Letter to James Arlington Bennet, 8 September 1842
JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , [New Utrecht, Kings Co., NY], 8 Sept. 1842. Featured version drafted 8 Sept. 1842; handwriting of ; eight pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes docket.Two bifolia, each measuring 9⅝ × 7¾ inches (24 × 20 cm) when folded. The document was folded for filing. At a later time, each page was numbered in the outside top corners in graphite.This draft was likely kept as a retained copy of the letter. By 1973 the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL).
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.
Letter from James Arlington Bennet, 16 Aug. 1842; JS, Journal, 7 Sept. 1842. Bennet wrote JS another letter on 1 September 1842, but JS had not yet received it. (Letter from James Arlington Bennet, 1 Sept. 1842; JS, Journal, 14 Sept. 1842.)
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.
“Joe Smith and the Governor,” Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 4 Nov. 1842, ; “From Nauvoo and the Mormons,” New York Herald (New York City), 9 Oct. 1842, .
Sangamo Journal. Springfield, IL. 1831–1847.
New York Herald. New York City. 1835–1924.
George W. Robinson, Nauvoo, IL, to John C. Bennett, 16 Sept. 1842, in Bennett, History of the Saints, 248–249.
Bennett, John C. The History of the Saints; or, an Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism. Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842.
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.
James Arlington Bennet, Arlington House, Long Island, NY, 24 Oct. 1842, to Willard Richards, Nauvoo, IL, Willard Richards, Journals and Papers, CHL.
Richards, Willard. Journals and Papers, 1821–1854. CHL.