Letter to the Church and Others, 23 June 1842, as Published in Times and Seasons
JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to the church and others, 23 June 1842. Version published in Times and Seasons, 1 July 1842, 3:839–842. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
deeper into iniquity and hypocrisy. When he saw that I would not submit to any such conduct, he went to some of the females in the , who knew nothing of him but as an honorable man, & began to teach them that promiscous intercourse between the sexes, was a doctrine believed in by the Latter-Day Saints, and that there was no harm in it; but this failing, he had recourse to a more influential and desperately wicked course; and that was, to persuade them that myself and others of the authorities of the not only sanctioned, but practiced the same wicked acts; and when asked why I publicly preached so much against it, said that it was because of the prejudice of the public, and that it would cause trouble in my own house. He was well aware of the consequence of such wilful and base falsehoods, if they should come to my knowledge; and consequently endeavored to persuade his dupes to keep it a matter of secresy, persuading them there would be no harm if they should not make it known. This proceeding on his part, answered the desired end; he accomplished his wicked purposes; he seduced an innocent female by his lying, and subjected her character to public disgrace, should it ever be known.
But his depraved heart would not suffer him to stop here. Not being contented with having disgraced one female, he made an attempt upon others; and, by the same plausible tale, overcame them also; evidently not caring whose character was ruined, so that his wicked, lustful appetities might be gratified.
Sometime about the early part of July 1841, I received a letter from Elder and , who were then at , Penn. This letter was dated June 15th, and contained the particulars of a conversation betwixt them and a respectable gentleman from the neighborhood where ’s and children resided. He stated to them that it was a fact that Bennett had a wife and children living, and that she had left him because of his ill-treatment towards her. This letter was read to , which he did not attempt to deny; but candidly acknowledged the fact.
Soon after this information reached our ears, made an attempt at suicide, by taking poison; but he being discovered before it had taken effect, and the proper antidotes being administered, he again recovered; but he very much resisted when an attempt was made to save him. The public impression was, that he was so much ashamed of his base and wicked conduct, that he had recourse to the above deed to escape the censures of an indignant community.
It might have been supposed that these circumstances transpiring in the manner they did, would have produced a thorough reformation in his conduct; but, alas! like a being totally destitute of common decency, and without any government over his passions, he was soon busily engaged in the same wicked career, and continued until a knowledge of the same reached my ears. I immediately charged him with it, and he admitted that it was true; but in order to put a stop to all such proceedings for the future, I publicly proclaimed against it, and had those females notified to appear before the proper officers that the whole subject might be investigated and thoroughly exposed.
During the course of investigation, the foregoing facts were proved by credible witnesses, and were sworn and subscribed to before an of the , on the 15 ult. The documents containing the evidence are now in my possession.
We also ascertained by the above investigation, that others had been led by his conduct to persue the same adulterous practice, and in order to accomplish their detestable designs made use of the same language insinuated by , with this difference, that they did not hear me say any thing of the kind, but was one of the heads of the church, and he had informed them that such was the fact, and they credited his testimony.
The public will perceive the aggravating nature of this case; and will see the propriety of this exposure. Had he only been guilty of adultry, that was sufficient to stamp disgrace upon him because he is a man of better information, and has been held high in the estimation of many. But when it is considered that his mind was so intent upon his cruel, and abominable deeds, and his own reputation not being sufficient to enable him to do it, he must make use of my name in order to effect his purposes, an enlightened public will not be astonished at the course I have pursued.
In order that it may be distinctly understood that he wilfully and knowingly lied, in the above insinuations, I will lay before my readers an affidavit taken before an of the , after I had charged him with these things:
State of Illinois,)
City of .)
Personally appeared before me, , an Alderman of said city of , , who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith: that he never was taught anything in the least contrary to the strictest principles of the Gospel, or of virtue, or of the laws of God, or man, under any circumstances, or upon any occasion either directly or indirectly, in word or [p. 840]