THE leader of the "Church of the Latter-Day Saints," died at Salt Lake City, Aug. 29, in the 77th year of his age. He was born at Whitingham, Vt., June 1, 1801, the ninth of eleven children. All of the family, parents in-cluded, became Mormons.
Brigham learned the trade of a painter and glazier. He united with the Baptist church, and is said to have shown some ability as an exhorter. In his thirty-first year he was con-verted to Mormonism. The Book of Mormon had been printed two years before, and the first company of the Saints, as they called them-selves, had been gathered in Ohio. Young soon made his way thither, and was ordained as an elder. His strong though rude oratory, and his powerful will—the element in his char-acter which has been the secret of his success—soon made him a leader.
In 1835, Brigham was ordained one of the Twelve Apostles, and in 1836 was chosen their president. In the troubles attending the at-tempted settlement of the Mormons in Missou-ri, he did not at all distinguish himself as a military hero, and fled for his life to Quincy, Illinois. In 1839, the scattered Mormons be-gan to gather in the new town of Nauvoo, laid out by Joseph Smith on a high plateau on the bank of the Mississippi.
In 1840, Brigham Young, with a company of apostles and elders, reached Liverpool, on their mission of "opening up the gospel" to the people of Great Britain. He published an edition of the Book of Mormon, and establish-ed "The Millennial Star," a periodical still living. Great Britain has ever since this time been the most fruitful field for Mormon mis-sions.
Returning to Nauvoo in 1841, in 1844, on the death of Joseph Smith, who was killed by a mob which had become incensed against the views and practices of his and his followers, Young seized the leadership of the Mormons. He had acuteness enough to see that the "Saints" would for no long time be tolerated among the "Gentiles." In 1846, therefore, the whole body of the Mormons abandoned Nau-voo, and moved westward. After much hard-ship and many deaths, starvation sometimes staring the people in the face, they reached the uninviting spot which the chosen president of their church had selected as their home. Brigham's invincible will held all discontent in check, and after a year or two of privation the colony began to flourish. The stream of emi-gration to California enriched the Mormon set-tlement by affording a market for their prod-ucts.
Young was for a time Territorial Governor of the new territory of Utah. Then came the open defiance of the United States authority, and finally in 1857, a military force having been sent against him, the acceptance of the new Territorial Governor.
Since that time Mormonism has culminated, and, with the opening of the Pacific railroad, has begun to decline. The head of the church has, however, continued to maintain his hold on his superstitious followers.
Polygamy, though its first revelation came to Joseph Smith, is of Brigham Young's establish-ment. The revelation is said to have been given at Nauvoo in 1843, but it was not till the Mormons were firmly established in Utah that the doctrine was proclaimed to the world. The system reached its climax in 1856, when a general demoralization seized upon the com-munity. The increase in the cost of living in Utah has had in later years a powerful influ-ence in checking the monstrous evil. Brigham Young grew immensely rich, his fortune amounting, it is thought, to several millions. Bayard Taylor characterized him as possessed of three chief qualities—"great pru-dence, great determination, and great belief in himself." The reverence of the Mormons for their leader was unbounded. His death is, no doubt, a fatal blow to them. There is no one to take his place. His was a phenomenal his-tory. It has been well said that "his wonder-ful career was made possible only by the fact that there is, even in the most advanced com-munities, a sediment of superstition, fanaticism, and bestiality, which a strong and unscrupu-lous man can stir up and utilize to serve his selfish ambition."
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