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Bennett, John C.

Born: 1804-08-03 Fairhaven, Massachusetts

Died: 1867-08-05 Polk City, Iowa

Flourished: 1840-1842 Nauvoo, Illinois

Bennett was a physician. He married Mary A. Barker in 1826 in Marietta, Ohio. They lived in Pickaway County, Ohio, where Bennett joined the Masonic Lodge. He moved to Fairfield, Illinois, in 1838, and was commissioned a brigadier general in the Illinois Militia the following year. In 1840, he moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he was baptised into the Mormon faith later in the year. Bennett became a confidante of Joseph Smith and soon rose to a position of importance in the church. Bennett lobbied the General Assembly on behalf of the Mormons, securing incorporations for the city of Nauvoo, the University of Nauvoo, the Nauvoo Agricultural and Manufacturing Association, and the Nauvoo Legion. Bennett left Nauvoo and the Mormon Church following disagreements with Joseph Smith, and he was excommunicated for adultery in May of 1842. In July, Bennett began publishing letters in the Sangamo Journal, accusing Smith of preparing to overthrow the U.S. government and install a religious regime in its place. In October 1842, Bennett published a book containing his denunciations of Smith and the Mormons. Also in October 1842, he was divorced from his wife and he re-married to Sarah Ryder in 1843. Bennett was subsequently involved with several other religious groups in different states. Following his excommunication by the Strangite faction of the Mormon church in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1847, Bennett moved to New Hampshire in 1851 and then to Iowa in 1853.

John C. Bennett, The History of the Saints; or, An Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism (Boston: Leland & Whiting, 1842); Daniel W. Stowell et al., eds., The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 1:249-50, n40; Thomas Gregg, History of Hancock County, Illinois (Chicago: Charles C. Chapman, 1880), 273-74, 283; "Bennett, John Cook," The Joseph Smith Papers, https://josephsmithpapers.org/person/john-cook-bennett.