JS dictated a revelation on 26 April 1838 stating that the city of , Missouri, “should be built up” by the gathering of the Saints and that they should build a there. Since the creation of in 1836, in and elsewhere had been gathering in Far West, the county’s principal Mormon community, and in surrounding settlements. In early 1837, about a year before JS’s arrival, members and drew a plan for a temple and appointed a committee to superintend construction of the temple in Far West’s central lot. In April 1837, the questioned the Zion presidency’s authority to appoint such a committee and even to select the site for the city. This problem was somewhat resolved, and several hundred Saints assembled to begin excavating for the temple foundation in July. When JS and visited Far West in November, they participated in a council meeting wherein the members resolved to expand the size of the existing city plat. This resolution suggests that JS and the other council members approved the location of the city and its central lot. Moreover, the council members apparently authorized the plan to build a temple and approved the location, but it was decided to suspend any construction work “till the Lord shall reveal it to be his will to be commenced.”
After JS moved to in March 1838 and helped root dissension out of the church, he and the high council turned their attention to developing as the church’s gathering center. On 21 April, they passed several resolutions to build the community, including improving the used for community meetings, building one or more , and reestablishing the church press. By this time, thousands of Saints were living in Far West and its vicinity and hundreds more were expected from within the next few months. The gathering of the Saints, especially with heavy migration from , would eventually require settlement beyond the bounds of Far West, and church leaders had already begun efforts to locate other sites for settlement.
JS’s revelation of 26 April 1838 spoke to these recent developments. The revelation was addressed to JS, other church leaders, and all other members of the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”—which the revelation specified was the new official name of the church. The revelation enjoined the church’s leaders and members to continue gathering to , to sanctify the city through living, and to build the . The Saints were instructed to begin work on the temple on 4 July and to build it according to a pattern that would be revealed to the First Presidency. When church members resided in earlier in the 1830s, no revelations had instructed the Saints to establish a city of gathering or to construct a temple there. The plan for the Saints in up until this time had been one of temporary settlement while waiting for a return to the “centre place” of in . The 26 April 1838 revelation marked a change in Mormon plans in Missouri. Though the Latter-day Saints were not in Zion’s “centre place” at and were not building “the ,” they were commanded to build up a city of Zion with a temple. The revelation concluded with a commandment to the Saints to build up Far West and to establish other communities “in the regions round about” as directed by their prophet.
The revelation was probably dictated orally and written down by a scribe, as was typical with JS’s revelations. copied the revelation into JS’s “Scriptory Book,” apparently around the time JS dictated the revelation. The Latter-day Saints followed the direction of the revelation by laying the cornerstones of the on 4 July 1838, whereupon gave a speech in which he vigorously asserted the rights of the Latter-day Saints to settle wherever they pleased.
“Revelations,” Ensign of Liberty, Aug. 1849, 98–99; see also William E. McLellin, Independence, MO, to Joseph Smith III, [Plano, IL], July 1872, typescript, Letters and Documents Copied from Originals in the Office of the Church Historian, Reorganized Church, CHL; and Pratt, Autobiography, 65.
Ensign of Liberty. Kirtland, OH. Mar. 1847–Aug. 1849.
McLellin, William E. Letter, Independence, MO, to Joseph Smith III, [Plano, IL], July 1872. Letters and Documents Copied from Originals in the Office of the Church Historian, Reorganized Church, no date. Typescript. CHL. MS 9090. Original at CCLA.
Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.
Revelation given in , April 26<th>, 1838, Making known the will of God, concerning the building up of this place and of the &c.
Verrily thus Saith the Lord unto you my Servant Joseph Smith Jr. and also my Servant , and also my Servant , and your counselors who are and who shall be hereafter appointed, and also unto my Servant and his , and also unto my faithfull Servants, who are of the of my in (for thus it shall be called) and unto all the and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Scattered abroad [p. 32]