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Brigham Young

QUESTION: Who was Brigham Young?


Brigham Young is best known for much of his work as head of the Mormon Church as well as founding much of the Mormon community in Utah. He is largely recognized as the author of one of the most important parts of the history of the American West. This is most readily recognized in his leadership of the Mormon Church.

Although he had converted to Methodism in 1823, Brigham Young was very interested in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from his first encounter with the Book of Mormon in 1830. This newly formed church was headed up by Joseph Smith. Two years later, Young was baptized into the Mormon church, and the same year went to Canada as a missionary.

In 1833 he led several of his friends and many members of his family to join Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio for a gathering of Mormons. By 1841, Joseph Smith was so impressed with Young that he was made the President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles which is the governing body of the Mormon Church. This made Young second in authority only to Smith himself.

Some time later, Joseph Smith was murdered by an anti-mormon mob and Brigham Young took over. In 1844, he was named president and prophet of the church, inheriting the authority of Joseph Smith. Several members disagreed with his presidency and they broke off to join the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now called Community of Christ).

Less than ten years later, Utah was organized as a territory, and Brigham Young became its governor and superintendent of Indian Affairs. In addition to being the founder of the University of Utah, Young also organized the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Also Brigham Young University is named after him.

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