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Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
(August 4, 1899 – May 30, 1994) was an American farmer, government official, and religious leader who served as the 15th United States Secretary of Agriculture
United States Secretary of Agriculture
during both presidential terms of Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
and as the 13th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(LDS Church) from 1985 until his death in 1994.

Contents

1 Biography

1.1 Apostle 1.2 Political career 1.3 Church presidency 1.4 Scouting

2 Health problems and death 3 Published works 4 Posthumous honors 5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 External links

Biography[edit] Born on a farm in Whitney, Idaho, Benson was the oldest of eleven children. He was the great-grandson of Ezra T. Benson, who was appointed by Brigham Young
Brigham Young
a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1846. Benson began his academic career at Utah State Agricultural College (USAC, modern Utah State University), where he first met his future wife, Flora Smith Amussen. Benson alternated quarters at USAC and work on the family farm.[3] Benson served an LDS Church
LDS Church
mission in Britain from 1921 to 1923. It was while serving as a missionary, particularly an experience in Sheffield, that caused Benson to realize how central the Book
Book
of Mormon was to the Restored Gospel
Restored Gospel
message and converting people to the LDS Church.[3] On his mission, he served as president of the Newcastle Conference. After his mission, Benson studied at Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University
and finished his bachelor's degree there in 1926. That year he married Flora Smith Amussen, shortly after her return from a mission in Hawaii. They became the parents of six children. Benson received his master's degree from Iowa State University. Several years later, he did preliminary work on a doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley, but never completed it. Just after receiving his master's degree, Benson returned to Whitney to run the family farm. He later became the county agriculture extension agent for Oneida County, Idaho. He later was promoted to the supervisor of all county agents and moved to Boise in 1930. While in Boise, Benson also worked in the central state extension office connected with the University of Idaho
Idaho
Extension Service. He also founded a farmers cooperative. Benson was superintendent of the Boise Stake Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association
Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association
and later a counselor in the stake presidency. In 1939, he became president of the Boise Idaho
Idaho
Stake. Later that year, he moved to Washington, D.C., to become Executive Secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and became the first president of a new church stake in Washington.[4] In August 1989, Benson received the Presidential Citizens Medal
Presidential Citizens Medal
from President George H. W. Bush. Apostle[edit] In 1943, Benson went to Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City
to ask church leaders for advice on whether to accept a new job. They unexpectedly told him that he would join them.[4] On October 7, 1943, both Benson and Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) became members of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, filling two vacancies created by the deaths of apostles that summer. Because Kimball was ordained first, he was given seniority over Benson in the Quorum. Upon Kimball's death in 1985, Benson became the president of the church in his place. Benson's interest in politics could be seen in the subjects he chose for his biannual addresses at General Conference. Three-quarters of Benson's 20 speeches at General Conference during the 1960s were on a political theme.[5] In 1967, for example, he asked David O. McKay
David O. McKay
for permission to speak on "how the Communists are using the Negros to ... foment trouble in the United States". While McKay allowed Benson to speak on this subject, other church apostles were opposed to Benson's positions. (McKay did occasionally take action to limit Benson's use of the church to promote the John Birch Society, such as when he deleted a couple of paragraphs from Benson's 1965 conference address after a complaint from Hugh B. Brown.) When Joseph Fielding Smith became church president, Benson was no longer given permission to promote his political opinions.[6] In 1963, the First Presidency sent Benson to Europe to preside over the missionary work there. Some, including the New York Times, interpreted this move as an "exile" after Benson's virtual endorsement of the John Birch Society
John Birch Society
in general conference. McKay publicly denied that the assignment was an exile or a rebuke, but other church leaders, including Joseph Fielding Smith, indicated that a purpose in sending Benson to Europe was to break his ties with the Birch Society.[7] Benson's teachings as an apostle were the 2015 course of study in the LDS Church's Sunday Relief Society
Relief Society
and Melchizedek priesthood classes. Political career[edit]

Benson while Secretary of Agriculture

In 1948, Republican presidential nominee Thomas E. Dewey
Thomas E. Dewey
approached Benson before the election that year about becoming the United States Secretary of Agriculture. Although Benson had supported his distant cousin Robert A. Taft
Robert A. Taft
over Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
for the 1952 Republican nomination and did not know Eisenhower, after his election Eisenhower nevertheless appointed Benson as Secretary of Agriculture. Benson accepted with the permission and encouragement of church president David O. McKay; Benson therefore served simultaneously in the United States
United States
Cabinet and in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.[4] Benson opposed the system of government price supports and aid to farmers which he was entrusted by Eisenhower to administer, arguing that it amounted to unacceptable socialism. Nonetheless, he served in his cabinet position for all eight years of Eisenhower's presidency. He 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 in 1958 to serve in the event of a national emergency. Benson was an outspoken opponent of communism and socialism, and a strong supporter, but not an official member, of the John Birch Society, which he praised as "the most effective non-church organization in our fight against creeping socialism and Godless Communism."[8] He published a 1966 pamphlet entitled "Civil Rights, Tool of Communist Deception".[9] In a similar vein, during a 1972 general conference of the LDS Church, Benson recommended that all members of the church read Gary Allen's New World Order tract "None Dare Call It a Conspiracy".[10][11] U.S. Representative Ralph R. Harding, during a speech in congress, accused Benson of being "a spokesperson for the radical right" and using his apostleship to give the impression that the church "approve[d] of" the John Birch Society. President Eisenhower endorsed Harding's criticism of Benson.[12] Like Taft, Benson supported a non-interventionist foreign policy.[13] Church presidency[edit] Benson succeeded Kimball as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1973, and as church president in 1985. Benson retained Gordon B. Hinckley, who had been Kimball's second counselor, as his first counselor and chose Thomas S. Monson
Thomas S. Monson
as his second counselor. During his early years as church president, Benson brought a renewed emphasis to the distribution and reading of the Book
Book
of Mormon, reaffirming this LDS scripture's importance as "the keystone of [the LDS] religion." After his challenge to the membership to "flood the earth with the Book
Book
of Mormon", the church sold a record six million copies of the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon
that year to its membership for distribution.[14] He is also remembered for a general conference sermon condemning pride.[15] In the October 1988 General Conference’s priesthood session, he gave a powerful sermon to older men who were single, exhorting them to quit being worldly and picky, get a wife, and raise a family.[16] Scouting[edit] Benson was a lifelong supporter of Scouting. He started in 1918 as assistant Scoutmaster. On May 23, 1949, he was elected a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. He received the three highest national awards in the Boy Scouts of America—the Silver Beaver, the Silver Antelope, and the Silver Buffalo—as well as world Scouting's international award, the Bronze Wolf.[17] Health problems and death[edit] Benson suffered poor health in the last years of his life from the effects of blood clots in the brain, dementia, strokes, and heart attacks, and was rarely seen publicly in his final years. He was hospitalized in 1992 and 1993 with pneumonia. Benson died May 30, 1994, of congestive heart failure in his Salt Lake City apartment at the age of 94. Funeral services were held June 4, 1994, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle
Salt Lake Tabernacle
and were conducted by Hinckley. He was buried near his birthplace in Whitney, Idaho, at the Whitney City Cemetery. Howard W. Hunter
Howard W. Hunter
succeeded Benson as LDS Church
LDS Church
president. Published works[edit]

Reed A. Benson., ed. (1960). So Shall Ye Reap: Selected Addresses of Ezra Taft Benson. Deseret Book
Deseret Book
Company. ASIN B0007E7BME.  The Red Carpet. Bookcraft. 1962. ASIN B0007F4WJI.  Title of Liberty. compiled by Mark A. Benson. Deseret Book. 1964.  An Enemy Hath Done This. Bookcraft. 1969. ISBN 0-88494-184-1.  Civil Rights, Tool of Communist Deception. Deseret Book. 1969. ASIN B0007FRU42.  God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties. Deseret Book. 1974. ASIN B0006CF3MC.  Cross Fire: The Eight Years With Eisenhower. Doubleday. 1976. ISBN 0-8371-8422-3.  This Nation Shall Endure. Deseret Book. 1977. ISBN 0-87747-658-6.  Come Unto Christ. Deseret Book. 1983. ISBN 0-87747-997-6.  The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner. Deseret Book. 1986. ISBN 0-87579-216-2.  The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. Bookcraft. 1988. ISBN 0-88494-639-8.  A Witness and a Warning: A Modern-Day Prophet Testifies of the Book
Book
of Mormon. Deseret Book. 1988. ISBN 0-87579-153-0.  Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
Remembers The Joys of Christmas. Deseret Book. 1988. ASIN B00072PW5E.  A Labor of Love: The 1946 European Mission of Ezra Taft Benson. Deseret Book. 1989. ISBN 0-87579-275-8.  Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice. Deseret Book. 1990. ISBN 0-87579-351-7.  Missionaries to Match Our Message. Bookcraft. 1990. ISBN 0-88494-779-3.  Elect Women of God. Bookcraft. 1992. ISBN 0-88494-838-2.  Sermons and Writings of President Ezra Taft Benson. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 2003.  Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 2014. 

Posthumous honors[edit]

Idaho
Idaho
Hall of Fame, inducted 1997[18] Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
Building, Brigham Young
Brigham Young
University–Idaho[19]

See also[edit]

Book: LDS Church
LDS Church
Presidents

Scouting
Scouting
portal Latter-day Saints portal

Steve Benson (grandson and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist)

Notes[edit]

^ Benson and Spencer W. Kimball
Spencer W. Kimball
were ordained on the same date to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve resulting from the deaths of Sylvester Q. Cannon
Sylvester Q. Cannon
and Rudger Clawson. ^ "Ezra Taft Benson: Thirteenth President of the Church". Presidents of the Church Student Manual. Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 2012. Retrieved 2016-12-19.  ^ a b "President Ezra Taft Benson: A Sure Voice of Faith", Ensign, July 1994. ^ a b c Pusey, Merlo J. (1956). Eisenhower, the President. Macmillan. pp. 67–69.  ^ Dew, Sheri. Ezra Taft Benson. pp. 366–367.  ^ Prince, Gregory; Wright, Robert (2005). David O. McKay
David O. McKay
and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. University of Utah Press.  ^ Quinn, Michael D. " Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
and Mormon Political Conflicts" (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2017.  ^ Sean Wilentz. "Confounding Fathers: The Tea Party’s Cold War Roots". The New Yorker. October 18, 2010. ^ Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright. David O. McKay
David O. McKay
and the Rise of Modern Mormonism (Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 2005, ISBN 0-87480-822-7). pp. 72–73, 92–93, 473. ^ D. Michael Quinn. " Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
and Mormon Political Conflicts", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26(2):1–87 (Summer 1992) at p. 72. ^ Alexander Zaitchik, "Fringe Mormon Group Makes Myths with Glenn Beck’s Help". Southern Poverty Law Center
Southern Poverty Law Center
Intelligence Report, Spring 2011, Issue Number: 141. ^ Quinn, Michael. " Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
and Mormon Political Conflicts" (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2017.  ^ http://www.latterdayconservative.com/ezra-taft-benson/united-states-foreign-policy/ ^ Dehlin, John. "LDS Anthropologist Daymon Smith on Post-Manifesto Polygamy, Correlation, the Corporate LDS Church, and Mammon". Mormon Stories. Retrieved 1 April 2016.  ^ "Beware of Pride". LDS Church. Retrieved May 5, 2008.  ^ "'To the Single Adult Brethren of the Church'". LDS Church. Retrieved Jan 13, 2017.  ^ Church Educational System
Church Educational System
(2005). "Chapter 13: Ezra Taft Benson, Thirteenth President of the Church". Presidents of the Church: Student Manual. LDS Church.  ^ "Franklin County – Idahoans on loan to the world". Idahoshalloffame.org. Archived from the original on January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2017.  ^ " Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
Building". Byui.edu. 1977-09-27. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 

References[edit]

Don L. Searle, "President Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
Ordained Thirteenth President of the Church", Ensign, December 1985 Mark E. Petersen, "President Ezra Taft Benson", Ensign, January 1986 "Funeral of President Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
4 June 1994", Ensign, July 1994

Boyd K. Packer, "We Honor Now His Journey", Ensign, July 1994 Thomas S. Monson, "President Ezra Taft Benson—A Giant among Men", Ensign, July 1994 Gordon B. Hinckley, "Farewell to a Prophet", Ensign, July 1994 Howard W. Hunter, "'A Strong and Mighty Man'", Ensign, July 1994

External links[edit]

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Papers of Ezra Taft Benson, Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Presidential Library Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
Oral History finding aid, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
at Find a Grave A biography of Ezra Taft Benson Ezra Taft Benson's comments on freedom and the U.S. Constitution Ezra Taft Benson's comments on freedom, the U.S. Constitution and the Founding Fathers Some Speeches (audio) of Ezra Taft Benson audio excerpt from "Our Immediate Responsibility." Devotional Address at Brigham Young
Brigham Young
University. c. 1968 Papers of Miller F. Shurtleff, assistant to Ezra Taft Benson, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library A film clip "Longines Chronoscope with Ezra Taft Benson" is available at the Internet Archive

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
titles

Preceded by Spencer W. Kimball President of the Church November 10, 1985 – May 30, 1994 Succeeded by Howard W. Hunter

President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles December 30, 1973 – November 10, 1985 Succeeded by Marion G. Romney

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles October 7, 1943 – November 10, 1985 Succeeded by Mark E. Petersen

Political offices

Preceded by Charles F. Brannan U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Served under: Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953–1961 Succeeded by Orville Freeman

v t e

Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Presidents of the Church

J. Smith Jr. (1830–44) B. Young Sr. (1847–77) Taylor (1880–87) Woodruff (1889–98) Snow (1898–1901) J.F. Smith Sr. (1901–18) Grant (1918–45) G.A. Smith (1945–51) McKay (1951–70) J.F. Smith Jr. (1970–72) Lee (1972–73) Kimball (1973–85) Benson (1985–94) Hunter (1994–95) Hinckley (1995–2008) Monson (2008–18) Nelson (2018– )

v t e

Presidents of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Marsh (1835–39) B. Young Sr. (1839–47) Hyde (1847–75) Taylor (1875–80) Woodruff (1880–89) Snow (1889–98) F.D. Richards (1898–99) B. Young Jr. (1899–1901) J.F. Smith Sr. (1901) B. Young Jr. (1901–03) Lyman (1903–16) Grant (1916–18) Lund (1918–21) Clawson (1921–43) G.A. Smith (1943–45) G.F. Richards (1945–50) McKay (1950–51) J.F. Smith Jr. (1951–70) Lee (1970–72) Kimball (1972–73) Benson (1973–85) Romney (1985–88) Hunter (1988–94) Hinckley (1994–95) Monson (1995–2008) Packer (2008–15) Nelson (2015–18) Oaks (2018- )

v t e

Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

J. Smith (1829–44)[1] Cowdery (1829–38)[1][2] Whitmer (1829–38)[1][2] Harris (unknown–1837)[1][2] Marsh (1835–39)[2] Patten (1835–38) B. Young, Sr. (1835–77) H.C. Kimball (1835–68) Hyde (1835–78) McLellin (1835–38)[2] P.P. Pratt (1835–57) Luke Johnson (1835–37)[3] Wm. Smith (1835–45)[2] O. Pratt (1835–81) Boynton (1835–37)[2] L.E. Johnson (1835–38)[2] Page (1838–46)[2] J. Taylor (1838–87) W. Woodruff (1839–98) G.A. Smith (1839–75) W. Richards (1840–54) Wight (1841–48)[2] H. Smith (1841–44)[1] A.M. Lyman (1842–67)[4] Benson (1846–69) Rich (1849–83) L. Snow (1849–1901) E. Snow (1849–88) F.D. Richards (1849–99) J.M. Grant (1854–56)[1] Wells (1857–91)[1] J.W. Young (1855–1924)[1] G.Q. Cannon (1860–1901) J.A. Young (1864–75)[1] B. Young Jr. (1864–1903) J.F. Smith, Sr. (1866–1918) Carrington (1870–85)[2] Thatcher (1879–1909) F.M. Lyman (1880–1916) J.H. Smith (1880–1911) Teasdale (1882–1907) H.J. Grant (1882–1945) J.W. Taylor (1884–1911)[2] M.W. Merrill (1889–1906) Lund (1889–1921) A.H. Cannon (1889–96) M.F. Cowley (1897–1911)[5] A.O. Woodruff (1897–1904) Clawson (1898–1943) Smoot (1900–41) H.M. Smith (1901–18) G.A. Smith (1903–51) Penrose (1904–25) G.F. Richards (1906–50) Whitney (1906–31) McKay (1906–70) Ivins (1907–34) J.F. Smith Jr. (1910–72) Talmage (1911–33) S.L. Richards (1917–59) R.R. Lyman (1918–43)[2] M.J. Ballard (1919–39) Widtsoe (1921–52) J.F. Merrill (1931–52) Callis (1933–47) Clark (1934–61) A.A. Hinckley (1934–36) Bowen (1937–53) S.Q. Cannon (1938–43) Lee (1941–73) S.W. Kimball (1943–85) Benson (1943–94) Petersen (1944–84) M. Cowley (1945–53) Moyle (1947–63) Stapley (1950–78) Romney (1951–88) L. Richards (1952–83) Bennion (1953–58) Evans (1953–71) Morris (1954–62) Brown (1958–75) Hunter (1959–95) G.B. Hinckley (1961–2008) Tanner (1962–82) Monson (1963–2018) Dyer (1967–77)[1] Packer (1970–2015) Ashton (1971–94) McConkie (1972–85) Perry (1974–2015) Haight (1976–2004) Faust (1978–2007) Maxwell (1981–2004) Nelson (1984–) Oaks (1984–) M.R. Ballard (1985–) Wirthlin (1986–2008) Scott (1988–2015) Hales (1994–2017) Holland (1994–) Eyring (1995–) Uchtdorf (2004–) Bednar (2004–) Cook (2007–) Christofferson (2008–) Andersen (2009–) Rasband (2015–) Stevenson (2015–) Renlund (2015–) Gong (2018–) Soares (2018–)

Notes

^ a b c d e f g h i j Never a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Term ended by excommunication. ^ Term ended by resignation. ^ Term ended by removal of apostleship; was later excommunicated. ^ Term ended by suspension of priesthood.

v t e

United States
United States
Secretaries of Agriculture

Coleman Rusk Morton Wilson Houston Meredith HC Wallace Gore Jardine Hyde HA Wallace Wickard Anderson Brannan Benson Freeman Hardin Butz Knebel Bergland Block Lyng Yeutter Madigan Espy Glickman Veneman Johanns Schafer Vilsack Perdue

v t e

Cabinet of President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
(1953–61)

Vice President

Richard M. Nixon (1953–61)

Secretary of State

John Foster Dulles
John Foster Dulles
(1953–59) Christian A. Herter (1959–61)

Secretary of the Treasury

George Magoffin Humphrey (1953–57) Robert B. Anderson
Robert B. Anderson
(1957–61)

Secretary of Defense

Charles E. Wilson (1953–57) Neil H. McElroy
Neil H. McElroy
(1957–59) Thomas S. Gates Jr.
Thomas S. Gates Jr.
(1959–61)

Attorney General

Herbert Brownell Jr.
Herbert Brownell Jr.
(1953–57) William P. Rogers
William P. Rogers
(1957–61)

Postmaster General

Arthur E. Summerfield (1953–61)

Secretary of the Interior

Douglas McKay
Douglas McKay
(1953–56) Fred A. Seaton (1956–61)

Secretary of Agriculture

Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson
(1953–61)

Secretary of Commerce

Sinclair Weeks
Sinclair Weeks
(1953–58) Lewis L. Strauss (1958–59) Frederick H. Mueller
Frederick H. Mueller
(1959–61)

Secretary of Labor

Martin P. Durkin (1953) James P. Mitchell
James P. Mitchell
(1953–61)

Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Oveta Culp Hobby
Oveta Culp Hobby
(1953–55) Marion B. Folsom
Marion B. Folsom
(1955–58) Arthur S. Flemming (1958–61)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 79427182 LCCN: n50008042 ISNI: 0000 0000 7863 491X GND: 119483513 SN

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