, Letter, , Adams Co., IL, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 30 June 1842; handwriting of ; three pages; JS Materials, courtesy of Community of Christ Archives, International Headquarters, Independence, MO. Includes address, postal stamp, postal notation, dockets, and notations.
Bifolium measuring 9¾ × 7½ inches (25 × 19 cm). The first page is ruled with twenty-six blue lines (now faded). The second and third pages are ruled with twenty-eight blue lines (now faded). The illegible insignia of a paper mill is embossed in the upper left corner of the first page. The letter was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer.
The verso of the second leaf bears two notations and two dockets. The notations are in the handwriting of , written in blue ink: “Copied on Page 168” and “to be published in the Wasp”. The letter was subsequently folded for filing. A hole was made in the second leaf when the letter was opened, resulting in a loss of text. The document has undergone conservation. The letter was docketed twice by , who served as scribe to JS from 1842 to 1844 and as temple recorder from 1842 to 1846. The letter was probably retained by JS and passed down among Smith family descendants. By 1961, the family had donated the letter to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ), and it is now housed in the Community of Christ Library and Archives.
JS, Journal, 29 June 1842; “Clayton, William,” in Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 1:718; Clayton, History of the Nauvoo Temple, 18, 30–31.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co., 1901–1936.
Clayton, William. History of the Nauvoo Temple, ca. 1845. CHL. MS 3365.
Richard Howard, email to Rachel Killebrew, 5 June 2017, copy in editors’ possession.
On 30 June 1842, governor responded to JS’s 24 June 1842 letter, wherein JS had informed Carlin about ’s alleged adulterous behavior and reported that Bennett and antagonistic Missourians were conspiring against JS and the Latter-day Saints. In May 1842, the Quincy Whig reported rumors of Latter-day Saint involvement in the attempted assassination of former governor and claimed that JS had prophesied of Boggs’s demise. JS, who denied the charge, began to fear he would be extradited from Illinois to Missouri. In his 24 June letter to Carlin, JS noted that after consulting with Bennett about reported plans to kidnap JS, the two had agreed that Bennett should seek Carlin’s advice on how to respond to these threats. Because JS and Bennett had subsequently become estranged, JS asked Carlin to inform him of the contents of Bennett’s letter. In his response to JS, featured here, Carlin explained that Bennett had asked whether the Saints would be protected from a mob attack. Carlin advised JS and the Saints to defend themselves in the event of such an attack, even though he found the prospect unlikely. Carlin lamented Bennett’s behavior and denied harboring ill will toward JS or the Saints, while acknowledging he had heard rumors that JS had prophesied of Boggs’s death and even of Carlin’s own demise.
mailed the letter from , Illinois, on 2 July, and JS likely received it in , Illinois—approximately fifty miles upriver from Quincy—within a few days. On 4 July, at a general parade of the , JS described the legion’s role “to defend ourselves and families from mobs”; in order to provide legal protection from efforts to extradite JS, the city council passed an ordinance that expanded the power of Nauvoo’s municipal court to grant . JS did not immediately respond to Carlin’s letter, but about a month later, shortly after governor issued a requisition to extradite JS to Missouri, JS wrote Carlin again, seeking orders to call out the legion in the event of an attack.
The sent copy of the letter is featured here. later copied the letter featured here into JS Letterbook 2, and made another copy in JS’s journal, probably between 21 and 23 August 1842.
The 28 May issue of the Wasp published JS’s denial, which was also published in the 4 June 1842 issue of the Whig. In June, a man who signed his name “Hinkle”—probably George M. Hinkle—wrote to JS, telling him that JS’s denial would not stand up to scrutiny because Hinkle and “too many people” had heard him prophesy of Boggs’s demise. In July, the Warsaw Signal and the Sangamo Journal published reports from Bennett stating that JS had prophesied Boggs’s violent death. (“Assassination of Ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri,” Wasp, 28 May 1842, ; Letter to Sylvester Bartlett, 22 May 1842; Letter from Hinkle, 12 June 1842; “Nauvoo,” Warsaw [IL] Signal, 9 July 1842, ; John C. Bennett, Carthage, IL, 2 July 1842, Letter to the Editor, Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 15 July 1842, .)
I have received by the last mail your letter of the 24th instant; in which you have thought proper to give me a statement of Charges against the conduct, and Character of Genl. . I Can say that I regret that any individual should so far disregard his obligations to his God, and to his fellow man, as to condesend to the commission of <the> crimes alledged in your letter to have been perpetrated by . It is however in accordance with representatons of his Character, made to me more than two years since, and which I then felt Constrained to believe were true, since which time I have desired to have as little intercourse with him as possible. No resignation of his Commission as Mjr. General of the has reached me. Some weeks since I recd. a short note from him stating that, you had reason to believe that a conspiracy was geting up in the state of , for the purpose <of> mobing the Mormons at , and kidnapping you, and taking you to that , and requested to be informed in case of such mob, whether you would be protected by the authorities of the this &C. to which I replied, that as all Ci◊◊zensof the[illegible] <men> were held amenable to the laws, so in like manner the rights of all [p. 1]
Carlin may have obtained information about Bennett when he approved Bennett’s military appointments in 1839 and 1840. According to JS’s 23 June 1842 letter to the church, JS had received a communication shortly after Bennett moved to Nauvoo in September 1840 informing him that Bennett was “a very mean man,” but JS had not previously revealed that information. In his history of Illinois, Thomas Ford later wrote that he had made inquiries about Bennett and had “traced him in several places in which he had lived before he had joined the Mormons in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and he was everywhere accounted the same debauched, unprincipled and profligate character.” (Bennett, History of the Saints, 14–16; Letter to the Church and Others, 23 June 1842; Ford, History of Illinois, 263.)
Bennett, John C. The History of the Saints; or, an Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism. Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842.
Ford, Thomas. A History of Illinois, from Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847. Containing a Full Account of the Black Hawk War, the Rise, Progress, and Fall of Mormonism, the Alton and Lovejoy Riots, and Other Important and Interesting Events. Chicago: S. C. Griggs; New York: Ivison and Phinney, 1854.
According to Bennett, he wrote Carlin asking if JS “would be protected from any illegal act of violence.” (John C. Bennett, Carthage, IL, 2 July 1842, Letter to the Editor, Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 15 July 1842, , italics in original.)