Author Alexander Dumas, in 1844, published his legendary novel, The Three Musketeers.  The story describes three inseparable friends who live by the motto “all for one, one for all”.

stone-masonThis phrase also describes the Zion-like spirit of unity and cooperation behind the LDS Church’s effort to comfortably transition immigrants into the local economy.  Created in 1850, the Public Works Department, led for 20 years by Daniel H. Wells, provided employment for both skilled and unskilled laborers who had recently arrived in Salt Lake City.

In the spirit of the “all for one” side of the motto, the Public Works Department was the means of the community giving individual laborers the opportunity to provide for themselves until they could find their own places in the local economy.  It provided work for individuals through several operations on the corner of the Temple Block, including a blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, stone-cutting shop, and a paint shop.  Elsewhere they operated a lime kiln and an adobe yard.  Later they established a machine shop, a foundry, and a nail factory.

The “one for all” part of the Three Musketeers’ motto was expressed through the Public Works Department’s use of “tithing labor”.  Every male member was expected to work one day in ten for the benefit of the community.  It was through this means that the Council House, the Old Tabernacle meetinghouse, the Endowment House, Social Hall and the Salt Lake Temple were all built, as well as a Bath House, a Tithing Store and Storehouse, along with many other public and private buildings, canals, roads and even a railway.  All these buildings and infrastructure were constructed by individuals donating labor for the benefit of all.

This “all for one, one for all” motto expresses the equality and brotherhood which exemplifies a Zion society.  The Public Works Department was an expression of the commandment of loving our neighbor as ourselves, as well as caring for the poor and needy.  In contrast, in today’s Babylon society, each individual is in direct competition with his neighbor for jobs and newcomers are usually left to their own devices and often taken advantage of by those more established in the community.  We Saints today would do well to ask ourselves how we might better model the motto of the Three Musketeers.

(c) 2014 by Jesse Fisher