Brigham Young 1801–1877

Attributed to Marsena Cannon (1812–1900)
Sixth-plate daguerreotype, c. 1850

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; gift of the J. Willard Marriott, Jr., Charitable Annuity Trust

The second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Brigham Young orchestrated the resettlement of the Mormon community to Utah. Fearing further persecution following the murder of founder Joseph Smith in 1844 by an anti-Mormon mob in Illinois, Young and other church leaders decided to start anew in the West. By 1847 the first two thousand settlers had migrated to Salt Lake City.

Appointed the territorial governor of Utah by President Millard Fillmore in 1850, Young led the effort to transform the “Promised Valley” into a thriving agricultural community. Relations with the federal government later soured—in part because of the public outcry over the practice of plural marriages—yet Young continued to oversee Mormonism’s expansion in the West.

By the time of his death, nearly one hundred thousand followers had settled in Salt Lake City and surrounding towns in the Great Basin.