53991682

Letterbook 2

shall be wanting to give you satisfaction & liquidate your claims, but  for a little season you are aware that all proceedings are staid, but I will  seek the earliest moment to acquaint you with anything new on this  matter
I remain Sir with sentiments of  Respect your friend & well wisher
Joseph Smith

JS to Thomas Carlin • 24 June 1842

Willard Richards handwriting ends; William Clayton begins.  

 
Copy of a Letter to Thos. Carlin
Governor of the State of Illinois
Nauvoo June 24th. 1842
Thomas Carlin Governor of the State of Ill.
Dr. Sir
It becomes my duty to lay before  you some facts relative to the conduct of our Major General John C. Bennett:  which have been proven beyond the possibility of dispute, and which he himself  has admitted to be true, in my presence.
It is evident that his general character  is that of an adulterer of the worst kind, and although he has a wife and  Children living, circumstances which have transpired in Nauvoo, have  proven to a demonstration that he cares not whose character is disgraced whose  honor is destroyed nor who suffers so that his lustful appetite may be gratified  and further he cares not how many, nor how abominable the falsehood he has to  make use of to accomplish his wicked purposes, even should it be that he brings  disgrace upon a whole community.
Some time ago, it having been reported to me  that some of the most aggravating cases of adultery had been committed upon  some previously respectable females in our City, I took proper measures to ascertain  the truth of the report, and was soon enabled to bring sufficient witnesses before  proper Authority to establish the following facts, More than twelve months ago  Bennett went to a Lady in the City and began to teach her that promiscuous  intercourse between the sexes was lawful and no harm in it, and requested  the privilege of gratifying his passions but she refused in the strongest terms say ing that it was very wrong to do so, and it would bring a disgrace on the Church  Finding this argument ineffectual he told her that men in higher standing in  the church than himself not only sanctioned but practised the same deeds, and in  order to finish the controversy said and affirmed that I both taught and acted in [p. 233]
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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