Letter from James Arlington Bennet, 1 September 1842

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Sept. 1. 1842
Lieut. Gen. Smith.
Dear Sir—
Mrs Smiths letter to Mrs. [Sophia Smith] Bennet containing a very lucid account of Dr has been received & the only thing concerning him that I regard of importance, is, that you found it necessary to expose him. I wish most ardently that you had let him depart in peace, because the public generally think no better of either the one party or the other in consequence of the pretended exposures with which the News papers have teamed. But then on the long run you will have the advantage, inasmuch as the universal notoriety which you are now acquiring will be the means of adding to three hundred fold.
That you ought to be given up to the tender mercies of no man in his senses will allow, as you would be convicted on the shadow of evidence when the peoples passions & prejudces are so strongly inlisted against you & under such a state of things how easy it would be to suborn witnesses against you who would seal your fate. Add to this, too, that <​the​> great difficulty under which an impartial jury, if such could be found, would labour in their attempt to render an honest verdict, being cohersed [coerced] by surrounding public prejudice & malice. And yet as you are now circumstanced it will not do to appose force to force, for your protection, as this in the present case would be treason against the State & would ultimately bring to ruin all those concerned.
<​This letter is to be considered strictly Confidential—​> [p. 1]
Your only plan I think will be to keep out of the way until this excitement shall have subsided, as from all I can understand even from the himself, there is no evidence on which an honest jury could find against you & this opinion I have expressed to him. I most ardently wish that you had one hundred thousand true men at & that I had the command of them— Times & things would soon alter. I hope to see the day before I die that such an Army will dictate terms from to the enemies of the Mormon people. I say this in the most perfect candor as I have nothing to gain by the Mormons, nor am I a Mormon in creed, yet I regard them in as favourable a light, (& a little more so,) than I do as I do any other sect. In fact I am a Philosophical Christian & wish to see an entire change in the religious world. I have been long a Mormon in sympathy alone & probably can never be one in any other way, yet I feel that I am the friend of the people as I think them honest & sincere in their faith and those I know as good & honorable men as any other professing Christians.
has been the means of bringing me before your people, you will therefore see that for this act I am in honor bound to say “Peace to his Manes.” To act otherwise would be ungrateful & dishonorable, both of which qualities are strangers to my nature. Nevertheless by leaving him as he is I can still be your friend, for be assured that nothing I have yet seen from his pen has in the least altered my opinion of you. I will know what allowance to make in such cases. [p. [2]]
& Bachelor [Origen Bacheler] are now delivering lectures in against you & your doctrines & asserted practices at . told me this forenoon that the seats have been torn to pieces out of his church in Canal St. & that the congregation had to move to another place. I intimated to you in my last that of the Herald was about to publish conjointly with the his Book of Exposures but since have learned that it is about to come out in . He expects to make a fortune out of it & I presume he needs it, but I feel sure that it will only make converts to the Mormon faith. He has borrowed largely from Com Morris’ lacivious poems.
A general Order signed by , agt [adjutant] general and authorized by you has this day appeared in the Herald ordering me to repair to to take command of the Legion and to bring with me Brig. Gen. , which states that if the requisition be persisted in[,] blood must be shed. I have assured of the Herald that I deem it a hoax but he insists upon it that it is genuine. My reply to <​it​> has appeard to day in that paper. I have there stated that I have written to for instructions this is not so It is only a ruse. On the whole you will only be made a greater Prophet & a greater man a greater Em[p]eror by the affection & consideration of your good friends. My respects with those of Mrs B. to your
I am Dr Sir your Sincere friend—
. [p. [3]]
<​25​>
Lieut. Gen. Joseph Smith,
Mayor of
Illinois.
<​ SEP 1​> [p. [4]]

Footnotes

  1. new scribe logo

    Postage in unidentified handwriting.