On 21 February 1843, JS delivered a one-hour discourse at the construction site in , Illinois, regarding the urgency of completing the temple and the , both of which the Latter-day Saints were building in accordance with a January 1841 revelation. According to , thousands had gathered at the temple site in the morning for the purpose “of Advancing the cause of the Nauvoo House & other mattrs.” , a trustee of the , addressed the gathering, followed by , whom JS had appointed to be the architect of the Nauvoo House. During his comments, Woodworth stated that there was “not that public spirit here as in other cities.” To support his claims, he referenced the laborers on the Nauvoo House who were constantly asking for their pay and for food. Hoping to deescalate the complaints, he asked the laborers to continue working on the house and to be patient as they waited to receive compensation for their labor. He then stated that, like the workers, he had eaten “dry Johncake & cold water” and had shared whatever he had with the workers. For those who continued to complain, Woodworth hoped that they would “get their pay & run away.” Emphasizing the importance of the temple and Nauvoo House building projects, he told the community that if the two buildings were not finished, “you must run—away,” suggesting that those who did not contribute to the buildings ought to vacate the city.
When JS arose to speak, he endorsed what had said and then offered his own remarks on the subject. He reiterated the importance of the , explaining that he considered it just as sacred as the . The 19 January 1841 revelation commanding the construction of the temple made clear that the house, like the temple, “shall be holy.” On 2 October 1841, JS further demonstrated the importance of the Nauvoo House when he deposited the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, along with several other sacred writings, in the building’s cornerstone.
During the discourse, JS expressed displeasure with those who withheld resources from the construction of the in order to aggrandize themselves at the expense of others, singling out in his criticism. JS and Foster had disputed over various matters during the preceding months, and Foster had publicly supported someone other than JS for mayor. At his inauguration, JS accused Foster of having taken “an active part in electioneering for the written opposition ticket. & obstructing the passage to the polls.” In his 21 February discourse, JS voiced irritation that Foster had recently signed a petition to replace as ’s postmaster with , who was not a member. Shortly before JS ended his discourse, Foster interjected by refuting some of JS’s criticisms, and JS apparently accepted most of his refutations.
briefly mentioned the discourse in his diary, stating that JS’s remarks “were plain & pointed.” created a much more detailed account of the discourse, which he recorded in JS’s journal. In preparing JS’s history, Richards later inscribed a copy of the sermon in his rough draft notes. This later version provided additional information that helped to explain some of the enigmatic statements in the journal. Richards’s original version in JS’s journal is featured here.
Foster acknowledged that some of JS’s accusations against him were true. At the same time, he noted his contributions to the Nauvoo House and the NauvooRelief Society as well as to the construction of JS’s own house. Foster suggested that his business dealings allowed him to contribute to the public good in Nauvoo. He also acknowledged signing the petition requesting that William Rollosson be made the postmaster but said that he had done so without knowing about the earlier efforts to make JS the postmaster. As indicated by his subsequent remarks at the end of the sermon, JS apparently felt satisfied with Foster’s reply. (Woodruff, Journal, 21 Feb. 1843; JS, Journal, 21 Feb. 1843.)
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.
I want all men to feel for me. when I have shook the bush— & bore the burdn and if they do not—, I speak in authority
in the name the Lord <god> he shall be damnd,— people on the flats are aggrandiz[i]ng themselves. by the .
who laid the foundation of the Temple. Bro Joseph in the name of the Lord. not for his aggrandizement but for the good of the whole
Our speculators say our poor folk on the flat are down & keep them down. How the cheats this man & that man— say the speculators. they are fools ought to hide their heads in a hollow punkin & never take it out.— [p. ]
In preparation for the laying of the cornerstones for the Nauvootemple, Alpheus Cutler, Reynolds Cahoon, and others “laid out the foundation of the building” during February 1841. On 6 April 1841, JS oversaw the laying of the temple cornerstones. After the first cornerstone was laid on the southeast corner, he pronounced a benediction. (Clayton, History of the Nauvoo Temple, 5; Robert B. Thompson, “Laying the Corner Stone of the Temple,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1841, 2:380–383; Benediction, 6 Apr. 1841.)
Clayton, William. History of the Nauvoo Temple, ca. 1845. CHL. MS 3365.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.