History, 1838–1856, volume E-1 [1 July 1843–30 April 1844]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
Page 1696
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<​August 21​> honesty in the officers of law, who will trample upon the forms of justice, the laws of the country, and bid open defiance to both, in the manner that informs us that you acted with him, after his arrest of the Mormon prophet. That the state courts have a right, upon a writ of , to investigate the legality of all imprisonment within [HC 5:538] their respective chartered limits, whether such imprisonment is by the authority of the or of a state, no sound lawyer perhaps will doubt; but it is equally certain that no court upon such writ has any right to go beyond the forms and the prima facia evidence of the case. If the officers of courts and the community, are so corrupt as to disregard their own laws, and trample them under their feet, and liberate their criminals in defiance of law, then it appears to me that the power of self government is extinct; if , by her own authority cannot capture the prophet, it will be but a small matter to raise volunteers enough here to raze the city of to the ground: if fails to deliver up Jo. Smith, there will be something serious between the two States. will have Jo Smith for trial or impose as powerful restrictions as the constitution will allow, upon the intercourse of the citizens of in . If the of is so imbecile as to allow his warrant to be disregarded by the Mormons, and permit the prophet to go at large, then let him be impeached, and a new, honorable, energetic man be placed in his stead. I have it from a high source that will hold the whole responsible for the treatment of our , and for the delivery of the prophet. Had you liberated the prophet by a regular writ of habeas corpus, without mistreating our , I should have gloried in my acquaintance with you, but to have done it in the manner it was done, reflects no honor either on yourself, your people; or your government. The Mormons are only a lawless banditti, and I fear the pestilence has contaminated the whole community; and if opinions be correct, yourself among the rest. Holy Jo was not afraid of the ‘injustice of our people;’ it is the just punishment, and their violated laws that he fears.
I will now give you an impartial opinion of the prejudices against here, and my opinion of his guilt. There is not a man in this community but believes him guilty. There is a chain of circumstances against him so strong that no rational man can doubt his guilt. I was at house two minutes after the deed, it is in sight of mine, and the insidiousness of the offence renders it difficult to restrain the citizens from hanging him up without judge or jury. So far however, we have succeeded in quelling it; but should <​he​> be discharged upon trial, the power of man cannot save him. (More to morrow.)
J. Hall.”
“The foregoing letter was sent from J. Hall of , Missouri, to a respectable lawyer of , Ill. and by him with an explana[HC 5:539]tory letter enclosed and forwarded to Gen. Smith of this ; and, after retaining copies, it was thought advisable to forward both the originals to , for his consideration.— By this proceeding it is not to be understood that the citizens of fear that ‘volunteers from will raze to the ground;’ there is too much honor and patriotism in to allow such a barbarous and disgraceful transaction, but it was done to apprize his of the mode and manner of doing business in case of emergency [p. 1696]
August 21 honesty in the officers of law, who will trample upon the forms of justice, the laws of the country, and bid open defiance to both, in the manner that informs us that you acted with him, after his arrest of the Mormon prophet. That the state courts have a right, upon a writ of , to investigate the legality of all imprisonment within [HC 5:538] their respective chartered limits, whether such imprisonment is by the authority of the or of a state, no sound lawyer perhaps will doubt; but it is equally certain that no court upon such writ has any right to go beyond the forms and the prima facia evidence of the case. If the officers of courts and the community, are so corrupt as to disregard their own laws, and trample them under their feet, and liberate their criminals in defiance of law, then it appears to me that the power of self government is extinct; if , by her own authority cannot capture the prophet, it will be but a small matter to raise volunteers enough here to raze the city of to the ground: if fails to deliver up Jo. Smith, there will be something serious between the two States. will have Jo Smith for trial or impose as powerful restrictions as the constitution will allow, upon the intercourse of the citizens of in . If the of is so imbecile as to allow his warrant to be disregarded by the Mormons, and permit the prophet to go at large, then let him be impeached, and a new, honorable, energetic man be placed in his stead. I have it from a high source that will hold the whole responsible for the treatment of our , and for the delivery of the prophet. Had you liberated the prophet by a regular writ of habeas corpus, without mistreating our , I should have gloried in my acquaintance with you, but to have done it in the manner it was done, reflects no honor either on yourself, your people; or your government. The Mormons are only a lawless banditti, and I fear the pestilence has contaminated the whole community; and if opinions be correct, yourself among the rest. Holy Jo was not afraid of the ‘injustice of our people;’ it is the just punishment, and their violated laws that he fears.
I will now give you an impartial opinion of the prejudices against here, and my opinion of his guilt. There is not a man in this community but believes him guilty. There is a chain of circumstances against him so strong that no rational man can doubt his guilt. I was at house two minutes after the deed, it is in sight of mine, and the insidiousness of the offence renders it difficult to restrain the citizens from hanging him up without judge or jury. So far however, we have succeeded in quelling it; but should he be discharged upon trial, the power of man cannot save him. (More to morrow.)
J. Hall.”
“The foregoing letter was sent from J. Hall of , Missouri, to a respectable lawyer of , Ill. and by him with an explana[HC 5:539]tory letter enclosed and forwarded to Gen. Smith of this ; and, after retaining copies, it was thought advisable to forward both the originals to , for his consideration.— By this proceeding it is not to be understood that the citizens of fear that ‘volunteers from will raze to the ground;’ there is too much honor and patriotism in to allow such a barbarous and disgraceful transaction, but it was done to apprize his of the mode and manner of doing business in case of emergency [p. 1696]
Page 1696