Times and Seasons (, Hancock Co., IL), 1 Aug. 1842, vol. 3, no. 19, pp. 863–878; edited by JS. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
The 1 August 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons was the eleventh JS oversaw as editor. The issue opened with a reprint from the Bostonian that reported a religious debate between Dr. George Montgomery West (a New England preacher) and Latter-day Saint missionary . It also presented a new installment of the “History of Joseph Smith” and reprinted a note on starvation riots in Ireland. The remainder of the issue was dedicated primarily to denouncing , who had been publishing defamatory statements against JS and the Latter-day Saints. The editorial staff of the Times and Seasons utilized the pages of the 1 August issue to defend JS and condemn Bennett.
Nearly all of this issue’s editorial content about was also published in the Wasp, a general-interest newspaper in , Illinois, that had initially been edited by JS’s brother . However, William had distanced himself from the paper by August 1842, and had assumed the editorial responsibilities of the paper. Taylor, , and others in the appear to have worked on both the Wasp and the Times and Seasons and created content for both newspapers in August. An extra edition of the Wasp dated 27 July bore the title “Bennettiana” and contained affidavits, statements, and articles focused exclusively on exposing the former mayor’s misdeeds. Several of these same official records and editorial comments were printed a second time in this 1 August 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons; this selection therefore features editorial content from both newspapers. The Times and Seasons editorial staff made slight revisions to the editorial commentary in order to customize it to their newspaper. JS’s involvement in the creation of this editorial content is unclear, but as editor of the Times and Seasons, he oversaw the paper and assumed responsibility for all editorial statements.
The editorial content in the 1 August issue includes an article on , which was followed by reprinted affidavits from several City Council members, concluding with a short editorial comment. Certified statements attesting to JS’s character, republished from the Wasp, were then inserted. This was followed by a section contrasting Bennett’s slandering of JS and the with earlier statements Bennett had written, originally published in various newspapers between 1840 and 1842, wherein he spoke positively of JS and the Saints. Another featured selection, also previously published in the Wasp, introduced opinion pieces on Bennett reprinted from several newspapers across the . The editorial content in the issue concluded by reprinting the Wasp’s response to an inflammatory article, written by , that had been published a week earlier in the Quincy Whig.
Note that only the editorial content created specifically for this issue of the Times and Seasons is annotated here. Articles reprinted from other papers, letters, conference minutes, and notices, are reproduced here but not annotated. Items that are stand-alone JS documents are annotated elsewhere; links are provided to these stand-alone documents.
Although William Smith was acknowledged as editor until October 1842, by August 1842 he appears to have been only a nominal editor. In a disgruntled letter to the editor of the Sangamo Journal,George W. Robinson commented on the confusing status of the editorship of the Wasp, sarcastically stating that because of “the dozen would be editors, who are prowling and loafing about the printing office, it would be difficult to ascertain the editors!” (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:192–193; “To the Public,” Wasp, 8 Oct. 1842, ; “Letter from Col. Robinson,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 26 Aug. 1842, , italics in original.)
Crawley, Peter. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. 3 vols. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997–2012.
if necessity requires, of course it must come out.
And in regard to the proceedings of the Sangamo Journal, we know that the editor of that paper looks upon as a villian; his own publications shew this; and he has condescended to act the hypocrite, and make a political cat’s-paw of him, in the present crisis. “Oh shame where is thy blush?”
The next editorial passage, which had also been published by the Wasp, included excerpted editorials from newspapers around the country expressing their suspicion or criticism of . These editorials demonstrated the decline in Bennett’s credibility as he sought to defame JS and the Saints. After reproducing sections from the St. Louis Gazette and the Missouri Reporter, the editorial staff of the Times and Seasons expressed agreement and gratitude. The editorial passage concluded with an excerpt from the Bostonian without further comment.
OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.
It will probably be understood that went to in order to stir up an excitement, and if possible, to create a mob by publishing his awful disclosures, and lecturing against Mormonism, and if not, he expected to make a few shillings by the sale of published detraction and falsehood. The following will shew how far he succeeded in :—
From the Gazette.
“We perceive by a letter to the editor of the Bulletin, that , the great seceder, is about to visit the east for the purpose of publishing a “History of the Saints.” As he does not state to what part of the east he is going, we suppose he intends visiting , as that is the most likely place to obtain information concerning these “Saints,” What a precious set of saints they are from his showing up. He says:
‘The letter from Miss Brotherton, details a case of black-hearted villainly precisely similar to those of Mrs. , wife of Prof. , and Miss , daughter of , as noticed in the Sangamo Journal, and hundreds of others that might be named—it speaks for itself.’
We think it does. Oh, the villians! ‘and a hundred others,’ only think of it. A great deal of money has been made by the sale of documents and papers, pretending to give accounts of the Latter Day Saints. Now unless can give some information to the proper authorities, whereby the deeds of these men can be exposed, we are entirely opposed to the publication of any books on this subject. Our country is flooded with enough of such humbugs. We want no more of them. You can scarcely pass an auction stand or pedler’s case without seeing in staring colors—“Awful Disclosures,” &c. Now we say again, if they have been guilty of any crimes, and must have been privy to the facts, he can bring them to justice by turning State’s evidence.”
☞The Gazette is entitled to our thanks for his liberality and patriotic course towards , and the Mormons. If editors generally would act thus legally and wise, such catch pennies as , Harris, and about ninety-nine others, would find their common level in their own infamy.
The following from the Missouri Reporter, shows ’s decline in the western market. It is reported that Greenbush N. Y. has to be smutted with his dust among other unfortunate places.
“The Mormons.—We understand that , formerly of the , is now in this , with the intention of making such disclosures as will show what part Jo Smith, the Mormon Prophet, took in the recent attempt to assassinate , of this . , , and have lately quarreled with Jo Smith, and have since publicly charged him with the perpetration of the grossest frauds and crimes. If the Mormon Prophet has really been guilty of the offences now imputed to him, we sincerely trust that he will meet with condign punishment. We must confess, however, that we place no great confidence in the statements of , & Co. They have been active and prominent men at , and must have been aware of any villanies which may have been practised by the Prophet for a number of years. They have remained silent during all that period, and suffered their leader to impose upon his deluded followers without making known to them how grossly they were deceived. If had appeared before the public under more favorable circumstances, we might have been induced to give some credit to his pretended disclosures. He has been ruled out of the Church of the Saints, and stripped of his power and office, and it may be that he is now endeavoring to glut his revenge upon the Prophet.
From the Bostonian.
Right. The papers from one end of the country to the other are rejoicing in prospect of a split in the ranks of the Mormons at . The story runs, that, “Major General , is about making an expose of Jo Smith and the Mormons.” The facts are these: went among the Mormons and professed their religion. Great confidence was placed in him by the people, and several high offices were given him, among [p. 877]
Simeon Francis, editor of the Sangamo Journal, had previously lambasted Bennett as the author of the Nauvoo city charter, pointing to the abuse of power it allowed Bennett to enjoy as mayor and major general. (“Let Him That Readeth, Understand,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 10 June 1842, .)
See Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 3, sc. 4, l. 81, in Riverside Shakespeare, 1216.
The Riverside Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Edited by G. Blakemore Evans, J. J. M. Tobin, Herschel Baker, Anne Barton, Frank Kermode, Harry Levin, Hallett Smith, and Marie Edel. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
This section included an article on Bennett from the St. Louis Gazette. The Gazette’s editor expressed no interest in publishing Bennett’s exposé of JS and the Saints, stating, “a great deal of money has been made by the sale of documents and papers, pretending to give accounts of the Latter Day Saints.” If Bennett had any actual evidence against Latter-day Saint leaders, the editor noted, he was encouraged not to publish salacious accounts but rather to testify to the state and provide evidence.
Catchpennies were items, especially printed materials, that were designed to drive sales by appealing to popular taste, despite being worthless. (“Catchpenny,” in American Dictionary ; “Fine Arts,” Knickerbacker, Apr. 1833, 257.)
An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.
The following section reprinted articles on Bennett from the Missouri Reporter and the Bostonian. The Reporter was skeptical of Bennett’s claims, especially since he had remained in a prominent position in Nauvoo for some time before reporting “any villanies.” Bennett’s attempts at exposing the Saints in Missouri were understood by the editor as an effort to “glut his revenge upon the Prophet,” who had stripped Bennett of his “power and office.” The Bostonian simply lauded the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for doing “perfectly right” in excommunicating a backslider “living in open fornication.”