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Brigham Young

Brigham Young was the second leader of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, better known as Mormons, reaching the pinnacle of leadership just before their migration from the Midwest to Utah. He was born on June 1, 1801, in Whitingham, Vermont. His father was a farmer and Brigham Young worked as an itinerant carpenter and blacksmith in his early years. His first marriage was to Miriam Angeline Works in 1824, who bore him two children and died in 1832. After her death, Young converted to Mormonism and became a missionary to Upper Canada (Ontario). He was one of the original Quorum of Twelve, ordained by the Three Witnesses under the instruction of Joseph Smith. Later, he played a role in the early success of Mormonism in the United Kingdom. When Joseph Smith was killed by a mob while awaiting trial for treason in 1844, Young moved quickly to fill the leadership vacuum. He successfully asserted the primacy of the Twelve, of which he had been president since 1840, in church leadership. He was elected the church`s second president in 1847. In the face of fierce local hostility, Young led the Mormon faithful out of Illinois and across Iowa to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, in 1846. The following summer, he led an exploring party to the valley of the Great Salt Lake, which he determined should be the new home for his people. He led the great Mormon migration to their new home and organized the numerous settlements. After the Utah Territory was organized, Brigham Young became its first governor, serving from 1851 to 1858. Although he held no further political office, as president of the LDS church he exercised ultimate authority in Utah until his death. Young is closely associated with issue of polygamy, which was a major factor in the early history of his church. He is thought to have had around 27 wives, although that figure may depend on the definition of "wife," and 56 children. One of his descendants is Steve Young, the NFL Hall of Fame quarterback. In 1859, Horace Greeley traveled west to expand his understanding of the region. While in Salt Lake City, he arranged for a two-hour meeting with Brigham Young. His recollection of the meeting was that Young and the Mormons were forthright and hard working people, and not nearly the danger that most Americans of the time believed.