Brigham Young 1801–1877


“Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, succeeded Joseph Smith, founder of the Church, who was martyred at Carthage, Illinois. He was chosen as leader of the people in 1844 and sustained as president of the Church December 27, 1847.

“Earlier that year he led the Mormon pioneers from Winter Quarters (Omaha) to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving here July 24. In 1849 he became governor of the Provisional State of Deseret, and in 1850 governor of the territory of Utah.”

These few words next to a native stone slab mark the final earthly resting place of Brigham Young, located two blocks east of the Salt Lake Temple.

Called Brother Brigham by many of his associates, President Young was known by others who loved and respected him as the Lion of the Lord. This valiant and fearless leader, who claimed less than a dozen days of formal schooling, combined his calling as a prophet, his practical sense as a builder, and his knowledge of human nature to become a pioneer leader and a statesman of unequaled ability. Yet in addition to his broad vision as spiritual leader and colonizer, he often directed his gentleness and concern for children to their parents:

“When your children arise in the morning, instead of sending them out of doors to wash in cold, hard water, with a little soft soap, and wiping them as though you would tear the skin off them, … take a piece of soft flannel, and wipe the faces of your children smooth and nice, dry them with a soft cloth; and instead of giving them pork for their breakfast, give them good wholesome bread and sweet milk, baked potatoes … and a little fruit, and I would have no objections to their eating a little rice. Rice is an excellent food for children.”

To children, Brigham Young counseled:

“Obey your parents, be good . … Although you are young you know good from evil.”

After the death of Joseph Smith when even some staunch members fell away from the Church, Brigham Young’s love for the Prophet and his loyalty to him and to the Church remained unchanged. Speaking to a congregation at the Bowery on Temple Square in Great Salt Lake City in 1855, he said:

“I feel like shouting hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith.” True to the end, Brigham Young’s last words before he died—as though the Prophet were calling him—were “Joseph! Joseph! Joseph! Joseph!”

[illustration] Illustrated by Howard Boughner