JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , , New Utrecht, Kings Co., NY, 30 June 1842; handwriting of ; one page; CHL. Includes address, endorsement, and notation.
Bifolium measuring 12¾ × 8 inches (32 × 20 cm). Each page is ruled with approximately thirty-seven lines (now faded). The letter is written on the recto of the first leaf; the verso of the first leaf and the recto of the second leaf are blank. The document was trifolded twice in letter style, addressed, and sealed with red wax. A hole was torn on the outer edge of the second leaf, apparently from opening the letter. At some point, the hole was backed with paper to prevent further tearing. Some discoloration of the paper has occurred in the address block and on both pages. Sometime, probably in the early twentieth century, the verso of the second leaf was stamped with the notation “The American Agency, | Parkville, Brooklyn, N. Y.”
received the letter, and it was apparently passed down in his family. In the early twentieth century, the letter was in the possession of Henry D. Bennet, a grandson of James Arlington Bennet who was associated with the American Agency business. At some point thereafter, the letter was up for sale at auction, as evidenced by an auction catalog entry glued to the recto of the second leaf, containing the lot number (307) and a description of the letter. The recto of the first leaf also contains penciled notations, presumably from auction sale: “5000 | rdvd. | 49” and “37/50”. Charles W. Olsen, a physician and documents collector in , obtained the letter sometime in the early or mid-twentieth century, although it is not clear whether he purchased it at the auction. In 1962, Olsen gave the letter to Belle Spafford, general president of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Spafford then gave it to David O. McKay, president of the church. It has been in continuous institutional custody since that time.
“Fraud Order Issued against Bennett Co.,” Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 11 Dec. 1907, 18; Kings Co., NY, Letters of Administration, 1787–1923, vol. 15, p. 286, 28 Nov. 1865, microfilm 864,985; 1865 New York State Census, Gravesend, Kings Co., NY, 19, microfilm 1,930,211, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.
“Doctor Soothes Patients with His Collection,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 17 May 1942, part 3, p. 5; “Doctor Prizes Copy of Paper Freeing Slaves,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 5 May 1946, part 3, p. 10. In 1961, Olsen donated another JS letter to the church, this one dated 21 March 1839 and addressed to Emma Smith. (Letter to Emma Smith, 21 Mar. 1839.)
Belle S. Spafford, Salt Lake City, UT, to David O. McKay, Salt Lake City, UT, 19 Oct. 1962, photocopy, David O. McKay Correspondence, CHL.
McKay, David O. Correspondence, 1962. Photocopy. CHL.
On 30 June 1842, JS’s scribe wrote a letter, dictated by JS, to , a prominent educator and journalist in , New York. The letter introduced , JS’s scribe and financial and one of the ’s , who was departing on a mission to the eastern . It also informed Bennet about pronouncements JS had made against ’s character and conduct in , Illinois. JS did not provide the same extensive details as he did in other June letters sent to church members, the general public, and governor , but he did tell Bennet that Richards would inform him of the steps JS had taken in dealing with the Bennett scandal.
Although , who was not a church member, had never been to and had never met JS in person, he had already been extensively involved with the Saints. Under different pseudonyms, he had written complimentary letters about JS and the church that were published in the New York Herald. In April 1842, Bennet was made an inspector general in the and was given an honorary degree from the University of Nauvoo. appears to have been instrumental in conveying such honors on Bennet, which may have been one reason why JS wanted to provide a personal update about the falling out between JS and Bennett.
When departed on 1 July 1842, he carried this letter with him. He delivered it to when he visited him from 5 to 7 August. Bennet replied to the letter on 16 August 1842.
For example, Bennet stated in a letter to the New York Herald that he received the Nauvoo Legion commission after being nominated by John C. Bennett. (James Arlington Bennet, Arlington House, Long Island, NY, to James Gordon Bennett, 17 June 1842, in New York Herald, 21 June 1842, .)
Dr Sir / Permit me to introduce to your kindness and attention, Dr , my private secretary, and General Business . Any attention or favors conferred upon him, I shall esteem in the same degree as though conferred upon myself.
We have been under the necessity of publishing the character and conduct; of our major General Dr , a circumstance which has been to us truly unpleasant; but his conduct whilst amongst us at , and up to the present time, has been such as to make it a matter of duty, which I consider we owe to the public generally, and could not be dispensed with. As is conversant with all the facts relative to his case, it would be superfluous to state them in this brief communication. Any information you may desire on the subject; or concerning the , the prog[r]ess of the , prospects of business, or any other matter he will cheerfully give, and to greater satisfaction than could be done with pen.
I should be highly pleased if you should see proper to open a correspondence with me as soon as convenient; and also to receive a visit from you whenever circumstances shall render it consistent.
You will please accept of my kind thanks for the several instances of remembrance from your pen, both as poetic effusions, and in defence of the glorious principles of truth, and I pray my heavenly Father that his spirit may continue to rest upon you forever.
A week earlier, JS had written a letter to the church “and to all the honorable part of community,” in which he stated that he needed to explain the “important facts” of Bennett’s conduct so “that the honorable part of community may be aware of his proceedings and be ready to treat him and regard him as he ought to be regarded, viz: as an imposter and base adulterer.” (Letter to the Church and Others, 23 June 1842.)
On 21 June, Richards had provided a detailed account of Bennett’s conduct to Abraham Jonas, Grand Master of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Illinois. ([Nauvoo Masonic Lodge], Nauvoo, IL, to Abraham Jonas, [Columbus, IL], 21 June 1842, Letters pertaining to Freemasonry in Nauvoo, CHL.)
Letters pertaining to Freemasonry in Nauvoo, 1842. CHL.