Brigham Young

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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

Brigham Young (/ˈbrɪɡəm/; June 1, 1801 – August 29, 1877)[3] 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 worked to establish the learning institutions which would later become the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.

Young had many nicknames, among the most popular being "American Moses"[4] (alternatively, "Modern Moses" or "Mormon Moses"),[5][6] 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.[7] 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 brought from the United States.[8]

Early life[edit]

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

Young was born the ninth child of John Young and Abigail "Nabby" Howe[9], a farming family living in Whitingham, Vermont. When he was three years old his family moved to upstate New York, settling in Smyrna, New York.[9]: 9  At age twelve, he moved with his parents to Aurelius, New York, close to Cayuga Lake. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was fourteen years old. Following her death, he moved with his father to Tyrone, New York.

At age sixteen, Young's father made him leave home. He worked odd jobs before becoming an apprentice to John C. Jeffries in Auburn, New York. He worked as a carpenter, joiner, glazier, and painter.[10] One of the homes that Young helped paint in Auburn belonged to Elijah Miller and later to William Seward, and 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.[9]: 18 

Young converted to the Reformed Methodist Church in 1824 after a period of deep study of the Bible. Upon joining the Methodists, he insisted on being baptized by immersion rather than by their normal practice of sprinkling.[9]: 15 

Young was married in 1824 to Miriam Angeline Works, whom he had met in Port Byron.[9]: 18  They first resided in a small unpainted house adjacent to a pail factory, which was Young's main place of employment at the time. While 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 shore of Lake Ontario, and in 1828 they moved to Mendon, New York.[9]: 19  Most of Young's siblings had already moved to Mendon, or did so shortly after he arrived there. It was in Mendon that he first became friends with Heber C. Kimball. Young worked as a carpenter and joiner, and built a saw mill that he operated.[11][page needed] Miriam died in 1832, and Young and his two young daughters moved into the household of Kimball and his wife, Vilate.

By this point Young had effectively left the Reformed Methodist church and become a Christian seeker, unconvinced that he had found a church possessing the true authority of Jesus Christ. As early as 1830, Young was introduced to the Book of Mormon by way of a copy that 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 element of the teachings of this group in Young's eyes was their practicing of spiritual gifts. This was partly experienced when Young had traveled with his wife Miriam and Heber C. Kimball to visit the branch of the church in Columbia.[9]: 26 

Young was drawn to the new church after reading the Book of Mormon. He officially joined the Church of Christ on April 14, 1832, and was 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 began sharing the restored gospel in other areas, 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 Jr. During this trip Young spoke in a tongue that was identified by Smith as the "Adamic language".[9]: 32 

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. They later extended their preaching to various towns along the north shore of Lake Erie, returning to Mendon in February of 1833.[9]: 34  A few months later Young again set out on a mission with his brother Joseph, this time traveling into the north of New York before continuing on into modern Ontario.

In the summer of 1833, Young moved to Kirtland, Ohio. Here he became acquainted with Mary Ann Angell, and the two were married on February 18, 1834. In Kirtland, Young continued to preach the gospel; in fact he first met Mary Ann when she came to hear him preach. Young also resumed work on building houses for the arriving saints. In May 1834, Young became a member of Zion's Camp, and traveled to Missouri and remained until the camp's disbandment on July 3, 1834. After his return to Kirtland, Young focused his carpentry work on the Kirtland Temple while preparing for the birth of his third child and first son, Joseph A. Young. Mary Ann, who was pregnant at the time, had largely provided for Young's two daughters on her own 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 service[edit]

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.[9]

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 filed treason charges, the church's president, Joseph Smith, Jr. was killed by an armed mob who stormed the jail. 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.[12] 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,[13] so Young claimed that the leadership of the church fell to the Twelve Apostles.[14] 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.[15][16][17][18] Young was set apart as 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]

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.[19] On August 22, 29 days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Young organized the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.[20]

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 Territory[edit]

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.[21] 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[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

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.[25][26] 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."[27] Seven years later in 1859, Young stated in an interview with the New York Tribune[28] that he considered slavery as a 'divine institution and not to be abolished'[29]

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.[30]

LDS Church president[edit]

Young is the longest-serving president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to date, having served for 29 years.

Educational endeavors[edit]

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.[31] 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."[32] The school broke off from the University of Deseret and became Brigham Young Academy,[32] 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 building[edit]

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.[33] 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.[34]

Though polygamy was practiced by Young's predecessor Joseph Smith, Jr.,[35] 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".[36] 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."[37]

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 tree of knowledge of good and evil. 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.[38][39][40] The LDS Church has since repudiated the Adam–God doctrine.[41]

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.[42][43] Instead, those who committed such sins could partially atone for their sin by sacrificing their life in a way that sheds blood.[44] The LDS Church has formally repudiated the doctrine as early as 1889,[45] and multiple times since the days of Young.[46][47][48]

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 to white men in this respect under Smith's presidency.[49] After settling in Utah in 1848, Young announced the ban,[49] 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",[50] 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."[51] These racial restrictions remained in place until 1978, when the policy was rescinded by President Spencer W. Kimball,[52] and the church subsequently "disavow[ed] theories advanced in the past" to explain this ban,[53] thereby "plac[ing] the origins of black priesthood denial blame squarely on Brigham Young."[54]

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."[55]

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.[56]

Mormon Reformation[edit]

During 1856 and 1857, a period of renewed emphasis on spirituality within the church known as the Mormon Reformation took place under Young's direction.[57] The Mormon Reformation called for a spiritual reawakening among members of the church, and took place largely in the Utah Territory. Jedediah M. Grant, one of the key figures of the Reformation and one of Young's counselors, traveled throughout the Territory preaching to Latter-day Saint communities and settlements with the goal of inspiring them to reject sin and turn towards spiritual things. As part of the Reformation, almost all "active" or involved LDS Church members were rebaptized as a symbol of their commitment.[58] At a church meeting on September 21, 1856, Brigham Young stated: “We need a reformation in the midst of this people; we need a thorough reform.”[59] Large gatherings and meetings during this period were conducted by Young and Grant, and Young played a key role in the circulation of the Mormon Reformation with his emphasis on plural marriage, rebaptism, and passionate preaching and oration.[11] It was during this period that the controversial doctrine of blood atonement was occasionally preached by Young, though it was repudiated in 1889 and never practiced by members of the church.[60] The Reformation appeared to have ended completely by early 1858.[61]


Shortly after the arrival of Young's pioneers, the new Latter-day Saint 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 appointed 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.[62] 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 Latter-day saint 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.[63] 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 members of the church in Parowan and Cedar City, he sent back a letter directing that the Fancher party be allowed to pass through the territory unmolested.[64] 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".[65]


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,[66] Young was suffering from cholera morbus and inflammation of the bowels.[67] 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 Jr, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement.[68] On September 2, 1877, Young's funeral was held in the Tabernacle with an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people in attendance.[69] 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.[70]

Business ventures and wealth[edit]

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.[71]

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).[71]



A century after his death, one writer stated that[72]

[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:[72]

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;[73] 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 slavery[edit]

Young had a somewhat mixed view of slavery.[74] In January 1852, he declared in a speech that "no property can or should be recognized as existing in slaves."[75][76] This suggests Young was antagonistic towards the existence of slavery. However, two weeks later he declared himself a "firm believer in slavery."[77][78][9] 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.[79]

On this topic, Young wrote: "They have not wisdom to act like white men."[80] 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.[81]

Family and descendants[edit]

Young was a polygamist, marrying a total of fifty-six wives.[82] The policy and practice of polygamy was difficult for many in the church to accept. Young stated that upon being taught about plural marriage by Joseph Smith: "It was the first time in my life that I desired the grave."[83] By the time of his death, Young had fifty-seven children by sixteen of his wives; forty-six of his children reached adulthood.[84]

Sources have varied on the number of Young's wives, as well as their ages. This is due to differences in what scholars have considered to be a "wife".[85] There were fifty-five women who Young was sealed to during his lifetime. While the majority of the sealings were "for eternity", some were "for time only," meaning that Young was sealed to these women as a proxy for their previous husbands who had passed away. Researchers now know that not all of the fifty-six marriages were conjugal.[85] 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.[85] Thirty-one of his wives were not connubial and had exchanged eternity-only vows with him, and he only had children by sixteen of his wives.[84]

Caricature of Young's wives, after his death

Of Young's fifty-six wives, twenty-one had never been married before; seventeen were widows; six were divorced; six had living husbands and the marital status of six others is unknown.[85] Young built the Lion House, the Beehive House, the Gardo House, and the White House in downtown Salt Lake City to accommodate his sizable family. The Beehive House and the Lion House remain as prominent Salt Lake City landmarks. At the time of Young's death, nineteen of his wives had predeceased him; he was divorced from ten, and twenty-three survived him. The status of four was unknown.[85] A few of his wives served in administrative positions in the church, such as Zina Huntington and Eliza R. Snow. In his will, Young shared his estate with the sixteen surviving wives who had lived with him; the six surviving non-conjugal wives were not mentioned in the will.[85]

Notable descendants[edit]

In 1902, 25 years after his death, The New York Times established that Young's direct descendants numbered more than 1,000.[86] Some of Young's descendants have become leaders in the LDS Church, as well as prominent political and cultural figures.[87][88][89]

Cultural references[edit]

In comics[edit]

Brigham Young appeared at the end of Le Fil qui chante album, the last Lucky Luke album written by Goscinny.[90]

In literature[edit]

The Scottish poet John Lyon, who was an intimate friend of Young, wrote Brigham the Bold in tribute to him after his death.[91][92]

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."[93]

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."[94]

In movies[edit]

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 television[edit]

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.[95]

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.[96]

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 theater[edit]

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.[97] 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.[97]

Literary works[edit]

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 also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  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 "Brigham Young Biography: Facts of Faith", Y Facts, BYU, archived from the original on September 20, 2013, retrieved September 19, 2013
  3. ^ "Brigham Young (1801–1877) | FamilySearch". Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  4. ^ "Topics and Background: Topic – Brigham Young", Newsroom (, LDS Church
  5. ^ Gibbons, Francis M. (1981), Brigham Young: Modern Moses, Prophet of God, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, ISBN 978-0877478584
  6. ^ Steorts, Jason Lee (October 29, 2012), "The Mormon Moses", National Review
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Roberts, David. "The Brink of War". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k G., Turner, John (2014). Brigham Young : pioneer prophet. Belknap Harvard. ISBN 0-674-41685-6. OCLC 894538617.
  10. ^ Sheret, John G. (Fall 2006 – Winter 2007), "Brigham Young: Carpenter and Cabinet Maker", The Crooked Lake Review (141)
  11. ^ a b c d e Alexander, Thomas G (2019). Brigham Young and the expansion of the Mormon faith. ISBN 978-0-8061-6446-5. OCLC 1098034245.
  12. ^ Roberts, B. H. (ed.), "XVIII", History of the Church, 7
  13. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 107:23–24
  14. ^ Roberts, B. H. (ed.), "XIX", History of the Church, 7
  15. ^ a b Quinn, D. Michael (1994). The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power. Signature Books. p. 166. ISBN 1-56085-056-6.; 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)
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Arrington, Leonard J. (1986). Brigham Young: American Moses. University of Illinois Press. pp. 114–115. ISBN 0-252-01296-8.
  19. ^ "Brigham Young". Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  20. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions – When was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir formed?",, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, archived from the original on March 29, 2013
  21. ^ "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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Chase, Randal S. (2012). Church History Study Guide, Part 3. p. 85. ISBN 9781937901066.
  25. ^ 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.
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  27. ^ 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
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  32. ^ a b Bills, Sarah (April 16, 2003). "Warren Dusenberry (1875–1876)". The Universe. BYU NewsNet. Archived from the original on February 7, 2012.
  33. ^ 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
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  35. ^ "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo".
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  38. ^ Widmer, Kurt (2000), Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830–1915, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, p. 131.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ 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").
  41. ^ 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.").
  42. ^ 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.
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  46. ^ McConkie, Bruce R (October 18, 1978). "Letter from Bruce R. McConkie to Thomas B. McAffee". Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  47. ^ Church Statement
  48. ^ 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."
  49. ^ 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.
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  51. ^ Journal of Discourses, 2, p. 142
  52. ^ "Official Declaration 2", Doctrine and Covenants
  53. ^ Gospel Topics – Race and the Priesthood, LDS Church
  54. ^ "The Mormon Church Disavows Its Racist Past But Still Offers No Apology". HuffPost. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  55. ^ Journal of Discourses, 10, p. 110. See also: miscegenation.
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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Governor of Utah Territory
Succeeded by
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by President of the Church
December 27, 1847 – August 29, 1877
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
March 17, 1839 – December 27, 1847
Succeeded by
Preceded by Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 14, 1835 – December 27, 1847
Succeeded by