Letter from Benjamin Benson, 12 November 1837
- Source Note
During his fall 1837 visit to , Missouri, JS spoke with member Benjamin Benson on the evening of 11 November. At JS’s request, Benson wrote a letter the next day recounting a “dream or vision” he had shared with JS the previous night. The original letter is not extant, but copied Benson’s letter into JS’s second letterbook in 1839.The account of his dream reveals that, like many of his era, Benson was concerned about the origins of American Indians and the validity of the Bible’s account of human origins. Benson had prayed to learn whether Indians had been placed on the American continent at the creation of the world or had descended from Adam, as he understood the Bible taught. The dream he related to JS occurred forty-two years earlier, in 1795, when he was twenty-two years old. In Benson’s account of the dream, an took him to a specific place where a record was deposited. There the angel showed him a book, which was to come forth at a later time, that contained a record of a people from Jerusalem, who were the forefathers of the American Indians. Benson also saw in his dream a man who would bring forth that book. In the letter, Benson mentions the “Book [of] Ether” from the Book of Mormon, which along with other details indicates he likely felt that the book in the dream was the Book of Mormon and that the man bringing forth the book in his vision was JS.
Benson, Fred H., comp. The Benson Family Records. Syracuse, NY: Craftsman Press, 1920.
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Census (U.S.) / U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules. Microfilm. FHL.
Livingstone, David N. Adam’s Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.
Berkhofer, Robert F., Jr. The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present. New York: Knopf, 1978.