-- 29 Oct 1957
Counselor J. Reuben Clark and Apostle Mark E. Petersen agreed to instruct the church's Deseret News to "print the adverse comment" about Benson's service as Secretary of Agriculture. (1)
-- November 12, 1957
After his first meeting with John F. Kennedy, David O McKay recorded "I enjoyed my visit with him, although [I was] not too much impressed with him as a leader."
A little more than two years later, however, McKay had warmed up to the Massachusetts senator: "We had a very pleasant interview with Senator Kennedy, talking on various domestic and international subjects. I was very much impressed with him, and think that the country will be in good hands if he is elected as he seems to be a man of high character" (2)
-- Tue Nov 19, 1957
[David O. McKay Office Journal] [In telephone conversation between McKay and Ezra Taft Benson about Benson's trip to Amman] Bro. Benson: "Amman, Jordan? And in Amman I also had a half-hour visit with the King, who is a very young man, just turned twenty-three. Pres. McKay: Well! Bro. Benson: But a noble character, I believe. He has a tough job. I talked to him about the Church, and I promised to send him a copy of the Book of Mormon and other literature. Pres. McKay: That is good! Bro. Benson: That is pretty much a Moslem country, as you know, but he seems to be a fine character. Then the next Sunday, we were in Spain. That is a week ago last Sunday.
Bro. Benson: On the trip, I met with several of the leaders of nations including some of the heads of State in Israel where we spent a couple of days. I had an hour-long visit with Mr. Ben Gurion, the President of Israel. Pres. McKay: He is a pretty fine man, is he not? Bro. Benson: He seems to be a noble soul, =President McKay. He was in the hospital. You know that he met with an accident. A fanatic threw a bomb into their Parliament and Ben Gurion had his left foot injured. He was in the hospital, and I was the first nonmember of his family to visit him. While I was there, he invited in the press and the photographers, and so our visit got a lot of publicity, because it is the first the outside world has heard about him since he went in. But he seems to be a fine character. I reviewed with him our interest in the Jewish people, the visit of Orson Hyde to Palestine, and the dedication of that land for the return of the Jews, and our faith in the prophecies of the Old Testament, and he was very much interested. I am planning to send him a copy of the Book of Mormon. Pres. McKay: That will be a historic meeting. Bro. Benson: Yes. I told him some day we would like to establish a mission there.
Bro. Benson: I discussed with him the possibility of our some day having a mission there. He said they did not look with too much favor on active proselyting among the Hebrew peoples, but he felt sure we would be welcome there as any other Christian groups have been. They are doing wonderful things in Palestine.
Bro. Benson: I am concerned, but not worried. There is one other thing I would like to get your judgment on, and I think I know what it will be. About a month ago, Secretary Dulles and Cabot Lodge (Cabot Lodge is our Ambassador to United Nations, as you know) approached me and asked whether or not I would be interested in a long-time appointment as the United States Representative on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. I personally have no particular interest in it, President McKay, but I did not want to give them an answer until I had at least mentioned it to you. Pres. McKay: I think that you had better give them a negative answer. Bro. Benson: I think so, too. When this job is over, I know where I would like to be. Pres. McKay: Yes. Bro. Benson: And I hope it is where you want me to be. Pres. McKay: I think you had better not accept that appointment. (3)
-- November 25, 1957
Benson's "wife and two daughters accompanied him on a trip around the world in a government airplane" to investigate world markets. "He seems to have a penchant for getting into extremely hot political waters at no infrequent intervals. As a results, administration critics have tagged Secretary Benson as the Achilles' heal in the Eisenhower forces and a constant vigilance is maintained for any openings which may be deemed fair game for political attack. There have been many. ... Since there has been so much criticism, Secretary Benson has reimbursed the treasurer for the fares of his two daughters." (4)
Benson traveled more miles (20,000), to more states (20), and made more speeches than any other member of the Cabinet in the 1958 mid-term election. (5)
[Benson] was selected as the administrator-designate of the Emergency Food Agency, part of a secret group that became known as the Eisenhower Ten. The group was created by Eisenhower to serve in the event of a national emergency. (6)
-- 1958 to 1959
Benson continued to push throughout 1958 and into 1959 for the eventual elimination of all federal agriculturalsubsidies and supports—a goal, his biographers point out, "as courageous as it was futile." (5)
1 - J . Reuben Clark ranch diary, 29 Oct. 1957. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
2 - McKay diary, November 12, 1957, January 30, 1960. For context and full citation, see Gary James Bergera, "Weak-Kneed Republicans and Socialist Democrats": Ezra Taft Benson as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1953-61, Part 2, Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought, (Winter 2008, vol 41)
3 - McKay, David O., Office Journal
4 - Carroll Daily Times (Iowa), Editorial "Benson Trip Not Unlike Most Government Junkets" Nov 25, 1957
5 - Gary James Bergera, "Weak-Kneed Republicans and Socialist Democrats": Ezra Taft Benson as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1953-61, Part 2, Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought, (Winter 2008, vol 41)
6 - Wikipedia: "Ezra Taft Benson"
LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson
Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson