins (2005), "The Mantle of the Prophet Joseph Smith Passes to Brother Brigham: One Hundred Twenty-one Testimonies of a Collective Spiritual Witness", in Welch, John W. (ed.), Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844, Provo, Utah: BYU Press, pp. 374–480; England, Eugene (Winter 1978), "George Laub's Nauvoo Journal", BYU Studies, 18: 16, Now when President Young arose to address the congregation his voice was the voice of Bro[ther] Joseph and his face appeared as Joseph's face & should I have not seen his face but heard his voice I should have declared that it was Joseph. [spelling and punctuation normalized]; Burton, William, William Burton Diary, May 1845, LDS Church Archives, But their [Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith's] places were filed by others much better than I once supposed they could have been, the spirit of Joseph appeared to rest upon Brigham"; Johnson, Benjamin F. (1928), My Life's Review, Independence, pp. 103–104, But as soon as he spoke I jumped upon my feet, for in every possible degree it was Joseph's voice, and his person, in look, attitude, dress and appearance; [it] was Joseph himself, personified and I knew in a moment the spirit and mantle of Joseph was upon him"; Life Story of Mosiah Hancock, BYU Library, p. 23, Although only a boy, I saw the mantle of the Prophet Joseph rest upon Brigham Young; and he arose lion-like to the occasion and led the people forth; Woodruff, Wilford (March 15, 1892), "none", Deseret News, If I had not seen him with my own eyes, there is no one that could have convinced me that it was not Joseph Smith; Cannon, George Q. (October 29, 1870), Juvenile Instructor, 5 (22): 174–175, When Brigham Young spoke it was with the voice of Joseph himself; and not only was it the voice of Joseph which was heard, but it seemed in the eyes of the people as though it was the every person of Joseph which stood before themCS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  18. ^ 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.": Van Wagoner, Richard S. (Winter 1995). "The Making of a Mormon Myth: The 1844 Transfiguration of Brigham Young". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 28 (4): 1–24.
  19. ^ Jorgenson, Lynne W. (1996–1997). "The Mantle of the Prophet Joseph Passes to Brother Brigham: A Collective Spiritual Witness". BYU Studies. 36 (4): 125–204.
  20. ^ Arrington, Leonard J. (1986). Brigham Young: American Moses. University of Illinois Press. pp. 114–115. ISBN 0-252-01296-8.
  21. ^ "Brigham Young". Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  22. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions – When was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir formed?",, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, archived from the original on March 29, 2013
  23. ^ "Utah's new capitol grows from humble beginning; first political sessions were held in council house; fight for statehood". Salt Lake Telegram. October 22, 1916. Archived from the original on February 26, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2010.
  24. ^ Christy, Howard A. (Summer 1978). "Open Hand and Mailed Fist: Mormon–Indian Relations in Utah, 1847–52". Utah Historical Quarterly. 46 (3): 216–235 – via Utah Department of Cultural and Community Engagement.
  25. ^ Ison, Yvette D. (January 1995), "The Beginnings of the University of Utah", History Blazer, Utah State Historical Society. Online reprint, with permission, at by the Utah Division of State History, Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, State of Utah.
  26. ^ Chase, Randal S. (2012). Church History Study Guide, Part 3. p. 85. ISBN 9781937901066.
  27. ^ Utah Legislative Assembly (1852). Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah, of the ... Annual Session, for the Years ..., Volume 1. pp. 108–110.
  28. ^ "Brigham Young: We Must Believe in Slavery (23 January 1852)".
  29. ^ Young, Brigham (1987), Collier, Fred C. (ed.), The Teachings of President Brigham Young: Vol. 3 1852–1854, Salt Lake City, Utah: Colliers Publishing Company, pp. 26–28, ISBN 0934964017, OCLC 18192348
  30. ^ "New-York Tribune", Wikipedia, March 24, 2021, retrieved April 8, 2021
  31. ^ "Brigham Young". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved April 8, 2021.
  32. ^ Brigham Young, Utah State Archives
  33. ^ Sloan, Robert W. (1884). Utah Gazatteer and Directory of Logan, Ogden, Provo and Salt Lake Cities, for 1884. Sloan & Dunbar. p. 278.
  34. ^ a b Bills, Sarah (April 16, 2003). "Warren Dusenberry (1875–1876)". The Universe. BYU NewsNet. Archived from the original on February 7, 2012.
  35. ^ Hanks, Marion Duff (1992), "Salt Lake Temple", in Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 1252–1254, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140
  36. ^ "Doctrine and Covenants 136".
  37. ^ "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo".
  38. ^ Richard and Pamela Price (2000), "Vol.1, Ch.4: Brigham Young: The Father of Mormon Polygamy", Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy: How Men Nearest the Prophet Attached Polygamy to His Name in Order to Justify Their Own Polygamous Crimes (self-published), Independence, Missouri: Price Publishing Company, ISBN 1891353063, LCCN 99041763, OCLC 42027453
  39. ^ Watt, G. D. (September 21, 1856). "The People of God Disciplined By Trials—Atonement By the Shedding of Blood—Our Heavenly Father—A Privilege Given to All the Married Sisters in Utah". Journal of Discourses. 4: 56.
  40. ^ Widmer, Kurt (2000), Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830–1915, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, p. 131.
  41. ^ Gary James Bergera, "The Orson Pratt–Brigham Young Controversies: Conflict Within the Quorums, 1853 to 1868" Archived June 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 13(2):7–49 (1980) at p. 41.
  42. ^ Boyd Kirkland, "Jehovah as the Father: The Development of the Mormon Jehovah Doctrine", Sunstone 44:36–44 (1984) at p. 39 (Adam "later begot Jesus, his firstborn spirit son, in the flesh").
  43. ^ Spencer W. Kimball, "Our Own Liahona," Ensign, November 1976, p. 77 ("We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.").
  44. ^ Quinn, D. Michael (2001). Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example. University of Illinois Press. p. 269. ISBN 9780252069581. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  45. ^ Snow, Lowell M. "Blood Atonement". Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  46. ^ Gardner, Martin R. (Spring 1979). "Mormonism and Capital Punishment: A Doctoral Perspective, Past and Present". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 12 (1). Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  47. ^ Roberts, B. H. (1930), "Blood Atonement", Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, pp. 126–137
  48. ^ McConkie, Bruce R (October 18, 1978). "Letter from Bruce R. McConkie to Thomas B. McAffee". Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  49. ^ Church Statement
  50. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher, Concept of Blood Atonement Survives in Utah Despite Repudiation, Salt Lake Tribune November 5, 1994 notes that "In the past decade, potential jurors in every Utah capital homicide were asked whether they believed in the Mormon concept of 'blood atonement.'" In 1994, when the defense in the trial of James Edward Wood alleged that a local church leader had "talked to Wood about shedding his own blood", the LDS First Presidency submitted a document to the court that denied the church's acceptance and practice of such a doctrine, and included the 1978 repudiation. Stack, Peggy Fletcher, 1994. The article also notes that Arthur Gary Bishop, a convicted serial killer, was told by a top church leader that "blood atonement ended with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ."
  51. ^ a b Bush, Lester E., Jr.; Mauss, Armand L. (1984). "Chapter 3: Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview". Neither White nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church. Midvale, Utah: Signature Books. pp. 54–65, 70. ISBN 978-0-941214-22-3.
  52. ^ Bush, Lester E. (Spring 1973), Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview, Dialogue, pp. 54–97, retrieved December 17, 2013
  53. ^ Journal of Discourses, 2, p. 142
  54. ^ "Official Declaration 2", Doctrine and Covenants
  55. ^ Gospel Topics – Race and the Priesthood, LDS Church
  56. ^ "The Mormon Church Disavows Its Racist Past But Still Offers No Apology". HuffPost. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  57. ^ Journal of Discourses, 10, p. 110. See also: miscegenation.
  58. ^ Non, Sic et (August 18, 2015). "Brigham Young against a then-fashionable scientific form of racism".
  59. ^ "Brigham Young", Encarta, archived from the original on October 30, 2009, retrieved October 31, 2009.[unreliable source?]
  60. ^ Eakin, Emily (October 12, 2002). "Reopening a Mormon Murder Mystery; New Accusations That Brigham Young Himself Ordered an 1857 Massacre of Pioneers". The New York Times (Late Edition-Final ed.). p. Section B, Page 9, Column 2.
  61. ^ Brigham Young to Isaac C. Haight, September 10, 1857, Letterpress Copybook 3:827–28, Brigham Young Office Files, LDS Church Archives
  62. ^ Sally Denton (2003). American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857 (New York: Vintage Books, ISBN 0-375-72636-5) p. 210.
  63. ^ "Death of Brigham Young", The New York Times, August 30, 1877.
  64. ^ "Brigham Young's Health", The New York Times, August 29, 1877.
  65. ^ Quinn, D. Michael (August 1977), "Brigham Young: Man of the Spirit", Ensign
  66. ^ "Brigham Young's Funeral", The New York Times, September 3, 1877.
  67. ^ "Grave of Brigham Young". State of Utah. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  68. ^ a b Bringhurst, Newell G. "YOUNG, BRIGHAM". Utah History Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  69. ^ a b Paul, Rodman W. (December 1975 – January 1975), "The Mormons of Yesterday and Today" (PDF), Engineering and Science, California Institute of Technology & Alumni Association, 38 (2): 12–27, retrieved September 19, 2013
  70. ^ "Art: Sculpture – Statues: Brigham Young", Explore Capitol Hill, Architect of the Capitol
  71. ^ Brooks, Joanna (2018). "The Possessive Investment in Rightness: White Supremacy and the Mormon Movement". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 51 (3): 45–82. JSTOR 10.5406/dialjmormthou.51.3.0045.
  72. ^ G. Bringhurst, Newell (1981). Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 335. ISBN 0313227527.
  73. ^ Reeve, Paul W. (2015). Religion of a Different Color Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. Oxford University Press. p. 149. ISBN 978-0199754076.
  74. ^ Harris and Bringhurst (2012). The Mormon Church and Blacks. Cambridge: Harvard Belknap. pp. 32–35. ISBN 978-0252081217.
  75. ^ Reeve (2012). Religion of a Different Color. Cambridge: Harvard Belknap. pp. 148–159. ISBN 978-0199754076.
  76. ^ Turner, John (2012). Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. Cambridge: Harvard Belknap. pp. 225–226. ISBN 978-0674049673.
  77. ^ “History of Brigham Young,” entry dated Jan. 5, 1852, Church Historian’s Office Records Collection, LDS Church Archives (quoted in Ricks, “A Peculiar Place,” 114).
  78. ^ History of Brigham Young,” entry dated 5 Jan. 1852, in Church Historian’s Office Records Collection, LDSCA.
  79. ^ Brigham Young Address to Legislature - Feb 5, 1852. Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. February 5, 1852. pp. 1–2.
  80. ^ a b c d e f g Johnson, Jeffrey Odgen (Fall 1987), "Determining and Defining 'Wife' – The Brigham Young Households", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 20 (3): 57–70
  81. ^ "People & Events – Polygamy and the Church: A History", The Mormons, PBS, April 30, 2007, retrieved September 19, 2013
  82. ^ DeHegermann-Lindencrone, Lillie. "The Sunny Side of Diplomatic Life, 1875–1912". Project Gutenberg. Retrieved July 18, 2006.
  83. ^ "Descendants of Brigham Young to Hold Annual Mass Meetings", The New York Times, June 22, 1902.
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  85. ^ Lyon, T. Edgar (1989). John Lyon : the life of a pioneer poet. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University. ISBN 0-88494-708-4.
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External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Governor of Utah Territory
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