, Letter, , Wayne Co., IL, to and JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 27 July 1840. Featured version copied [probably ca. Aug. 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 170–171; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
wrote to and JS on 27 July 1840, repeating much of the message from a letter he had written to them two days earlier. Bennett reiterated that he intended to retain his recently acquired position as quartermaster general of the militia and that he had offered to assist the during their difficulties in . Bennett also reminded JS and Rigdon of his decision to move to , Illinois, to join with the Saints. In this slightly lengthier 27 July letter, he more explicitly stated that he intended not only to move to the Saints’ new gathering place but also to become a member of their faith. He also requested more information about the , Illinois, area. In his response, dated 8 August 1840, JS answered this question in detail and addressed other topics from Bennett’s letter.
The original letter is apparently not extant, but copied the letter into JS Letterbook 2, probably soon after JS received it.
with my present views and feelings than with any other. I hope that time will soon come when your people will become my people and your God my God, At the time of your peril and bitter persecution in you are aware I proffered you my utmost energies, and had not the conflict have terminated so speedily I should have been with you then. God be thanked for your rescue from the hands of a savage but cowardly, foe! I do not expect to resign my office of “Quarter Master General of the State of ,” in the event of my removal to , unless you advise otherwise: I shall likewise expect to practice my profession; but at the same time your people shall have all the benifit of my speaking powers and my untiring energies in behalf of the good and holy faith. In necissariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas, in omnibus charitas, shall be my motto, with the suaviter in modo fortiter in re. Be so good as to inform me circumstantially of the population of & , the face of the country, climate, soil, health etc etc How many of your people are concentrated there? Please to write me in full immediately. Louisvill[e] paper will accompany this— please inquire for this it.
With sentiments of profound respect and esteem, suffer me to subscribe myself—
Bennett was referring to a letter he wrote during the “Mormon War” in Missouri. He mentioned this same letter in his letters of 25 and 30 July 1840, but the earlier letter has not been located. However, in a January 1841 letter to the “Saints scattered abroad,” JS, Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith described having earlier received a letter from Bennett in which he offered “his assistence in delivering us out of the hands of our enemies, and restoring us again to our privileges . . . with all the forces he could raise for that purpose.” (Letters from John C. Bennett, 25 and 30 July 1840; Proclamation, 15 Jan. 1841.)
Bennett was commissioned “Quarter-Master-General of the Militia of the State of Illinois” on 20 July 1840, seven days before writing this letter to JS and Rigdon. (Commission for John C. Bennett, 20 July 1840, Governor’s Correspondence, 1840, Military Affairs, in Illinois Governor’s Correspondence, 1816–1852, Illinois State Archives, Springfield; Bennett, History of the Saints, 15.)
Illinois Governor’s Correspondence, 1816–1852. Illinois State Archives, Springfield.
Bennett, John C. The History of the Saints; or, an Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism. Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842.
This Latin phrase means “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.” It is a popular Christian saying sometimes attributed to Augustine. (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 650.)
Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. Vol. 7, Modern Christianity, the German Reformation. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, . Reproduction of the 1910 edition published by Charles Scribner’s Sons.