Utah History Encyclopedia


By Brigham D. Madsen
Albert Carrington (1813-1889) spent most of his adult life as a prominent leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He grew up in Royalton, Vermont, his birthplace, and attended Dartmouth College, from which he graduated in 1834. After teaching school in Pennsylvania, where he also studied law, he moved to Hamilton, Wisconsin, where he engaged in lead mining and married Rhoda Maria Woods. He was baptized into the Mormon Church on 18 July 1841 and later moved his family of wife and four children to Nauvoo, Illinois, just prior to the murder of the Mormon leader Joseph Smith in June 1844. Because of his scholarly background and activity as a proselytor for his faith, he was soon recognized as one of the intellectual leaders in the Mormon community.

During the exodus of the Saints from Nauvoo and their difficult period in the camps at Council Bluffs and Far West, three of the Carringtons' four children died. Carrington was chosen by Brigham Young to be a member of the Council of Fifty, the chief administrative body of the church, and was a member of the pioneer party to the Great Basin in 1847. He returned to Iowa to move his family to Salt Lake City and became very prominent in Utah political and administrative affairs. He served as assessor, collector of taxes, treasurer of the provisional government of Utah, one of the men who helped draft a constitution for proposed statehood, speaker of the house in the new government, and personal secretary to Brigham Young. He also entered the practice of polygamy by taking a second wife.

When Howard Stansbury entered Salt Lake Valley in September 1849 to conduct his famous survey of the Great Salt Lake, he employed Carrington to superintend the crew hired to help in the project. Carrington played a prominent role in the Stansbury expedition, and his diaries and engineering journals remain a very valuable source of information about the reconnaissance. After the completion of the survey, Stansbury continued Carrington in government employ, trusting him to shepherd the expedition records and artifacts back to Washington, D.C., where he spent the winter of 1850-51 helping to prepare the maps and records of the expedition for publication, a job he held until May when he left to return to his home in Salt Lake City.

Carrington's later career was also quite distinguished. He was named a regent and Chancellor of the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah); helped to locate the territorial capital at Fillmore, Utah; participated in the constitutional convention of 1872 for proposed statehood; and served as territorial attorney general. In addition to these activities, he continued his service in the Mormon Church as editor of the Deseret News for nine years; as the presiding authority four different times over the European Mission; as one of the twelve apostles (appointed in 1870); as a counselor to Brigham Young in 1873; as church historian in 1874; and as the president of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company in 1873.

In his later years, Carrington came under attack by the anti-Mormon Salt Lake Tribune in 1875 and again in 1884. The newspaper charged him with adultery, and the Council of Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church excommunicated him on 7 November 1885 for "lascivious conduct and adultery." A few months later, he suffered two paralytic strokes and was bedridden the last four years of his life. Heeding his pleas for clemency, the Council of Twelve Apostles finally allowed his rebaptism into the church on 1 November 1887. Albert Carrington died 19 September 1889.

Disclaimer: Information on this site was converted from a hard cover book published by University of Utah Press in 1994.