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12 Times U.S. Presidents Spoke in the Tabernacle


BONUS:

13. Helen Keller

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Photo from the Library of Congress

March 1941

Helen Keller’s visit to Salt Lake City was highly publicized. She attended a benefit performance at the Tabernacle on the night of her arrival, received a Braille copy of the Book of Mormon from President Heber J. Grant, and spoke in the Tabernacle.

Newspapers of the time reported, “Describing herself as ‘inexpressibly grieved by the present world conflict,’ Miss Keller reaffirmed her belief in the power of God to eventually achieve His divine wish for ‘peace on earth, good will among men.’”

Famous Mormon poet Emma Lou Thayne recalls a particularly touching moment from Keller’s visit, when at the end of her speech, she asked for President Heber J. Grant:

“There was a flurry of getting up from the front row, and President Grant walked up the stairs to the stand. She reached out her hand and he took it. ‘I would like,’ she said, 'to hear your organ play your famous song—about your pioneers. I would like to remember hearing it here.’”

Keller placed her hand on the organ while the organist, Alexander Schreiner, played “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” Feeling only the vibrations from the magnificent instrument and organist's efforts, she stood there in front of the congregation, and the tears flowed.

14. Susan B. Anthony

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Photo from the Library of Congress

June 1871

Susan B. Anthony, one of the leaders of the nation's women’s suffrage movement, visited Salt Lake City several times. The first time was in June 1871, when she came with her contemporary and friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

The two conducted a five-hour meeting with an audience full of Latter-day Saint women in the “Old Tabernacle,” which stood where the Assembly Hall on Temple Square stands today. Anthony, who later wrote about the event, expressed that they “were very thankful for the privilege granted us of speaking to the women alone in the smaller Tabernacle. Our meeting opened at two o'clock and lasted until seven, giving us five hours of uninterrupted conversation.”

May 12, 1895

Many years later, Anthony came again to Salt Lake City, at the time when Utah was finally about to be granted statehood and when the right for women to vote was added to the constitution of the new state. This time, Anthony spoke in the large Tabernacle familiar to Latter-day Saints today.

The Woman’s Exponent, run at the time by the General Relief Society President and a friend of Anthony, Emmeline B. Wells, included the text from Anthony’s speech in one of their issues. Amidst her praise of the territory’s decision to allow women equal voting rights, she also gave this glowing praise of the Tabernacle:

“It is just about twenty-four years ago that I was present in this great Tabernacle on the day upon which you dedicated it to the service of the Lord, and every nook and corner, of this great building was packed on the occasion with people from every part of the Territory, many being unable to gain admittance. It was the most magnificent gathering I ever saw, and it was brought together in the midst of the greatest trouble that any people who were seeking to do right could go through” (Vol. 24, pg. 2).

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Photo from the U.S. Post Office, courtesy of Ronald L. Fox

In a note in Eliza R. Snow's autograph book a few days after her 1895 visit, Anthony also said of the women of Utah:

"Political Equality is but the stepping stone—to civil, industrial, educational, and religious equality; The Ballot which the women of Utah will possess after the next election is but the weapon with which they may bring themselves and their children all good things."

15. Charles A. Lindbergh

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Photo from the Salt Lake Police Department, courtesy of Ronald L. Fox

September 3, 1927

As the first man to every fly across the Atlantic Ocean, Charles A. Lindbergh was warmly welcomed to Salt Lake City. Thousands came to see him land on the little Woodward flying field, which would later become the Salt Lake International Airport.

The Improvement Era from the time reports:

“The city was gaily decorated with flags and bunting, the shop windows displayed pictures of the flier in all possible and impossible poses. Thousands of admirers, male and female, thronged the flying-field, the streets, Liberty Park, and the Tabernacle, to see and hear the famous bird-man, who gave the impression of being tired of all the fuss, not to say bored by it. However, the Colonel acknowledged the enthusiasm of Salt Lake City’s population . . . he is a clean young man, with unusual strength of character and unsurpassed courage and skill in his line of activity.”
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Photo courtesy of Ronald L. Fox
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