Young, Brigham 
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Time Period
6/1/1801  - 8/29/1877
Description
Brigham Young was very loyal to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). After converting to Mormonism in 1832, he became one of Smith’s most valued advisors, serving on councils and leading Mormons from Missouri to Illinois after Smith was murdered in prison. He succeeded Smith as the second LDS president.

Young is responsible for the prosperity and growth of Mormonism in two ways. First, he led an exodus of persecuted Mormons to present-day Utah (1846-1847). Second, he oversaw international mission work, which helped increase church membership to approximately 150,000 by 1877.

Critics have noted his controversial history of plural marriage, ban on African-American priesthood, tacit support for slavery, and wars with the American government. In any case, Young is one of the most influential leaders in LDS history and is directly responsible for the expansion of Mormonism to the American West and overseas.
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Narrative
Brigham Young (1801-1877) was very loyal to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Living 40 miles away from Smith, he converted from Methodism to Mormonism after believing that Smith was a prophet and the Book of Mormon was divine. He became one of Smith’s most valued advisors, serving on councils and leading the Mormons from Missouri to Illinois during Smith’s imprisonment. He became the second LDS president after Smith was murdered in prison. Smith's first wife, Emma, and other members split off and formed the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, for they believed that Smith’s successor should come from his bloodline and disagreed with Young’s approval of plural marriage.

Brigham Young is famously known for leading an exodus of Mormons to "Deseret," later known as Utah. This journey began in 1846, only a couple years after Brigham Young was named Joseph Smith’s successor. The exodus of Mormons was likened to the Hebrew exodus out of Egypt, and Young is viewed as an "American Moses" because of his brave leadership. Utah itself was viewed as a Mormon "Zion" and the Mormons were God’s "chosen people." Young became governor in 1849 and Utah was officially incorporated into the United States as a territory in 1850. The government became theocratic and the authority of Young was interpreted as divinely willed.

In addition, he oversaw international mission work to places like Canada and England, which increased church growth to approximately 150,000 members at the time of his death in 1877.

Critics of Young point to his acceptance of "plural marriage" in the LDS church and his marriage to 55 different women as evidence of lechery. The banishment of African-Americans from priesthood and tacit support for slavery in Utah has been a controversial aspect of Mormon history. Both issues of plural marriage and slavery led President James Buchanan to attempt removing Young from his governorship in Utah, but Young stood his ground and prevailed. Relations between Mormons and non-Mormons reached a low point when Mormons murdered more than 100 non-Mormons, who were passing through southern Utah in a wagon train, in what is famously known as the "Mountain Meadows massacre."

Young is one of the most influential leaders in LDS history and is directly responsible for the expansion of Mormonism to the American West and overseas.
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Latter-day Saints Family (Mormonism)
Latter-day Saints Family (Mormonism): Other ARDA Links

Events
Utah
Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act
Utah Mormon War
Photographs

Brigham Young portrait- Internet Archive- from Life of Brigham Young by Edward W. Tullidge

Brigham Young and his wives- Internet Archive- from Brigham Young and his Mormon Empire by Frank J. Cannon and George L. Knapp

Brigham Young portrait- US History Images

Brigham Young portrait- Internet Archive- from Brigham Young and his Mormon Empire by Frank J. Cannon and George L. Knapp
Book/Journal Source(s)
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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