Young, Brigham

Young, Brigham the president and prophet of the Mormons (q.v.), or Latter-day Saints, was born in Whitingham, Vt., June 1, 1801. He was the son of a farmer, received a very limited education, and learned the trade of a painter and glazier. He joined the Baptist Church and preached occasionally with considerable acceptance. In 1832 however, he joined the Mormons at Kirtland, O., became an elder and one of the twelve apostles, and was sent as a missionary in 1835 to make proselytes in the Eastern States, in which he was very successful. His preaching was characterized by a peculiar kind of eloquence, which made a deep impression, and enabled him to rise rapidly in the estimation of the people of his sect, and to acquire almost boundless influence. He possessed, at the same time, great energy and shrewdness and a strong personality, which further enhanced his popularity. After the death of Joseph Smith, in 1844, Young was one of the four aspirants to the presidency, and was unanimously elected' to that office by the apostles. The choice was received with the highest approval, and his principal rival, Sidney Rigdon, was excommunicated. When the Mormons were expelled from Nauvoo in 1846, Young set out to lead the host on their weary journey across the Plains, which terminated only on their reaching Great Salt Lake Valley, which he declared to be the promised land Here he founded Salt Lake City in July, 1847, in which he exercised absolute authority. In March, 1849, a convention was held in that city, a constitution framed, and a State was organized under the name of Deseret, which, in the "reformed Egyptian" language, is said to mean the "Land of the Honey-bee." Congress, however, refused to admit the new state, but Utah Territory was organized, and President Fillmore appointed Brigham Young governor for four years. The next year the United States judges were driven away; and at the termination of the four years for which Young had been appointed governor, Colonel Steptoe was appointed in his place. But on visiting Utah in 1854, he was resisted by the Mormon president, who declared that he would "be governor, and no power could hinder it until the Lord Almighty says, "Brigham, you need not be governor any longer." In 1857 President Buchanan appointed Alfred Cumming governor, and sent him out with a military force of 2500 men for the protection of the Federal officers. This brought matters to a crisis, and the Mormons became peaceable, though not without some concessions on the part of the government.

On Aug. 29, 1852, Young proclaimed the "celestial law of marriage," sanctioning polygamy, which he declared had been revealed to Joseph Smith in July, 1843. This was denounced by Smith's widow and her four sons as a forgery; and, although the Mormon apostles had repeatedly and explicitly denied the imputation of such a doctrine and practice, they now accepted it without much resistance. He took to himself a large number of wives, most of whom resided in a building known as the "Lion House," so called from a huge lion, carved in stone, which stands upon the portico. In addition to his office of president of the Church, he was grand archee of the Order of Danites, a secret organization within the Church, which was one of the chief sources of his absolute power and by organizing and directing the trade and industry of the community for his own advantage he accumulated immense wealth. During the later years of his life and administration, the development of the mining interests of the Territory and of the commercial interests of Salt Lake City brought a great many "gentiles" (as those who are not Mormons are called by that sect) to the Territory and city, and the temporal power of Brigham Young had greatly diminished. He died at Salt Lake City, Aug. 29,1877.

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