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The History of the Saints : Or, an Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism [Hardcover]

By John C. Bennett (Author)
Our Price $ 29.71  
Retail Value $ 34.95  
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Item Number 159743  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   392
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.59" Width: 5.74" Height: 1.17"
Weight:   1.43 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Aug 31, 2000
Publisher   University of Illinois Press
ISBN  025202589X  
EAN  9780252025891  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Calling Joseph Smith "one of the grossest and most infamous impostors that ever appeared upon the face of the earth," John Cook Bennett exposes a viper's nest of bitterness and corruption in his inflammatory "History of the Saints", which appeared in 1842. Issuing dire warnings of a Mormon conspiracy to overthrow the government, Bennett catalogs the "Mormon Monster's career of imposture, iniquity, and treason" while presenting testimonies to his own unsullied character. Castigating the church and everyone associated with it, he describes the elaborate "seraglio" - the hierarchy of females at the disposal of men of power - and the Mormons' military and civic organization, as well as their secret societies, including the Danites, an elite group of spies and informers who purportedly dressed as women while engaged in their dark schemes. This same John Bennett had been Joseph Smith's assistant president and close confidant, as well as the mayor of the city of Nauvoo, a major general of its militia, and a chancellor of its university. Andrew F. Smith's introduction examines this enigmatic character, putting Bennett's disavowal of the church and his near-fanatical crusade into perspective. He sketches Bennett's Barnumesque adult life and his initial embracing of Mormonism, as well as the events that turned him against it. He also discusses the book's publication history, its reception by the Mormons and the press, and Bennett's habit of editing himself out of accounts of Mormon misdeeds in which he was involved. Although generally dismissed by Mormon scholars as the work either of a true believer who went astray or of an opportunist masquerading as a devout religious convert, "Bennett's History" did correctly report on Smith's polygamy and predict the rise of a Mormon theocracy, though not in the location he expected. Wherever the truth lies, History of the Saints is a titillating concoction of indignation, revelation, and vituperation.

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More About John C. Bennett

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John C. Bennett was born in 1902 and died in 1995 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Orthodontist in private practice, London, UK.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Early frontier tell-all about the Latter-Day Saints  Dec 5, 2007
"The History of the Saints", famous for being the book that blew the lid off of Mormon polygamy, is a very informative early expose' of the church's fraudulent origins and Joseph Smith's personal corruption. Although written by a man who was himself something of an amoral self-promoter and adventurer, the book's claims are mainly backed up by contemporary evidence or subsequent historical findings. And even though more modern books, with their greater historical perspective, impartiality and more judicious selection of material, might serve the reader better than this 1842 work, it is still of interest as a primary source for what the American public was learning of Joseph Smith and his movement as it was being born.

It's a strange book all right. Passionate, personal, vindictive, written with all the high-flown self righteousness that 19th century polemics and personal hypocrisy could muster, Mr. Bennett gathered into one book all the anti-Mormon ammunition he could find. A onetime high-ranking Mormon and intimate friend of Joseph Smith (although Bennett claims he only joined the church to expose its criminal designs) Bennett was expelled for sexual misconduct, which was when he began his public crusade to destroy his erstwhile faith and its prophet. A thoroughgoing lecher, opportunist and all-around rogue- which probably endeared him to the Prophet- Bennett's book can nevertheless be trusted. In the first place, the vast majority of this work is made up of testimony by people who had nothing to do with John Bennett, and which had been previously published in other author's works. Of the few original revelations Bennett makes, they either have been confirmed or supported by history, or they ring with utter plausibility according to what we know of Joseph Smith. And some of what you will read in this book are:

*Sworn affidavits by the Smith family's neighbors, friends and in-laws testifying to the entire clan's superstition, indolence and dishonesty.
*An affidavit by a close friend of Joseph Smith's, testifying that he heard Smith admit that the story of the Golden Plates started out as a joke to fool his credulous family.
*Affidavits by the citizens of Conneaut, OH swearing that the names and historical incidents in the Book or Mormon came from an unpublished manuscript that had been read to them by a now-deceased neighbor some 20 years before Joseph Smith found his Golden Bible.
*Bennett's own account of how Joseph Smith asked him to go to New York City and secretly have golden plates engraved, so that they could exhibit it as the famous Golden Bible found by Joseph and charge admission to the curious masses.

Many other revelations are included here, including the first eyewitness account of the Mormons' polygamy, the Danite assassins, Joseph's dreams of a North American empire, the Prophet's phrenological chart, and much more. As I said, the interested reader would probably do better by reading a more modern history of Joseph Smith and Mormonism, particularly Fawn Brodie's "No Man Knows My History." However, there's one incident from this book I'd like to quote in full, because it doesn't seem to get much attention anymore, even though it seems like a good example of Smith's hypocrisy and self-awareness. Bennett and Smith were riding along the banks of the Mississippi, when Smith initiated the following conversation:

"General Harris...says that you have no faith, and that you do not believe we shall ever obtain our inheritance in Jackson County, Missouri." Though somewhat perplexed by the Prophet's remark, and still more by his manner, I coldly replied, "What does Harris know about my belief, or the real state of my mind? I like to tease him now and then about it, as he is so firm in the faith, and takes it all in such good part." "Well," said Joe, laughing heartily, "I guess you have got about as much faith as I have. Ha! ha! ha!" "I should judge about as much," was my reply.
Bennett was a Scoundrel: But Does his Book Ring True?  Jan 2, 2004
This is quite an interesting book, and one that all interested in the the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should read. I give it 5 stars not because I believe everything in it, but because I believe its claims should be seriously considered.

After the LDS church's exodus from Missouri in the winter of 1838-1839 the always opportunistic John Cook Bennett (1804-1867) saw a chance to get ahead by helping the Mormons who were coming as refugees into Illinois. In 1840 he moved to the Mormon stronghold at Nauvoo and ingratiated himself with Joseph Smith, who was impressed with his persona and powerful connections in the state. Bennett demonstrated his considerable organizational ability and leadership talent on behalf of the Mormons in the fall of 1840 by spearheading the effort to guide the Nauvoo City Charter through the State Legislature. He then helped to organize the Nauvoo Legion and secured for it arms from the state arsenal. After these successes, Joseph Smith was even more impressed with the sophisticated physician/politician/businessman/army officer, and he rewarded him with great power and influence in Nauvoo, something that Bennett apparently craved more than anything else. Smith made Bennett a major general in the Nauvoo Legion and helped him win the election as mayor of the city early in 1841. Soon afterward Stephen A. Douglas appointed him Master in Chancery for Hancock County. No one else in Nauvoo had risen so quickly.

But Bennett's fall was just as rapid. He and Smith soon quarreled over a variety of issues. They became rivals on several levels--church business, city issues, political activities, and especially the sexual escapade of Mormon polygamy--and the clashes soon became overburdening. By May 1842 a public break had taken place, both Bennett and Smith charging each other with all types of crimes. There can be no doubt that sexual politics played the key role, as both accused the other of indiscretions. Smith's powerful position as the church's prophet ensured that he won the battle for the allegiance of the citizens of Nauvoo, however, and Bennett fled the town. He then set about to expose Smith in speeches across the state and in letters to Illinois newspapers.

Bennett, of course, knew about Joseph Smith's most volatile theological innovation, the concept of plural marriage. Gossip about the practice had swirled about Mormonism since the mid-1830s--an 1835 General Conference had even adopted a resolution explicitly denying the charge--but the practice emerged full-blown in Nauvoo during the early 1840s. By the time of Bennett's disaffection, Smith had married no fewer than eight women and because of his close association with Smith, Bennett knew about some of these liaisons. Bennett brought this most explosive of all issues to public attention in 1842, and this book is a key part of that campaign.

Bennett was especially aware of the marriage of Joseph Smith to Louisa Beaman on April 5, 1841, and discusses it in this 1842 book-length expose of the church. Smith wanted desperately to keep plural marriage a secret, however, and took steps to ensure that no one would violate the confidence. If he was not sure of a person's loyalty, and therefore silence, the prophet apparently attempted either to coerce or to destroy credibility. Bennett, whose reputation was not exactly clean on this score anyway, became the target of a smear campaign in Nauvoo. He was charged with everything from rape to attempted murder, and his character has ever after been sullied. While there is certainly some truth to the charges made by Joseph Smith against John Bennett in 1842, some of them were mere fabrications. He became a scapegoat for secret polygamy--seduction, deception, and hypocrisy.

Even though some were probably untrue, in this book Bennett countered with his own set of charges against Joseph Smith. Many of his depictions in this book on the evolution of Mormon theocracy, temple endowments, and plural marriage, however, proved to have been pretty much on the mark. Within days of leaving Nauvoo Bennett launched into an expose of Mormonism on the lecture circuit and in newspapers and magazines. His series of four letters to an Illinois newspaper, the "Sangamo Journal," became the basis for this book. The core of it is a discussion of plural marriage, or "spiritual wifery," and the frank discussions scandalized non-Mormon readers and convinced many that Smith was involved in secret sexual activity with various women.

In it Bennett boldly named people who could attest to the truth of his assertions, and he included some documents, including a letter Smith sent to Nancy Rigdon, urging her to put aside her objections and engage in polygamous relations with him. The prophet flatly denied any wrongdoing, however, and most Mormons believed him.

It is important after more than a century and a half to reassess Bennett's charges in this book and to ascertain for oneself their legitimacy. For example, corroboration for some of Bennett's expose came from Sarah Pratt, the wife of Mormon apostle Orson Pratt, who is on record as having to rebuff Joseph Smith in 1842 when he asked her to become his "spiritual wife" while her husband was on a mission to England and Scotland. This incident, of course, presents a very difficult historical problem for any belief that Mormon plural marriage was ordained of God since it violates the dictum of a woman having "but one husband."

I believe there is more to the Bennett expose than most have been willing to acknowledge in the past. Bennett was an opportunitist and a scoundrel, but I think he also reports truthfully on a lot of what was taking place in Nauvoo in the 1840s. Bennett was castigated as the "fiendish" originator of weird sexual practices with women rather than Smith, who certainly originated polygamy. Bennett was, in fact, made the scapegoat for activities that the Nauvoo Mormons did not want to acknowledge in Smith or in the Mormon community generally.

Read this book with a critical mind, check its charges against other accounts, and decide for yourself. I recommend it on that basis.

Scoundrel of the 19th century  Aug 21, 2002
This book is an embarrassment. Poorly organized, full of debased lies so incredible that one wonders rather the author himself actually believed them, and of such a personally vindictive nature that the reader feels as though he/she have just sat through a 330 page temper-tantrum. I can't believe anyone takes this book seriously.
The first obvious clue to the unreliability of this book is Bennett's 60-page tribute to himself. It's been said, and I agree wholeheartedly, that anyone who needs that much space to prove the good nature of his character is a scoundrel of the worst sort. And scoundrel he was. He sold college diplomas under auspicies of a bogus university. At one time he abandoned a wife and children in Ohio. He was famous for seducing young women with the promise that, should they get pregnant, he would perform an abortion on them (he was a doctor by trade). Yet these facts (and many others) are oddly left out of his first-chapter shrine to himself. And, wisely so, for if anyone knew the true character of the man, no one would have read the rest of his book.
So, what is contained in the rest of his book? Actually, there is very little of Bennett's own material. The bulk of the work is simply a series of very long excerpts from previous anti-Mormon books. So, what does one have to profit from reading this work? Absolutely nothing.
This book is not a rehash of old material.  May 3, 2001
First of all this book is not cliche or a rehash of earlier material as other reviewers have stated. This book is also not very good. The book is written by John Bennett the first mayor of Nauvoo and one of the first major opponents of the Mormon movement. It is one of the first works of anti-mormon literature. I give it a five not because of any inherent academic achievement by Bennett (it has none the book was little more than a money making scheme and a political tool) but because of what we can learn about early mormon dissenters and their views of Mormonism. It also has great significance as a first hand account, albeit a biased one but all views of Mormonism are obviously biased one way or the other.
passe...  Oct 26, 2000
Overpriced for the cliche approach. I'm sure I should have purchased a more innovative work.

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