Verdoia: Leonard, I'm going to pick this story up from time to
time from -- in different areas. And I'd like to start out with one
putting aside the romantic notion of Brigham Young entering the valley
and looking at the reality of Brigham Young dealing with a church that
literally was on the run, attempting to find a homeland.
Arrington: I think the principal goal of Brigham was to try to
unify the Saints, to try to enhance the sense of community among them,
to try to make a family of the Latter-Day Saints. This is reflected
in the first sermons that he gave to them after they reached the valley.
It's reflected in subsequent sermons, it's reflected also in policies
that he adopted and institutions that he established to help them be
more -- more like a family, to work together, to help each other, to
-- to try to achieve Zion, the community of saints, to help build the
Kingdom of God as he understood it.
Verdoia: Now, trying to set aside our 20th century reading, how
would we view his vision of the Kingdom of God as the organizing motif.
Again, trying to understand it from the Saints' perspective of the mid-19th
Verdoia: What were they attempting to do?
Arrington: They were attempting to establish a community of worshipful
people who had the privilege of worshiping the way they wanted to, who
wanted to establish a community, who wanted to establish a refuge place
for the Saints who were in England on the continent of Europe, eastern
United States, southern United States and elsewhere. They were trying
to build a community and establish the basis for supporting this community
in an economic way.
Verdoia: It sounds like that that organizational concept would
have a perfectblending of church and state.
Arrington: It did, there's no question about it. They wanted it
that way, they expected it to be that way, they worked toward that goal.
Verdoia: Beyond having this as a society that would flourish, it
would also seem, based on the experiences of Missouri and Illinois and
the westward migration, but there must have been a strong aspect of
survival instinct that would go into this notion of family and community
turning inward and sustaining itself.
Arrington: I'm sure that's the case. I'm sure that -- that it was
not only a question of building the community, but helping the community
to survive. Natural problems, human problems, society problems, whatever
Verdoia: Moving forward a bit in time, towards the mid-1850's, we see the Saints, Salt Lake settlement and the Utah territorial settlement having more and more contact with outside federal officials.
Verdoia: We're in the territorial status, Washington makes some appointments and sends them out here, and it seems from the outset as if it's oil and water, that these federal political appointees are coming in not liking what they see in the Saints; the Saints are not liking what they see in the federal appointees. Is that a fair reading?
Arrington: I think it is. There are some fine books that have been -- have studied in depth the documents from the federal side in the national archives and also from the territorial side. And they suggest the same thing.
Verdoia: How did Brigham Young then view this notion -- and -- and I'm trying to separate the notion of how he might have viewed the government as apart from how he might have viewed the constitution as being divinely inspired or a sacred document that the Saints would greatly appreciate. How did Brigham Young view the government?
Arrington: I think the -- the thing to keep in mind is the strong faith that Brigham Young had that the Lord would bless his people. I think the -- the important thing is that he did not expect the community to suffer especially from the government, from hostiles. I think he expected that if they used wisdom, the Lord would bless them in what they did and would interfere with any efforts that a hostile government or hostile politicians or pettifoggers would make to interfere with their progress.
Verdoia: So as we look at some of the increasingly strident language that's used by Brigham, this is, again, right at the time, consistent with the reformation of 1856, leading towards the showdown of 1857-58. If we look at some of the more strident language used by Brigham Young, is he using it to attack the government or to solidify the hearts and minds of the Saints?
Arrington: I would say more the latter than the former. I think he was more concerned that he strengthen the will of the people to do what he felt they had to do in building their kingdom.
Verdoia: As negotiations and interpretations break down in the summer of '57 and an army is sent to march on Utah territory, we see again some very strong pulpit pronouncement from Brigham Young.
Arrington: Not only from Brigham but also from his associates, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith and others.
Verdoia: What is the tone that -- that they're using to communicate the -- the leadership principle to the rank and file members of the church? Can we characterize what they're saying?
Arrington: Obviously, they're attempting to -- to fill the air with ideas that would appeal to the Saints and would suggest to them the importance of them acting as a unit, acting as a -- as a group of people who are unified, who were trying to -- to show the strength of their will in posing unfair efforts of the government.
Verdoia: In his pronouncements and more especially in his actions, does Brigham Young show that he may view this as in fact the last struggle-- a life or death interaction for the Saints?
Arrington: I wouldn't say it was that far. I think that Brigham saw this as just another example of an impediment of an obstacle that they had to overcome. I think he had faith, had confidence that the Lord would see the Saints through. I think he didn't see this as -- as a -- an event that would ultimately destroy their society, their kingdom. I -- I think he was certain that the kingdom would survive if they were intelligent and followed what he regarded as the Lord's admonitions to them.
Verdoia: Two interventions help secure that, that it isn't going to be the final showdown. One is the winter of '57-58 closing in on the troops, and also the arrival of Dr. Osborne from California, the appearance, once again, among the Saints of Thomas Kane.
Arrington: Right. Uh-huh.
Verdoia: How should we read Thomas Kane as a figure riding into Salt Lake City in that period of the winter of '57-58? What -- what is his intent? What is he hoping to do?
Arrington: There are certainly different views of Thomas Kane.
My view is that he really had a strong affection for the Latter-Day
Saints. He wanted to help them. He -- he regarded the government policy
as ill-advised and he, after having done everything he could in Washington
D.C. to counteract the government's effort, he volunteered to come west
and to attempt to prevent a collision. And he succeeded in that.
I think that he was a -- a person who demonstrated many times before
1857 and after 1857, demonstrated his strong affection for the Latter-Day
Saints. He's the one who came to Utah later on in 1873 and planned to
write a biography of Brigham Young. He did not do it, but he did write
Brigham Young's will and did consult with him over a period of several
weeks. And his wife, of course, wrote that fine book about their visit
with the Latter-Day Saints.
He consulted with Mormon missionaries and Mormon delegates and others regularly in Washington D.C. and in Philadelphia and elsewhere in the east. I think the pattern of his continual efforts to improve the life of the Saints suggests the sincerity of his motives.
Verdoia: The campaign of 1857-58 does result in one substantive impact and that is the presence of federal troops in Utah territory, but it also, in effect, removes Brigham Young as territorial governor.
Arrington: Uh-huh. However, we need to remember what the replacement of Brigham Young, Gov. Cummings said, that, "It's true, I may be governor of the territory, but Brigham Young is governor of the people." And he continued to be the people's governor in a realistic sense, if not de jure.
Verdoia: The enduring role of Brigham Young -- not only for Cummings but for subsequent governors as well.
Verdoia: Some with great frustration, some with higher degrees of accommodation.
Verdoia: Brigham Young, how -- can we kind of paint a broad picture of how he envisioned these multiple roles of church leader, spiritual leader, political leader and -- and even Indian superintendent where -- where he wore many, many important hats and that -- did he view them as being in conflict or did he view them as being harmoniously seated upon one person at one time?
Arrington: This is a question that I certainly have reflected on
a great deal. I spent five years writing a biography of Brigham Young
and read all of the documents. Read all of the letters that he wrote,
and he wrote hundreds of letters during this -- these years. In fact,
throughout his life, he dictated and signed approximately 30,000 letters
that we have copies of.
At any rate, I read the diaries of people who worked with him and read
his letters and read his own diaries, his own official history and so
on, kept by his clerks, and it's clear to me that Brigham Young was
a -- many-sided kind of personality. He was what might be called a multi-personality,
a multi-person. He was a person who had many sides to him.
And it's -- it's wrong to -- it's incorrect to try to offer one interpretation of Brigham Young and say he was this, he was that. He was all of them. And these did not result in any conflict in his own mind, in his own character. He was supremely confident that the Lord had appointed him to do this work. He felt happy in doing it. He was certainly not at war with himself in any of his various activities.
Verdoia: Let me follow that up with a -- a question that kind of
spans the whole story. This notion of the -- the president and the first
presidency of the church as being very politically active and politically
determinative seems to undergo a transformation throughout the story
of the territorial years and into statehood.
Can we chart how that changes, what are the significant changing points in looking at church leadership as being quite comfortable with being overtly political and when they're less comfortable with that?
Arrington: It's partly a matter of personalities, of course. Brigham
Young was a different personality than John Taylor. Both were different
personalities than Wilford Woodruff. And certainly they were different
than Joseph F. Smith and Lorenzo Snow and all of the leaders that followed.
So the importance of the position of prophet or president of the church is partly a reflection of the kinds of persons who had that position. I'm sure that -- that one will find a different group -- combination of forces under John Taylor than under Brigham Young and under Wilford Woodruff than either one of them, so on.
Verdoia: Can we roughly associate it, perhaps, with maybe statehood, that with the achievement of statehood, the mandate isn't -- isn't as important for the first presidency to provide that political leadership?
Arrington: A very good point. Certainly, the achievement of statehood
was a goal that they'd worked hard throughout the territorial period.
They applied for statehood, what, six or seven different times and hoped
every time that they might achieve it, which would give them the possibility
of electing their own governor and having their own supreme -- Supreme
Court justices and secretary -- secretary of the territory and so on.
They hoped for that goal all along. They applied for it in 1850. And
in, as I say, something like seven times through the years. And they
finally achieved it in 1896.
But I wouldn't say that that means that Brigham felt any sense of failure for not realizing it. He was able to achieve most of his goals without -- within the framework of having a territorial status.
Verdoia: That brings us back, to a time with Brigham Young that I want to explore, because he seems to have a sense of economic and colonizing vision for what he hopes will be the territory of Deseret, state of Deseret and ultimately the State of Utah. But how can we understand Brigham as this colonizing factor, because, again, the vision seems to be very clear about what direction he wants to go.
Arrington: Certainly, during the early period he felt that one
could build the kingdom primarily through a policy of self-sufficiency.
This is true generally, I think, of underdeveloped regions and countries
which need to build up their agriculture so that they produce an excess
which will feed the people who are siphoned off to work in industries.
However, as it was possible to build up exports after the coming of the railroad, Brigham followed that policy of not discouraging the diversification of the kingdom. And, of course, by the time he died in 1877, he had provided the framework for perhaps as many as a hundred thousand people in a region largely regarded before that time as uninhabitable.
Verdoia: One aspect of his economic vision that's always attributed to Brigham Young is his adamance that the hard rock mining and the pursuit of precious metals was no way for the Saints to go.
Arrington: I think one has to be very careful about interpreting
Brigham's policy on mining. It's true that he did not favor the abandonment
of the Great Basin kingdom of -- by going to California to mine gold,
nor to Vancouver and other places where precious metals were discovered.
He did not favor this policy of abandonment.
On the other hand, he encouraged the discovery and mining of coal in
Coalville. He encouraged the working of the resources in the region
near Cedar City in mining gold and iron. He favored the development
of resources throughout the region, mineral and other resources. The
development of mineral resources was part of the policy of self-sufficiency.
So it's wrong to assume that Brigham was against mining. He was not.
He was in favor of mining, and once mining was established in the Salt Lake Valley and elsewhere after the coming of the railroad, he encouraged this people to work in the mines, to be sure they were well paid and to sell them produce and so on.
Verdoia: 1869, you've already alluded to the transcontinental railroad completion.
Verdoia: By then we have Col. Conner well ensconced on the east
bench and encouraging his troops to go out, and the development of mining
activities, and there's a boom that starts to develop in the 1870's,
infusions of new faces, a diversity that the Saints initially didn't
intend or maybe expect.
And part of that era is a perception on the part of Brigham and church
leadership that there's going to be a need to preserve the integrity
of the economic order for the Saints. That results on a couple manifestations,
the first is cooperative, the second is the more developed sense of
a united order, which is a closed or communal economic system.
Let me try to consider those with you in the context of the 1870's. Did Brigham perceive threats?
Arrington: Oh, of course. He was fearful that the construction
of railroads would bring in thousands of people who might disrupt the
social economy of the Saints. And so he insisted that the railroads
within Utah territory be built by the Saints.
And so he took contracts with both the Central Pacific and the Union
Pacific to build the railroad coming from the Sierra into the Salt Lake
-- into the territory of Utah, the region near Ogden, and with the Union
Pacific to build it from Nebraska west into Utah.
And after the completion of the transcontinental railroad, he believed
so strongly on the importance of having railroad connection with Salt
Lake City, which they had avoided by going around the lake, that he
organized the Utah Central Railroad Company to build a line from Ogden
to Salt Lake City. Then later on to build -- he organized the Utah Southern
Railroad to build a railroad from Salt Lake City south to beyond Utah
County. And he organized also the Utah Northern Railroad to build a
railroad from Ogden up to Montana.
All of these were efforts to preserve the local social economy by preventing the influx of large numbers of people that might have disrupted it in various ways.
Verdoia: What about the nature of the cooperatives, the cooperatives that predated, obviously, the completion of the transcontinental railroad, but they seemed to take on a different type of significance after the railroad's completion.
Arrington: Actually, I think the -- we can say that the cooperatives
were -- were adopted, established in anticipation of the coming of the
railroad. The railroad was heading west in 1866. It was 1867, 1868 it
was nearing and they'd began organizing cooperatives on a large scale
basis in 1868.
So it's in anticipation. And it was a device for assuring that the merchandising, the importing and sale of products from the east and from San Francisco would be done by the Saints not by outside enterprisers, who might work against the goals of the kingdom.
Verdoia: I want to take that to the next step then, the United Order. And we seem to have two models that emerge. You have the corporate united order in Brigham City.
Verdoia: You have the communal united order in Orderville. For the purposes of our discussion and because you did some research in that area, let's consider Orderville. I mean, it wasn't the model for necessarily all other communities. What was the intent of Orderville?
Arrington: I think the goal was to try to preserve a family way
of life. Here were a group of people who had gone to southern Nevada
to build a little community near Bunkerville. They had had problems
with the state of Nevada, and so they had to leave Nevada and they came
back and established a -- a little community in what became Orderville.
And to preserve this family way of life that they had followed initially
in Bunkerville, Nevada, they established this communal united order
Brigham was very happy that they were able to do this, that they were
be able -- were able to make a success of it. He felt very strongly
that they were doing the right thing. And he attempted to do something
similar in organizations that he established in northern Arizona and
in a few other places in Utah. Even in Salt Lake City, they attempted
to do something similar by having ward united orders. And in the case
of this metropolitan community, it was better to have each ward focus
on one line of industry. So one ward had a shoemaking establishment
and one had a tailoring establishment, and one had a soap factory, and
Verdoia: And at the same time excluding the gentiles?
Arrington: This is not the goal necessarily. I would not say that
it was the goal to exclude the gentiles. The goal was for the Saints
to establish their own system, and if the gentiles could work under
it, fine. Gentiles were not excluded in any community that I know of.
There were no rules that says you had to be a Latter-day Saint.
However, the Latter-day Saints, in establishing this -- these different orders, did hold religious services in which they promised to work together and were rebaptized to solidify that promise, that covenant to work together.
Verdoia: Leonard, let's return to the earlier days of the westward
migration. An era dawns where Brigham is looking for more efficient
and cost-effective means of using the facilities they have for the transportation
of this large influx of immigrants to the Utah territory.
He devises and, with others, comes up with the concept of handcart companies. What was the reason, the rationale behind the notion of handcarts?
Arrington: This was a device for making it possible for a large
number of relatively poor people from Europe to come to Zion at a minimum
of expense. These people were being supported by the Perpetual Immigrating
Fund company that Brigham had set up in 1849. Brigham had noticed that
nearly everybody walked to Zion in all of the migrations. They'd put
their possessions in the wagons and they put any ill persons in the
wagons, and most of them walked. We have the diaries of young people,
older people, middle-aged people, nearly all of whom walked most of
the distance across the plains.
If that were true, why not establish a company in which they pushed
handcarts and then avoid some of the extra expense of buying wagons?
You could have wagons accompany them for the benefit of sick people
and old people, infirm people, and in carrying food and clothing and
that sort of thing. So they established the handcart companies.
It resulted in a terrible tragedy because of a natural disaster, the early snows in Wyoming, but the system itself was sound and economical and in fact, after the handcart disasters of 1856, was continued again in '57, '58, '59 and '60. Finally, in '61, they had sufficient wagons and oxen and horses in the territory that they established the church team process of moving people west. So they organized three or four hundred people in Utah each spring to drive back to the Missouri river outfitting post and to pick up people and drive them back to Utah. And that was a very successful kind of enterprise. And under that, they brought approximately 3,000 persons each year throughout the 1860's.
Verdoia: The gathering that took place in Utah territory was really, for its time, enormous in scale, wasn't it?
Arrington: It was. Yeah, it was the biggest and most effective system of organized immigration in American history. It brought approximately 3,000 persons a year, not only during the church team period of the 1860's, but also through their various organized companies, roughly 3,000 a year through all of the 1850's. It began in 1849, continued on each year. Approximately 80,000 persons were organized and brought to Utah from 1849 up until about the time of Brigham's death in 1877.
Verdoia: Let's consider the Martin-Willey handcart disaster companies. What went wrong with those two companies?
Arrington: Well, the first thing that went wrong is they left too
late. They had confidence that they would make it, and the confidence
was misplaced. They didn't make it. They just left too late. If Brigham's
policies of leaving by a certain time had been followed, they wouldn't
have gone. They would have spent the winter back on the Missouri valley
outfitting post and have come in the next spring. So that was one thing.
There were other things that were noted. Some of the handcarts weren't
well made, apparently, and they did have large numbers of people. I
think the -- and then, of course, there was the natural strange thing
that happened, the early snowfalls in Wyoming. One couldn't have predicted
that they would have come so early and so strongly as they did.
So all of these things caused the disaster. It was horrible. Brigham's strong leadership is reflected in the rescue effort. It would have been terrible if he hadn't seen what needed to be done and sent back these vigorous young men to rescue the companies. And the story of the rescue effort is one that's not very often told in connection with the disaster, but it -- it was as heroic as the tragedy of the handcart companies themselves.
Verdoia: I would like to discuss the latter years of Brigham's life, specifically looking from 1870 to 1877. We've talked a little bit about seeing a changing nature in Utah. Utah is emerging as a crossroads in the west with the transcontinental railroad, the development of north and south rail lines. So there are some very positive aspects. The survivability of the Saints is far from in question now. Yet it's also a time where Brigham Young seems to live a life of a marked man, where people and governments and elected officials in Washington and judges appointed in the territory are doing their very best to hold him accountable for what they perceive as his wrongdoings.
Arrington: I think the -- I think -- we have to remember the strong
self-confidence that Brigham has in himself and his role, which was
a reflection of his strong faith that the Lord was behind the people
and the Lord was behind him in his efforts to see the light and do what
was necessary to preserve and help the Saints.
I -- I don't think that Brigham Young worried excessively about what
hostile officials did. I think he regarded this as just one of the trials
that he had to go through in his overall mission.
His confidence about things is reflected in the fact that he continued to send out colonizing companies, he continued to build new industries, establish new shops and factories and he -- he continued to maintain consultations with the government through representatives that he sent back east. I think he -- everybody in life has to go through certain trials and problems, personal and familial and societal, and he regarded these as -- as minor aspects of an overall program of building and of improving.
Verdoia: Did he in fact view the people that would attack him as, in effect, attacking the work of God?
Arrington: I think so. I think he regarded this as -- as an attempt to affect the work of God and that it would not be successful. I think he felt confident that the Lord would not allow His people to suffer unjustly any extended period of time.
Verdoia: You make reference, knowingly, to the familial strife that everyone might experience from one time to the next, and that, of course, is defined for Brigham Young and, well, maybe in some other respects, but most publicly with Ann Eliza Webb Young. A wife that sues him for divorce. How do you view that whole relationship between Ann Eliza Webb Young and Brigham Young?
Arrington: I think the -- the thing we have to remember about Ann
Eliza is that she was put up to the writing of this book mostly by a
public relations person that she eventually married and who sponsored
lecture tours around the country. So one has to take much of that book
with a grain of salt, because it was really written by her public relations
person, not by her.
I think that -- that everybody expects to have problems with people. Brigham had several wives and had several families, and I think he expected that there might be problems with some of them. I don't think that it affected his overall confidence in doing what he thought the Lord wanted him to do in building the kingdom.
Verdoia: Didn't he have, in effect, several de facto divorces that were not public, that -- that were just more quietly handled within his family and should not become part of the record of -- of literally what is being done?
Arrington: He had one, uh-huh.
Verdoia: He did have one.
Arrington: Yeah. That's true. But it didn't result in any serious problems.
Verdoia: Let's move forward then to the late summer of 1877. Brigham Young passes away.
Verdoia: In Washington there is this very unsavory sign of relief.
Verdoia: You know, the lion is gone. Surely now the church will die because it's headless.
Verdoia: What takes place in the Utah territory as such a powerful figure like Brigham Young passes from the scene?
Arrington: They had worked out, after the death of Joseph Smith,
the idea that the Quorum of Twelve Apostles succeeds to the presidency
of the church upon the death of a prophet. That had been something made
clear to them in March in 1844 when Joseph Smith, foreseeing his own
death, had passed the keys of the kingdom, as he called them, the keys
of the kingdom to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
And so after Joseph Smith died, Brigham Young, being president of that
quorum, the Quorum of the Twelve convened themselves, and they established
policies and -- and governed the church as a group of people, a group
of -- a quorum of twelve.
And it was finally, in 1847, three years after the death of Joseph
Smith, that the Quorum of the Twelve decided that was the time to ask
Brigham officially, formally to be president of the church and prophet.
That same policy was followed after his death in 1887 and Wilford Woodruff was president of the Quorum, and the Quorum governed the church until, I think, 1880, when Wilford Woodruff was appointed president. That practice has become so standardized in recent years that the Quorum of the Twelve now choose the new president of the church within a few days after the funeral of the president of the church.
Verdoia: Let me ask you to reflect what might have been the view in Utah. I said that nationally there was in fact some pointed celebration.
Verdoia: One need only look at the cartoons of Harper's and Puck to recognize that there was a certain vilification of Brigham Young in death. In Utah was there any sense of despair that the Saints might not endure without his leadership?
Arrington: I think none at all. I've seen no reflection of that
in going through all the papers of that period. I think they all felt
very confident that John Taylor and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
would take over and the leadership would be strong.
Verdoia: It's 1877, the Saints have been in the Salt Lake Valley for 30 years.
Verdoia: They've gone forth and established communities throughout the territory.
Arrington: Something like 350 different settlements were founded under the leadership of Brigham during those 30 years.
Verdoia: Yet, statehood and pure self-governance has alluded the people.
Verdoia: There is a sense of storm clouds gathering over what the federal government intends to do to prosecute their views of what's a proper conduct --
Verdoia: -- in various aspects of the Saints' practice of faith. And there is a sense that this kingdom of God --
Verdoia: -- has been sullied. It has been tarnished by a divisive element that's come into the territory and is, if nothing less than a thorn in the side of what the Saints hope to build up in the kingdom of God. So there might be some that say that Brigham Young goes quietly into the night with his vision, his dreams and his faith very much in doubt because of these developments.
Arrington: I wouldn't read it that way at all. Having gone through all the literature of the period, I -- I do not see that sense of discouragement of questioning or doubt about the future. I -- I see it as more confident than that. Again, having faith that they were doing what the Lord wanted them to do and the Lord would, in essence, look after them and so, I see it -- see them as being more confident of the future and less worried about what might be happening in Washington.
Verdoia: In death, Brigham Young is still the focus of a great deal of controversy, because trying to resolve his estate after his passing is something that stretches on for quite a period of time.
Arrington: It does.
Verdoia: What was the greatest contentions associated with the settlement of Brigham's estate and what were some of the factors that made it such a -- a complex accounting?
Arrington: Brigham, when he joined the church in 1832, had given
up his business, had left his business and had said, "I'm going
to enroll in the Lord's kingdom and I'm going to work toward the goal
of building the kingdom."
When the United States Government, in 1862, passed the law which disincorporated
the church and required the church not to have extensive property in
its own name, Brigham and his associates in the Quorum of the Twelve
assumed that the right way for Brigham to do, to carry out the goals
and programs of the kingdom, was to leave some of the properties in
his own name. But everybody understood that these were church enterprises,
these -- this was church property, it was in his name because the government
would not allow it to be in the name of the church.
And so by the time Brigham died in 1877, a lot of church property known
by the apostles to be church property was in the name of Brigham.
The United States Government, the -- United States prosecutor, the
attorney general, their office felt very strongly about preventing the
church from becoming stronger, and so they made every effort, legally,
to try to prevent Brigham Young's property that belonged to the church
from going to the church.
And so the church responded by doing various things to see that it
got the properties to which it was entitled. It engaged -- it responded
to suits that were entered by Brigham Young heirs. It organized local
ecclesiastical corporations in all the settlements, turning all the
church property in those areas over to the local ecclesiastical corporation,
and -- and according to the government law, a religious corporation
could own up to $50,000 worth of property.
So this takes care of all the chapels and tithing houses and meeting
houses and everything else that were in each of the localities.
There was such a -- a strong showing of church involvement in material
that ultimately the government settled a suit with the church in which
most of these properties that did belong in fact to the church were
given to the church. And so the church was able to survive this settlement
of the will without losing very much in the process.
It ends up that Brigham, who was thought by many people to be a very wealthy person, really was not wealthy. I think the total amount left to Brigham Young's heirs was like $236,000 worth of property. Divided among 20 families which Brigham left, that's roughly $10,000 per family. Roughly, the house they were living in, a few shares of stock, and that sort of thing.
Verdoia: I'm going to by-pass a couple other aspects and I want
to spend some time on this.
Conflict is often used as the defining principle of the Utah territory
for many people. They see the conflict against the elements in settling
the land, the conflict with native Americans, the conflict with federal
troops in '57, and so on.
Arrington: I do. I do. As a person who spent many years in a field
of economics, my defining principle is economic development, economic
progress. And I see the territory of Utah moving through a period of
-- of -- of self-sufficiency, emphasizing agricultural development,
a period of self-protection which sees the establishment of cooperatives
and in -- in not only retailing and merchandising but also in industry,
in cotton manufacturing and woolen manufacturing, and tanning and all
sorts of industries. And finally into the modern period where we see
a diversification of Utah's economy after the coming of statehood in
The emphasis has to be on people working together to achieve the goal of economic development. There was conflict of course. And people seem to be especially interested in conflict. That's why journalists pay a great deal of attention to it, and historians.
But to me, the underlying theme is working together to achieve the goal of building the kingdom. And here is a region which was not regarded as being capable of supporting very many people who, during the period 1847 to '77 ends up supporting a hundred thousand people. How did that happen? It happened with the establishment of colonies, of communities, settlements, it happened with the establishment of shops and industries, it happened with the development of resources. And this is the story of the development of Utah, the -- the programs which resulted in building an economy that was capable of supporting a large number of people.
Verdoia: Your biography of Brigham Young carries the subtitle: American Moses.
Verdoia: Why American Moses?
Arrington: Brigham was the same sort of a leader as Moses in serving people for a long period of time, in achieving their goal of entering into a kingdom blessed by God. It -- there's no -- no trick reason why I should have used American Moses. I thought Moses was a person understood by nearly everybody, and that Brigham was something for us that Moses was for the people of Israel. He led his people figuratively and quite literally, and they survived because of that leadership and their faith.
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