JS, Notice, , Hancock Co., IL, 8 July 1842. Featured version published in “Bench & Moulding Planes,” Wasp, 9 July 1842, vol. 1, no. 13, . For more complete source information, see the source note for Notice, 28 April 1842.
On 8 July 1842, JS composed a notice to be published in the Wasp, asking members to provide woodworking planes for the construction of the in , Illinois. As the church’s trustee-in-trust, JS received and other donations for the temple, and he was kept informed about the needs related to the construction of the temple. An economic recession in the , an influx to Nauvoo of impoverished Latter-day Saints from and the eastern United States, and staggering debts left the church with inadequate means to provide all of the necessary materials for the temple’s construction. As a result, in this notice JS asked the Saints to donate any planes they could spare, as well as wood that could be used to make planes.
The difficult economic situation and general poverty of church members also meant that few Saints could give significant monetary donations. Tithing and temple donations were therefore often made in the form of goods or labor on the . Goods donated for the temple, as recorded in the Book of the Law of the Lord, ranged from food and clothing to more valuable items like livestock, wagons, rifles, and watches. Occasionally, tithing donations took the form of specific resources for the temple. Prior to the 8 July notice, two individuals had donated planes as part of their tithing. Once the notice began running in the Wasp in early July 1842, several additional Saints acted on JS’s request and donated lumber and various woodworking planes in August, September, and October 1842 as part of their tithing.
appears to have composed the notice featured here and dated it 8 July. The original manuscript is apparently no longer extant. The notice was first printed in the 9 July 1842 issue of the Wasp and was reprinted in twelve consecutive issues of the weekly newspaper, running from 16 July to 1 October 1842.
Financing for the temple appears to have run into further difficulty in summer 1842. A 25 June 1842 notice from Willard Richards as temple recorder informed members that notes due the trustee-in-trust for labor on the temple had been left with the temple building committee for collection and reminded the Saints that “your contracts with your God are sacred; the labor is wanted immediately.” The notice also reminded members to pay the notes that had come due on property they had donated for the temple construction. (Willard Richards, “Notes,” Wasp, 25 June 1842, .)
By February 1841, some Latter-day Saint men in the Nauvoo area began donating, as their annual tithing, one day of labor out of every ten to the construction of the temple. Over time this practice apparently became more standardized, and the temple recorder assigned a fixed value for this labor of thirty-one dollars a year; this was based on a payment rate of one dollar a day for one tenth of the number of days in the year, minus Sundays. With this standardization of labor tithing, some individuals paid the thirty-one dollars owed on their labor tithing in goods, conflating what was intended as labor tithing with property tithing. (“Ecclesiastical,” Times and Seasons, 1 Feb. 1841, 2:296; Book of the Law of the Lord, 28, 30, 32.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
See “Bench and Moulding Planes,” Wasp, 16 July–1 Oct. 1842, .
The Wasp. Nauvoo, IL. Apr. 1842–Apr. 1843.
BENCH & MOULDING PLANES.
Wanted, immediately, a large number of the above Planes on . The brethren who have got such and can spare them would greatly facilitate the building of the by bringing them as soon as possible to the , and they shall be entered to their credit on tithing. All kinds of bench planes whether good or indifferent can be made useful at the . The moulding planes should be such as suit the present fashion.
Also all lumber, which would make plane stocks, would be very serviceable.
Bench planes were hand tools “with flat soles used mainly on the bench for preparing and smoothing the workpiece.” A molding plane was a specialized type of plane used to cut molding along the edge of a board. The precursors of nineteenth-century American planes were created and modified by European craftsmen in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (Salaman, Dictionary of Tools, 305, 338–342; Greber, History of the Woodworking Plane, 87–97; Welsh, Woodworking Tools, 15, 17.)
Salaman, R. A. Dictionary of Tools Used in the Woodworking and Allied Trades, c. 1700–1970. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.
Greber, Josef M. The History of the Woodworking Plane (Die Geschichte des Hobels): From the Stone Age to the Development of Woodworking Factories in the Early 19th Century. Translated by Seth W. Burchard. N.p.: Early American Industries Association, 1991.
Welsh, Peter C. Woodworking Tools, 1600–1900. Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology, Paper 51. [Washington DC]: [Smithsonian Institution], .
It is unclear why JS requested these tools specifically and what he intended workmen to use them for. Carpenters had completed the wooden baptismal font the previous winter, and the walls of the temple were only a few feet high. Builders may have been creating scaffolding or framing for the exterior walls at that point, but there is no indication that any interior carpentry work was being done on the temple in summer 1842. In October 1842, JS made enclosing the baptistry a priority, and by 28 October a temporary floor was laid to create the first floor of the temple. The request for woodworking planes in July 1842 may have been in preparation for these developments, as well as for additional future interior work. (Clayton, History of the Nauvoo Temple, 13–14, 19–22, 32; McBride, House for the Most High, 106–127.)
Clayton, William. History of the Nauvoo Temple, ca. 1845. CHL. MS 3365.
McBride, Matthew. A House for the Most High: The Story of the Original Nauvoo Temple. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2007.