Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet by John G. TurnerBrigham Young was a rough-hewn craftsman from New York whose impoverished and obscure life was electrified by the Mormon faith. He trudged around the United States and England to gain converts for Mormonism, spoke in spiritual tongues, married more than fifty women, and eventually transformed a barren desert into his vision of the Kingdom of God. While previous accounts of his life have been distorted by hagiography or polemical expose, John Turner provides a fully realized portrait of a colossal figure in American religion, politics, and westward expansion.
After the 1844 murder of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Young gathered those Latter-day Saints who would follow him and led them over the Rocky Mountains. In Utah, he styled himself after the patriarchs, judges, and prophets of ancient Israel. As charismatic as he was autocratic, he was viewed by his followers as an indispensable protector and by his opponents as a theocratic, treasonous heretic.
Under his fiery tutelage, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defended plural marriage, restricted the place of African Americans within the church, fought the U.S. Army in 1857, and obstructed federal efforts to prosecute perpetrators of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. At the same time, Youngs tenacity and faith brought tens of thousands of Mormons to the American West, imbued their everyday lives with sacred purpose, and sustained his church against adversity. Turner reveals the complexity of this spiritual prophet, whose commitment made a deep imprint on his church and the American Mountain West.
How to Condemn Racism and Still Call Brigham Young a Prophet
On Sept. The massacre lasted less than five minutes, but when it was over, men, women and children had been clubbed, stabbed or shot at point-blank range. Their corpses, stripped of clothes and jewelry, were left to be picked apart by wolves and buzzards. It was one of the worst American civilian atrocities of the 19th century. But despite two trials, one execution and many official investigations, the event -- known as the Mountain Meadows massacre -- remains shrouded in mystery and rumor. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormon church -- has steadfastly denied responsibility, first blaming Indians and later a rogue church official for the crime. But now two authors who have studied the massacre say Brigham Young, the formidable church leader who built a Mormon kingdom in an oasis in the arid wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, masterminded the killings and then conspired to cover up his role.
A carpenter, joiner, painter, and glazier, Young settled in at Mendon, New York, near where the Book of Mormon was published in In the spring of he joined in the march to Missouri to help dispossessed Mormons regain their lands. He was named third of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in In , when the Mormons were driven out of Missouri, Young, who had become senior member of the Quorum, directed the move to Nauvoo , Illinois. In he went to England, where he established a mission that contributed many British converts to the Mormon church in America and that opened the way to winning converts on the European continent, especially in Scandinavia. He returned to Nauvoo and took command of the church.
Colonizer of Utah
Brigham Young University Devotional with President Russell M. Nelson
As head of the Mormon Church and architect of the Mormon colony in Utah, Brigham Young was almost sole author of one of the most important chapters in the history of the American West. Born in into a poor Vermont farming family, Brigham Young was the ninth of eleven children. When he was three, his family moved to upstate New York, and at age sixteen, Young left home to start a career as an itinerant carpenter, painter, farmer and general handyman. He married his first wife in , and in the couple moved to Mendon, New York, some forty miles from Manchester, where Joseph Smith was in the final stages of preparing the Book of Mormon for publication. Although he had converted to Methodism in , Young was drawn toward Smith's newly formed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from his first encounter with the Book of Mormon in Two years later, he was baptized into the Mormon church, and the same year went to Canada as a missionary. In , a recent widower, he led several friends and much of his family to join Joseph Smith and the gathering of Zion in Kirtland, Ohio.
Young also led the foundings of the precursors to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. Young had many nicknames, among the most popular being "American Moses "  alternatively, the "Modern Moses" or "Mormon Moses" ,   because, like the biblical figure, Young led his followers, the Mormon pioneers , in an exodus through a desert, to what they saw as a promised land. A polygamist , Young had 55 wives. He instituted a church ban against conferring the priesthood on men of black African descent , and also led the church during the Utah War against the United States. Young was born to John Young and Abigail "Nabby" Howe, a farming family in Whitingham, Vermont , and worked as a travelling carpenter and blacksmith , among other trades.