The death of Joseph Smith came as an extreme shock to the member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and chaos ensued. Many people sprang up to say they had been appointed to take the Prophets place as the leader of The Church. Many members did not know who to believe, and what God wanted for His Church. When Brigham Young arose to speak, to a large group of Saints, it was made clear who the Lord wanted to lead His Church. The Saints learned that the Lord wanted the senior apostles, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to be the next leader. At the time of the death of Joseph Smith the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve was Brigham Young. God answered the prayers of the faithful Saints with a miraculous vision of Brigham Young looking and sounding exactly like the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Brigham Getting the News of Joseph's death
Brigham Young was in Peterborough New Hampshire when there began to be rumors of the death of the Prophet and his brother Hyrum, but Brigham did not believe the rumors. Soon after, a letter arrived confirming the tragic news of the death of his dear friend and prophet. Brigham Young responded rigth away and walked from Peterborough New Hampshire to Boston. In Boston he to meet Wilford Woodruff who also recently heard the news of the deaths.
Brigham and Wilford went to the home of a member in Boston. They went upstairs, sat down and cried together. It was a very emotional time for these two members of the Quorum of the Twelve, mourning their friends and worrying what is to come next for The Church. One of the daughters of Brigham Young said she never saw Brigham Youngs face so sorrowed as when the word came of Joseph and Hyrum. In that very setting Brigham Young said "Where are they keys of the Priesthood?" Then, he brought his hands on his knees and said "they are right here!" He knew they were given the keys to keep the Church running with the correct authority.
Brigham defending the Twelve Apostles
Brigham and Wilford returned to the chaos and confusion of Nauvoo. The members of the Church gathered together, looking for direction and guidance on who will be the next leader.
In this famous meeting Sidney Rigdon spoke for nearly two hours, arguing that "he, and he alone, is the heir of the Church," and Sidney was to function as the "guardian" of the Church.
Sidney Rigdon finished and the next man arose, by the name of James Strang. James Strang told the people that he had received revelation from a letter Joseph had written him. James produced a letter with the signature of Joseph Smith. He believed this letter was proof that he should be the next leader of The Church.
After James Strang was done it was Brigham Young's turn to address the Saints. Brigham stood and spoke for less than 20 minutes. Brigham Young said he didn't not care who leads the Church, but it was most important to know who the Lord wanted to lead the Church. "I testify to you that the head of the Church, right here, at this moment is the council of the Twelve, and no one can get get between the council of the Twelve and the Lord Himself." Brigham bore a simple, and powerful witness of the importance of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Brigham said: “I do not care who leads the church, … but one thing I must know, and that is what God says about it. I have the keys and the means of obtaining the mind of God on the subject. …"
“Joseph conferred upon our heads [referring to the Twelve Apostles] all the keys and powers belonging to the Apostleship which he himself held before he was taken away. …
“How often has Joseph said to the Twelve, ‘I have laid the foundation and you must build thereon, for upon your shoulders the kingdom rests’” (in History of the Church, 7:230).
Brigham Young Looked Exactly like Joseph Smith
During this meeting in Nauvoo there are more than 100 witnesses of men, women and children that say they saw Joseph Smith speaking and not Brigham Young. Brigham Young did not look like Joseph Smith, he was stockier, and three to four inches shorter than Joseph Smith, they did not sound the same either with different voices and styles of speaking.
While Brigham was speaking there were people who rose and shouted "It is Joseph!" There were children who tugged on their mothers skirts saying "mother, mother, look!"
There were some who had been familiar with a slight whistle in the Prophet Joseph Smith's speech because of a lost tooth who said they could even hear THAT in Brighams speech.
Benjamin F. Johnson recalled, “President Brigham Young arose and spoke. I saw him arise, but as soon as he spoke I jumped upon my feet, for in every possible degree it was Joseph’s voice, and his person, in look, attitude, dress and appearance was Joseph himself, personified; and I knew in a moment the spirit and mantle of Joseph was upon him” (My Life’s Review , 103–4).
William C. Staines described Brigham Young as speaking “with the voice like the voice of the Prophet Joseph. I thought it was he, and so did thousands who heard it” (in History of the Church, 7:236).
Wilford Woodruff wrote, “If I had not seen him with my own eyes, there is no one that could have convinced me that it was not Joseph Smith, and anyone can testify to this who was acquainted with these two men” (in History of the Church, 7:236).
When it was put to a vote, the great majority voted "yes" they sustained the Twelve Apostles, with Brigham Young at their head.
"Presidents of The Church" By Truman G. Madsen