As a church leader,
Brigham Young stood in marked contrast to his predecessor, the charismatic,
idealistic, and theologically innovative Joseph Smith. Instead, Young
inspired his followers by his down-to-earth demeanor and through his
skills as a pragmatic organizer and executive. His emphasis in both
his actions and sermons was on the practical means essential for building
up the Kingdom of God in a frontier environment. Only rarely did Young
venture into the realm of theological and doctrinal innovation and then
with mixed results. His pronouncements emphasizing blood atonement and
the Adam-God theory had minimal impact on the long-range course of Mormon theological development. More important was Young's 1847 implementation
of denial of the Mormon priesthood to blacks, a practice that remained
in effect until its repeal in 1978.
activities as a pioneer businessman were also noteworthy. He engaged
in a wide variety of enterprises by himself and in partnership with
others. In the realm of transportation, these included a wagon express
company, a ferryboat company, and a railroad. In the field of manufacturing
he processed lumber, wool, sugar beets, iron, and even operated a distillery.
His greatest success as a businessman came in real estate. By the time
of his death, his personal fortune was calculated at $600,000 making
him the most successful Utah businessman up to that time.