Brigham Young

Brigham Young and the apostles took governing control of Nauvoo, but internal fractures over Young’s command of the church did not relent. In addition to the departures of Sydney Rigdon and William Marks, Apostle Lyman Wight insisted that Joseph Smith had commissioned him to establish a colony in Texas. With Young’s initial approval, Wight led a group of one hundred fifty Saints south to Texas. When Young instructed him to return with his group and prepare for a westward migration, Wight refused and severed his ties with Young. William Smith, the youngest surviving brother of Joseph and Hyrum, grew increasingly embittered against the other apostles’ exclusion of him in church affairs. Ultimately, Smith was removed from the offices of apostle and presiding patriarch (a role he acquired following Hyrum’s assassination) and was excommunicated in the fall of 1845. Meanwhile, James Strang’s movement in Wisconsin increasingly attracted supporters from those who viewed Young and the apostles as usurpers.

Young was also suspicious of Emma Smith’s potential to raise sympathizers against him—enough so that the Female Relief Society was officially disbanded and spies were posted around the widow’s residence to report on her comings and goings. Property disputes placed further animosity between the two as Young claimed that the Smith homes and land that Emma desperately fought to keep were church property. Ultimately, Emma resolved to remain with her family in Nauvoo, in large part because of her and Young’s mutual disdain and because of the continued practice of polygamy.

Further Reading:

Historical context: Donald M. Stout, “The Religious Origins of Manifest Destiny.”