, Letter, , New York Co., NY, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 1 Oct. 1842; handwriting of ; two pages; JS Materials, CCLA. Includes address, postal stamps, postal notations, and dockets.
Bifolium measuring 9⅞ × 7¾ inches (25 × 20 cm) when folded. The first three pages are ruled with twenty-nine printed lines. Embossed in the upper left corner of the recto of the first leaf is “Southworth Co. | W Springfield” encircling foliage, the insignia of a West Springfield, Massachusetts, paper mill established by Wells Southworth in 1839. The first two pages are inscribed. The letter was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, sealed with a red adhesive wafer, and postmarked. The outside edge of the second leaf was torn at the wafer site when the letter was opened. The document was refolded for filing and docketed. It was later stapled in the upper left corner; the staple was removed at some point.
The document was docketed by , who served as scribe to JS from 1842 to 1844. Another docket is in unidentified handwriting. The letter was likely retained by JS and passed down among Smith family descendants. At some point before 1961, it was transferred to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ).
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co., 1901–1936.
On 1 October 1842, wrote a letter in to JS in , Illinois, expressing sympathy for him amid the ongoing efforts to arrest him and extradite him to and updating him on ’s efforts to publish his exposé of JS and the . Bernhisel was writing in response to a 7 September 1842 letter in which JS described the persistent attempts to arrest him and the resultant need for him to remain in hiding. Bernhisel offered JS moral support in his legal circumstances and informed him that the editor of the New York Herald, , was critical of John C. Bennett’s book and had declined to publish it. In addition, Bernhisel informed JS of ’s plans to depart for Nauvoo on 3 October.
mailed the letter on the same day he wrote it. It is unclear when JS received the letter, as he was in hiding for much of October.
I tender to you an expression of my grateful acknowledgments for your very friendly letter of the 7th. ultimo, and I sincerely sympathize with you in your illegal and unjust persecution by those wicked men who bear rule in the states of and — I fondly hope that the of the former state will, as soon as he is inaugerated, revoke the writ which has been issued against you, and will refuse to comply with any farther demands of the of the latter state— I am happy in being able to inform you that designed to illustrate his proposed publication with so many obscene engravings, that refused to publish it. He told him that it was as bad as the worst French books that were imported, and that if he () published it he would get himself into a scrape— I deem it proper to communicate the preceding to you, lest the Wasp should sting the Lyon of the Herald in his lair, and his roaring might prove detrimental to the cause of truth & righteousness. I do not believe that will be enabled to procure means in the section of the Union to publish his “awful disclosures.”— He has not done us much if any harm in this ; he is now lecturing in , and I understand with no better success. [p. ]
In the Illinois gubernatorial election held on 1 August 1842, Democratic candidate Thomas Ford defeated Whig candidate Joseph Duncan. Church members voted overwhelmingly for Ford. Shortly after his inauguration on 8 December 1842, he met with Hyrum Smith, Willard Richards, and William Clayton, who requested that he rescind former governor Thomas Carlin’s requisition. Ford declined their request on grounds that he was unsure if he could legally rescind the order of his predecessor. He instead assured JS that he would protect him from illegal violence if he submitted to the law. (“O Yes! O Yes!,” Wasp, 16 July 1842, ; Letter from Thomas Ford, 17 Dec. 1842.)
In a letter dated 16 August 1842, James Arlington Bennet informed JS that while he had declined to publish John C. Bennett’s book, he believed that James Gordon Bennett would. It is unclear what images John C. Bennett had originally proposed as illustrations. When his book was eventually published, it contained a total of six images, including portraits of JS and John C. Bennett, a map of Nauvoo, and depictions of several alleged Latter-day Saint organizations and ceremonies that Bennett claimed to have witnessed. (Letter from James Arlington Bennet, 16 Aug. 1842; Bennett, History of the Saints, frontispiece, 56–57, 188, 263, 269, 273.)
Bennett, John C. The History of the Saints; or, an Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism. Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842.
The “Wasp” refers to the Nauvoo newspaper Wasp, and the “Lyon of the Herald” refers to James Gordon Bennett. This phrase may be a variation on the idiom “beard the lion in his den,” which, alluding to the biblical story of David hunting and killing a lion or bear that had stolen a lamb, meant to confront risk or danger head on. (See Maxwell, Run through the United States, 1:290; and 1 Samuel 17:34–35.)
Maxwell, Archibald M. A Run through the United States, during the Autumn of 1840. 2 vols. London: Henry Colburn, 1841.
In the 10 September 1842 issue of the Wasp, the editors reprinted criticism of John C. Bennett’s character from a Zanesville, Illinois, newspaper and followed it with criticism of James Gordon Bennett for allegedly supporting John C. Bennett. (Editorial, Wasp, 10 Sept. 1842, .)