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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just as easily as President Millard Fillmore made him governor, President James Buchanan took the title away. It was not from lack of success, but simply because the government could not support a polygamist leader. Army troops were sent to Utah and Young was removed as governor.
Brigham Young was reported to have had fifty-five wives. He was the father of fifty-seven children. Of his fifty-seven, eleven died in their early years; just forty-six became adults. At his death he had divorced ten wives, twenty-three outlived him, and twenty-three remained. Information about the other three remains unknown.
Young may have been down, but he was not out. He organized one of the most famous choirs in our country, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. As governor he also founded what would become the University of Utah as well as Brigham Young University. Brigham Young died in 1877. His popularity can be measured by the fact that approximately 15,000 attended his funeral.
A Mormon prophet and religious leader, Brigham Young was an integral factor in the Mormons' movement west after the death of Joseph Smith. As a presidential appointee, Young served as governor with great success and advances for his people. He established programs to develop land, roads, forts, canals, irrigation, temples, and more. He protected the new settlers from native threats and starvation. Young had a part in the settlement of Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Northern Mexico, and Utah. This alone ranks him among the top explorers in United States history. His religious beliefs, including polygamy, lost him popularity with presidents, but not his people.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack