Latter-day Saints aren't the only ones who have spoken from the podium of the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Many US Presidents have as well. In honor of President's Day, we are resharing this 2017 article with a few interesting details behind each of their visits to this historic Temple Square building.
1. John F. Kennedy
On September 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy arrived in Salt Lake City and gave a historic speech in the Tabernacle on Temple Square as the President of the United States.
Though he had also spoken in that historic building three years earlier as a presidential candidate, referencing Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Latter-day Saint scripture, during his 1963 visit, the president spoke powerfully of creating a united nation and a united world. In some of his opening lines, he shared:
“Of all the stories of American pioneers and settlers, none is more inspiring than the Mormon trail. The qualities of the founders of this community are the qualities that we seek in America, the qualities which we like to feel this country has, courage, patience, faith, self-reliance, perseverance, and, above all, an unflagging determination to see the right prevail.”
He later stated, “As the Mormons succeeded, so America can succeed, if we will not give up or turn back.” Just shy of two months later, President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas.
2. President Theodore Roosevelt
Photo from The Desert News, used by permission
Though not the first president to visit Salt Lake, President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was the first president of the United States to speak at the Tabernacle, which he did on May 29, 1903. In his address, he praised the unity of the people of Utah, along with their wise use of resources:
“[Y]ou have exemplified a doctrine which it seems to me all-essential for our people ever to keep fresh in their minds—the fact that though natural resources can do a good deal, that the law can do a good deal, the fundamental requisite in building up prosperity and civilization is the requisite of individual character in the individual man or woman. . . You took a state which at the outset was called after the desert, and you literally—not figuratively—you literally made the wilderness blossom as the rose.”