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J. Reuben Clark. Being sworn in as undersecretary of state by William McNeir. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98312).

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Clark, Joshua Reuben, Jr. (01 September 1871–06 October 1961), diplomat and church leader, was born near Grantsville, Utah, the eldest of the ten children of Joshua Reuben Clark, Sr., and Mary Louisa Woolley, Mormon farmers. Although the family was poor, Clark showed great promise early on and was encouraged to pursue an education. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1898 and went on to Columbia University Law School in 1903. While there he came to the attention of both ...

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Kimball, Heber Chase (14 June 1801–22 June 1868), religious leader and businessman, was born near Sheldon Village, Franklin County, Vermont, the son of Solomon F. Kimball, a blacksmith and farmer, and Anna Spaulding. Poorly educated, he farmed, herded sheep, blacksmithed, and manufactured potash during his youth. Crushed by the Jeffersonian embargo and the War of 1812, Kimball’s father resettled the family in West Bloomfield, New York. In 1820 Kimball moved to nearby Mendon to work in his older brother’s pottery business. In November 1822 he married Vilate Murray; they had ten children. Revivalism in Western New York led Kimball and his wife to join the Baptists in 1831....

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Reed Smoot Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110940).

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Smoot, Reed Owen (10 January 1862–09 February 1941), senator and Mormon apostle, was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of Abraham Owen Smoot, a businessman and politician, and Anne Kirstene Morrison. Smoot’s father had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in Kentucky and moved with the church to Illinois and then on to Utah in 1847. Abraham Smoot was a polygamist, and Reed was the third child of the fifth wife, a convert from Norway. Anne Morrison Smoot influenced all her children to have faith, be industrious, and practice prudence. Abraham Smoot was mayor of Salt Lake City for ten years and then moved south to Provo, where he served in that same office for twelve years. Abraham served simultaneously as the president of the Mormon church’s Utah Stake, which covered all of Utah County....

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Emmeline B. Wells. Photograph by C. R. Savage. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111862).

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Wells, Emmeline B. (29 February 1828–25 April 1921), suffragist and Mormon feminist activist, was born Emmeline Blanche Woodward in Petersham, Massachusetts, the daughter of David Woodward and Diadama Hare, farmers. Marital relations were a defining characteristic of Emmeline’s life. As a recent convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church), she married at age fifteen fellow church member James Harris, also fifteen. By the next year, she had buried her first child and had been deserted by her teenage husband. Thereafter, Emmeline chose father figures as husbands. In 1845 she married Newel K. Whitney, a prominent Mormon bishop thirty-three years her senior, who was already the husband of two living wives. She wrote Whitney in 1847: “Like as a vine entwineth itself around an ...

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Brigham Young. Engraving on paper, c. 1855, by Augustin Francois Lemaitre. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Young, Brigham (01 June 1801–29 August 1877), second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), first governor of Utah Territory, and colonizer, second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), first governor of Utah Territory, and colonizer, was born in Whitingham, Vermont, the son of John Young, a farmer and revolutionary war veteran, and Abigail Nabby Howe. Three years later the family moved to central New York State and in 1813 to Sherburne in South-central New York. As a typical frontier boy, Brigham fished; trapped animals; helped clear land, build sheds, and dig cellars; milked the cow; and assisted with the planting and harvest. He received only eleven days of formal schooling but learned to read and write from his mother, with whom he regularly read the Bible. He helped care for her when she became debilitated from tuberculosis. The Young family frequented revivals in that religiously active region, and most of them became active Methodists....