Brigham Young: Biography, History & Facts

Instructor: Thomas Davis

Thomas has taught high school age students for 34 years, undergraduate 12 years, and graduate courses for the last 8 years. He has a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University in Evanston, Illinois.

Brigham Young was greatly responsible for the shaping of the American west. He led the Mormons and their Latter-day Saint movement to Utah and was popularly known as the Mormon Moses or American Moses.

Prophet & Explorer

The second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young was, in their eyes, a prophet. Young led the Mormons from Nauvoo Colony in Illinois westward to Utah. Upon arrival, he established a government for the Saints. As governor, he created multiple programs including roads, bridges, forts, irrigation ditches, public welfare programs, and more. He served a major role in establishing settlements in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Northern Mexico, and Utah. When Young wished to light up the people with a speech, few were better. His vision was responsible for the building of more temples than any other Mormon leader. This lesson will examine the life and contributions of Brigham Young.

Brigham Young
young young

Farming & Faith

As the ninth of eleven children, Brigham Young was born on June 1, 1801. He was the son of John Young and Abigail Howe. Born in Whittingham, Vermont, the family was very poor and constantly on the move throughout New York state. As a child on the farm he did regular, simple jobs such as clearing land, fishing, building, and digging. As the farm progressed, he worked in the fields, planting and cultivating. As a young man, he also had the responsibility of caring for his mother, who was ill with tuberculosis.

A Methodist as a young man, Brigham read the Book of Mormon¬¬ and was curious to learn more. He married Miriam Angeline Works in 1824 and converted to Mormonism in 1832. Later that year, his wife died and Young joined the Mormons establishing Kirkland, a new community in Ohio. Young was an initial member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and was ordained as an apostle in 1835. In 1840, he lost his property, then went to England on a mission. When he returned he established the community called Nauvoo in Illinois.

Migrating Mormons

The founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith was murdered in Nauvoo, Illinois. A senior member of the church named Sidney Rigdon tried to take over, but Young said they were all equal and should share the leadership. His opposition was seen by the Mormons as a sign he should lead. In 1847, Young took over and was named the Second President of the Mormons.

It was a rough start for Young, as anti-Mormon violence in Nauvoo was prevalent. The Mormons decided to move from Illinois and head west. By July 24, 1847, the Mormons had migrated in mass all the way to the Salt Lake Valley.

Brigham Young Governor

Governor Young & Growth

President Millard Fillmore appointed Brigham Young governor of the new territory and give him charge over native affairs. As a governor of the territory, Brigham Young was very productive. Roads, bridges, forts, and irrigation ditches were all put in operation in a short time. Other concerns addressed by Governor Young were organizing militia, keeping the Native Americans happy, and public welfare programs. What many do not realize about Brigham Young is that he established communities in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Northern Mexico, and of course, Utah. This made him one of the greatest colonizers in United States history.

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