Letter to John C. Bennett, 7 March 1842
JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to , [, Hancock Co., IL], 7 Mar. 1842. Featured version published in Times and Seasons, 15 Mar. 1842, vol. 3, no. 10, 724. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
On 7 March 1842 JS wrote a brief letter to in response to Bennett’s earlier correspondence with abolitionist Charles V. Dyer. In a 3 January 1842 letter to Bennett, Dyer expressed indignation for “the outrages committed upon the Latter Day Saint by the authorities as well as the people of the State of ” in 1838, drew attention to the recent conviction and imprisonment of three abolitionists in Missouri, and urged Bennett to examine “the whole subject of American slavery.” In a 20 January 1842 reply, Bennett represented himself to Dyer as a “friend of liberty” who “ever detested servile bondage,” and he appealed to Dyer to further “investigate the wrongs” inflicted upon members in Missouri. The correspondence between Dyer and Bennett was published in the 19 February 1842 issue of Illinois antislavery newspaper Genius of Liberty and, at some point, came to JS’s attention.In this 7 March letter to , JS referenced the January correspondence and expressed outrage over the 1841 incarceration, trial, and conviction of the three abolitionists, who were affiliated with the Mission Institute in , Illinois. JS probably saw a parallel between the experiences of the abolitionists and his own detention in jails between 31 October 1838 and 16 April 1839, as well as a failed attempt to extradite him back to Missouri in June 1841. With these episodes fresh in his mind, he wrote to Bennett about unjust detention, constitutional justice, and mob violence in Missouri. Though JS had publicly distanced himself from the actions of radical abolitionists in April 1836, his sympathy for the incarcerated men and anger toward Missourians is plainly manifest in his letter to Bennett.Given that lived in JS’s home during this period, the correspondence between the two men was likely rhetorical in nature and created for publication in the church periodical. It is also possible that letters were exchanged, with JS hand delivering this letter shortly after it was written. In any event, Bennett responded to JS’s letter the following day. JS and Bennett’s exchange was published in the 15 March 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons along with Bennett and Dyer’s earlier communication. The correspondence eventually came to the attention of former governor . On 14 May 1842 the Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review paraphrased Duncan as having asserted that the correspondence among Dyer, Bennett, and JS “divulges the fact, that the Mormons, at the solicitation of Dr. Dyer, (who is an Abolitionist) are prepared to act with them.”
Chicago Tribune. Chicago. 1847–.
Genius of Liberty. Lowell, IL. 1840–1842.
Prinsloo, Oleta. “‘The Abolitionist Factory’: Northeastern Religion, David Nelson, and the Mission Institute near Quincy, Illinois, 1836–1844.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 105, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 36–68.
The Wasp. Nauvoo, IL. Apr. 1842–Apr. 1843.
Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review. Alton, IL. 1841–1850.