53991682

Letterbook 2

the same manner, but publicly proclaimed against it in consequence of  the prejudace of the people and fear of trouble in my own house. By this means he accom plished his designs, he seduced a respectable female with lying and subjected her to  public infamy and disgrace.
Not contented with what he had already done he made  the attempt on others and by using the same language seduced them also.
about the early part of July 1841 I received a letter from Pittsburgh Pa  In it was contained information setting forth that said Bennett had a wife and  two or three children then living. This I red to him and he acknowledged it was true
A very short time after this he attempted to destroy himself by taking poison  but being discovered before it had taken sufficient affect, and proper antidotes  administered he again recovered.
The impression made on the minds of the public  by this event was; that he was so ashamed of his base conduct that he took this  coursse to escape the censures of a justly indignant community. It might have  been supposed that after this he would have broke off his adulterous proceedings but  to the contrary the public consternation had scarcly ceased before he was again deeply  involved in the same wicked proceedings, and continued untill a knowledge of the  fact reached my ears. I immediately charged him with the whole circumstance  and he candidly acknowledged the truth of the whole.
The foregoing facts were  established on oath before an alderman of the City.— the affidavits are now in  my possession.
In order that the truth might be fully established I asked  Bennett to testify before an alderman w[h]ether I had given him any cause  for such aggravating conduct He testified that I never taught to him that  illicit intercourses with females was under any circumstances justifiable  neither did he ever hear me teach any thing but the strictest principles of  righteousness and virtue. This affidavit is also in my possession.
I have also a similar affidavit taken before the City Council and signed by  the members of the council.
after these things transpired, and finding that  I should resist all such wicked conduct and knowing that he could no longer  maintain himself as a respectable citizen he has seen fit to leave Nauvoo, and  that very abruptly
I have been credibly informed that he is colleaguing  with some of our former cruel persecuters the missourians and that he is  threatening destruction upon us; and under these circumstances I consider it  my duty to give you information on the subject that a knowledge of his [p. 234]
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On 27 November 1832, while residing at Kirtland, Ohio, JS wrote a lengthy letter to William W. Phelps at Independence, Missouri. JS’s missive emphasized the importance of record keeping and history writing in the young church. JS began by noting that he wished “to communicate some things which . . . are laying great with weight upon my mind.” He then observed, “Firstly, it is the duty of the lord[’s] clerk whom he has appointed to keep a hystory and a general church reccord of all things that transpire in Zion . . . and also there manner of life and the faith and works.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832.)
This emphasis on record keeping was not widespread at the time. Scholar Dean C. Jessee has observed, “So primitive were some aspects of record keeping in nineteenth-century America that much of the early Latter-day Saint experience was a pioneering effort. . . . Although Mormon record keeping was inaugurated by [an] 1830 revelation, details for carrying out that commandment were largely hammered out on the anvil of experience in the years that followed.” (Dean C. Jessee, “The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History,” Journal of Mormon History 3 [1976]: 27.) During a brief span in the early 1830s, JS and those working under his direction commenced the systematic collecting and recording of critical documents pertaining to church governance and administration. From that time to the end of JS’s life, correspondence-copying, revelation-recording, minute-taking, journal-keeping, and history-writing activities remained imperative commitments.
Items of correspondence were first recorded in what was subsequently designated Letterbook 1. Created from circa November 1832 to circa August 1835, it consisted of ninety-three pages preserving a record of early church-related communications dated 14 June 1829 through 4 August 1835. A second letterbook, featured here, was apparently begun in 1839 and continued to circa summer 1843. It became a repository primarily for letters, but also other items dated from 17 June 1829 through 9 February 1843. Items were copied into the volume, later designated Letterbook 2, by JS-appointed scribes including James Mulholland, Robert B. Thompson, Howard Coray, Willard Richards, William Clayton, John Fullmer, and George Walker. Letterbook 2 contains over 150 items of correspondence and other documents, arranged primarily in chronological order. An index created at the time outlines the contents of the 246 pages of letters and other documents. Previously, the volume had been used as a business ledger for the Rigdon, Smith and Company store in Chester, Ohio.
A title page designates the volume as “Copies of Letters, &c. &c. 1839, AD.” The first entry in the letterbook, labeled “Speech of General Clarke, To the Saints at Far West. 6th. Novr 1838,” contains the text of General John B. Clark’s oration on that occasion. Among its varied contents, the volume includes copies of a letter from JS to Emma Smith in June 1834; four letters written by Emma to JS from 1837 and 1839; three letters from Edward Partridge, Sidney Rigdon, and Elias Higbee, respectively, written in March and April 1839 to JS and other prisoners confined in the jail in Liberty, Missouri; two letters sent by JS and Elias Higbee while in Washington DC in December 1839 to Hyrum Smith and others in Nauvoo, Illinois; a letter sent from England by Brigham Young in May 1840 to JS in Nauvoo; a poignant exchange of letters between William W. Phelps, who had been cut off from the church, and JS in summer 1840; and an exchange in June and July 1842 between JS and Illinois governor Thomas Carlin. The ledger also preserves nine sets of minutes from various meetings, five petitions concerning the Saints’ treatment in Missouri, an 1840 memorial ascribed to JS, and an 1841 inventory of the contents of the Nauvoo House cornerstone, among other miscellaneous documents.
The last document copied into Letterbook 2 appears on manuscript page 245, a letter from JS to Richard M. Young, U.S. senator from Illinois, dated 9 February 1843. Though there are a substantial number of blank pages preceding the index beginning on manuscript page 369, it is not known why the copying of documents into Letterbook 2 ceased. However, the following circumstances regarding JS’s clerks may have been factors: James Mulholland died in December 1839, Robert B. Thompson died in August 1841, and Howard Coray served a mission to Pennsylvania during 1842–1843. Willard Richards and William Clayton began extensive work on Joseph Smith’s history in early 1843 while continuing to perform other clerical and secretarial duties. Documents dated after 9 February 1843 that might have been expected to be copied into the letterbook were, in many instances, recorded in JS’s history. In any event, the record closed with the 9 February 1843 letter, and there is no evidence that a third letterbook was either contemplated or begun.

Facts