Letter from James Arlington Bennet, 10 April 1843

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April 10th 43.
Gen. Smith,
Dear Sir,
Your letter of the 17th & of the 19th ultimo are before me. With regard to your own, I fully concur in the patriotic & noble sentiments expressed in it & I now assure you that should I ever join your religious standard it shall never be under the influence of any sinister or temporal motive. I have been your friend Ab initio and shall remain so through evil & through good report through your prosperity & or adversity until by abandoning the Cause of God & religion you prove yourself unworthy of the respect of Mankind— On your own principles & practices this is a contingency which is very remote. I extremely regret to know that is under arrest in . What in the name of common prudence, could have taken him among the Philistines? Well being there you must now make the best of it in your power. wishes to know if he can be tried in the Courts. I answer No— they have no Jurisdiction in the case whatever. With respect to you[r] own case it was different because here the issue was between the Authorities of one state & a citizen of another state which under the Constitution of the gave the Courts jurisd[i]ction, whereas in the case of the alleged crime is aganst the laws of the state of & being arrested within the he must be tried by its courts— It would be well to change the Venue to some county where influnce is least felt & where religious prejudice is least predominant, if such a county can be found—
With regard to the evidence of in the premises he has already published all he is able to swear to. As regards yourself he admitted to me that there was no evidence against [p. 1] you but what grew out of inference & this could never convict any man— But with regard to he will swear I suppose, that said to him “That if he did shoot they could not prove it” This was foolish language in yet the most innoc[e]nt man when under the influenc of passion might use it, as a retort to a person making a false accusation— It cannot of itself make against him— Nor would the fact of his having been in about that time, even if he had been seen in the same town & same street be sufficient for might have been shot by a private or political enemy entirely unknow[n] to while he might be in front or rear of house and this might have been the case even if had gone & was there with the intent of doing the deed himself— To convict the evidenc must be brought home to him by a number of concurring facts which as I understand the case cannot be had without perjury— And perjury cannot be guarded against only through the ability & accutings & discrimiation of counsel— Then again if there is at all a doubt the prisoner must have its benefit—— You know the character of the & have the power within yourselvs of persons not Mormon to destroy it— You can prove him unworthy of credit, but he will not dare to go one wit beyond the published facts. He is little known to us in this quarter— his admissi[o]n to me that the charge could not be brought home to you was what I intended to bring against him in case you were to be put on your trial— Perhaps although within the State of he <​​> will be able to prove an Alibi. I should suppose that this might be readily done— Were I on the spot I would have no fears <​for​> of the issue but I am now & have been for the last week confined to my house with a severe attack of Rheumatic gout that has distroyed all my hopes of being able to pay [p. [2]] a visit by the 7th of May next in accordance with my contemplati[o]n. But you have who is an able & accute Lawyer—
I find that Gen. has been distributing commissions to some extent in the Nauvoo Legion, among his friends & your Enemies in this quarter— I saw <​several​>, in his possessi[o]n for persons in this & I think in New England— These persons may come at any future time & claim rank & place in the Legion to the disparagemnt of the officers now on your rank roll & be enemies in the camp—
I would advise you Sir to revise your rank roll— publish it in the Wasp <​with comments,​> & transmit a copy <​Official​> to the Adjutant Gen of the State of with instructi[o]ns to erase from the record all Sames names not to be found thereon— This will purify the Legion & make your rank Roll as you would wish to have it— has also been selling Diplomas’ to practice Medicine at $25 each to any Quack or other persons that might purchase them— These purported to have emenated from some College in or Indianna what I understand had no found[at]ion in truth— This was a crime against our Laws— 1st. For procuring money on false pretenses & 2nly for Constructive Manslaughter in Case any of these quacks should kill their patients— A person of the name of Mayer sold these Diplomas in the City of & paid him over the money— These facts can be proved if you send us a commissi[o]n to take the evidence, but I dont think that this would be thought of great weight in the case of
I went to the expense of a complete equipment with a view of meeting you at on the 7th May next but alas! Man may appoint but the great Ruler of all worlds will disappoint—
I remain my dear Sir your most Sincere friend
<​P. S. Put the drill on to the Legion you may yet want them. I wish the Legion was 100,000 strong. Self preservation is the very first Law of Nature.​> [p. [3]]
<​25​>
 
<​ APR 12​>
 
Lieut Gen Joseph Smith
City of
Illinois
 
 Arlington House
 
<​ans. May 11.—​> [p. [4]]

Footnotes

  1. new scribe logo

    Postage in unidentified handwriting.  

  2. new scribe logo

    Circular postmark stamped in red ink.  

  3. new scribe logo

    Endorsement in handwriting of Willard Richards.