Mormon History

John C. Bennett's First Disclosure - 1842

Sangamo Journal July 8, 1842

Letters from GEN. BENNETT

Bankruptcy of Joe Smith -- Threatened murder of Gen. Bennett to prevent disclosures; Gen. Bennett defied the impostor -- pledges himself to deliver up Joe Smith to the Governor of Missouri upon receiving legal authority for the purpose -- declares that Joe Smith is a disbeliever in the God of Heaven -- says that the State Arms at Nauvoo are suffering injury, and that they will be delivered upon the requisition of Gov. Carlin -- says that the office of Lieut. General which Joe Smith says places him on an equal authority with Washington and above Gen. Scott, is unconstitutional -- shows that the excommunication of Gen. Bennett was done sometime after he had withdrawn from the Mormons, "the best feelings subsisting between all parties," appeals to documents for proof -- denounces Joe Smith as the seducer of single and married females -- instances of his attempts on the virtue of Miss Nancy Rigdon, eldest daughter of Sidney Rigdon, Esq., who he approached "in the name of the Lord and by his authority and permission" -- refers to George W. Robinson and F. M. Higbee for information on this subject -- speaks of Joe Smith's attacks upon individuals to destroy their influence and to prevent an exposition of his conduct -- refers to Miss Martha Brotherton of Warsaw, for the history of an attempt of Joe Smith upon her honor -- Gen. Bennett asserts that hundreds of such cases can be given, if the Danites do not murder him -- that he has "the evidence, and it shall come" -- he promises to expose frauds, which will save the creditors of Joe Smith hundreds of thousands of dollars -- asserts that Joe Smith has violated his obligations as a mason, and has established "a new order" himself -- states that an affidavit made by himself, which Smith was using against him, was made while he was in duress, and he had the choice of being murdered or of making the affidavit -- he further states that Joe Smith has recently directed the people to give up "all their property to the Lord, and lay it at the apostle's (Joe Smith's) feet" -- uproar and confusion at Nauvoo -- the life of Capt. Amos Davis threatened, &c. &c.

The public will be astounded at the statements made by Gen. Bennett in the article which follows from under his own hand. -- That in this day of light and intelligence such a man as Joe Smith should be able to collect around him a mass of people, and make them believe in his shallow and miserable scheme of imposture, is matter of astonishment now, and will be more so in after times.

We presume that the Journal has been made the medium through which Gen. Bennett's publication has been given to the people, on the ground that the political papers of his own party, (General Bennett belongs to the "democratic" party) are at this time making common cause with Joe Smith, for the purpose of securing his influence in opposition to Gov. Duncan and in favor of Thomas Ford. Gen. Bennett has judged correctly, that in a case like this, where the interests of morality and of civil and religious liberty are so deeply concerned, the use of the columns of our widely circulating paper is free to a political opponent.

Gen. Bennett is the individual appointed by Judge Douglass, Master in Chancery for Hancock County -- a most important and responsible office, from the fact that the Master in Chancery, in many cases, performs the duty of a Judge of the Supreme Court. We have, therefore, the official endorsement of Judge Douglass, (which, however, is not needed,) in support of the character of General Bennett for truth, and all those qualities required of one who fills an office of high responsibility.

We state these facts, that the public may duly appreciate the attacks of those men upon Gen. Bennett, who are acting with Joe Smith, to decry and to destroy him -- and which attacks, so far, are made invariably by the friends of Thomas Ford and John Moore.

From the remarks of Gen. Bennett in the article below, we are induced to believe that the people will hear further from him through the medium of the journal.


For the Sangamo Journal.

            NAUVOO, ILLS., June 27, 1842.

To the Editor of the Journal:
I was in your city a few days since for the purpose of taking legal advice in relation to the contemplated Bankruptcy of Joseph Smith, the notorious Mormon Prophet and swindler; -- and procuring the commissions for the officers of the line and the new appointees to brevets in the staff of the Nauvoo Legion, for distribution prior to the general parade on the 4th of July next; but had no time to prepare an article for the press, as I was bound to be in Nauvoo on the 36th instant. But I now write you from the Mormon Zion, the city of the Saints, where I am threatened with death by the holy Joe, and his Danite band of murderers, in case I dare make my disclosures in relation to the conduct of that polluted mass of corruption, iniquity and fraud, -- that King of Impostors, -- the holy and immaculate Joe Smith. I shall however, expose him, and if I fall by the ruthless hands of such foul assassins, let my blood be avenged by the friends of God and my country. Remember he has threatened me with DEATH in propria persona, and if I should be immolated to satiate his hellish malice, let his blood atone for it -- put his "head in a charger," But I fear him not -- he is the most consummate blackguard, and dastardly coward. He is ready at all times to assassinate a man of equal corporeal strength, or to inflict corporal punishment on a man of feeble frame; but he fears his equals, and dreads his superiors. Joe Smith stands indicted for murder, treason, burglary, and arson in Missouri, and he defies the laws and the legally constituted authorities to deliver him over for trial. -- What a horrible state of society when men fear to execute the laws! -- especially in relation to the most foul impostor that ever disgraced the earth! If Governor Reynolds, of Missouri, will make another demand for Joe Smith alone, disconnected with any other person, -- (for there are thousands of innocent, unoffending, good and holy people among the Mormons, who never ought to suffer, and never shall by my hands, or through my instrumentality -- men, women and children who have suffered more than death for the infamous prophet -- and if Governor Carlin will place the writ in my hands, I will deliver him up to justice, or die in the attempt, unless restrained by the constituted civil authority. Thousands and tens of thousands are ready to obey the call, and enforce the laws, and the holy Joe shall tremble at the sight of the gathering hosts. Let the watchword pass with the celerity of lightning, and let the citizen-soldier be ready, -- I will lead you on to victory, and lay the rebels low. The Constitution and the laws shall triumph, and misrule , violence, and oppression wither like a blighted flower. :et not an Executive whom he has vilified and abused, as he has Governor Carlin, both in the private circle and public congregation, fear or neglect to do his duty in this case, and deliver up this noted refugee, charged with the blackest crimes known to the laws, who now boldly stalks abroad in our public ways. If Joe is innocent, let him be acquitted; but if he is guilty, let his life atone for it. I regard him as a foul and polluted murderer, and on the forthcoming of his State writ, Joe shall be delivered up.

Now, remember, that if I should be missing, Joe Smith either by himself or his Danite band, will be the murderer. Illinoisians, then let my blood be avenged! They seek my life by day and by night -- look well to the issue! I am in the infamous impostor's city; but I fear him not, neither do I regard his idolatrous god. He believes not in the God of Heaven, and I fear no other.

I now defy him, and all his holy hosts. I dare him to personal violence. There are eyes that see that he knows not of, and ears to hear that he understands not.

Now, Governor, do your duty. And citizens of Illinois, be in readiness to sustain your laws. I furnished the State arms to the Nauvoo Legion on a legal requisition, and on a legal requisition they shall be delivered up. The public arms are in a bad situation, and suffering material injury, and they had better be placed in the hands of more deserving men, for the State is sustaining a great loss. If the Governor wishes them for other troops, they are at his service. I derived the command of the Nauvoo Legion, and as Major General I have it, and am liable to trial only on an order from the Governor, detailing a general Court Martial of General officers from the other divisions of the State -- no brevet officer can affect me.

It is true that I had Joe appointed, or elected Lieutenant General, as a mere play thing, knowing that there was no such officer contemplated by the Constitution, but, it answers Joe well enough, as he does not know enough of military matters to tell the difference between a Corporal, and a General, -- so, Lieutenant General is as good as any otherral to Joe. In his public speeches he says -- "hear your Lieutenant General! the greatest military commander that ever lived since the days of Washington. -- General Scott is a mere pigmy compared to me! I command all the armies of the United States! -- and the Nauvoo Legion was formed to avenge blood in Missouri!!"

Joe is a great man of the kind -- but God will damn the kind -- for, if the devil don't get Joe Smith, there is no use for any devil. But to the damnable iniquity of this base impostor, and to copy, to wit:

              May 17, 1842.
"Bro. JAMES SLOAN, -- You will be so good as to permit Gen. Bennett to withdraw his name from the Church Record, if he desires to do so, and this with the best of feelings towards you and General Bennett.
                           JOSEPH SMITH."

"In accordance with the above I have permitted General Bennett to withdraw his membership from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, this 17th day of May, 1842, -- the best of feelings subsisting between all parties,
              JAMES SLOAN,
          General Church Clerk and Recorder."

      From the (Nauvoo) "Wasp," of May 21, 1842.

"New election of Mayor, and Vice Mayor, of the City of Nauvoo, on the resignation of General Bennett.

On the 17th instant, General John C. Bennett, resigned the office of Mayor of the city of Nauvoo, and on the 19th, General Joseph Smith, the former Vice Mayor was duly elected to fill the vacancy; and on the same day General Hyrum Smith was elected Vice Mayor, in place of General Joseph Smith, elected Mayor.

The following vote of thanks was then unanimously voted to the Ex-Mayor, General Bennett, by the city Council, to wit:

Resolved, by the City Council of the City of Nauvoo,
That this Council tender a vote of thanks for General John C. Bennett, for his great zeal in having good and wholesome laws adopted for the government of the city, and for the faithful discharge of his duty while Mayor of the same.

Passed May 19th, 1842.
              JOSEPH SMITH, Mayor.
     JAMES SLOAN, Recorder."

     From the "Times and Seasons" of June 15th, 1842:


The subscribers, members of the first Presidency of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, withdraw the hand of fellowship from Gen. John C. Bennett, as a Christian; he having been labored with from time to time, to persuade him to amend his conduct, apparently to no good effect.


The following members of the Quorum of the Twelve concur in the above sentiments:

Brigham Young,                    Willard Richards.

Lyman Wight,                       Heber C. Kimball,

John E. Page,                        William Smith,,

Wilford Woodruff,               John Taylor

                     George A. Smith,

We concur in the above sentiments:


Bishops of the above mentioned Church.

              Nauvoo, May 11th, 1842

Now it happens that John E. Page was in Pittsburgh, William Smith in Pennsylvania, and Lyman Wight in Tennessee, at the above date; -- this is the way Holy Joe does business. On Saturday, the 18th of June, I was excommunicated from this holy sect. Now look at the dates; -- on the 18th day of June I was excommunicated, and on the 17th of May previous I withdrew from this noble band of brothers. The withdrawal of fellowship was DATED BACK in order to have a pretext for my expulsion, and to destroy my influence before I could do any injury to the GREAT PROPHET, and was presented to Orson Pratt, one of the twelve, for his signature some days after I showed him my official withdrawal, and Mr. Pratt refused to sign it. Mr. Pratt is a gentleman of undoubted veracity and I am willing to abide his testimony. Call upon him. Mr. Editor, what think you of these extraordinary papers? -- What was all this for? I will tell you -- it was to destroy my influence, before I should expose Joe's attempt at seduction. -- Many of his followers will swear to any thing he desires them to, and think they are doing God's service, even when they KNOW it to be false. And to begin.

2d. Joseph Smith, the great Mormon seducer, one who has seduced not only hundreds of single and married females, but more than the great Solomon, attempted to seduce Miss Nancy Rigdon, the eldest single daughter of Sidney Rigdon, to submit to his hellish purposes, and become one of his clandestine wives under the new dispensation. Call upon Miss Rigdon, who repulsed him with commendable firmness, and I will abide her testimony -- call, likewise, upon Gen. George W. Robinson, and Col. F. M. Higbee, to state what they know upon this subject. Gen. Robinson and Col. Higbee, can tell some astounding facts in relation to this matter. Joe approached Miss Rigdon "in the name of the Lord, and by his authority and permission," as he said. Joe attacked Mr. Rigdon, Gen. Robinson, Col. Higbee and myself, In order to destroy the influence of all of us to prevent the exposition of this case. -- But it is all true, and the legal evidence shall be forthcoming. Call upon Miss Martha Brotherton, of Warsaw, and see what she will say as to the base attempt at seduction in her own case. She can tell a tale of woe that would make humanity shudder. Call upon Miss Mitchell, of this city, one of the most chaste and spotless females in the west, and see what she knows as to the PROPHET'S SECRET WIVES. Hundreds of cases can be instanced, and if the Danites do not murder me, you shall hear a tale of pollution and sorrow. Joe's licentiousness is unparalleled in the annals of time. I have the evidence, and it shall come; and no attacks on me to divert the public mind from himself, and his iniquity shall avail him. My purpose is fixed, and the world shall know who the great impostor is. -- Time will not permit my going into further detail in this letter; but an abused and insulted public shall know all about it.

3d. Joe's extensive land frauds in Iowa and Illinois will soon come to light. I will save his Eastern creditors some hundreds of thousands of dollars, by exposing these frauds in the face of open day -- by the legal records of the country, and oral testimony. All is in readiness.

4th. I will expose his actings and doings in Nauvoo Lodge, U. D. when none but the Mormon brethren were present; -- that he (Joe Smith) and five others, were entered, passed, and raised, before the Lodge was installed by the Grand Master; and that they all passed through a second time afterwards, with the exception of one, who is now abroad; and many other like irregularities, and departures from the ancient land-marks. He has, likewise, established a new lodge of his own, by inspiration. entitled "ORDER," in which there many curious things, and relative to which I have much to say hereafter. The following is a part of the obligation -- "I furthermore promise and swear that I will never touch a daughter of Adam UNLESS SHE IS GIVEN ME OF THE LORD," so as to accord with the NEW DISPENSATION and the "ancient order of things."

5th. The attacks on me in the "Wasp" are all for public effect, and to divert the public eye from Joe's infamous conduct. My affidavit as taken before Esq. Wells, and my statements before the City Council, in relation to the holy Joe, were made under DURESSE -- my life was threatened unless I submitted to the requisition of Joe. I then preferred the course I took to DEATH, as I knew the public were not apprized of the facts, and I could have been murdered and no person would have been the wiser; but the public are now apprised of the matter, and I am ready and willing to die in exposing this impious man, and the people will avenge my blood. I never feared death, but I chose not to die before I rendered God and the people signal service in bringing to light the hidden things of darkness. But more of this hereafter.

6th. The whole city is now in an uproar in relation to the doctrine of consecration as taught on yesterday -- The people are ALL required to come forward and consecrate ALL their property to the LORD by placing it at the APOSTLE'S FEET, or in the hands of JOE SMITH!!!!!! There is much flouncing on this subject, and what will be the issue God only knows. I will give you some important facts in my next.

7th. The life of Captain Amos Davis, with some others, has been threatened as well as my own; and I hereby put the public on the look-out. I will write you as time permits. In haste,
             Yours respectfully,
             JOHN C. BENNETT.