Letter from James Arlington Bennet, 20 February 1843
, Letter, , [New Utrecht, Kings Co., NY], to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 20 Feb. 1843; handwriting of ; three pages; JS Materials, CCLA. Includes address, postal stamps, postal notation, endorsement, and docket.
Bifolium measuring 9⅞ × 8 inches (25 × 20 cm) when folded. Each page is ruled with twenty-seven horizontal lines printed in blue ink with header space. Embossed in the upper left corner of the first page is a circular mark enclosing flowers and foliage. The document was trifolded twice in letter style (with the outer edge of the second leaf folded in a triangular pattern to form a seal flap), addressed, and sealed with red wax, the remnants of which are on the second leaf.
The document was endorsed by , who served as JS’s scribe from December 1841 until JS’s death in June 1844 and served as church historian from December 1842 until his own death in March 1854. The document also contains a docket in unidentified handwriting. The letter was likely retained by JS and passed down among Smith family descendants. Sometime before 1961, it was transferred to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ).
On 20 February 1843, wrote a letter from , New York, to JS at , Illinois, regarding recent hearings related to the latest efforts to extradite JS to and JS’s continuing problems with two adversaries, embittered former member and New York Herald editor . JS and James Arlington Bennet had never met, but they had exchanged letters during August and September 1842. Since those exchanges, the two men had not corresponded directly, although between October and December, JS reviewed and approved two letters between , his close friend and personal secretary, and Bennet. Bennet had also written two letters published in the New York Herald defending JS and the Latter-day Saints. In both of these letters, Bennet disclaimed any close connections with John C. Bennett while at the same time expressing his sympathy for and friendship with JS.
In this 20 February letter, which requested remain confidential, Bennet informed JS of his efforts to assist him in his ongoing legal situation, including writing letters on his behalf to both , former governor of , and , former governor of . Bennet evidently also sent a letter to imploring him to stop his defamatory campaign against JS and the church. Further casting himself as a friend and ally of JS, James Arlington Bennet indicated his pleasure at what he perceived to be the financial failure of John C. Bennett’s recently published exposé of JS. Bennet’s sentiments demonstrated his continuing contempt for the man who had first introduced him to JS and the Latter-day Saints. Bennet also expressed his displeasure with , who had recently angered the Latter-day Saint community with derisive comments regarding JS’s extradition hearings in , Illinois.
The postmarks on the letter indicate that mailed it to JS from a week after he wrote it. JS received and read the letter on 15 March 1843 and dictated a response two days later.
to get up a subscription his list for his paper at as well as the excitement they produced here. How does like such an Aid-de-Camp? In fact no commissin can make a man an Aid de Camp. It must be by the General’s own appointme[n]t under his own hand & seal otherwise you might transfer Offices or Aids de Camp as they do serfs in Russia. I want to see this man got rid of. He can do you no harm & I am sure he will do you no good as I know him to be a Catholic as bigoted as the Canon Calvo under the cloak of external liberality. You would add to your independence & respectability to cast him off along with your rather hypocritical
I am pleased to see your brother sustain your rights so nobly. He is an honor to your family & people.
You will be pleased my dear Sir to give our best respects to & , & all other friends at who take an interest in the inmates of and accept for yourself
My most profound consideration & friendly esteem
Confidential except to friends.
is so ignorant that he imagines that he is my Aid-de-Camp—! In fact if no comment would be made at Headquarters I should take the responsibility of dismissing myself— [p. ]
Similar to other contemporary newspapers, the New York Herald occasionally published excerpts from the Times and Seasons and the Wasp during this period. (See “Highly Important from the Mormon Empire,” New York Herald [New York City], 17 June 1842, ; “Important from the Far West,” New York Herald, 21 July 1842, ; and “Latest from the Mormons,” New York Herald, 3 Nov. 1842, .)
Charles James’s military dictionary states only that an aide-de-camp was “an officer appointed to attend a general officer, in the field, in winter-quarters, and in garrison” and does not specify that the officer in question must make or approve the appointment. (“Aide-de-Camp,” in James, New and Enlarged Military Dictionary.)
James, Charles. A New and Enlarged Military Dictionary; or, Alphabetical Explanation of Technical Terms: Containing, among Other Matter, a Succinct Account of the Different Systems of Fortification, Tactics, &c. . . . London: T. Egerton, 1802.
“Canon Calvo” refers to Baltasar Calvo, a radical Catholic cleric who participated in the Peninsular War and who was “known for his ‘violent character’ and anti-reformist ideas.” In 1808 Calvo led a group in Valencia, Spain, in massacring French rulers there. Highlighting both Calvo’s Catholicism and militarism, he earned the nickname “Canon Calvo.” Shortly following the massacre, Calvo was denounced as a fanatic and executed. (Fraser, Napoleon’s Cursed War, 148–149.)
Fraser, Ronald. Napoleon’s Cursed War: Popular Resistance in the Spanish Peninsular War, 1808–1814. New York: Verso, 2008.
This sentence may refer to William Smith’s early December 1842 address to the Illinois legislature. Smith defended the importance of the Nauvoocity charter against legislation calling for the charter’s repeal. (“Speech of Mr. Smith of Hancock County,” Wasp, 14 Jan. 1843, –.)