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.
into families, reveled in voluptuousness and crime, and led the youth that he had influence over to tread in his unhallowed steps;—he professed to fear God, yet did he desecrate his name, and prostitute his authority to the most unhallowed and diabolical purposes; even to the seduction of the virtuous, and the defiling of his neighbor’s bed. He professed indignation against saying, “my hand shall avenge the blood of the innocent;” yet now he calls upon to come out against the Saints, and he “will lead them on to glory and to victory.”
It may be asked why it was that we would countenance him so long after being apprised of his iniquities, and why he was not dealt with long ago. To this we would answer, that he has been dealt with from time to time; when he would acknowledge his iniquity, ask and pray for forgiveness, beg that he might not be exposed, on account of his mother, and other reasons, saying, he should be ruined and undone. He frequently wept like a child, and begged like a culprit for forgiveness, at the same time promising before God and angels to amend his life, if he could be forgiven. He was in this way borne with from time to time, until forbearance was no longer a virtue, and then the , the , and the withdrew their fellowship from him, as published in the 16th number of this paper. The afterwards publicly withdrew their fellowship from him, and his character was published in the 17th number of this paper; since that time he has published that the conduct of the Saints was bad—that Joseph Smith and many others were adulterers, murderers, &c.—that there was a secret band of men that would kill people, &c. called —that he was in duress when he gave his affidavit, and testified that Joseph Smith was a virtuous man—that we believed in and practiced polygamy—that we believed in secret murders, and aimed to destroy the government, &c. &c. As he has made his statements very public, and industriously circulated them through the country, we shall content ourselves with answering his base falsehoods and misrepresentations, without giving publicity to them, as the public are generally acquainted with them already. E. D.
At a meeting of the citizens of the city of held in said city at the meeting ground, July 22d 1842.
Esq. was called to the chair, and was appointed clerk.
The meeting was called to order by the , who stated the object of the meeting to be to obtain an expression of the public mind in reference to the reports gone abroad, calumniating the character of Joseph Smith. Gen. then rose and presented the following resolution.
Resolved—That, having heard that was circulating many base falsehoods respecting a number of the citizens of , and especially against our worthy and respected Mayor, Joseph Smith, we do hereby manifest to the world that so far as we are acquainted with Joseph Smith we know him to be a good, moral, virtuous, peaceable and patriotic man, and a firm supporter of law, justice and equal rights; that he at all times upholds and keeps inviolate the constitution of this and of the .
A vote was then called and the resolution adopted by a large concourse of citizens, numbering somewhere about a thousand men. Two or three, voted in the negative.
then rose and spoke at some length in explanation of his negative vote. Pres. Joseph Smith spoke in reply—
Question to , ‘Have you personally a knowledge of any immoral act in me toward the female sex, or in any other way?’ Answer, by Elder , ‘Personally, toward the female sex, I have not.’
Elder responded at some length. then spoke in reply, and was followed by Elders and Pres. . Several others spoke bearing testimony of the iniquity of those who had calumniated Pres. J. Smith’s character.
Meeting adjourned for one hour.
P. M. Meeting assembled pursuant to adjournment and was called to order by the .
A petition was then received from a committee appointed by the city council for the reception, approbation, and signatures of the citizens generally, petitioning the of for protection in our peaceable rights, which was read approved, and signed by, 8,00 persons.
The “,” also drew up a petition signed by about one thousand Ladies speaking in the highest terms of the virtue, philanthrophy, and benevolence of Joseph Smith; begging that he might not be injured, and that they and their families might have the privilege of enjoying their peaceable rights. A petition was also drawn up by many citizens in, and near , who were not Mormons, setting forth the same things.
Following the editorial on , this issue of the Times and Seasons included several affidavits with brief editorial comments; both the affidavits and the commentary were first published in the Wasp. The affidavits attested to Bennett’s perfidy and to JS’s innocence. Three separate affidavits were sworn out by City Council members , , and . Additionally, the entire thirteen-member Nauvoo City Council signed a statement defending JS’s character from Bennett’s slanders. The affidavits emphasized that when Bennett admitted to “illicit intercourse with females,” his testimony was given “free and voluntarialy.” The city council agreed: “Bennett was not under duress at the time that he testified before the city council May 19th 1842 concerning Joseph Smith’s innocence, virtue, and pure teaching.” The affidavits refuted Bennett’s claims, written in letters to the editor of the Sangamo Journal, that he had been violently coerced into giving his testimony on 19 May. After reprinting the affidavits, the editorial staff included certified statements by and , Pamela M. Michael, , and and Henry Marks, which disclosed Bennett’s lies and slanders.
AFFIDAVIT OF THE CITY COUNCIL.
We, the undersigned, members of the city council of the City of , testify that [p. 869]
In a letter to the editor of the Sangamo Journal,Bennett promised, “If Governor Carlin will place the writ in my hands, I will deliver him [JS] up to justice, or die in the attempt.” (John C. Bennett, Nauvoo, IL, 27 June 1842, Letter to the Editor, Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 8 July 1842, , italics in original.)
John C. Bennett, Carthage, IL, 2 July 1842, Letter to the Editor, Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 15 July 1842, ; John C. Bennett, Nauvoo, IL, 27 June 1842, Letter to the Editor, Sangamo Journal, 8 July 1842, .