Mormon History

John C. Bennett's Second Disclosure - 1842

Sangamo Journal July 15, 1842


Gen. Bennett held in Duresse -- Joe Smith threatens to give him over to the Danites for execution -- Col. Higbee's affidavit, that Smith recommended the murder of Bennett for the good of the church -- The "fulfillment of prophecy" -- attempted murder of Gov. Boggs -- reparations for defending Joe Smith -- application to Gov. Carlin -- Joe details a court martial to try Gen. Bennett for treason!!!! -- strange givings out concerning a murder in Missouri -- Bennett followed by Danites to Springfield -- Joe Smith approaches Mrs. Pratt for base purposes "in the name of the Lord" -- she is proof against his villainy -- Joe sacrifices lambs when he meets defeat -- further particulars of his attacks upon Miss Rigdon, and of the heroic virtue with which she baffled the seducer -- case of Miss Martha Brotherton, of Warsaw -- affidavit of Gen. Bennett, detailing some of Joe's enormities -- comments -- affidavit of Mrs. Schindle --

              For the Sangamo Journal.
              CARTHAGE, Hancock County,)
              July 2, A. D. 1842.

To the Editor of the Journal,
I am now in this place, in order to attend to some of my official duties, as Master in Chancery; and having some leisure time, I shall proceed with my history of Joe Smith and his Saints -- It is my determination to state facts, and such facts as will arouse the public indignation, if there is yet virtue and courage left in man -- for we are exhorted to be enterprising and courageous -- but the beast and false prophet (Joe Smith) shall tremble in the days of his captivity like an aspen leaf in the wilderness. The "Lord's anointed," as Joe is called, must be washed in the laver of the law until his polluted carcass, and corrupt soul, shall be purified by fire. And to begin:

1st. THE DURESSE. -- On the 17th day of May, A.D. 1842, Joe Smith requested to see me alone in the preparation room of the Nauvoo Lodge, U. D., on some important business. We entered, and he locked the door, put the key in his pocket, and drew a pistol on me and said -- "The peace of my family requires that you should sign an affidavit, and make a statement before the next City Council, on the 19th, exonerating me from all participation whatever, either directly or indirectly, in word or deed, in the spiritual wifecatfish bait of you or deliver you to the Danites for execution tonight -- for my dignity and purity must and shall be maintained before the public, even at the expense of life, -- will you do it or die?" I replied that he had better procure some other person or persons to do so, as there were a plenty who could do it in truth. "No," said he "that will not do -- for it is known that you are well acquainted with all my private acts, better than any other man, and it is in your power to save me or damn me; and as you have now withdrawn from the church in an honorable manner, over my own signature, a privilege never granted to any other person, you must and shall, place it out of your power to injure me or the church, -- do it or the Mississippi is your portion -- will you do it"? I remarked that it was a hard case, and that I would leave peaceably, and without any public exposition, if he would excuse me. He replied, "I tell you as I was once told, 'your die is cast -- your fate is fixed -- your doom is sealed,' if you refuse. Will you do it, or die?" I remarked that I would, under the circumstances, but that it was hard to take the advantage of an unarmed man. "If you tell that publicly," said he, "death is your portion -- remember the Danites!" He then unlocked the door -- we went into the room below, and I gave the affidavit as subscribed before Alderman Wells, (who was then doing business in the lower room), and made the statement required before the City Council on the 19th. I was not aware until Sunday last that any other person was apprized of the fact of the threat of murder, but on that day Colonel Francis M. Higbee told me in the presence of General George W. Robinson, that if it came to the worst, he was in possession of a secret that would open the eyes of the people, and that he would file his affidavit if necessary; but he would not tell me what the secret was. -- General Robinson, however, informed me afterwards that it was a knowledge of Joe's threats of murder. On the 30th of June, 1842, I called upon Colonel Higbee, for his affidavit, which was taken before General Hiram Kimball, an Alderman of the city, and is in the following words, to wit:

State of Illinois, )
Hancock County, ) ss.

Personally appeared before me, Hiram Kimball, an Alderman of the city of Nauvoo, Francis M. Higbee, who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith that Joseph Smith told him that John C. Bennett could be easily put aside or drowned, and no person would be the wiser for it, so, that it ought to be attended to; -- and he further remarked that the sooner this was done the better for the Church, fearing, as he said, that Bennett would make some disclosures prejudicial to said Smith. This was about the time of Bennett's withdrawal from the Church, or a short time before -- and further this deponent saith not.
                      FRANCIS M. HIGBEE.

Sworn to and subscribed this 30th day of June, A. D. 1842.
                        HIRAM KIMBALL, Alderman.

and further this deponent saith not.

My affidavit, and statement, under DURESSE, were published in the Nauvoo Wasp of the 25th of June, 1842. Is it not high time that this band of murders should be made to feel the just penalty of the law? It is certainly a most alarming state of society when men are above the reach of the law, and free to perpetrate the blackest crimes of cruelty and oppression. All this in a land of boasted freedom! Great God! where is the arm of power! Where is liberty, and the rights of man? Arise, ye officers of justice, and assert the majesty of your insulted laws. Let the sound of the clarion give the alarm! and horsemen and chariots will tell the story, until one stone shall not be left upon another, or a vestige of iniquity and crime to pollute the goodly land.

2nd. THE FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY. -- In 1841, Joe Smith predicted or prophesied in a public congregation in Nauvoo, that Lilburn W Boggs, ex-Governor of Missouri, should die by violent hands within one year. From one or two months prior to the attempted assassination of Gov. Boggs, Mr. O. P. Rockwell left Nauvoo for parts unknown to the citizens at large. I was then on terms of close intimacy with Joe Smith, and asked him where Rockwell had gone? "Gone," said he, "GONE TO FULFILL PROPHECY!" Rockwell returned to Nauvoo the day before the report of the assassination reached there and the Nauvoo Wasp remarked, "It yet remains to be known who did the noble deed!" Rockwell remarked to a person now in Nauvoo, and whose name I forbear to mention for the present, from motives of prudence and safety to the person, but which shall be forthcoming in due time, that he had "been all over Upper Missouri, and all about where Boggs lives," and this was communicated to me by that person before I withdrew from the church, and we had considerable conversation upon that daring act. Rockwell s a Danite. Joe's public memory is very treacherous on this subject, I presume; but his private memory is so good that he had a guard around his house every night, with the State cannon and a full supply of small arms, for the protection of his person against any attempted arrest. -- He, likewise, requested me to write to Gov. Carlin for his protection, which I agreed to do, and accordingly did, asking the Governor whether he would be protected from any illegal act of violence, -- to which the Governor replied that ALL citizens should receive equal protection, but that he knew of no privileged man or order of men, and that the dignity of the State should be preserved according to the strict letter of the constitution and the laws. This letter I refused to show to Joe, as open hostilities had come between us, and he accordingly detailed a Court Martial to try me for treason against the citizens of the State of Illinois!!! This Court I regarded as illegal and treated with the utter contempt which such an assemblage of inferior officers will always receive at my hands. Now I call upon Colonel Francis M. Higbee to come out and tell what he told General Robinson and myself in relation to the MURDER of a certain prisoner in Missouri. Col. Higbee, do not fear to tell the dreadful story -- tell exactly how Joe had the murder done up, and what part he ORDERED you to take in the affair, but which you did NOT take. Tell it as Robinson knows it, and as you told me, and DO NOT FEAR Gov. Reynolds will make another demand, and Joe shall be delivered over. I will visit Missouri and tell the dreadful story. Let the call be made, and the laws shall be executed.

3d. My late visit to Springfield. On my arrival in Carthage I found, as all the citizens well know, that I was followed by Mr. O. P. Rockwell, a Danite, who on his arrival late in the night, made strict enquiries as to where I was -- his ostensible business was to put a letter in the post office!! but judge ye the real design. I was prepared for the gentleman and he approached me not; but another swift rider, Captain John D. Parker, another Danite, followed me to Springfield, to carry a letter to Dr. Helm; but he had another object, and you may well suppose what it was. I told Captain Parker that I was aware of his object, but I feared him not. At Virginia, in Cass County, on my return, Parker met me again, and I called the attention of the stage driver to him, who thereupon put two additional balls into his pistol, and then informed me that he was ready for him or any other person having the same object in view. Many of the Danites have been around me, in Nauvoo for the purpose of secret murder, in order to save the arch impostor, Joe from public infamy.

4th. Mrs. Sarah M. Pratt, wife of Professor Orson Pratt, of the University of the city of Nauvoo. Joe Smith stated to me at an early day in the history of that city, that he intended to make that amiable and accomplished lady one of his spiritual wives, for the Lord had given her to him, and he requested me to assist him in consummating his hellish purposes, but I told him that I would not do it -- that she had been much neglected and abused by the church during the absence of her husband in Europe, and that if the Lord had given her to him he must attend to it himself. I will do it, said he, for there is no harm in it if her husband should never find it out. I called upon Mrs. Pratt and told that Joe contemplated an attack on her virtue, in the name of the Lord, and that she must prepare to repulse him in so infamous an assault. She replied, "Joseph cannot be such a man. I cannot believe it until I know it for myself or have it from his own lips; he cannot be so corrupt." Well, I replied, you will see unless he changes his mind; accordingly in a few days Joe proposed to me to go to Ramus with him. I consented to go, and we started from his house about 4 o'clock P. M., rode into the prairie a few miles, and returned to the house of Captain John T. Barnett, in Nauvoo, about dusk, where we put up the horse with Barnett's permission. He, Joe, pretended we were looking for thieves. We then proceeded to the house where Mrs. Pratt resided, and Joe commenced discourse as follows: "Sister Pratt, the Lord has given you to me as one of my spiritual wives. I have the blessings of Jacob granted me, as he granted holy men of old, and I have long looked upon you with favor, and hope you will not deny me." She replied: "I care not for the blessings of Jacob, and I believe in no such revelations, neither will I consent under any circumstances. I have one good husband, and that is enough for me." Joe could not come it! He then went off to see Miss _____ at the house of Mrs. Sherman. He remained with her an hour or two and then returned to Barnett's, harnessed our horse, started for Ramus, and arrived at Carthage at early breakfast. We then went to Ramus, and returned to Carthage that night, and put up at the house of Esq. Comer. Next day we returned to Nauvoo. I called upon Mrs. Pratt and asked her what she thought of Joseph? She replied, "He is a bad man beyond a doubt." Mrs. Pratt in a conversation with Mrs. Goddard, wife of Stephen H. Goddard, said, "Sister Goddard, Joseph is a corrupt man; I know it, for he made an attempt upon me." Three times afterwards he tried to convince Mrs. Pratt of the propriety of his doctrine, and she at last told him: "Joseph, if you ever attempt any thing of the kind with me again, I will tell Mr. Pratt on his return home. I will certainly do it." Joe replied, "Sister Pratt, I hope you will not expose me; if I am to suffer, all suffer; so do not expose me. Will you agree not to do so?" "If," said she, "you will never insult me again, I will not expose you unless strong circumstances require it." "Well, sister Pratt," says Joe, "as you have refused me; it becomes sin, unless sacrifice is offered;" and turning to me he said, "General, if you are my friend I wish you to procure a lamb, and have it slain, and sprinkle the door posts and the gate with its blood, and take the kidneys and entrails and offer them upon an altar of twelve stones that have not been touched with a hammer, as a burnt offering, and it will save me and my priesthood. Will you do it?" I will, I replied. So I procured the lamb from Captain John T. Barnett, and it was slain by Lieutenant Stephen H. Goddard, and I offered the kidneys and entrails in sacrifice for Joe as he desired; and Joe said, "all is now safe -- the destroying angel will pass over, without harming any of us." Time passed on in apparent friendship until Joe grossly insulted Mrs. Pratt again, after her husband had returned [home], by approaching and kissing her. This highly offended her, and she told Mr. Pratt, who was much enraged and went and told Joe never to offer an insult of the like again. Joe replied, "I did not desire to kiss her, * Bennett made me do it!" Joe, you can't come it! Mrs. Pratt is far above your foul and polluted breath, your calumny and detraction. I now appeal to Mrs. Pratt if this is not true to the very letter. Just speak out boldly.

* We have omitted several names in this letter, being unwilling to injure the feelings of individuals unnecessarily. Their names however can be seen in the original manuscript by any person who desires to do so.   Editor Journal.

5th. Miss Nancy Rigdon, daughter of Sidney Rigdon, Esq. Joe Smith said to me last summer, "If you will assist me in procuring Nancy as one of my spiritual wives, I will give you five hundred dollars, or the best lot on Main Street." I replied, "I cannot agree to it. Elder Rigdon is one of my best friends, and his family are now pure and spotless, and it would be a great pity to approach the truly virtuous." "But," says Joe, "the Lord has given her to me to wife. I have the blessings of Jacob, and there is no wickedness in it. It would be wicked to approach her unless I had permission of the Lord, but as it is, it is as correct as to have a legal wife in a moral point of view." It may be so, said I, but you must see her yourself; I cannot approach her on a subject of the kind. Then I supposed the matter had ended; but at the funeral of Mr. Ephraim R. Marks, Mrs. Hyde told Miss Rigdon, that Joseph desired to see her at the printing office, where Mrs. Hyde resides, on special business. She said she would go, and accordingly did, but Joe was busily engaged at his store; Dr. Willard Richards, however, one of the holy twelve Mormon apostles, whom I had long suspected as being up to his eyes in the business with Joe, came in and said, "Miss Nancy, Joseph cannot be in today, please call again on Thursday." This she agreed to do; but she communicated the matter to Colonel Francis M. Higbee, who was addressing her, and asked his advice as to the second visit. I then came to a knowledge of the facts, and went immediately to Joe, and said to him, "Joseph, you are a Master Mason, and Nancy is a Master Mason's daughter, so stay your hand, or you will get into trouble." Joe said, "you are my enemy, and wish to oppose me." -- "No," said I, "I am not your enemy, but you had better stop where you are."

I then went to Col. Higbee and told him Joe's designs, and requested him to go immediately and see Miss Rigdon and tell her the infernal plot -- that Joe would approach her in the name of the Lord, by revelation, &c., and to put her on her guard, but advise her to go and see for herself what Joe would do. He did so, and she went down. Joe was there, and took her into a private room, LOCKED THE DOOR, and commenced by telling her that he had long loved her, and had asked the Lord for her, and that it was his holy will that he should have her -- he told her that it would not prevent her from marrying any other person -- that he had the blessings of Jacob granted to him -- and all that was right; he desired to kiss her, and wished her to kiss him, but Joe couldn't come it. She said she would alarm the neighbors if he did not open the door, and let her out -- he did so, and requested Mrs. Hyde to explain matters to her. Joe swore her to eternal secrecy. Mrs. Hyde told her that these things looked strange to her at first, but she would become more reconciled on mature reflection. Miss Rigdon replied, "I never shall." Joe agreed to write her, and did so in a few days thro' Dr. Richards. That letter is now safe in the hands of her friends. I have seen it, so has her father, and various other persons. -- On Tuesday last, Joe came up to Mr. Rigdon's, accompanied by his High Priest, Geo. Miller, of sable notoriety, for a witness, and by boisterous words and violent gestures tried to deny the attempted seduction and alarm the girl; but she told him he was a cursed liar, and that he could not face her to it. Joe then made a full acknowledgment of the whole affair. All the family, and many other persons were present. The holy George observed, "You must not harm the Lord's anointed -- the Lord will not suffer his anointed to fall!!!" Now call upon Miss Rigdon for the truth of the foregoing. Joe, did you offer another lamb in sacrifice as a burnt-sin offering on an altar of twelve stones? If not, look out for the destroying angel, for he will surely get you.

6th. Now I call upon Miss Martha Brotherton, of Warsaw, to come out and tell boldly the base attempt on her virtue when in Nauvoo -- how she was locked up -- and the proposals that were made to her. I saw her taken to the accursed room, and now let her come out boldly and tell the corruptions of these holy men. The public requires it -- justice and honor require it.

7th. I will now append my own affidavit:

State of Illinois, ) ss.
Hancock County. )

Personally appeared before me, Samuel Marshall, a Justice of the Peace in and for said county, John C. Bennett, who being duly sworn, according to law, deposeth and saith -- that the affidavit taken before Esq. Wells on the 17th of May, and the statements before the City Council of Nauvoo on the 19th, as published in the Wasp of the 25th of June, 1842, are false, and were taken under Duresse as stated in this letter -- that he has seen Joseph Smith in bed with Mrs. Fuller,

[[unconfirmed section, reportedly in this statement: and Mrs. _____, and that he has seen him in the act of cohabitation with Mrs. _____, and Mrs. _____, all four of whom he seduced by telling them that the Lord had granted the blessings of Jacob, and that there was no sin in it -- that he told him that Bates Noble married him to _____ _____, and that Brigham Young married him to _____ _____, and that he had free access to Mrs. _____, Mrs. _____, Mrs. _____, and various others, whose husbands he had sent off preaching, and not now necessary to mention -- and further this deponent saith not. end of unconfirmed section]]

            JOHN C. BENNETT.

Sworn to and subscribed this 2nd day of July, 1842.
            SAMUEL MARSHALL, J. P.

It is quite likely that many of the persons whom I have named in my affidavit, and many others whom I may hereafter name, will flounder, but the truth shall now come, and stand in bold relief before the world. Most of the Mormons will swear to any thing that Joe tells them to, and the public must look for it. -- All, therefore, who remain after these astounding disclosures, must be branded with infamy, as they will undoubtedly be partakers in their adulteries, thefts, robberies, and murders.

8th. Mrs. Melissa Schindle, wife of Col. George Schindle. -- I now proceed to give the affidavit of Mrs. Schindle, which is in the following words, to wit:

State of Illinois, ) ss.
McDonough County.)

Personally appeared before me, Abraham Fulkerson, one of the Justices of the Peace in and for said county, Melissa Schindle, who, being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith, that in the fall of 1841, she was staying one night with the widow Fuller, who has recently been married to a Mr. Warren, in the city of Nauvoo, and that Joseph Smith came into the room where she was sleeping about 10 o'clock at night, and after making a few remarks came to her bed-side, and asked her if he could have the privilege of sleeping with her. She immediately replied NO. He, on the receipt of the above answer told her it was the will of the Lord that he should have illicit intercourse with her, and that he never proceeded to do any thing of that kind with any woman without first having the will of the Lord on the subject; and further he told her that if she would consent to let him have such intercourse with her, she could make his house her home as long as she wished to do so, and that she should never want for anything it was in his power to assist her to -- but she would not consent to it. He then told her that if she would let him sleep with her that night he would give her five dollars -- but she refused all his propositions. He then told her that she must never tell of his propositions to her, for he had ALL influence in that place, and if she told he would ruin her character, and she would be under the necessity of leaving. He then went to an adjoining bed where the Widow ____ was sleeping -- got into bed with her and laid there until about 1 o'clock, when he got up, bid them good night, and left them, and further this deponent saith not.
doctrine, or private intercourse with females in general; and if you do not do it with apparent cheerfulness, I will make


Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 2d day July, 1842.
                A. FULKERSON, J. P. (seal).

Joe, did you offer another sacrifice? If not, the destroying angel will come -- but as you succeeded with Mrs. Fuller, that night, as you told me, that may take off the cure. Joe says "there are wonderful things in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red Sea."

I must now bring this short letter to a close, but will write in a few days.

                Yours, respectfully.
                                JOHN C. BENNETT