Still in his early 40s, the first photograph of Young reveals a surprisingly dapper and handsome man. Of middle height and clean shaven, sandy red hair fell to his shoulders.

Unlike the visionary Smith, he was not naturally charismatic, but his leadership was forceful and pragmatic. As the LDS Church struggled for its survival, even his enemies admitted Young was the man for the moment.

It was soon clear that the Mormons would not find peace in the United States. Young rushed through completion of the Nauvoo Temple and administered sacred ordinances to nearly 6,000 members. In fall 1845, Young promised to leave Illinois "as soon as grass grows," but after the federal government indicted a dozen LDS leaders for counterfeiting, he started the move west in February 1846.

Over the next two years, Young inspired his people with a spectacular display of leadership. His command of the Pioneer Camp in the Salt Lake Valley of 1847 marked the pinnacle of his career. On his return to Winter Quarters after founding Salt Lake, Young persuaded his reluctant fellow apostles to confirm him as president of the LDS Church.