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Charles Bent Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Charles Bent passes away in 1847.

Charles Bent was an American businessman and first civilian governor of the New Mexico Territory.

Bent was born on November 11th, 1799 in Charleston, West Virginia.

Bent joined the Army. By 1828 he had left the service and headed to St. Louis with his younger brother. Once in St. Louis the two brothers took a wagon train of goods west along the Santa Fe trail. They would make several trips back and forth. Eventually Bent would form a company with Ceran St. Vrain called the Bent & St. Vrain Company. The two men would establish fortified trading posts between St. Louis and the Taos, New Mexico. Some of the locations included three in Colorado. One of the "forts" was called Bent's Fort and is now a National Landmark.

In 1846, Bent was appointed the first civilian governor of the New Mexico territory. He was preceded by the last governor of the Mexican rule of New Mexico. Many of the people of Mexican descent in the territory were unhappy with Bent's governorships. Specifically they did not like the way people of Mexican descent were treated in the territory and they were uncomfortable with the new American ownership of the territory.

In December of 1846, a group of influential families in the New Mexico territory planned a revolt against Bent and the new American rule. Bent and Colonel Sterling Price discovered the plot and several of the conspirators were arrested, unfortunately a couple of the leaders of the revolt escaped. A press release by Bent at the time, touting the quick work by himself and Colonel Price, was viewed as condescending to the Mexican people living in New Mexico. It managed to help fuel the flames of revolt.

In January of 1847, Bent was returning home in Taos, New Mexico when he was attacked by a group of Pueblo Native Americans who were under the orders of the remaining Mexican conspirators. Bent was scalped alive and murdered in his home. Bent's wife, children and others in the home were left untouched. Bent's family fled to a neighbors home through a hole in the wall between the two homes. This is the beginning of what is known as the Taos Revolt. By July of 1847, Colonel Price had stopped the uprising.

Bent was a member of Missouri Lodge No. 1 in St. Louis, Missouri.