, Letter, , New York Co., NY, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 9 Aug. 1842; handwriting of ; four pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address and dockets.
Bifolium measuring 9¾ × 7¾ inches (25 × 20 cm). The recto of the first leaf is ruled with twenty-six lines (now faded), and the verso of the first leaf and the recto of the second leaf are ruled with twenty-eight lines (also faded). There is an illegible embossment in the upper left-hand corner of the recto of the first leaf. The letter was written on the recto and verso of both leaves; writing on the verso of the second leaf is interrupted by space reserved for the address block. The document was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer. Much of the wafer remains on both sides of the second leaf. The document was later folded for filing.
, who served as scribe to JS from 1842 to 1844, docketed the document. Another docket was added by , who was a clerk in the Church Historian’s Office from 1853 to 1859. The document was listed in an inventory that was produced by the Church Historian’s Office circa 1904. By 1973, the document had been included in the JS Collection at the Church Historical Department (now CHL). The document’s early dockets, the circa 1904 inventory, and inclusion in the JS Collection by 1973 indicate continuous institutional custody.
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.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection, 1827–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 9 August 1842, wrote a letter from to JS in , Illinois, reporting on his visit with . Richards had been assigned to travel to the eastern in July 1842 to collect donated funds for the construction of the Nauvoo and to serve as an on general business. He also planned to reunite with his wife, , and son, who had been staying with Willard’s relatives in , Massachusetts, and bring them to Nauvoo. In addition, JS wanted Richards to visit Bennet, a prominent New Yorker who had shown himself in past months to be a friend to the Latter-day Saints, and explain to him “all the facts relative” to and his conduct in Nauvoo. Richards was also to convey to Bennet information on the , in which Bennet was an officer, and to tell him of “the prog[r]ess of the City, prospects of business, or any other matter.” On 5 August, Richards and his wife arrived at , where Bennet lived on ; on 7 August, the Richardses traveled to New York City with Bennet and his wife, Sophia.
In this letter, shared ’s thoughts about JS’s actions in exposing ’s alleged misconduct. Richards also forwarded Bennet’s advice on how to weather the storm brought on by John C. Bennett’s charges against JS. In addition, Richards provided a description of Bennet’s status in society and his religious beliefs. Finally, Richards discussed Bennet’s April 1842 appointment to an office in the Nauvoo Legion and his willingness to accept that appointment. Richards clarified that his letter was not intended for publication.
According to the letter, sent it to JS using a “Mr Pratt” as courier, although it is unclear whom “Mr Pratt” refers to. It appears that the letter was actually carried to JS by and , who were traveling from to . They delivered it to JS with several other letters on 7 September 1842.
Bennet, for example, had defended JS and the Saints in a letter to the New York Herald written under the pseudonym “Cincinnatus.” (James Arlington Bennet [Cincinnatus, pseud.], “The Mormons,” New York Herald, 16 May 1842, .)
as any <other> but does not conceive it would make him a better man to Join any. If he Joins any party with his present views, it would be to do them good, to defend the oppressed, for he hates persecution with a perfect hatred, one of the fundamental principles of his religion is, that man should never take the life of an animal to gratify his appetite, but live on vegetables.— & would Joseph make this a starting point in his creed he would join his .— He is open frank in all his communications, wished to be rememberd to the p[r]ophet Joseph, would be happy to receive a letter of his own dictation, signed by his own hand;— believes the mormon Empire to be not of the west alone; but eventually to overrun the world.— and although it is no honor to a man now to be a Mormon General, (I. E. in this region) yet he accepts the appointment with the same good feelings it was inten[ded] by the & is ready to repair to the his command when occasion requires, & being an experienced engineer is ready to superintend the creation of fortifications &c.— & suggests the appointment of. George Clinton Beekman (grandson of Governor Geo. Clinton, Vice President of the ) as his aid-de-camp, with the title of Col— if it meet the approbation of the Legion. (Mr Beekman is of Flatbush Long Island,) from the representation of the I would thing think the appointme[n]t a Judicious one,— I think the would also have nominated another. gentleman, to be attached to his staff as Surgeon, had it not been a matter of delicacy, & I think an expression on your part to him on this point would be very kindly received. from my acquanttnce [acquaintance] with I feel confident he would nominate no one, but those of high order. &— [p. ]
Bennet, James Arlington. Hell Demolished; Heaven Gained; Science Triumphant; Moses, the Old Jew, on His Back, and the Almighty Vindicated against the Pretentions and Falsehoods of Men. New York: By the Author, 1855.
Various reformers discussed vegetarianism at this time, including William Metcalfe of the Bible Christian Church in Philadelphia, who connected it with religious principles. Metcalfe taught that “Jesus was completely vegetarian” and was able “to inspire others” who “spread the word” about vegetarianism. (Puskar-Pasewicz, Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism, 162.)
Puskar-Pasewicz, Margaret, ed. Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2010.
Although not proscribing the eating of meat, a February 1833 revelation known as the Word of Wisdom counseled Saints to use meat “sparingly” and added that it was “pleasing” to God that it “should not be used only in times of winter or of famine.” The revelation further declared that God had ordained “all wholesome herbs . . . for the constitution & nature & use of man.” (Revelation, 27 Feb. 1833 [D&C 89:10–13].)
Bennet had been appointed “Inspector General of the Nauvoo Legion, with the rank and title of Major-General” on 12 April 1842. The 30 August 1842 issue of the New York Herald contained an order purportedly from Adjutant General Hugh McFall for Bennet to go to Nauvoo and assume command of the Nauvoo Legion, since John C. Bennett, who had been the ranking officer, had been cashiered. However, the 24 September 1842 issue of the Wasp published a statement from McFall saying that he had never made such an order, declaring it “a base forgery and piece of deception.” (“Military Appointment,” Wasp, 30 Apr. 1842, ; “Late and Important from the Mormon Country,” New York Herald, 30 Aug. 1842, ; “Great Hoax,” Wasp, 24 Sept. 1842, .)
Beekman was the son of Stephen D. Beekman and Maria Clinton, who was George Clinton’s youngest daughter. Clinton had served as vice president of the United States from 1805 to 1812. (Sabin and Eames, Bibliotheca Americana, 20:391.)
Sabin, Joseph, and Wilberforce Eames. Bibliotheca Americana: A Dictionary of Books relat- ing to America, from Its Discovery to the Present Time. Vol. 20. New York: By the author, 1892–1928.