Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Secretary of Agriculture

Ezra Taft Benson Chronology (Part II): Nov 5, 1952 to January 20, 1961 (years as Secretary of Agriculture)


Early in life, Benson was a county agricultural agent and then became involved in various farming enterprises which gave him the experience that lead to his invitation to be the secretary of agriculture in the Eisenhower administration. After consulting with David O. McKay, Benson accepted the appointment where he worked towards a free market economy for agricultural goods, lessening government price controlling measures that protected farmers. Benson’s “get big, or get out of farming” approach made him unpopular among small farmers, who sometimes threw eggs at him. He had limited success in his efforts and eventually the gains he had made were overturned by a democratically controlled congress.

bensonEisenhower appointed Benson as the leader of the secret “Eisenhower Ten” – a group that would run the country in the event of a national catastrophe. Eisenhower eventually distanced himself from Benson when trying to help Nixon get elected. At one point, McKay privately told Eisenhower that if Benson became enough of liability, he (McKay) would extend a calling to Benson to take him out of Washington D.C.

Benson was considered by some to be the most controversial member of Eisenhower’s cabinet, and by others – the most influential. Near the end of his term, his role expanded beyond that of agriculture, and he became a voice on the ideological right of the political spectrum.

For other parts of the chronology:




— Nov 5, 1952
At the news of Dwight D.  Eisenhower’s decisive win as the thirty-fourth American president, McKay was elated. “In my opinion it is the greatest thing that has happened in a hundred years for our country.” (1)

— November 21, 1952
“Brother Benson,” President McKay said, “my mind is clear in the matter. If the opportunity comes in the proper spirit I think you should accept [an appointment from the U.S. President].” “I can’t believe that it will come,” Benson replied. “I’ve never even seen Eisenhower, much less met him or spoken with him.”.  (2)

— November 22, 1952
While Benson was preparing to help divide a Provo stake, he was told that his wife, Flora, was on the telephone.  Eisenhower’s office was trying to reach him, she said. “There’s really something to it,” Benson told himself moments later, concluding “to get off by myself for a while”to “quietly considera course of action.” He drove to the campus of nearby Brigham Young University, where he soon located a vacant office and knelt in prayer. Afterwards, he telephoned McKay, who again stressed that he should “accept if it was a clear offer.” Nearly twenty-four years later, Benson recalled telling McKay: “I had hoped you’d have a different feeling. I don’t want that job.”  (3)

— Nov 25, 1952
In 1952 President Dwight David Eisenhower appointed Benson to the cabinet post of Secretary of Agriculture. Partly because of his vigorous espousal of free enterprise, he was never the most popular person in the cabinet. Still he was known for being fair, just, and a man of principle. He was featured on the covers of Time magazine and The Saturday Evening Post.

Subsequent LDS Cabinet members are Stewart Udall (Interior, 1961-69), George Romney (Housing and Urban Development, 1969-72), David M. Kennedy (Tresury, 1969-71, and special cabinet member while ambassador-at-large, 1971-73), Terrel H. Bell (Education, 1981-85) In addition to this unprecedented appointment of LDS general authority, Eisenhower appoints Mrs. Ivy M. baker Priest as first Mormon to serve as U.S. Treasurer. In 1981 Republican Ronald Reagan appoints Angela Marie (“Bay”) Buchanan as second Mormon to serve as U.S. Treasurer. (4)

Benson moved decisively into his new $22,500-a-year Cabinet position (later $25,000), not waiting for nomination hearings or official swearing in. He arranged to have his Church assignments shifted to other apostles, easily cleared the FBI’s background investigation, began “prayerfully” gathering a coterie of like-minded associates—some of whom were LDS (sometimes referred to as “Mormon Mafia”) —and embarked on a whirlwind cross-country tour to assess the needs of America’s farmers.  (2)

— November 28, 1952
McKay, aided by Second Counselor J. Reuben Clark, placed his hands on the apostle’s head and set him apart—a ritual usually reserved for Church callings—as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.  “You will have a responsibility, even greater than your associates in the cabinet,” McKay prayed, because you go . . . as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are entitled to inspiration from on high, and if you so live and think and pray, you will have that divine guidance which others may not have.  . . . We bless you, therefore, dear Brother Ezra, that when questions of right and wrong come before the men with whom you are deliberating, you may see clearly what is right, and knowing it, that you may have courage to stand by that which is right and proper.  . . . We seal upon you the blessings of . . . sound judgment, clear vision, that you might see afar the needs of this country; vision that you might see, too, the enemies who would thwart the freedom of the individual as vouchsafed by the Constitution, . . . and may you be fearless in the condemnation of these subversive influences, and strong in your defense of the rights and privileges of the Constitution.   (5)

— Jan 12, 1953
Having suggested that the new cabinet’s pre-inaugural first meeting begin with prayer, Benson was overjoyed when Eisenhower invited him on January 12, 1953, to offer the invocation. For Benson, “beseeching the Lord for spiritual strength was as necessary . . . as eating or sleeping.”  (2)

— Jan 18, 1953
Benson was “deeply disappointed” when Eisenhower chose not to begin the cabinet’s meeting again with prayer.  Had he done something wrong, Benson wondered. That evening, he “broke down and wept aloud” in his small apartment.  (2)

— Jan 21, 1953
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Fred M. Vinson administers the oath of office for the new secretary of agriculture, Elder Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Ezra Taft Benson and Dwight D. Eisenhower as Benson is sworn in

Ezra Taft Benson, Dwight D. Eisenhower & Supreme Court Justice Fred M. Vinson as Benson is sworn in.

— 1952
Benson assumed office when farm income was declining and wartime legislation was piling up surpluses in government warehouses, inviting increased government controls of agriculture. He worked to reverse that course, winning significant legislative victories in spite of intense political opposition. (6)

— Jan 23, 1953
Benson sent Eisenhower a letter urging that all cabinet meetings thereafter “be opened with a word of prayer.” Eisenhower did not act immediately, looking instead for a practice that would be acceptable to everyone. Then, on the second Friday morning cabinet meeting after Benson’s letter, Eisenhower announced that, barring any objections, he would like to start with a moment of silence. “And that’s the way it was . . . from that time on.” (Benson made certain that his own departmental staff meetings always began with a vocal invocation — a “custom,” he termed it.)
One of Benson’s assistants later quipped: “At the first [Cabinet meeting] Ike had Ezra do the praying, but I am informed that after the first one he decided that he’d have silent prayer because Ezra took too darn much time to pray.”   (2)

— After Jan, 1953
One of Benson’s first priorities was taming a massive $730 million federal bureaucracy. Even before assuming office, he began to reorganize his department’s twenty agencies, and 8,000 Washington-based employees, into four main divisions. (This also reduced the number of agency heads participating in weekly staff meetings.) Some agencies were combined; some transferred to other departments; and some eliminated. The goal was to reorient Agriculture away from what Benson viewed as interventionist-driven farm policies and toward the department’s real mission: improved marketing and better commodity-related education and research. He was convinced “he had to alter the ideologicaltemper of his department and acquire some measure of direction over its vast operations.”  (2)

— March 1953
The family’s preparations to move to D.C. were temporarily halted when Flora and Barbara were in an automobile accident that totaled the family car. Flora was left unconscious for a time; Barbara suffered a broken shoulderas well as cuts and bruises.Told there was nothing he could do, Benson reluctantly agreed to remain in Washington. As he struggled to concentrate on work, his mind easily drifted,he later recalled, constantly “running over the years of our life together.”  (7)

— 24 Mar 1953
First Presidency counselor J. Reuben Clark said he was “apprehensive of Bro Benson in Washington.”  (8)

— March 28, 1953
Benson oversaw the distribution of a 1,200-word official “General Statement” on farming. As much a personal testimony of the “eternal principle” of freedom as a secular pronouncement of U.S. policy, the declaration was “influenced to some extent,” Benson explained, “by an old-fashioned philosophy that it is impossible to help people permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves. It is a philosophy that believes in the supreme worth of the individual as a free man, as a child of God, that believes in the dignity of laborand the convictionthatyou cannot buildcharacter by taking away man’s initiative and independence.”
Benson’s blunt statement put America’s farmers on notice that government supports were intended as temporary mechanisms to help protect and stabilize free markets, and not as permanent relief or subsidies.  (2)

— Apr 09, 1953
Adam S. Bennion is ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, replacing John A. Widtsoe, who had passed away.

— Apr 13, 1953
Elder Ezra Taft Benson, U.S. secretary of agriculture, appears on the cover of Time magazine, which highlights his national and international influence as a member of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s cabinet.

Ezra Taft Benson on the cover of Time Magazine. Subsequent church publications have incorrectly asserted Benson was Time's "Man of the Year"

Ezra Taft Benson on the cover of Time Magazine. Some church publications have mistakenly asserted Benson was Time’s “Man of the Year”

“For the Benson machine,” Time magazine reported, “prayer is the basic fuel.” “He spends as much time on his knees as he does on his feet,” one associate observed. Benson also removed all ash trays from his and adjacent offices—or converted them into containers for paper clips and other small objects—and by his example discouraged smoking in departmental meetings. Benson’s daily work schedule as secretary did not differ much from his routine as an apostle and earlier.  (9)

— Thu Apr 16, 1953
[David O. McKay] “[A]t meeting of Presidency and Twelve in the Temple: Expressed the feeling that the family ties are fundamental, that the family is the foundation of society.  Stated that the First Presidency have suggested to the auxiliary organizations that in choosing members of the General Boards women should be chosed whose family ties will not interfere and that frequently the First Presidency refuse to approve sisters whose names have been submitted because those recommended were rearing young families.” (10)

— Jul 15, 1953
[Quorum of the Twelve] Albert E. Bowen dies. (11)

— Oct 8, 1953
[Quorum of the Twelve] Richard L. Evans ordained. (11)

— Nov 4, 1953
Mark E. Peterson wrote Benson: “Do not become discouraged, Remember that you are just like a missionary back there.You are doing more good than one hundred missionaries in the field. It is just marvelous the splendid reports we hear about you.”  (12)

— Nov 9, 1953
“Except for the President,” Benson lamented to concerned Mormons toward the end of his first year in office, “I am assured that no man in public life has a heavier responsibility at the present time [than I]. I feel the weight of it very keenly. The cross fires, pressures and political maneuvering associated with the office make the burden almost unbearable at times. I know that I have the faith and prayers of millions of people who are hoping and praying that the philosophies and principles which I am trying to advocate will prevail.”
“Of course, the Church is on trial. …  I hope you will not become unduly depressed when you read items deeply critical of me and my activities.  ” (13)

— Nov. 20, 1953
FBI memo says that an undersecretary of state (whose name was censored from released files) informed the FBI that “the president is a little ‘teed off’ with Secretary of Agriculture Benson” because he “has not been successful in quieting the farmers, cattlemen, dairymen and Capitol Hill.”
The FBI memo said “the matter has now been passed to the White House and … the president is unhappy about the whole thing.” It added that the State Department source said, “It looks like Benson will be the ‘fall guy.’”  (14)

— During 1953
(Hugh B. Brown) Called to be an assistant to the Twelve. (15)

— Jan 11, 1954
Benson’s farm policy, which Eisenhower presented to Congress on January 11, 1954, was a “carefully constructed compromise” balancing a hard-line drive for lower price supports with the administration’s politically nuanced advocacy of “gradualism.”
Immediately, Benson embarked on a countrywide speaking tour to drum up support, often addressing audiences he remembered as being latently hostile.  (2)

— Apr 08, 1954
George Q. Morris is ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at eighty years of age (making him the oldest man ordained an Apostle in this dispensation), replacing Matthew Cowley, who had passed away.

— 1954
Ezra Taft Benson gives his famous exhortation to farmers to “get big or get out.”  (16)

— May 29, 1954
Benson’s program received a cool reception from most farm states and their representatives—Republicans and Democrats alike. Their response was to portray Benson “as an enemy of the farmer.”  (2)

— 23 June 1954
[Benson] publicly condemned “the hysterical preachings of those who would destroy our basic freedoms under the guise of anti-communism.” This was generally understood to be Benson’s attack on the excesses of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy.   (17)

— September 24, 1954
Nationally prominent newsman Edward R. Murrow invited Benson to appear on his CBS television program Person to Person. Flora immediately objected, fearing the intrusion, but Reed “saw an opportunity” to showcase the “Benson Home Family Night” and LDS values. Flora remained skeptical: “If you insist on the show, have it down at your office.  Leave the children out of it.” However, Reed persisted, and eventually managed to persuade his mother, who decided to “thr[o]w all her energies into it.”
The live program was designed to “give the TV audience a picture of a Mormon home and family, distinguished by Mormon standards and ideals.” Look magazine commented that it “was much more entertaining than most calls on show-business celebrities.” President Eisenhower even opined, pragmatically: “Ezra, . . . it was the best political show you could have put on.” Murrow said “he considered it the best show he had done to date.”  (7)

— May 1962
Reflecting on her time in D.C., Fora said “I was trying to do all the jobs of a good homemaker, cooking, laundress, cleaning woman, nurse, counselor, time with my children, and at the end of the day look rested, poised, relaxed and properly groomed for a formal dinner or social engagement of some kind.  . . . I was to look like a charming girl, think like a man, work like a dog and act like a lady.”  (7)

— mid-December 1954
As if to emphasize his department’s anti-Communist credentials, Benson announced that Agriculture would not be retaining Wolf Ladejinsky, a lateral transfer from State. Ladejinsky, an expert in Asian land reform, had entered U.S. government employ in 1935.  Benson’s initial reason for firing him was that the Russian Jewish immigrant was not sufficiently skilled but later asserted that he was also a security risk. When Ladejinsky’s supporters protested, a public relations “hurricane” ensued.
In particular, Milan D. Smith, Benson’s new executive assistant, had “inaccurately and incompletely briefed Benson, by furnishing him an inaccurate and incomplete summary of Ladejinsky’s case file.” Smith also wrote the announcement of Ladejinsky’s termination “without a prior USDA investigation” and “circulated an anti-Semitic letter . . . as ‘classic’ evidence of what ‘thinking people’ believed about the Ladejinsky case.” Though he emphatically disavowed any anti-Semitism, Benson refused to consider that his aides—both of whom were LDS—could be mistaken.
Less than a month later, Eisenhower intervened to secure Ladejinsky’s employment elsewhere in the government. Eventually, Benson retracted—but never repudiated—his claim that Ladejinsky was a security risk.  (2)

— 1955
Because of the “monumental” challenges of disposing of crops long priced too expensively for world markets, Benson determined that “extraordinary” effort was required; and in 1955, he embarked on a trade mission to Latin America, Canada, and Europe.  (2)

— Feb 6, 1955
The Bensons invited Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower to join them at the Virginia ranch of J. Willard Marriott, a successful hotelier and Washington DC Stake president. The Bensons treated their guests to a Mormon-oriented evening of singing, poem recitations, and humorous skits.  (7)

— October 29, 1955
Eisenhower announced support for the farm program of Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, opposing a return to high fixed-price supports for basic commodities. The issue of declining farm income became an increasingly important issue heading into the 1956 elections.  (18)

— Nov 12, 1955
Flora was named national “Home Maker of the Year.”  (19)

— During 1955
“Apostles Delbert L. Stapley and Adam S. Bennion met with the First Presidency and recommended the appointment of a new general committee that would once again attempt “to correlate the courses of study given by the Quorums and auxiliaries of the Church.”  McKay told them that their suggestion was “meritorious” and asked that they make it formal so that it might come before the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.  Four years thereafter, with no explanation for the delay, McKay acted upon their recommendation and institution the modern era of correlation. (20)

— March, 1956
When Benson was unable to address the National Republican Women’s Convention, Reed, now discharged from the Air Force, substituted. Thereafter, according to Benson, the articulate, charismatic Reed “came in great demand as a speaker at Republican conclaves.” Employed by the Republican National Committee, Reed acted as his father’s companion on the campaign trail, helped draft Benson’s political speeches, and arranged press conferences.  That year, Reed traveled some 100,000 miles, visiting nearly forty states. “If he sensed a crisis,” Benson proudly wrote, “he would drop everything, jeopardizing his own future career and schoolwork to help.”  (7)

— 1957-58
Regarding Benson’s attacks on dairy supports, Hoover had the FBI do some spying into whether Benson would resign, talking to aides and even Benson himself in passing. Whether Benson would go voluntarily would be of interest to the White House, but censors blacked out exactly where reports of the spying were sent.   (14)

— Early 1957
As Benson began his second term as Secretary of Agriculture in early 1957, he faced the continuing, seemingly insoluble problem of mounting commodity—specifically, wheat—surpluses.  The Soil Bank [a program to pay farmers to retire land from production for 10 years] required significantly large monetary appropriations but in actual practice did little to address the problem of over-production, especially by smaller farmers.  Because of an “explosion” in agriculture-related technology, farmers were producing more than ever before. Not surprisingly, Benson was even more convinced that the only effective answer to surpluses was flexible-to-no federal price supports and a truly laissez-faire free-market economy where demand and supply set prices.  (7)

Ezra Taft Benson

Ezra Taft Benson

— April 1957
Benson decided, in an effort to rein-in over-production, to allot some 55 million acres for wheat and to lower parity to 75 percent. (“Riding a wave of confidence” from Eisenhower’s reelection, Benson hoped “it would carry us.”) Thus, farmers who had been receiving $2.00 per bushel of wheat would now get $1.78. Benson concluded that “this move would force farmers to make economically sound decisions regarding how much they would plant or whether they would even put the plow to some of their land.”
South Dakota’s Democratic Representative George McGovern, among others, immediately protested that Benson was “totally out of sympathy with the economically depressed conditions of farm families” and, for the good of the country, should leave office immediately.
“It was almost standard fare for Democratic congressmen from farm states to sharpen their teeth on Mr. Benson,” McGovern later recalled. “We ate a piece of him for breakfast every morning.”
Benson had grown weary of such attacks and once again began to feel “the urge . . . to go back to my life’s work in Utah.” When he raised the subject with Eisenhower, the president remained firmly opposed to Benson’s departure: “If I have to, I’ll go to Salt Lake City and appeal to President [David O.] McKay to have you stay on with me,” he vowed. Both disappointed and exasperated, Benson “threw up my hands,” confessing, “This is a difficult assignment and I’d be genuinely happy to be out of it.  But I have no disposition to run out on you if you feel I’m serving a useful purpose. But I want to say again that if at any time I seem to you to be following a course not in the best interests o[f] your Administration, you have only to pick up the telephone.”  (7)

— About June, 1957
Proxmire and House colleague Henry Reuss soon joined McGovern’s call for Benson’s ouster. Almost immediately, some nervous Republicans began to look to Benson as a convenient scapegoat. Congressman Melvin R. Laird, also from Wisconsin, told Eisenhower: “It is most important that a change be made in the office of Secretary of Agriculture before the next session of Congress.”
South Dakota Senator Karl Mundt, another Republican, wrote: “We can not even come close to electing a Republican House of Representatives or a Republican Senate in 1958 unless . . . Benson is replaced by somebody who is personally acceptable to the farmers of this country.” With Benson remaining in office, Mundt insisted, Republicans did not have a “Chinaman’s chance of winning the farm vote.”  (7)


President Eisenhower and President McKay

— September 1957
Shortly after Proxmire’s win, President David O. McKay paid a surprise visit to Eisenhower in early September 1957. According to Benson, McKay was “planning some changes in which I might well have a part” and wondered if it “would be convenient for him [Eisenhower] to release me at this time.” (McKay subsequently admitted that he wanted to provide Eisenhower with an “excuse to release Brother Benson if he desired to do so.”)
As Benson remembered:
President McKay said, “Mr. Eisenhower indicated to me that you [i.e., Benson] and he have been very close. In fact, the President told me ‘Ezra and I have been just like this’—and he interlocked the fingers of his hands.  “Then he said, ‘I just don’t know where I could turn to get someone to succeed him.’
“Now Brother Benson,” President McKay went on, “I left no doubt but that the government and President Eisenhower have first call on your services. We in the Church can make adjustments easier at this time than the government can. We want to support President Eisenhower. He is a noble character, a fine man. In this case our country comes first. But, of course, we also want you to do what you would prefer.”
“I recognize that you have had more than four very strenuous years in Washington,” Eisenhower told Benson, “and I can appreciate that your Church is anxious to have you back. I have given this a great deal of thought, and I will not go contrary to the wishes of your Church if they feel it imperative that you should leave. But I want to emphasize that word imperative.”
Informed of McKay’s position, Eisenhower continued:
“I feel, Ezra,” he said, “that if you leave now it may mean giving up much of the agricultural program which we’ve put in operation and are trying to push to completion. I wish very much that you would stay at least one more year. Next fall [1958] we can review the situation again.  (7)

— 13 Sep 1957
BYU’s president observed: “Apparently, however, Benson stands aloof from all his advisors, and they are afraid to tell him what they think.  (21)

— Wed Oct 2, 1957
[David O. McKay Office Journal] “Last evening, October 1, 1957, Elder Ezra Taft Benson called me by telephone at my home and asked whether or not he should accept a government appointment to go to Rome, Italy.  The American Ambassador to Italy there would like to arrange a conference for him with the Pope.  I told Brother Benson that I would talk with my counselors this morning and then let him know.  Telephone conversation with Elder Ezra Taft Benson, Wednesday, October 2, 1957.”
” President McKay:  Regarding the matter we were discussing yesterday, we are all united in the feeling that if you can in honor, without embarrassment, avoid that conference it would be well for you to do it.  Brother Benson:   All right.  I think I can.  President McKay:  Was it the Ambassador?  Brother Benson:  The American Ambassador to Italy.  President McKay:  Yes, I see.  Brother Benson:  He is the one who has proposed it.  But I think I can avoid it, President McKay, because I am going to be in Rome for a very short time.  I have to make an important address for a  World Agricultural Congress, and I think the shortness of my stay can probably be used as a reason for not doing so.  President McKay:  We have in mind particularly the effect upon our own people.  Brother Benson:  Yes.  That is the thing the concerned me, too.  President McKay:  And the dignity that you would have to give to such a conference.  Brother Benson:  Yes, that is right.  President McKay:  And really they have everything to gain and nothing to lose, and we have everything to lose and nothing to gain.  Brother Benson:  I am in full harmony with that feeling.  President McKay:  Well that is good.  We are glad of that.  We all feel that it would be pretty embarrassing to you, and we are helping you out of what might prove to be a conference that will reflect upon our Church.  Brother Benson:  Well, I think it could be embarrassing both to me and to the Church.” (10)

— 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.  (22)

— 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”  (23)

— 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. (10)

— 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.”  (24)

Ezra Taft Benson and Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ezra Taft Benson and Dwight D. Eisenhower

— 1958
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.  (7)

[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. (25)

— 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.”  (7)

— Feb 23, 1958
Benson’s daughter Beth remembered that during these years “Dad put on a lot of weight, which was part of his stress relief.”  (7)

— March 6, 1958
In Congress, both houses rejected the 60 percent parity proposal and voted to freeze parity at current levels, thereby postponing any movement downward (though the House of Representatives called for a one-year freeze only). “Thoroughly disgusted,” Benson “ripped into Congress,” taking them “to task for their attempt to hamper the transition to a more flexible system of price supports.”
“This was more than nearsighted,” he insisted. “It was cross-eyed.” Benson also hinted, correctly, that Eisenhower would veto the joint resolution.
Subsequently explaining his rejection of the bill, Eisenhower asserted: “It would have been a 180-degree turn—right back to the very problems from which our farm people are beginning to escape.” Privately, however, Eisenhower had hoped to avoid such a show-down and delivered a “mild spanking” to Benson for his “advanced positions of inflexibility.” Eisenhower’s “little treatise,” Benson remembered, “was so obviously well intended, I could not resent his giving it.”
As eventually signed into law, the 1958 Agriculture Act set a floor for parity at 65 percent (not 60); froze acreage allotments for cotton and rice; mandated price supports for feed grains; and allowed farmers to decide if they wanted restrictions on corn production. Benson thought the compromise, in general, was a positive step and looked especially to farmer-oriented cooperatives to replace much of government’s role in agriculture.
Other observers saw the compromise as a Republican victory, as tangible evidence of Benson’s “remarkable political comeback,” and now credited the Agriculture Secretary with being “the most influential member of the Eisenhower Cabinet.”  (7)

— 7 Mar 1958
Apostle Harold B. Lee said that Benson needed “humbling” to serve “properly . . . as a member of the Council of the Twelve.”  (26)

— Apr 6, 1958
Gordon B. Hinckley is named an Assistant to the Twelve (27)

— Apr 10, 1958
Hugh B. Brown is ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, replacing Adam S. Bennion, who had passed away.

— 7 July 1958
Ernest L. Wilkinson, Brigham Young University’s president, wrote that Benson “espouses certain principles which are utterly inconsistent with the feeling of the Brethren.”  (28)

— July 8, 1958
Hugh B. Brown was invited to give the keynote address at the Utah Democratic state nominating convention. He met with McKay and “asked if it would be in keeping with the policy of the Church and his office as an Apostle to accept the invitation.” McKay responded: “Since some think we are one-sided in politics (having a member of the Twelve as Secretary of Agriculture during a Republican administration) it might be a good thing for him to accept this assignment and let the members of the Church know that both political sides are represented in the Church.”  (29)

— Summer-Fall 1958
Apostle Hugh B. Brown actively (and successfully) campaigned for the Democratic candidate in Utah’s U.S. senatorial race, and against Benson’s support of the incumbent Republican.  (30)

— October 12, 1958
Regarding suggestions that Benson run for President, McKay said “Just keep on as you are, and we’ll wait for the Lord to tell us what the future holds.” “A Do not seek the candidacy; let them come to you and if they do, we shall consider it.”  (7)

— Early November 1958
In Arizona, he championed the reelection of Senator Barry Goldwater, a like-minded Republican conservative: “This nation will soon decide whether it shall have a truly American or a left-wing dominated Congress for the next two critical years,” Benson told enthusiastic crowds.  But when the polls closed in early November, despite his Herculean efforts, Benson had misjudged the voters’ resentment and was heartsick at the election “disaster.”
Republicans lost forty-seven House races.  Democrats won across the board.  (7)

— December 1958
Founded in December 1958, the [John] Birch Society was named for an American soldier killed by Chinese Communists ten days after the end of World War II. Philosophical heir of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and of U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy, the Birch Society became the most significant grass-roots organization to express the “Great Fear” of Communist triumphs internationally and of Communist subversions in America after World War II.   (31)

— 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.” (10)

— 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.” (10)

— 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. (11)

— 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.”  (7)

— September-October 1959
Benson took Thomas J. Anderson with him as a member of his entourage on an official trip to Europe, including a visit to the Soviet Union. At that time, Anderson was publisher of Farm and Ranch magazine as well as an influential member of the new Birch Society. By the time he accompanied Benson on a trip to the Far East in November 1960, Anderson was a member of the national governing council of the Birch Society.   (32)

— Late September to Early October 1959
Secretary Benson’s visit into among other European countries, the Soviet Union made a profound and lasting impact upon him. “Of all the trade trips,” he later wrote, “this one left the deepest imprint on me . . . because it put before my eyes the pitiful faces of a people enslaved and into my ears the mournful cry of those bemoaning their lost liberty.” Benson scrutinized Soviet-style collective farming and returned home more persuaded than ever of the “superiority of our agricultural system of privately owned family farms, the profit motive, competitive markets, and freedom for the farmer to decide what he wants to grow and market.”  (7)

— Oct 1959
Less than a year after the organization of the Birch Society, McKay told general conference: “The conflict between Communism and freedom is the problem of our times. It overshadows all other problems. This conflict mirrors our age, its toils, its tensions, its troubles, and its tasks. On the outcome of this conflict depends the future of mankind.”  (33)

— Oct 15, 1959
[Quorum of the Twelve] Howard W. Hunter ordained. (11)

— Late 1959
Benson began to look increasingly to New York’s Republican governor Nelson A. Rockefeller as a preferable alternative to Nixon and also entertained the possibility of becoming Rockefeller’s vice presidential candidate. He was disappointed when Rockefeller announced his withdrawal from the presidential race in late 1959.
In a section of Benson’s memoirs deleted at McKay’s request prior to publication in 1962, McKay continued:
“If it should come to pass,” he [McKay] said, “Governor Rockefeller and Brother Benson would be a great team. We are all proud of the way you have stood for principle—but then you had to do this to be true to your own father and [great-] grandfather.”  (7)

— December 4, 1959
By this time, Benson’s critics included at least one high-ranking LDS Church leader. J. Reuben Clark, first counselor to David O. McKay, opined privately in late 1959 that Benson A had done and was doing more to destroy the small farmer than anyone else had done.  (7)

— 1960
At some point shortly before he left government service, Benson experienced what was later described as a demonic attack.  As his youngest daughter, a teenager at the time, subsequently wrote she “had a fall and hurt my leg quite badly so we decided to stay a day or two longer till I was in better shape. That night Daddy went into town to get some medication for me. As he was driving home he had some experiences with evil forces! He somehow lost power over the car and lost consciousness—and when he suddenly came to he was in the middle of a field just ready to hit some cattle. Another time he had gone off the road just before crossing a bridge over the river and got control just before the car was about to go over the edge into the river.
That night Mother slept in a bedroom downstairs with me because of my leg and Daddy slept upstairs. In the middle of the night Daddy came down the stairs. I could see him from my bed. He was crying and shaking.  He came into our room and saton the edge of mybed still crying and shaking and very pale. He told us he had just had an experience that he wanted to tell us. Mother said are you sure Beth should hear this and Daddy said yes he wanted me to. He said that all of a sudden he felt like he was strongly restricted—that he was bound and couldn’t move or caged in a box and unable to move his muscles to free himself. It was a very dark and evil feeling. He seemed to fight with all his might to free himself but could not. Then he prayed for deliverance from this evil spirit and suddenly he was free—the box and bounds were lifted and the darkness was replaced with light.
“Then a very beautiful feeling came over him—he felt calm and peaceful and felt the explanation come to him: the Lord loves him very much and loves our entire family. But the devil is trying and will continue to try to destroy us—to do all he can to thwart us and stop us from doing good. The Lord wants us to know this to be on guard and aware of the devil’s desires so that we will recognize and protect ourselves. And if we remember the Lord he will help us and all will be fine and we will be able to overcome the evil one.
“I will never forget this experience or the look and feeling I got from my dear father.”  (7)

Published Volume – Reed A. Benson., ed. So Shall Ye Reap: Selected Addresses of Ezra Taft Benson. Deseret Book Company.  (25)

— 1959-1960
Reed Benson had … organized student surveillance at the University of Utah during the 1959-60 school year. For example, he asked a conservative freshman to provide him with the names of students who were active in liberal causes on the state campus. This student also enrolled in a political science course taught by professor J. D. Williams in order to monitor this liberal Democrat’s classroom statements. This student-spy adds that “I transferred to Brigham Young University, where I was involved in the same sorts of things.”  (34)

— Jan 1960
Eisenhower readily admitted Benson’s expertise in agricultural is sues even as he was forced to acknowledge the secretary’s potential liability on the campaign trail. “Many Republicans think that any public appearance by him [Benson] would be a detriment in the Middle West,” Eisenhower advised Nixon in early January 1960. “Nevertheless it is possible that he could be used efficiently in the metropolitan areas because his viewpoint is that of the nation and not of the local voters.” Agreeing, Nixon “redoubled his efforts to prepare a political scenario geared to soften” [his stance differentiating himself from Benson on agricultural issues].
According to Benson’s biographers, Nixon and his supporters “tried to put together a farm plank that would for all intents and purposes bypass Ezra Taft Benson without repudiating his farm policy.”
The problem, as Nixon and others saw it, was Benson’s seemingly imperious, autocratic persona. “Some way, somehow, our Democratic friends have done such a good job on Ezra Benson,” Nixon commented, “that they have the farmers thinking he and the Republican party are against them.  We took the worst shellacking [in 1958] in the farm states.”  (7)

— 1 Jan 1960
[Apostle Harold B.] Lee had publicly endorsed Benson’s campaign against “radical and seditious voices.”  (35)

— March 17, 1960
As Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson says he supports Richard Nixon for president because he has no other choice.  (36)

— During 1960 March
The First Presidency requested the General Priesthood Committee, with Elder Harold B. Lee of the Quorum of the Twelve as chairman, to make a study of Church programs and curriculum with the object of providing for better “correlation.” (37)

— June 1960
After a particularly disturbing cabinet meeting in June 1960, during which Benson felt he had stood alone in supporting Eisenhower’s call for fiscal restraint, Benson fretted: “I could not but fear for the future of our country unless influential voices were raised in crescendo, calling not only for a halt but a reversal of this trend.” In fact, some hard-line conservatives, especially in the Republican Party, had al ready begun to view Benson as a spokesperson for concerns they (and, to a growing degree, he) believed were being ignored by party elite. Knowing that his chances for legislative success in a Democratically controlled Congress were small—”like trying to move the ball against a team that out-weighed us 50 pounds to the man,” —Benson found his political voice expanding beyond farming issues as concerned conservatives began actively seeking his opinions on a wide range of hot-button public policy topics.  (7)

— mid-1960
In their 1960 national platform, Democrats countered [Benson’s views] that America’s farmer had the “right” to “raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.” “We will no longer view food stockpiles with alarm,” they continued, “but will use them as powerful instruments for peace and plenty.” “These goals,” Democrats explained, “demand the leadership of a Secretary of Agriculture who is conversant with the technological and economic aspects of farm problems, and who is sympathetic with the objectives of effective farm legislation not only for farmers but for the best interests of the nationas a whole.”  (7)

— 5 Jun 1960
J. Reuben Clark complained that “Sec’y Benson’s policies have about extinguished the small farmer and small cattleman.” Clark’s view was shared by the other counselor in the First Presidency, Henry D. Moyle.  (38)

— Jun 6, 1960
[David O. McKay Office Journal] “Received a courtesy call from United States Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona.  He was accompanied by Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson.  He impressed me as a good man, and one who is favorable to the Mormons.  Senator Goldwater thought it would be a wise thing to have Brother Benson come home as he fears he is going to be embarrassed by both the Republicans and the Democrats.  I told the Senator that some time ago the Church had a good place for Brother Benson if he felt to come home at that time.  This information was conveyed to President Eisenhower so that he might have an excuse to release Brother Benson if he desired to do so, but President Eisenhower felt that he needed Brother Benson’s services, and did not feel to release him at the time.” (10)

— July, 1960
“It doesn’t matter whether we give [the “low income farmer”] 100 or 200 per cent of parity through the price-support programs,” he concluded with his trademark bluntness, “his income problem will not be solved. His problem is one of volume, not price. He does not have an economic farm unit. He is not able to grow the volume of crops to benefit substantially by price supports. What he needs is an opportunity for full employment. Undersized, under capitalized, and underequipped farms cannot furnish such employment, nor can those who operate them possibly earn an adequate income without part-time work in other occupations.”  (7)

— August 10, 1960
A reporter from the Chicago Daily News asked Eisenhower: “Do you regret having kept Ezra Taft Benson on as Secretary of Agriculture in view of the unresolved farm problem that is giving Mr.  Nixon such a hard time in his campaign?” “Ezra Benson has, to my mind,” replied Eisenhower, who had also deliberately limited his own involvement, “been very honest and forthright and courageous in trying to get enacted into legislation plans and programs that I think are correct. And, therefore, for me to regret that he has been working would be almost a be trayal of my own views in this matter. I think we must find ways to give greater freedom to the farmer and make his whole business more responsive to market, rather than just to political considerations.”  (7)

— Late August, 1960
At Nixon’s urging, Eisenhower agreed to absent his divisive Secretary of Agriculture from the unfolding political drama by sending him on several trade missions in exchange for which Nixon would not publicly disavow either Benson or his farm policy.  At first, Benson apparently did not comprehend that he was being deliberately sidelined, for he returned from Europe and the Middle East in late August 1960 itching for partisan battle. He publicly charged Kennedy with “flip-flopping” on agriculture, proclaimed the Nixon ticket as “the nation’s best hope,” and even asserted—despite some private misgivings—that Nixon would be a “great and beloved President.”
Later that fall, however, when asked to spearhead a second overseas mission, Benson realized that party leaders were intentionally snubbing him. Benson then quietly withdrew from active politicking and instead focused on his department affairs.  (7)

— Sep 13, 1960
[David O. McKay Office Journal] [at regular meeting of the Presidency:] “I said that protests are coming to permitting the use of the Tabernacle for political meetings.  We considered the part to be taken by the brethren of the General Authorities in the political meetings.  It was decided that individual members of the General Authorities may attend these meetings as they please, but that they be advised to take no part.  I stated that I had advised Elder Hugh B. Brown not to participate by offering prayer or by introducing the speaker.  It was suggested that Elder Ezra Taft Benson refrain from participating in the campaign.” (10)

— Sep 21, 1960
[David O. McKay Office Journal] “While at my apartment at the Hotel, talked to Ezra Taft Benson in Washington, D.C.  Told him that we do not want him to enter the political campaigns this Fall.” [Some had urged him to run for governer of Utah] (10)

— 29 Nov. 1960
Immediately after his official trip with [a] Birch council member in [November] 1960, Benson proposed to Brigham Young University’s president that his son Reed Benson be used for “espionage” on the church school campus. To Apostle Harold B. Lee, Reed explained that as a BYU faculty member, “he could soon find out who the orthodox teachers were and report to his father.” After resisting Apostle Benson’s proposal for Reed’s employment, [BYU President] Ernest Wilkinson countered that “neither Brother Lee nor I want espionage of that character.”
Apostle Benson’s call in November 1960 for “espionage” at Brigham Young University reflected two dimensions of the national leadership of the John Birch Society. First, their long-time preoccupation with university professors as Communist- sympathizers (“Comsymps”). Second, the Birch program for covert “infiltration” of various groups. Apostle Benson’s encouragement for espionage at BYU would be implemented periodically during the 1960s and 1970s by members and advocates of the John Birch Society.
Wilkinson’s diary indicated that Ezra Taft Benson first made the proposal which Reed later outlined to Harold B. Lee.   (39)

— January 20, 1961
Resigns as Secretary of Agriculture.  “When Mr. Benson’s term came to a close,” his successor asserted in 1969, “the Department of Agriculture not only was disorganized—it was demoralized.”
His biographers asserted:
The last four years of Eisenhower’s term constituted a period of mixed concepts and muddled improvisations. Expectations for the Soil Bank did not fully materialize and by 1960 the [government] again possessed large amounts of food and fiber. Costs exceeded those of any other program (even those of the Truman years).  . . . [A]gricultural policy soon degenerated into an incongruous combination of open production and continued price supports.  . . . Although Benson was perceptive and courageous, he seemed overly motivated by doctrinaire principles at a time when hard-pressed farmers needed sympathetic help and encouragement. This sincere man, who truly loved the land and those who tilled it, never fully realized that his political rhetoric sounded too much like didactic sermons from Salt Lake City’s Temple Square.
Possessing “fortress-like faith” and “superb expertise in his field,” according to his biographers, Benson broke through the inertia of established tradition and entrenched attitudes to show the way toward agricultural reform. His very habits of not compromising and never giving up, made him valuable in the political arena where selling out is too often elevated into a fine art.
. . . Being the recipient of political assaults brings joy to no one but Benson took comfort in the knowledge that in the end he would be vindicated.
…[T]he annals of history may reward Eisenhower’s Secretary of Agriculture far more than his contemporaries. This would be a fitting tribute to Ezra Taft Benson, the man who put the people’s welfare above party politics.   (40)

— 1961
He became known for his integrity, and friend and foe alike acknowledged that he was a man of religious principles who stood by his convictions despite political pressures. He traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, carrying his farm message throughout the nation and the world, and aggressively encouraged consumption of U.S. farm products.
He served eight years in the Cabinet, meeting with heads of state and agriculture leaders and farmers in over forty nations. He had discussions with such leaders as Chiang Kai-shek, Nehru, Khrushchev, King Hussein, and David Ben-Gurion. During this time, his example and activities brought positive and widespread attention to the Church. President David O. McKay said that Secretary Benson’s work in the Cabinet would “stand for all time as a credit to the Church and the nation”.  (6)

1 – David O. McKay, Diary, November 5, 1952. For context and full cite, see Gary James Bergera, ‘”Rising above Principle”: Ezra Taft Benson as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1953-61, Part 1’, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Fall 2008, v 41)
2 – Bergera, ‘”Rising above Principle”
3 – “Prophet Remembers Telephone Call from President Eisenhower in ’53 (sic),” Church News , June 1, 1984, 6. For context and full cite, see Bergera, ‘”Rising above Principle”
4 – Utah History Encyclopedia: Ezra Taft Benson, http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/
5 – McKay, Diary, November 28, 1952. Unlike most entries in McKay’s diary, which are typed, this one is in McKay’s handwriting; Dew, Benson , 259. For context and full cite, see Bergera, ‘”Rising above Principle”
6 – Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Ezra Taft Benson,” Reed Benson and Sheri Dew, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992
7 – 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)
8 – Henry D. Moyle diary, 24 Mar. 1953. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
9 – “Apostle at Work,” Time, April 13, 1953, 26; and “Secretary Benson Rearranges Things.”. For context and full cite, see Bergera, ‘”Rising above Principle”
10 – McKay, David O., Office Journal
11 – 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)
12 – Mark E. Petersen, Letter to Ezra Taft Benson, November 4, 1953, in Ezra Taft Benson Scrapbooks, microfilm, LDS Church Archives. For context and full cite, see Bergera, ‘”Rising above Principle”
13 – Benson, Open letter to “My Brothers and Sisters,” November 9, 1953, in Benson Scrapbooks. For context and full cite, see Bergera, ‘”Rising above Principle”
14 – “Ike and the Birch Society,” Lee Davidson, Salt Lake Tribune, November 16, 2010
15 – Van Wagoner, Richard and Walker, Steven C., A Book of Mormons, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies
16 – The Grasslands of the United States: An Environmental History By James Earl Sherow, 353
17 – “Benson Aims New Blast At M’Carthy,” Salt Lake Tribune, 23 June 1954, 1. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
18 – Chronology of the U.S. Presidency edited by Mathew Manweller
19 – Church News, November 12, 1955. For context and full citation, see Bergera, “Weak-Kneed Republicans and Socialist Democrats”
20 – Greg Prince, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
21 – Wilkinson diary, 13 Sept. 1957. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
22 – J . Reuben Clark ranch diary, 29 Oct. 1957. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
23 – McKay diary, November 12, 1957, January 30, 1960. For context and full citation, see Bergera, “Weak-Kneed Republicans and Socialist Democrats”
24 – Carroll Daily Times (Iowa), Editorial “Benson Trip Not Unlike Most Government Junkets” Nov 25, 1957
25 – Wikipedia: “Ezra Taft Benson”
26 – Ernest L . Wilkinson diary, 7 Mar. 1958. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
27 – Madsen, Truman G., The Presidents of the Church
28 – Wilkinson Diary, 7 July 1958. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
29 – David O. McKay diary as referenced in Greg Prince, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
30 – J. Reuben Clark farm diary, 5 June 1960. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
31 – Brown & Benson; Benson’s first official public endorsement of the Birch Society appeared in “Reed A. Benson Takes Post In Birch Society,” Deseret News, 27 Oct. 1962, B-5. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
32 – Brown & Benson; “Benson Took Birchite on Tours,” Washington Post, 12 July 1961, D-ll; “The Council,” Vie John Birch Society Bulletin (Feb. 1960): 2. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
33 – October 1959 Conference Report, 5; also David O. McKay, Statements on Communism and the Constitution of the United States (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964). See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
34 – Byron Cannon Anderson interview; Directory: University of Utah, 1959-1960: Faculty, Students, Employees (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1959), 34. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
35 – Lee, introduction to Benson, So Shall Ye Reap, vii. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
36 – David Pietrusza, “1960 Election Chronology,” http://www.davidpietrusza/.com/1960-election-chronology.html
37 – Church News: Historical Chronology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/58765/Historical-chronology-of-The-Church-of-Jesus-Christ-of-Latter-day-Saints.html
38 – D. Michael Quinn, “Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts”, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:2 (Summer 1992)
39 – Brown & Benson; Wilkinson diary, 29 Nov. 1960. Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis, Brigham Young University: A House of Faith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 203, mention Reed Benson’s offer but not his father’s support of the “espionage” proposal. See Quinn, “Mormon Political Conflicts” for full cite and context.
40 – Schapsmeier and Schapsmeier, “Eisenhower and Ezra Taft Benson”, 378.; Schapsmeier and Schapsmeier, Ezra Taft Benson and the Politics of Agriculture , 274, 275, 276. For context and full citation, see Bergera, “Weak-Kneed Republicans and Socialist Democrats”

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