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.
committee, who at a subsequent meeting reported that they had agreed after defraying the expenses of the debate to give the rest of the proceeds to the Washingtonian Society. Now we come to the debate and what shall I say. The disputants reminded me of the paddy’s flea, when he put his finger on him he was not there. They seemed to talk about any thing else but the chosen question, each accused the other of wandering from the subject, and neither the chairman, nor the audience, could keep them to it. But as the Doctor was to lead the way and prove his charges, he was the most censurable, as had to follow his wanderings or strike off another course. The Doctor is a master of language, and very sarcastic, but his proofs are all assertions, his arguments assumptions, his reasons ridicule; and he seems determined to frighten the Mormons away by looks and expressions of horror, and annihilate their system by a flower of rhetoric, appealing to the well known prejudices of the people, instead of their understanding. Three evenings have passed away and the auditors have been anxiously looking for the astounding arguments that is to show the blasphemous, treasonable, and murderous tendency of Mormonism; but still they have to console themselves with his assertion, that he can prove it. The only argument I collect of his producing as yet, to prove charges, is the testimony of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and others testifying to the advent of an angel, &c. which he pronounced blasphemous in this age. To which his antagonist replied that by the same rule, all prophets, apostles and inspired men of old, were blasphemers for testifying to the ministry of angels, and the manifestations of God to them. They had some dispute about the application of the 29th chapter of Isaiah, which was brought in support of the Book of Mormon, but Dr. West expressed great astonishment and aversion to the course of in adverting to the bible to prove any thing pertaining to Mormonism; that of itself, he considered, if not blasphemous, a great insult to a christian community.
did not wonder that Dr. West wished him to let the Bible alone, for he well knew the result of investigating it, But he did not catch him there, for quoted scriptures in such torrents as sometimes astonished the people, and made his antagonist writhe under it. Having no argument relating to murder, treason, &c. to refute, and being unwilling to follow West in his wanderings, took up his time in briefly wiping off his sarcasms, and proving his doctrine from the Bible, which he seemed to have all on the end of his tongue.
The first evening he showed the falling away of the church from the primitive order of the Gospel, and the many corruptions, divisions, and traditions that had succeeded it, and that the various Protestant denominations were entirely dependent on the church of Rome for their authority to administer in holy things, unless they had new revelations, for there was no succession of priesthood after the apostles, unless through that channel.
The second night he referred to Genesis chap. xlviii, 14, 21—and chap. xlix, 22, 27, and other places; likewise to American Antiquities, to prove that the aborigines were descendants of Joseph, and then referred to Exekiel xxxvii. 15–22, in proof of what he said. From the ancient custom of the Jews writing upon parchment and rolling it round sticks, he argued that the writing on the stick of Judah mentioned in the text, was the Bible coming from the Jews, and the stick of Joseph was the Book of Mormon written by the seed of Joseph. These arguments were not refuted.
The third night he quoted the 24th chapter of Isaiah, 5th verse, to prove that the christian world because of apostacy have broken the Gospel covenant, transgressed its laws, changed its ordinances, &c. hence the necessity of new revelations to renew the covenant and restore the . This too was left unanswered. The Doctor should have put forth his “strong reasons” before the discussion ended, but either he had none or could not bring them forth if he had. I hope they will be forthcoming, or I do not know but I shall be compelled to be a Mormon!
The discussion closed on Friday evening at 11 o’clock, having done immense good towards disseminating the doctrines of the Latter Day Saints. The audience were highly excited.