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Abstract

While still in poverty and fleeing heavy persecution in 1841, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints committed themselves to an unexpected architectural endeavor. They decided to construct a temple to their God in their newly christened frontier city of Nauvoo, Illinois. What motivated these poor, homeless, persecuted Christians to start construction on such an ambitious project? Though they were being driven from the state, were about to lose the Temple, and had just lost their alleged prophet, they still chose to finish it. Despite significant financial and social challenges, the Latter-day Saints chose to build the Nauvoo Temple for at least three reasons: first, they believed in following the counsel of those they believed to be modern-day prophets; second, they wanted to emulate scriptural precedent for Zion societies, such as the City of Enoch; third, they possessed a sincere desire to obtain promised spiritual blessings. To narrow the focus of the project and allow for a more comprehensive study, the research focuses on the Saints’ motivations for building the Temple and does not assess whether they achieved their desired outcomes.

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