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Brigham Young

This statue of Brigham Young, contained in the NSHC, depicts the LDS prophet as he appeared during most of his tenure as leader of the church.
This statue of Brigham Young, contained in the NSHC, depicts the LDS prophet as he appeared during most of his tenure as leader of the church.

Brigham Young (June 1, 1801August 29, 1877) was the second prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church; see also Mormonism). After church founder Joseph Smith, Jr., Young is perhaps the most important person in LDS history.

Young had a variety of monikers, among the most popular of which is "The American Moses",[1] (sometimes "The Modern Moses" or "The Mormon Moses" [2] ) because, like the biblical figure, he led his followers in an often arduous "exodus" through a desert, to what they saw as a "promised land". He was also dubbed "The Lion of the Lord" for his bold personality.



Young was born to a farming family in Vermont and worked as a traveling carpenter and blacksmith, among other trades. Young first married in 1824.

Though he had converted to the Methodist faith in 1823, Young was drawn to Mormonism after reading the Book of Mormon shortly after its publication in 1830. He officially joined the new church in 1832 and traveled to Canada as a missionary. After his first wife died in 1833, Young joined many Mormons in establishing a community in Kirtland, Ohio.

Young was strongly committed to his new faith. He was ordained an apostle and joined the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as one of the first members on February 14, 1835. In 1840 and 1841, he went to England as a missionary for his church. Many of those Young converted moved to the United States to join Mormon communities there. In the 1840s Young was among those who established the city of Nauvoo, Illinois on the Mississippi River. It became the headquarters of the church and was larger than the city of Chicago.

After Smith was murdered in 1844, there were several claimants to his role as prophet and leader. Most members—including Smith's mother and surviving brothers—considered Young, as leader of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Smith's most legitimate successor. However, a number of Mormons—later including Smith's wife and children (who had originally approved Young)—rejected Young's leadership; some formed a number of other churches. See Latter-day Saint movement.

Within two years, repeated conflict led many Latter-day Saints to relocate to a territory in what is now Utah; then part of Mexico. Young played a crucial role in keeping the church together by organizing the journey that would take the faithful to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, in 1846, then to Utah's Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, a date now recognized as a holiday in Utah known as Pioneer Day.

In Utah, Young directed religious and economic matters. He encouraged independence and self-sufficiency. Many cities and towns in Utah and neighboring states were founded under Young's direction. Some have accused Young of being an autocrat during his leadership in Utah. [3] Others disagree with this assessment, perhaps seeing Young as a strong, inspiring leader during a challenging era, and further noting his reputation and legacy are generally well-regarded.

Young was perhaps the most famous polygamist of the early church. Young married approximately 27 women and had 56 known children. In 1856 he built The Lion House to accommodate his family.

In addition to founding the University of Utah, Young also organized the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Brigham Young University is named after him. In 1950, the state of Utah donated a marble statue of Young to the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.

Prominent football player Steve Young is a descendant of Brigham Young.

See also


External links

  • Biography from Brigham Young University
  • Short biography of Young from
  • PBS profile

Preceded by:
Joseph Smith, Jr.
President of the LDS Church
Succeeded by:
John Taylor

Previously ordained:
David Wyman Patten
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Next ordained:
Heber C. Kimball

Last updated: 02-07-2005 16:58:38
Last updated: 02-11-2005 17:47:38