Brigham Young chosen to lead Mormon Church - HISTORY
Month Day
August 08

Brigham Young chosen to lead Mormon Church

After Joseph Smith, the founder and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormonism, and his brother, Hyrum, were murdered by an angry mob in an Illinois prison six weeks earlier, Elder Brigham Young is chosen to be the Church’s next leader.

The decision, made in Nauvoo, Ill. on the Mississippi River, was not without conflict. Sidney Rigdon, then 53, Smith’s first counselor in the First Presidency and a long-time LDS leader who had been with the church almost since its origins, wanted the role.

Pleading his case to the gathering of saints, which numbered 6,000 by some accounts, his stance was made without consulting the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one of the governing bodies of the church, who were still traveling from across the nation to gather at Nauvoo. As the lone survivor of the First Presidency, Rigdon submitted, he was the rightful leader to succeed Smith.

As Rigdon, a highly regarded orator and preacher, prepared to call for a vote, Young, then 43, a former carpenter from Vermont turned president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dismissed Rigdon’s claim to the leadership. Young argued the quorum’s power and authority equaled that of the First Presidency, and one of its members should lead the church.

Young’s speech, in which, by some accounts, he “transfigured” into Smith, sounding and looking just like the slain prophet, won him the vote. Facing repeated conflict, he soon relocated his group of Latter-day Saints to Utah, arriving in Salt Lake City on July 24, 1847, and was officially ordained the second president of the Church in December 1847.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.


5-day long Russo-Georgian War begins

On August 8, 2008, a long-simmering conflict between Russia and Georgia boiled over into a shooting war between the small Caucasian nation and the superpower of which it was once a part. The brief Russo-Georgian War was the most violent episode in a conflict that began more than more

Emiliano Zapata born

Emiliano Zapata, a leader of peasants and indigenous people during the Mexican Revolution, is born in Anenecuilco, Mexico. Born a peasant, Zapata was forced into the Mexican army in 1908 following his attempt to recover village lands taken over by a rancher. After the revolution more

German saboteurs executed in Washington

During World War II, six German saboteurs who secretly entered the United States on a mission to attack its civil infrastructure are executed by the United States for spying. Two other saboteurs who disclosed the plot to the FBI and aided U.S. authorities in their manhunt for more

Nixon resigns

In an evening televised address on August 8, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon announces his intention to become the first president in American history to resign. With impeachment proceedings underway against him for his involvement in the Watergate affair, Nixon was finally more

Lights go on at Wrigley

On August 8, 1988, the Chicago Cubs host the first night game in the history of Wrigley Field. The first-ever night game in professional baseball took place nearly 60 years earlier, on May 2, 1930, when a Des Moines, Iowa, team hosted Wichita for a Western League game. The more

Battle of Amiens

On August 8, 1918, the Allies launch a series of offensive operations against German positions on the Western Front during World War I with a punishing attack at Amiens, on the Somme River in northwestern France. After heavy casualties incurred during their ambitious spring 1918 more