Brigham Young’s Family: The Wilderness Years

After returning from England in 1841, Brigham Young faced one of the sternest tests of his life—a test that was to have sobering and far-reaching implications for himself and the structure of his family. It came when Joseph Smith privately introduced the principle of plural marriage to him as a divine commandment. None “could have been more averse to it than I was when it was first revealed,” he recalled: “If any man had asked me what was my choice when Joseph revealed that doctrine, provided that it would not diminish my glory, I would have said, “Let me have but one wife;” . . . I was not desirous of shrinking from any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as I was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave, and I could hardly get over it for a long time. And when I saw a funeral, I felt to envy the corpse its situation, and to regret that I was not in the coffin.”

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 19:4
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