-- Jun 22, 1963
[Quorum of the Twelve] N. Eldon Tanner Second ordained 2nd Counselor to President David O. McKay. (1)
-- 3 July 1963
Reed Benson ... convinced the national Birch Council to open its meetings with prayer. (2)
-- July 31, 1963
...It is with some reluctance and deep regret that I extend t you a copy of "The Politician", by Robert Welch (founder of the John Birch Society), which I first read about two years ago.
This appears to be a factual account of the piecemeal surrender of America to the Communists by the hands of some of our fellow Americans. ...
All of us have been deceived, to a degree at least, by the adversary. ... (3)
-- 31 July 1963
[Ezra Taft Benson] sent copies of [John Birch leader Robert] Welch's anti-Eisenhower book to general authorities like Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith. (4)
-- August 1, 1963
Robert Welch "To Members of the COUNCIL": Welch sends each Council member a suggested letter which he asks them to send to Ezra Taft Benson, Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, Sen. Strom Thurmond and Charles Edison – in order to encourage each of the 4 men to accept Welch's invitation to become members of the John Birch Society National Council. (5)
-- Sep 18, 1963
[Quorum of the Twelve] Henry D. Moyle dies. (1)
-- 23 September 1963
Benson gave a talk in Los Angeles praising Birch Society founder Robert H. Welch. Unlike his earlier praise for Welch, Benson delivered these remarks to a meeting officially sponsored by the Birch Society and attended by 2,000 Birchers. He began his talk by announcing: "I am here tonight with the knowledge and consent of a great spiritual leader and patriot, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President David O. McKay."
Welch had just published his most controversial book, The Politician. It accused former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower of being "sympathetic to ultimate Communist aims, realistically and even mercilessly willing to help them achieve their goals, knowingly receiving and abiding by Communist orders, and consciously serving the Communist conspiracy, for all of his adult life."Benson publicly implied endorsement of the allegation. (6)
-- September 23, 1963
Robert Welch (founder of the John Birch Society) had published the following in The Politician:
"Dwight Eisenhower ... became, automatically and immediately, captain and quarterback of the free-world team, in the fight against Communism. In our firm opinion he had been planted in that position, by Communists, for the purpose of throwing the game."
Benson was asked his opinion of Welch's statement, and replied simply that Eisenhower:
"supported me in matters of agriculture. In other areas we had differences." (7)
-- September 24, 1963
[Senator Ralph Harding] I was on the House floor when that report [of Benson's L.A. Speech] came in over the wires, the Associated Press and UPI. I was upset, and I stayed up there all night, taking that report and the information I had, and I wrote a speech criticizing Brother Benson for using his Church position to promote the John Birch Society. Then I called Milan Smith, who was a staunch Republican and my stake president then. [Smith had been Benson's chief of staff during his eight years in the Department of Agriculture.] I told him I would appreciate it if he would come up to my office, that there was something that I needed to discuss with him. He did. I let him take the speech, and he went through it. He was crossing out things here and writing more there, and he toughened it up! He made it even tougher than I had. He, [former stake] President J. Willard Marriott and most of the leaders of the Church back here were very, very upset about Brother Benson's actions. Then I called President [Hugh B.] Brown. We didn't have faxes, so we sat right there in my office, with Milan Smith on an extension, and I read the speech to President Brown. After I finished he said, "Well, Brother Harding, can you stand the brickbats?" I said, "I think so, President Brown." But he said, "No, I mean can you really stand the brickbats?" I said, "I think so." He said, "You know this speech will probably defeat you." I said, "I realize there is a chance of that." He said, "Well, if you are willing to take that chance, and you are wide [sic] aware of the brickbats that are going to come your way, you can do the Church a real service by going ahead and delivering that speech." I said, "That's all I wanted to know, President Brown." So I gave it the next day. It broke loose, especially in Utah and Idaho! (8)
1 - Wikipedia, Chronology of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (LDS Church), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_Quorum_of_the_Twelve_Apostles_(LDS_Church)
2 - Reed A. Benson to Tom Anderson, "PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL," 3 July 1963, Anderson Papers, Knight Library, University of Oregon at Eugene. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
3 - Ezra Taft Benson to President Joseph Fielding Smith, July 31, 1963 (provided by Joe Geisner)
4 - Benson to Smith, 31 July 1963, in copy of Welch's The Politician, Special Collections, Lee Library; Hansen, "Analysis of the 1964 Idaho Second Congressional District Election Campaign," 50. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
5 - Ernie Lazar, Documentary History of the John Birch Society, https://sites.google.com/site/ernie1241b/home
6 - Benson, "Let Us Live to Keep Men Free": An Address . . . at a Patriotic Testimonial Banquet for Robert Welch , sponsored by Friends and Members of TJte John Birch Society at the Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, California, September 23, 1963 (Los Angeles: N.p, 1963). See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
7 - Greg Prince, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
8 - Ralph R. Harding interview, October 24, 2000 as referenced in Greg Prince, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson
Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson