Brigham Young: Not Such an Ogre After All

Three issues have conspired to cast Brigham Young in an almost monstrous mythical light. (1) The fact that he was the leader of a growing religious empire rubbed people the wrong way. (2) To a sex-crazed world, polygamy is seen as all about crazy sex. (3) LDS Church members, reacting against the slanders of the world, place the leaders upon pedestals of purity when they are not so pure. Because of this, the real Brigham Young is much different than we think.

When biographers, reporters, and other interested parties came to Salt Lake City in the late 1800's they saw a very successful community, which was largely as a result of a very successful (LDS) church, which was largely a result of a very successful leader--Brigham Young.

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Comments

  1. A report of a "thriving community" doesn't negate the fact that BY taught the false doctrine of blood atonement, stole assets and earnings from members, had "apostates" secretly killed, and threatened women's salvation if they didn't become one of his plural wives.

    In fact, Brigham Young could easily be considered much worse than people are routinely taught about him.

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  2. (1) The people that were "rubbed the wrong way" by Brigham Young include those that value our Constitution and representative democracy, both of which brother Brigham violated in his pursuit of a autocratic theocracy.

    (2) I guess I don't know a lot of people who are "sex-crazed", because most of the complaints I hear about polygamy is the subjugation of women. Then again, having 56 children does seem to warrant some connection to "crazy sex".

    (3) I've dug deep and found very little "slanders of the world". Most of the criticisms of Brigham Young are not false. For something to qualify as "slander", it must be false.

    Frank, I came to your blog expecting to see some solid (and hopefully balanced) evidence of Brigham Young the "peacemaker". Instead I found straw men and empty attacks on detractors.

    The reality is that Brigham Young was not a good man. He was powerful, but not good. The same compliments you pay him can be just as fairly applied to the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler. But in that regard, I think we may find some common ground. Adolf Hitler was also placed on a pedestal by his followers, and much maligned by his detractors. Because of this, the real Adolf Hitler is much different than most people think, but he was still an autocratic dictator who, at best, feigned support for the democratic process.

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  3. Here are a few of Brigham Young's wives:
    Clarissa Caroline Decker, age 15, Young aged 42
    Elizabeth Fairchild, age 16, Young aged 43
    Diana Chase, age 17, Young aged 43
    Ellen Rockwood, age 16, Young aged 44
    Lucy Bigelow, age 16, Young aged 45

    Now, as someone who routinely defends the idea that polygamy doesn't equal child rape or abuse, I can't really include Brigham Young in the category as a polygamist that I could defend.

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