Letter to James Arlington Bennet, 30 June 1842
JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , New Utrecht, Kings Co., NY, 30 June 1842; handwriting of ; one page; CHL. Includes address, endorsement, and notation.Bifolium measuring 12¾ × 8 inches (32 × 20 cm). Each page is ruled with approximately thirty-seven lines (now faded). The letter is written on the recto of the first leaf; the verso of the first leaf and the recto of the second leaf are blank. The document was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and sealed with red wax. A hole was torn on the outer edge of the second leaf, apparently from opening the letter. At some point, the hole was backed with paper to prevent further tearing. Some discoloration of the paper has occurred in the address block and on both pages. Sometime, probably in the early twentieth century, the verso of the second leaf was stamped with the notation “The American Agency, | Parkville, Brooklyn, N. Y.”received the letter, and it was apparently passed down in his family. In the early twentieth century, the letter was in the possession of Henry D. Bennet, a grandson of James Arlington Bennet who was associated with the American Agency business. At some point thereafter, the letter was up for sale at auction, as evidenced by an auction catalog entry glued to the recto of the second leaf, containing the lot number (307) and a description of the letter. The recto of the first leaf also contains penciled notations, presumably from auction sale: “5000 | rdvd. | 49” and “37/50”. Charles W. Olsen, a physician and documents collector in , obtained the letter sometime in the early or mid-twentieth century, although it is not clear whether he purchased it at the auction. In 1962, Olsen gave the letter to Belle Spafford, general president of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Spafford then gave it to David O. McKay, president of the church. It has been in continuous institutional custody since that time.
On 30 June 1842, JS’s scribe wrote a letter, dictated by JS, to , a prominent educator and journalist in , New York. The letter introduced , JS’s scribe and financial and one of the ’s , who was departing on a mission to the eastern . It also informed Bennet about pronouncements JS had made against ’s character and conduct in , Illinois. JS did not provide the same extensive details as he did in other June letters sent to church members, the general public, and governor , but he did tell Bennet that Richards would inform him of the steps JS had taken in dealing with the Bennett scandal.Although , who was not a church member, had never been to and had never met JS in person, he had already been extensively involved with the Saints. Under different pseudonyms, he had written complimentary letters about JS and the church that were published in the New York Herald. In April 1842, Bennet was made an inspector general in the and was given an honorary degree from the University of Nauvoo. appears to have been instrumental in conveying such honors on Bennet, which may have been one reason why JS wanted to provide a personal update about the falling out between JS and Bennett.When departed on 1 July 1842, he carried this letter with him. He delivered it to when he visited him from 5 to 7 August. Bennet replied to the letter on 16 August 1842.