Ezra Taft Benson

Ezra Taft Benson

English name=Ezra Taft Benson

birth_name=Ezra Taft Benson
birth_date=birth date|1899|08|04
birthplace=Whitney, Idaho
death_date=death date and age|1994|05|30|1899|08|04
deathplace=Salt Lake City, Utah
prophet_date=death date and age|1985|11|10|1899|08|04
predecessor=Spencer W. Kimball
successor=Howard W. Hunter
president_who_called=Heber J. Grant
apostledate=death date and age|1943|10|07|1899|08|04
ordination_reason=Deaths of Sylvester Q. Cannon and Rudger Clawson [Benson and Spencer W. Kimball were ordained on the same date to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve resulting from the deaths of Cannon and Clawson.]
end_date=death date and age|1994|05|30|1899|08|04
reorganization=Jeffrey R. Holland ordained

Ezra Taft Benson (August 4, 1899 – May 30, 1994) was the thirteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1985 until his death and was United States Secretary of Agriculture for both of the administrations of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Born on a farm in Whitney, Idaho, Benson was the oldest of eleven children. Beginning his academic career at Utah State University, he was a 1926 graduate of Brigham Young University (after serving a church mission in Britain from 1921 to 1923). He received his masters degree from Iowa State University and did preliminary work on a doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley, but never completed this degree. Benson pursued a career in agriculture and later served in many church leadership positions. Just after receiving his masters he returned to Whitney to run the family farm, but later became the county agriculture extension agent.

In 1939, when he was president of the church's Boise, Idaho, stake and working for the University of Idaho Extension Service, 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 LDS Church stake there.


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 the older of the two, he was given seniority over Benson in the Quorum. Succession to the presidency of the church is by chronological order of ordination to apostleship, allowing Spencer W. Kimball to become president of the church years earlier than Benson. Upon Spencer W. Kimball's death in 1985, Benson became the president of the church.

Political career

In 1953, Benson was appointed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by President Eisenhower. Benson accepted this position with the permission of Church President David O. McKay and therefore served simultaneously in the United States Cabinet and in the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve.

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 survived 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.

Church presidency

Benson succeeded Kimball as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1973, and as President of the Church in 1985. During his early years as Church President, Benson brought a renewed emphasis to the distribution and reading of the "Book of Mormon", reaffirming the LDS scripture's importance as "the keystone of [the LDS] religion." He is also remembered for his general conference sermon condemning pride.


Benson was a lifelong supporter of Scouting. He started in 1918 as assistant Scoutmaster. On 23 May 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 Scouting—the Silver Beaver, the Silver Antelope, and the Silver Buffalo—as well as world Scouting’s international award, the Bronze Wolf.cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = http://www.ldsces.org/inst_manuals/pres-sm/pres-ch-13-15.htm | title = Presidents of the Church | format = | work = | publisher = The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | accessdate = 2008-05-05]

Health problems and death

Benson suffered poor health in the last years of his life from the effects of blood clots in the brain, strokes, and heart attacks, and was rarely seen publicly. He was hospitalized in 1992 and 1993 with pneumonia.

Benson died 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 under the direction of Gordon B. Hinckley. He was buried near his birthplace in Whitney, Idaho, at the Whitney City Cemetery.

Published works

*cite book|author=Ezra Taft Benson|year=1990|title=Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice|publisher=Deseret Book Company|id=ISBN 0-87579-351-7
*cite book|author=—|year=1983|title=Come Unto Christ|publisher=Deseret Book Company|id=ISBN 0-87747-997-6
*cite book|author=—|year=1986|title=The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner|publisher=Deseret Book Company|id=ISBN 0-87579-216-2
*cite book|author=—|year=1976|title=Cross Fire: The Eight Years With Eisenhower
publisher=Doubleday|id=ISBN 0-8371-8422-3

*cite book|author=—|year=1992|title=Elect Women of God|publisher=Bookcraft|id=ISBN 0-88494-838-2
*cite book|author=—|year=1969|title=An Enemy Hath Done This|publisher=Bookcraft|id=ISBN 0-88494-184-1
*cite book|author=—|year=1974|title=God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties|publisher=Deseret Book Company|id=ISBN B0006CF3MC
*cite book|author=—|year=1989|title=A Labor of Love: The 1946 European Mission of Ezra Taft Benson|publisher=Deseret Book Company|id=ISBN 0-87579-275-8
*cite book|author=—|year=1990|title=Missionaries to Match Our Message|publisher=Bookcraft|id=ISBN 0-88494-779-3
*cite book|author=—|title=So Shall Ye Re
year=1960|publisher=Deseret Book Company|editor=Reed A. Benson.|id=ISBN B0007E7BME

*cite book|author=—|year=1988|title=The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson|publisher=Bookcraft|id=ISBN 0-88494-639-8
*cite book|author=—|year=1977|title=This Nation Shall Endure|publisher=Deseret Book Company|id=ISBN 0-87747-658-6
*cite book |author=—|year=1962|title=The Red Carpet|publisher=Bookcraft
id=ISBN B0007F4WJI

*cite book|author=—|year=2003|title=Sermons and Writings of President Ezra Taft Benson|publisher=The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
*cite book|author=—|year=1964|title=Title of Liberty|publisher=Deseret Book Company|others=compiled by Mark A. Benson
*cite book|author=—|year=1988|title=A Witness and a Warning: A Modern-Day Prophet Testifies of the Book of Mormon|publisher=Deseret Book Company|id=ISBN 0-87579-153-0



*cite book
author=Ensign Editor
month=July | year=1994
title= [http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1994.htm/ensign%20july%201994.htm/president%20ezra%20taft%20benson%20a%20sure%20voice%20of%20faith.htm?f=templates$fn=document-frame.htm$q=$x= President Ezra Taft Benson: A Sure Voice of Faith]
id=p. 8

*cite book
author=Monson, Thomas S.
month=July | year=1994
title= [http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1994.htm/ensign%20july%201994.htm/president%20ezra%20taft%20benson%20a%20giant%20among%20men.htm?f=templates$fn=document-frame.htm$q=$x= President Ezra Taft Benson—A Giant among Men]
id=p. 35

ee also

Steve Benson (Grandson and Pulitzer Prize Winning Cartoonist)

External links

* [http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/listofholdingshtml/finding_aids_b.html Papers of Ezra Taft Benson, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library]
* [http://www.gapages.com/bensoet2.htm Grampa Bill's G.A. Pages: Ezra Taft Benson]
* [http://www.ldsces.org/inst_manuals/pres-sm/pres-ch-13-15.htm A biography of Ezra Taft Benson]
* [http://www.latterdayconservative.com/modules/wfsection/article.php?articleid=73 Ezra Taft Benson's comments on freedom and the U.S. Constitution]
* [http://www.zeios.com/ourrepublic/Authors.aspx?AuthorId=14 Ezra Taft Benson's comments on freedom, the U.S. Constitution and the Founding Fathers]
* [http://www.awakeandarise.org/Benson.htm Some Speeches (audio) of Ezra Taft Benson]
* [http://www.awakeandarise.org/media/benson/Benson_Kruschev.mp3 audio excerpt from “Our Immediate Responsibility.” Devotional Address at Brigham Young University. circa 1968.”]

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