Ezra Taft Benson, Tue Jan 6, 1959

-- Tue Jan 6, 1959
[David O. McKay Office Journal] Part of telephone conversation with Ezra Taft Benson]: [Benson:] "Secondly, Mr. Eban, who has been the Israeli ambassador here in Washington from Israel, is just retiring and returning to his country--we understand to stand for election for parliament over there and possibly to become a candidate to succeed the present prime minister Mr. Ben Gurion. Mr. Eban has been very friendly to me personally here. When Brother Lee came through here, I arranged for Mr. Eban to arrange his travels. He has invited me to luncheon with him the first of next week. If there is anything I can do to be helpful to the Church, I shall do so. He will probably raise the question regarding the Church, and I wanted to check with you. I shall, of course, tell him of our plans which he is familiar with, to open an office in Israel. He has encouraged us. He may ask whether or not the Church is considering opening a mission in that country. President McKay: No. If I were you, I should give no encouragement for the time being. The Arabs are opposed to the State of Israel. Brother Benson: The situation has improved considerably. President McKay: I would not give him any encouragement on our establishing a mission there. Brother Benson: I shall not mention it then. I shall stick to the agricultural work. Of course, I do plan to keep in touch with him. He has asked that I do so. If the time comes that he can be helpful to us, I think we have a friend in him." (1)

-- Tue May 19, 1959
[David O. McKay Office Journal] "The news of [Stephen L Richard's] passing was a terrible shock to me."

May 19, 1959: [Part of telephone conversation between McKay and Ezra Taft Benson:] "Brother Benson: It [the death of Richards] is an awful shock, and I know what a shock it is to you! President McKay: He has been as close to me as a brother could be, a friend of the truest kind. He has been wonderful, and of great value to me. It is a great loss to the Church. He was a great intellect, a great soul. He was as loyal to me as his grandfather was to the Prophet and just as close." (1)

-- Jun 12, 1959
[Quorum of the Twelve] J. Reuben Clark is called as First Counselor to President David O. McKay. Henry D. Moyle is called as Second Counselor. (2)

-- mid-September 1959
[Benson] reluctantly played host to Nikita S. Khrushchev during a portion of the larger-than-life Russian leader's mid-September 1959 trip to the United States. "I must say," Benson later wrote, not mincing his words, "my enthusiasm for the project could have been put in a small thimble. By my lights, Khrushchev was, and is, an evil man. He has about as much conception of moral right and wrong as a jungle animal." ("I still feel it was a mistake," he added some twenty years later, "to invite this godless despot as a state visitor. To this day I get an uneasy feeling when I think of that experience.")

Finding himself returning to Washington in the same car as the Khrushchevs, Reed, who felt convinced that the encounter was "not coincidental," told the guests that "long after communism has faded away the Church of Jesus Christ would stand triumphant." Thereafter, according to his father, for "over 45 minutes Reed kindly but firmly spelled out the basic tenets of Mormonism as first one and then another asked questions and sometimes tried to rebut him." "It was good to have a communist captive audience that couldn't walk out on me," Reed later quipped. "The car was going too fast for that." "Knowing full well that communists are violators of the moral law," his father predicted, "yet it is my faith that in the Lord's due time He will find a way to break down this murderous conspiracy and bring the truth and liberty to those Russians who are honest in heart.

Benson provided an additional account of his meeting with Khrushchev that included details absent from his published memoirs and details not found in any contemporary newspaper account of the event:

As we talked face-to-face, he [Khrushchev] indicated that my grandchildren would live under communism. After assuring him that I expected to do all in my power to assure that his and all other grandchildren will live under freedom, he arrogantly declared in substance: "You Americans are so gullible. No, you won't accept communism outright, but we'll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you'll finally wake up and find you already have communism. We'll so weaken your economy until you'll fall like overripe fruit into our hands."

Benson repeated this sensationalized version of the incident— as Mr. Khrushchev said to me face-to-to-face . . . —nearly thirteen years later. Benson,

Dew includes the episode of Benson's comments to Khrushchev in her biography of Benson, Gibbsons does not.

In earlier speeches, Benson took note of the same ideas but attributed them as follows:

"Khrushchev said this to an American television audience," "Khrushchev is reported to have said," and "Khrushchev tells us [i.e., Americans generally] to our face . . ."

In fact, a month before Benson's meeting with Khrushchev, U.S. Vice-President Richard M. Nixon had re ported publicly on his own recent encounter: "Mr. Khrushchev predicted that our grandchildren in the U.S. would live under Communism, and he reiterated this to me in our talks."

The next year at the Republican National Convention, Nixon added: "When Mr. Khrushchev says that our grandchildren will live under communism, let us say his grandchildren will live in freedom." (3)

1 - McKay, David O., Office Journal
2 - 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)
3 - 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)

LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson

Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson