Complaint, 28 November 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Hunter]
JS, Complaint, before , against Thomas Hunter, , Hancock Co., IL, 28 Nov. 1842, City of Nauvoo v. Hunter (Nauvoo, IL, Municipal Court 1842); handwriting of ; signature of JS; certified by , 28 Nov. 1842docket by , [, Hancock Co., IL], [28 Nov. 1842]; docket and notation by , [, Hancock Co., IL], 28 Feb. 1843; two pages; JS Collection (Supplement), CHL. Includes dockets, notation, and redaction.
Single leaf, measuring 6⅝ × 7¾ inches (17 × 20 cm) and ruled with nineteen blue horizontal lines. The leaf was reduced in size by tearing off the top and right side of the recto. The document was later trifolded for docketing and filed.
The document was docketed by , who served as city recorder and clerk of the Nauvoo Municipal Court from 1841 to 1843. When City of Nauvoo v. Hunter was appealed, Sloan forwarded this and other documents pertaining to the case to the Circuit Court, where they were filed by circuit court deputy clerk on 28 February 1843. The document entered private possession at an unknown time. The church subsequently acquired the complaint. The Church Historical Department (now CHL) published a register of the JS Collection in 1973. Between 1974 and 1984, staff continued to locate documents authored by or directed to JS in uncataloged church financial records and in name and subject files. The department also acquired additional JS documents from donors, collectors, and dealers. These newly located and acquired documents were kept together in a supplement to the JS Collection. A preliminary inventory of the supplement was created in 1992. This group of records was named the JS Collection (Supplement), 1833–1844, and its cataloging was finalized in 2017.
See the full bibliographic entry for JS Collection (Supplement), 1833–1844, in the CHL catalog.
On 28 November 1842, JS swore out a complaint accusing Thomas Hunter of maligning him and the . JS issued his complaint in , Illinois, to , a Nauvoo alderman with authority to act as a justice of the peace in and for Nauvoo. In his complaint, JS accused Hunter of violating Nauvoo’s ordinance regarding vagrants and disorderly persons. Like most vagrancy laws, this Nauvoo city ordinance was deliberately vague and provided wide latitude for city authorities to prosecute individuals for idleness, drunkenness, other disorderly conduct, or suspicious behavior. These ordinances also supplied a legal means to threaten and prosecute destitute or undesirable residents when it was deemed in the public interest.
JS likely based his complaint on a portion of the ordinance that forbade “profane or indecent language, or behaviour.” Although it is unclear whether Hunter insulted JS in person or whether JS had simply heard that Hunter had insulted him, on 26 November, according to JS’s complaint, Hunter had accused JS of being “an imposter and a swindler” and claimed that the church as an institution was a “swindle machine.” Alternatively, because of his position as mayor, JS may have been pointing to the provision condemning the use of “indecent, impertinent, or unbecoming language towards any City officer when in the discharge of his duty.” This explanation seems less likely, however, because the complaint did not mention JS’s office, and similar language appears in complaints filed by other individuals for incidents that did not involve city officers. Acting on behalf of , city recorder wrote up JS’s complaint, which JS signed and Marks certified.
Based on the complaint, issued an arrest warrant for Hunter that same day. The next day, 29 November, Hunter was arrested by constable and delivered into the custody of alderman . Following Hunter’s arrest but before his trial, JS swore out a second complaint against him, claiming he had violated the city’s ordinance regarding religious societies. Court records suggest that Hunter’s trial on 29 November 1842 revolved around JS’s second complaint and that he was convicted on that count. When Hunter appealed his conviction to the Circuit Court, sent both this and JS’s second complaint to the circuit court as part of the case documents.
Ocobock, Paul. “Vagrancy and Homelessness in Global and Historical Perspective.” In Cast Out: Vagrancy and Homelessness in Global and Historical Perspective, edited by A. L. Beier and Paul Ocobock, 1–34. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2008.