Brigham Young: The American Moses
Brigham Young, often referred to as the American Moses or the Great Colonizer, played a pivotal role in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He led thousands of religious refugees across the uncivilized western frontier of the United States, establishing numerous successful settlements. Born on 1 June 1801 in Vermont, Young had a humble beginning and received only 11 days of formal schooling. Despite this, he became an accomplished carpenter, joiner, painter, and glazier.
Young’s conversion to the Church was a result of two years of serious examination of the Book of Mormon, following which he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He later went on to lead the Church as its second president for 30 years, leaving an indelible mark on its history.
Leadership and Legacy
Brigham Young supervised the overland trek of 60,000 to 70,000 pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley from various staging points, founded 350 to 400 settlements in Utah and other states, and established a system of land distribution later ratified by Congress. He also established the Perpetual Emigration Fund in 1849 to assist poor Latter-day Saint immigrants, aiding some 30,000 individuals from Europe in reaching America.
Young’s contributions extended beyond religious leadership. He served as the first territorial governor of Utah, the first superintendent of Indian affairs of Utah Territory, and was involved in building telegraph and railroad lines. Additionally, he was a proponent of women’s suffrage and founded the institutions that would later become Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.
Controversies and Challenges
Brigham Young was also known for his practice of plural marriage, having married at least 20 women, with whom he had 57 children. While the Church later rescinded plural marriage, Young’s legacy in this regard remains a topic of historical significance.
Young’s leadership was not without controversy, as his defiant stance toward outside authority led to clashes with the federal government. The Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857, where a band of armed Mormons attacked a wagon train of non-Mormons, remains a dark chapter associated with his leadership.
Death and Legacy
Brigham Young passed away on 29 August 1877 at his home in Salt Lake City at the age of 76. Despite his limited formal education, his impact on the Church and the development of the western United States was profound and enduring.
Young’s leadership, vision, and contributions continue to be remembered and studied, shaping the historical narrative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the western frontier of the United States.
1. How did Brigham Young die?
Brigham Young died following an illness on 29 August 1877 at his home in Salt Lake City. He was 76 years old.
2. What was Brigham Young known for?
Brigham Young was known for his leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his role in the westward migration of Mormons, and his establishment of numerous settlements in the western United States.
3. What is the significance of the Perpetual Emigration Fund established by Brigham Young?
The Perpetual Emigration Fund, established by Brigham Young, assisted poor Latter-day Saint immigrants from Europe in reaching America, aiding some 30,000 individuals and contributing to the growth of the Mormon community in the United States.
4. What controversies are associated with Brigham Young’s leadership?
Brigham Young’s practice of plural marriage and the Mountain Meadows Massacre are among the controversies associated with his leadership, shaping historical discussions and debates about his legacy.
5. What was Brigham Young’s role in the development of educational institutions?
Brigham Young founded the institutions that would later become Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, emphasizing his advocacy for education despite his limited formal schooling.
6. How is Brigham Young remembered today?
Brigham Young is remembered as a significant figure in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the development of the western United States, with his leadership, vision, and contributions continuing to be studied and commemorated.