My very important person (VIP) for this week is Brigham Young. He was instrumental in settling of much of western part of the United States of America. He was the successor to the Prophet Joseph Smith and was President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1847-1877). He led the Mormon Pioneers to the Great Salt Lake Valley and founded Salt Lake City. He served as the first governor of the Utah Territory in what later became Western United States. Under his leadership, precursors both the University of Utah and Brigham Young University were founded.
The boy who became this great man was born on June 1, 1801, to Abigail “Nabby” Howe and John Young who farmed in Whitingham, Vermont. When he was older, he worked as a traveling carpenter and blacksmith as well as other trades.
Brigham joined the Methodist faith in 1823 and married Miriam Angeline Works in 1824. He read the Book of Mormon soon after it was published in 1830 and was drawn to its message. He officially joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1832 and soon left for a mission to Upper Canada.
Miriam Young died in 1832, and Brigham joined other members of the Church in establishing a community in Kirtland, Ohio. He was ordained a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835. He led a group of other Apostles on a successful mission to the United Kingdom. In 1838, while the Prophet Joseph Smith was in prison, Brigham organized and led the exodus of Latter-day Saints from Missouri.
“After the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon believed that because he had been in the First Presidency, it was his right to be the next leader of the Church; he was able to convince some people to agree with him. As the president of the Quorum of the Twelve, Brigham Young told the apostles all that mattered was what the Lord wanted and they should seek out His guidance. At a meeting of the Church to settle the matter, both Sidney Rigdon and Brigham Young spoke to the congregation. While Brigham Young spoke, a miracle happened: he suddenly looked and sounded like Joseph Smith to those in the audience. More than one hundred people at the meeting had this spiritual confirmation of Brigham Young as the next leader of the Church and made record of it in their journal. Zina Huntington said of this experience: `President Young was speaking. It was the voice of Joseph Smith – not that of Brigham Young. His very person was changed…. I closed my eyes. I could have exclaimed, I know that is Joseph Smith’s voice! Yet I knew he had gone.’ Wilford Woodruff declared, `if I had not seen him with my own eyes there is no one that could have convince me that it was not Joseph Smith speaking.’ From 1844 to 1847, Brigham young led the Church as the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was ordained as prophet while at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in December 1847. “ This was approximately two and a half years after the death of Joseph Smith.
Young was known by a variety of nicknames. By his followers, he was known as the “Lion of the Lord” because of his bold personality and his willingness to stand on virtuous principles. He was also loving known as “Brother Brigham” by the members of the Church. He was later known as “American Moses,” “Modern Moses,” or the “Mormon Moses” because he led the Mormon Pioneers in their exodus, through the desert, to their “promised land.”
Brigham died at 4:00 p.m. on August 29, 1877, in Salt Lake City from a condition known as “cholera morbus and inflammation of the bowels.” “It is believed that he died of peritonitis form a ruptured appendix.” Just before he died, Brigham said, “Joseph! Joseph! Joseph!” as though he were calling to his dearly departed friend, Joseph Smith. His funeral was held on September 2, 1877, in the Tabernacle with an estimated attendance of 12,000 to 15,000 people. He was interred on the grounds of the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument in downtown Salt Lake City. A bronze marker is on the grave site.