Letter to the Church, 23 June 1842

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It becomes my duty to lay before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the public generally, some important facts relative to the conduct and character of Dr. , who has lately been expelled from the aforesaid church; 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.
It is a matter of notoriety that said Dr. , became favorable to the doctrines taught by the elders of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and located himself in the city of , about the month of August 1840, and soon after joined the church. Soon after it was known that he had become a member of said church, a communication was received at , from a person of respectable character, and residing in the vicinity where had lived. This letter cautioned us against him, setting forth that he was a very mean man, and had a wife, and two or three children in , Morgan county, Ohio; but knowing that it is no uncommon thing for good men to be evil spoken against, the above letter was kept quiet, but held in reserve.
He had not been long in before he began to keep company with a young lady, one of our citizens; and she being ignorant of his having a wife living, gave way to his addresses, and became confident, from his behavior towards her, that he intended to marry her; and this he gave her to understand he would do. I, seeing the folly of such an acquaintance, persuaded him to desist; and, on account of his continuing his course, finally threatened to expose him if he did not desist. This, to outward appearance, had the desired effect, and the acquaintance between them was broken off.
But, like one of the most abominable and depraved beings which could possibly exist, he only broke off his publicly wicked actions, to sink [p. 839] deeper into iniquity and hypocrisy. When he saw that I would not submit to any such conduct, he went to some of the females in the , who knew nothing of him but as an honorable man, & began to teach them that promiscous intercourse between the sexes, was a doctrine believed in by the Latter-Day Saints, and that there was no harm in it; but this failing, he had recourse to a more influential and desperately wicked course; and that was, to persuade them that myself and others of the authorities of the church not only sanctioned, but practiced the same wicked acts; and when asked why I publicly preached so much against it, said that it was because of the prejudice of the public, and that it would cause trouble in my own house. He was well aware of the consequence of such wilful and base falsehoods, if they should come to my knowledge; and consequently endeavored to persuade his dupes to keep it a matter of secresy, persuading them there would be no harm if they should not make it known. This proceeding on his part, answered the desired end; he accomplished his wicked purposes; he seduced an innocent female by his lying, and subjected her character to public disgrace, should it ever be known.
But his depraved heart would not suffer him to stop here. Not being contented with having disgraced one female, he made an attempt upon others; and, by the same plausible tale, overcame them also; evidently not caring whose character was ruined, so that his wicked, lustful appetities might be gratified.
Sometime about the early part of July 1841, I received a letter from Elder and , who were then at , Penn. This letter was dated June 15th, and contained the particulars of a conversation betwixt them and a respectable gentleman from the neighborhood where ’s wife and children resided. He stated to them that it was a fact that Bennett had a wife and children living, and that she had left him because of his ill-treatment towards her. This letter was read to , which he did not attempt to deny; but candidly acknowledged the fact.
Soon after this information reached our ears, made an attempt at suicide, by taking poison; but he being discovered before it had taken effect, and the proper antidotes being administered, he again recovered; but he very much resisted when an attempt was made to save him. The public impression was, that he was so much ashamed of his base and wicked conduct, that he had recourse to the above deed to escape the censures of an indignant community.
It might have been supposed that these circumstances transpiring in the manner they did, would have produced a thorough reformation in his conduct; but, alas! like a being totally destitute of common decency, and without any government over his passions, he was soon busily engaged in the same wicked career, and continued until a knowledge of the same reached my ears. I immediately charged him with it, and he admitted that it was true; but in order to put a stop to all such proceedings for the future, I publicly proclaimed against it, and had those females notified to appear before the proper officers that the whole subject might be investigated and thoroughly exposed.
During the course of investigation, the foregoing facts were proved by credible witnesses, and were sworn and subscribed to before an of the , on the 15 ult. The documents containing the evidence are now in my possession.
We also ascertained by the above investigation, that others had been led by his conduct to persue the same adulterous practice, and in order to accomplish their detestable designs made use of the same language insinuated by , with this difference, that they did not hear me say any thing of the kind, but was one of the heads of the church, and he had informed them that such was the fact, and they credited his testimony.
The public will perceive the aggravating nature of this case; and will see the propriety of this exposure. Had he only been guilty of adultry, that was sufficient to stamp disgrace upon him because he is a man of better information, and has been held high in the estimation of many. But when it is considered that his mind was so intent upon his cruel, and abominable deeds, and his own reputation not being sufficient to enable him to do it, he must make use of my name in order to effect his purposes, an enlightened public will not be astonished at the course I have pursued.
In order that it may be distinctly understood that he wilfully and knowingly lied, in the above insinuations, I will lay before my readers an affidavit taken before an of the , after I had charged him with these things:
State of Illinois,)
City of .)
Personally appeared before me, , an Alderman of said city of , , who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith: that he never was taught anything in the least contrary to the strictest principles of the Gospel, or of virtue, or of the laws of God, or man, under any circumstances, or upon any occasion either directly or indirectly, in word or [p. 840]
deed, by Joseph Smith; and that he never knew the said Smith to countenance any improper conduct whatever, either in public or private; and that he never did teach to me in private that an illegal illicit intercourse with females was, under any circumstances, justifiable; and that I never knew him so to teach others.
Sworn to, and subscribed, before me, this 17th day of May, A. D. 1842.
, Alderman.
The following conversation took place in the City Council, and was elicited in consequence of its being reported that the had stated that I had acted in an indecorous manner, and given countenance to vices practised by the , and others:
Dr. , ex-Mayor, was then called upon by the Mayor to state if he knew aught aganst him; when replied: “I know what I am about, and the heads of the Church know what they are about. I expect I have no difficulty with the heads of the church. I publicly avow that any one who has said that I have stated that General Joseph Smith has given me authority to hold illicit intercourse with women is a liar in the face of God, those who have said it are damned liars; they are infernal liars. He never, either in public or private, gave me any such authority or license, and any person who states it is a scoundrel and a liar. I have heard it said that I should become a second by withdrawing from the church, and that I was at variance with the heads and should use an influence against them because I resigned the office of Mayor; this is false. I have no difficulty with the heads of the church, and I intend to continue with you, and hope the time may come when I may be restored to full confidence, and fellowship, and my former standing in the church; and that my conduct may be such as to warrant my restoration—and should the time ever come that I may have the opportunity to test my faith it will then be known whether I am a traitor or a true man.”
Joseph Smith then asked: “Will you please state definitely whether you know any thing against my character either in public or private?”
answered: “I do not; in all my intercourse with Gen. Smith, in public and in private, he has been strictly virtuous.
Aldermen. ,
, ,
, ,
, ,
, ,
, ,
Counsellors. ,
, City Recorder.
May 19, 1842.
After I had done all in my power to persuade him to amend his conduct, and these facts were fully established, (not only by testimony, but by his own concessions,) he having acknowledged that they were true, and seeing no prospects of any satisfaction from his future life, the hand of fellowship was withdrawn from him as a member of the church, by the officers; but on account of his earnestly requesting that we would not publish him to the world, we concluded not to do so at that time, but would let the matter rest until we saw the effect of what we had already done.
It appears evident, that as soon as he perceived that he could no longer maintain his standing as a member of the church, nor his respectability as a citizen, he came to the conclusion to leave the place; which he has done; and that very abruptly; and had he done so quietly, and not attempted to deceive the people around him, his case would not have excited the indignation of the citizens, so much as his real conduct has done. In order to make his case look plausible, he has reported, “that he had withdrawn from the church because we were not worthy of his society;” thus instead of manifesting a spirit of repentance, he has to the last, proved himself to be unworthy the confidence or regard of any upright person, by lying, to deceive the innocent, and committing adultery in the most abominable and degraded manner.
We are credibly informed that he has colleagued with some of our former wicked persecutors, the Missourians, and has threatened destruction upon us; but we should naturally suppose, that he would be so much ashamed of himself at the injury he has already done to those who never injured, but befriended him in every possible manner, that he could never dare to lift up his head before an enlightened public, with the design either to misrepresent or persecute; but be that as it may, we neither dread him nor his influence; but this much we believe, that unless he is determined to fill up the measure of his iniquity, and bring sudden destruction upon himself from the hand of the Almighty; he will be silent, and never more attempt to injure those concerning whom he has testified upon oath he knows nothing but that which is good and virtuous.
Thus I have laid before the Church of Latter Day Saints, and before the public, the character and conduct of a man who has stood high in the estimation of many; but from the foregoing facts it will be seen that he is not entitled to any credit, but rather to be stamped with indignity and disgrace so far as he may be known. What I have stated I am prepared to prove, having all the [p. 841] documents concerning the matter in my possession, but I think that to say further is unnecessary, as the subject is so plain that no one can mistake the true nature of the case.
I remain yours, respectfully,
, June 23, 1842. [p. 842]