Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Match Your Judgment Against Brigham Young’s: The Answer

Match Your Judgment Against Brigham Young’s: The Answer

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 10, 2012

If you haven’t yet read this morning’s post, read that before proceeding.

Here’s Brigham Young’s answer to the question posed by the immigration agent:

In reply to your enquiries with regard to some few of the Saints coming from the Missouri river to this City by hand carts, we will say that from our present information we do not perceive that any advantages would be gained financially or otherwise by this step. If we take the first cost of the hand carts, the value of the provisions consumed, the wear and tear of clothing &c and place them beside the thirty-five dollars emigrant railroad fare from Omaha here, it seems to us that the emigrants would be considerably the loosers by the arrangement, neither do we think they would be as safe. But possibly you may be able to afford some data on these points that would modify our present views, if so, we shall be pleased to receive them.

So how’d you do?



  1. Wow, I don’t think anybody got it right!

    Comment by Meghan — January 10, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  2. Good ol’ Brother Brigham. Eminently practical advice — and open to suggestion. And without a shred of sentimental devotion to the handcart endeavor.

    Congrats to those commenters to predicted the suggestion to buy a train ticket. I wouldn’t have put two and two together.

    This was fun, Ardis.

    Comment by David Y. — January 10, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  3. Far less fire-and-brimstoney than I would have thought (hoped?!), but eminently practical.

    Comment by E. Wallace — January 10, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  4. Perhaps nobody got it exactly right, but everybody who said “take the train” should get a point. And I think Mark B.’s extended (if ad absurdum) economic reasoning probably comes the closest.

    I loved reading your responses. It was fascinating to see how as a group we both feared Brigham had answered in certain ways (harshly) and hoped he had answered in a compassionate way (help).

    Guess we’ll have to put leaves in the captain’s table to accommodate everybody.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 10, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

  5. He was more practical and less judgmental than I was. And surprisingly bureaucratic in a competent and open way. But then, somebody had to lay the institutional foundation for that edifice now standing at 50 E North Temple.

    Comment by Grant — January 10, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

  6. Yeah, I was going to give Mark the benefit of the doubt as having the closest answer, and the MLM bit sealed the deal. And, Bro. Brigham did indeed turn out to be way less judgmental than I gave him credit for. Just straightforward, practical use your head advice.

    Comment by kevinf — January 10, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  7. By the way, this was super fun! I would be for more of these.

    Comment by kevinf — January 10, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

  8. I also liked his final sentence. We’re very used to thinking of Brigham as practically a dictator, giving the last word on everything. Yet here he is (and not the only time, either) saying, “If you’ve got ideas that haven’t occurred to me, let’s hear them.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 10, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

  9. Oh, good, kevinf! We’ve got another series idea, then. There are of course many, many examples of people asking his advice — I’ll just have to try to find some that are as intrinsically colorful as handcarts.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 10, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  10. Maybe now I can convince our Stake to take a train ride instead of a handcart trek for Youth Conference.

    Comment by Tim J — January 10, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  11. Wait, I thought BY was all about saving every single penny at the expense of consciously sending poor immigrants to their certain death by handcarting without enough provisions and support? I’m so confused now.

    Comment by Ben P — January 10, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

  12. Love the idea of making this a series. I’d like a little more time though, before the answer is given so guys (like me) who don’t check in as often have a chance to play.

    (Of course, if I had played, I’d be begging for the answer to be posted sooner!)

    Comment by The Other Clark — January 10, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

  13. ad absurdum?? If Isaiah could foresee Cyrus the Great, couldn’t Brother Brigham have foreseen Amway? Or at least Tahitian Noni (whatever that is)?

    Comment by Mark B. — January 10, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  14. #8: *LIKE*
    #10: *LIKE* *LIKE*

    Comment by Paul — January 11, 2012 @ 7:50 am

  15. I’ll second Paul’s “like” of Tim J’s #10. Terrific!

    Comment by Mark B. — January 11, 2012 @ 7:58 am

  16. Clearly the answer Brother Brigham gave was evidence he was too old to be the rugged frontiersman/Moses prophet anymore, and so the Lord took him that same year.

    I’m wondering what John Taylor would have told them….

    Comment by Rameumptom — January 11, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  17. Rameumptom, do you forget that it was John Taylor who was tasked with finding a way in the East to implement Brigham’s handcart idea formed in the West? And that he received a significant amount of Brigham’s anger and blame after the Willie and Martin Companies? The merest hint of responsibility for encouraging a small, lone handcart company to come in 1877 would have left John Taylor sleepless with worry, I think.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 11, 2012 @ 10:26 am

  18. What happened to ‘this morning’s post’?

    Comment by Steve — January 11, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  19. Weird! I don’t know what happened, Steve, but I’ve pasted in the correct URL again and the link seems to be working now. Thanks for the heads up.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 11, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI