See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On the morning of 8 September 1842, JS dictated to his scribe a letter from , Illinois, to in , New York, updating him on the state of affairs in the wake of ’s public criticisms of JS and the Latter-day Saints. JS wrote the letter in response to James Arlington Bennet’s 16 August 1842 letter, which JS received by 7 September. Although Bennet had started corresponding with John C. Bennett earlier that year, Bennet’s 16 August letter was the first that JS received from him, and the two men had never met in person.
In his 16 August letter, praised the character of several church members whom he had recently met, including , , and . He also gave JS his assessment of and noted that Bennett had approached him about publishing an exposé of JS and the church, a proposition he refused. In his reply, JS added his praise for Richards, Foster, and Bernhisel and asserted that the church was filled with thousands of men of similarly high character. JS also expressed his opinion of John C. Bennett and recounted the persecution he and several other church members experienced because of Bennett’s charges. JS described his and the Saints’ circumstances as inconsistent with the liberties and values celebrated throughout the country. He also conveyed his belief that the persecution would spread to other groups and eventually engulf the world in violence if other Americans did not rise up to protect the Saints’ citizenship rights. Finally, JS explained the difficulty he and others were having with the post office.
JS was hiding at ’s home in when he dictated this letter. Because it lacks addressing and postal markings, the version featured here appears to be a draft of the letter. Around the same time the letter was sent, and copied the text of the letter into JS’s journal. The Sangamo Journal published an excerpt of the letter in its 4 November 1842 issue, stating that the letter had been printed in the 22 October 1842 issue of the New York Herald. According to church member , the letter was read publicly to a congregation in Nauvoo on 11 September 1842. likely received the letter by late September or early October. On 24 October, he wrote a letter to in which he continued his discussion of JS’s challenges in the wake of ’s accusations.
Differences between the draft of the letter that JS dictated to and the version in JS’s journal are noted.
Church leaders had contacted Bennet by mid-April 1842, at which time he was commissioned as an officer in the Nauvoo Legion. (Moses K. Anderson to James Arlington Bennet, Certificate, Springfield, IL, 30 Apr. 1842, Thomas Carlin, Correspondence, Illinois State Archives, Springfield.)
Carlin, Thomas. Correspondence, 1838–1842. In Office of the Governor, Records, 1818–1989. Illinois State Archives, Springfield.
As noted above, JS received Bennet’s 16 August letter in Nauvoo on 7 September. This and other correspondence between the two indicate that mail took about three weeks to travel between Nauvoo and New Utrecht.
I have just received your very consoling letter dated August 16th. 1842; which, I think, is the first letter you ever addressed to me. In which you speak of the arrival of Dr , and of his person, very respectfully. In this, I rejoice for I am as warm a friend to , as he possibly can be to me. And in relation to his almost making a Mormon of yourself, it puts me in mind of the saying of Paul in his reply to Agrippa Acts chapter 26 verse 29 “I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” And I will here remark, my Dear Sir; that Mormonism, is the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ, of which I myself am not ashamed. You speak also, of , president of the in , in high terms; and of of . These men I am acquainted, with, by information, and it warms my heart to know that you speak well of them; and as you say could be willing to associate with them forever, if you never join [illegible] their church, or acknowledged their faith. This, is a good principle for when we see virtuous qualities in men, we should always acknowledge them, let their understanding be what it may, in relation to creeds and doctrine; for all men are, or ought to be, free; possessing inalienable rights, and the high and noble qualifications of the laws [p. 1]