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Brigham Young

By  Zeporah H. - Gotha Middle School, Windermere, Florida.

Brigham Young was born in Whitingham, Vermont on June 1,1801. Young was the son of John and Abigail Howe Young. Young was the ninth child out of eleven. When Young was three years old, he and his family moved to western New York where he spent his early life. As a child, he had little schooling, but was taught by his mother and father.

In 1832, at the age of 22 Young was baptized as a Mormon after reading a Mormon Book written by Joseph Smith in 1830.In 1833, Young joined the Mormon settlement in Kirtland, Ohio. After three years of being a Mormon, he was appointed an apostle in the Mormon Church in 1835. He later on became leader of the Mormons when Joseph Smith was killed by an angry mob in 1844.

After being run out of Missouri, Young led 5,000-8,000 men safely to Illinois. In 1847, Young was formally elected leader. In 1850, Young was appointed first governor of the Territory of Utah. Terrible trouble came and Young was removed in 1857.

Throughout Young's life he led many people into being Mormons. He is famous for leading the Mormons out of danger and keeping them together. Young preached and practiced plural marriages. He himself had 27 wives and 56 children. Young died on August 29, 1877.


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YOUNG, Brigham, president of the Mormon church, born in Whitingham, Vermont, 1 June, 1801; died in Salt Lake City, 29 August, 1877. His father, John, a farmer, served in the Revolutionary war. In 1804 Brigham went with his parents to Sherburne, New York, where, until he was sixteen, he received only eleven days' schooling. He then engaged in business and was a carpenter, joiner, painter, and glazier in Mendon, New York


In 1830 he first saw the "Book of Mormon," and a year later he was converted by Samuel H. Smith, the prophet's brother. On 14 April, 1832, he was baptized and began to preach in the vicinity of Mendon. In the autumn of 1832 he went to Kirtland, Ohio, where he became the close friend of Joseph Smith. He was ordained an elder, and in the winter of 1832-'3 was engaged in Canada, preaching, baptizing, and organizing missions. His advancement in the church was rapid, and on 14 February, 1835, he was chosen one of the twelve apostles, becoming their president a year later. Meanwhile much of his time was spent in Kirtland, where he was occupied in working on the Temple and in studying Hebrew, also in travelling, preaching, and making converts.


During 1836-'7 an effort was made to depose the prophet Joseph and appoint David Whitmer president of the church. A council was held for this purpose, at which Young made an earnest plea for Smith, and the meeting terminated unpleasantly. On 22 December, 1837, Brigham Young left Kirtland. He purchased land in Far West, Missouri, in 1838, and settled there; but, in pursuance of the order of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, he and his family left their home and much of their personal property on 14 February, 1839, and returned to Quincy, Illinois


Later he was one of the twelve that founded Nauvoo, and in September of that year set out on a mission to England. His experience there is given in his own words:" We landed in the spring of 1840 as strangers in a strange land and penniless, but through the mercy of God we have printed ... 5,000 ‘Books of Mormon,’ 3,000 hymn-books, 2,500 volumes of the 'Millennial Star,' and 50,000 tracts .... emigrated to Zion 1,000 souls, yet we have lacked nothing to eat, drink, or wear."


The death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage jail was announced to him by letter while he was on a mission in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and he returned to Nauvoo on 6 August. Sidney Rigdon was then claiming leadership in the church, but two days later Young was chosen successor to Smith.


In the autumn the people of Hancock and adjacent counties clamored for the removal of the Mormons from the state. In reply to such a demand, Young said, on 1 October, 1845, that it was the intention of from 5,000 to 6,000 persons to leave Nauvoo early in 1846 to seek a home in the wilderness. Subsequently the charter of Nauvoo was revoked, and the Mormons suffered house-burnings, plundering, whippings, murders, and the fury of mob violence. In pursuance of his promise, many of the Mormons crossed Mississippi river early in February, 1846, and on the 15th of that month President Young and his family set out. On 1 March, while there were still several inches of snow on the ground, the exodus began with about 400 wagons in line. Brigham Young was chosen president in "Camp of Israel " on 27 March, and captains of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens were appointed to conduct the march.


By command of Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, a call was made on President Young, on 26 June, 1846, to furnish 500 men for one year's service during the Mexican war. "You shall have your battalion at once," he replied, and the quota of what was known as "the Mormon battalion" was filled within three days.


On their arrival near what is now Florence, Nebraska, on 21 July, the Omaha and Pottawattamie Indians received them kindly, and urged the fugitives to establish a camp in their midst. President Young accepted this offer, after obtaining the consent of President Polk, and made his winter-quarters there. They laid the settlement out in streets and blocks, on which comfortable log-houses were built and a grist-mill was erected.


On 7 April, 1847, Young, with 142 men, set out in search of a suitable place for a settlement. They entered Salt Lake valley on 24 July, 1847, and, after a survey had been made of the locality and the first house erected, Young returned to winter-quarters on 31 October, 1847, and on 5 December was elected president by the "twelve apostles," with Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as counsellors.


On 26 May, 1848, he set out again, accompanied by his family and 2,000 followers, for Salt Lake City, and arrived there on 20 September A provisional government being requisite until congress should otherwise provide, he was elected on 12 March, 1849, governor of "Deseret," which is understood by the Mormons to signify "the land of the honeybee."


The territory of Utah was established on 9 September, 1850, and on 3 February, 1851, Young took the oath of office as its governor, commander-in-chief of the militia, and superintendent of Indian affairs, to which places he had been appointed by President Fillmore. Under his administration extensive tracts of land were brought under cultivation and large numbers of converts were brought from Europe.


On 29 August, 1852, the doctrine of polygamy was first announced as a tenet of the Mormon church by Brigham Young. He claimed that a revelation commanding it had been made to Joseph Smith: but the widow and four sons of Smith denied ever having seen or heard of any such revelation. Polygamy is strictly forbidden in the "Book of Mormon," the "Doctrine and Covenants," and all Mormon publications that were issued before Smith's death, and many left the church on this question. Subsequently they formed an independent organization under the leadership of one of the sons of Smith.  To sustain the new dogma, papers and periodicals were established in various parts of the world.


Meanwhile the Federal judges were forced by threats of violence to leave Utah, and the laws of the United States were defied and subverted as early as 1850. Colonel Edward Steptoe was sent in 1854 to Utah as governor, with a battalion of soldiers; but he did not deem it, prudent to assume the office, and, after wintering in Salt Lake City, he formally resigned his post and went with his command to California.


Most of the civil officers that were commissioned about the same time with Colonel Steptoe arrived in Utah a few months after he had departed, and were harassed and terrified like their predecessors.


In February, 1856, a mob of armed Mormons, instigated by sermons from the heads of the church, broke into the court-room of the United States district judge and compelled him to adjourn his court. Soon afterward all the United States officers, with the exception of the Indian agent, were forced to flee from the territory. These and other outrages determined President Buchanan to supersede Brigham Young in the office of governor, and to send to Utah a military force to protect the Federal officers. (See CUMMING, ALFRED, and JOHNSTON, ALBERT SIDNEY.) The affair terminated with the acceptance of a pardon by the Mormons, who on their part promised to submit to the Federal authority.


Throughout his life Young encouraged agriculture and manufactures, the opening of roads and the construction of bridges and public edifices, and pursued a conciliatory policy with the Indians. He successfully completed a contract to grade more than 100 miles of the Union Pacific railroad, was the prime mover in the construction of the Utah Central railroad, aided in building the Utah Northern and Utah Western narrow-gauge roads, introduced and fostered co-operation in all branches of business, and extended telegraph-wires to most of the towns of Utah.


Young took to himself a large number of wives, most of whom resided in a building that was known as the "Lion house," from a huge lion carved in stone that stands upon the portico. In 1871 he was indicted for polygamy but not convicted. At the time of his death he left seventeen wives, sixteen sons, and twenty-eight daughters, and had been the father of fifty-six children.


Besides his office of president of the church, Young was grand archer of the order of Danites, a secret organization within the church, which was one of the chief sources of his absolute power, and whose members, it is claimed, committed many murders and other outrages by his orders. By organizing and directing the trade and industry of the community, he accumulated great wealth. His funeral was celebrated with impressive ceremonies, in which more than 30,000 persons participated.


See" The Mormons," by Charles Mackay (London, 1851); "The Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints, in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake," by Lieutenant John W. Gunnison (Philadelphia, 1852); " Utah and the Mormons," by Benjamin G. Ferris (New York, 1856); "Mormonism; its Leaders and Designs," by John Hyde, Jr., formerly a Mormon elder (New York, 1857);" "New America," by William Hepworth Dixon (London, 1867);" "The Rocky Mountain Saints," by Thomas B. H. Stenhouse (New York, 1873); "History of Salt Lake City" (Salt Lake City, 1887); and "Early Days of Mormonism," by James Harrison Kennedy (New York, 1888).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM


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