Introduction to Niswanger v. Greene

Document Transcript

Niswanger v. Greene
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Justice of the Peace Court, 18 December 1840
 
Historical Introduction
In early December 1840, William Niswanger initiated a civil action against to recover a debt. An order from JS was submitted to reduce Greene’s debt in part. , Illinois, justice of the peace issued a writ of for Greene’s arrest that was based upon Niswanger’s oath. Greene was apprehended, but he was released after JS agreed to serve as “” for him, promising to pay the damages and costs if Greene lost the suit and did not pay them himself.
’s docket noted this was an “ bro[ugh]t on Book acc[oun]t” for $71.25. A book account was a statement “showing the debits and credits between” parties that lacked explicit payment conditions or a due date, yet “created obligations for which the law implied a promise to pay.” Niswanger and appeared before Wells on 11 December and declared themselves ready for trial. Several witnesses provided testimony. During the proceedings, Greene presented the court an “order from J Smith for fifty Dollars as a sett off.” If accepted by the court, the order would reduce Greene’s debt from approximately $70 to $20. The order must have caused some concern to Niswanger, as Wells adjourned the proceedings until 18 December to allow him time “to prepare himself for trial.” When court reconvened, Niswanger, through his counsel, “withdrew the suit at his own cost,” as the parties had reached an agreement. The particulars of the agreement are not known.
 
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Illinois law permitted Niswanger to swear under oath that he believed Greene was likely to flee or abscond with his property to avoid paying the debt. It is unknown if Niswanger’s oath was given in writing. An Act concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables [3 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], pp. 403–404, sec. 4; see also Cotton, Treatise on the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace in the State of Illinois, 368–372.  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

    Cotton, Henry G. A Treatise on the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace in the State of Illinois, with Practical Forms. Ottawa, IL: By the author, 1845.

  2. 2

    Docket Entry, ca. 4–18 Dec. 1840 [Niswanger v. Greene].  

  3. 3

    Docket Entry, ca. 4–18 Dec. 1840 [Niswanger v. Greene]. Under Illinois law, justices of the peace had jurisdiction over suits to recover debts totaling less than $100. “Account, practice,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 1:39; Mann, Neighbors and Strangers, 12; An Act concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables [3 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], p. 402, sec. 1.)  

    Bouvier, John. A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America, and of the Several States of the American Union; with References to the Civil and Other Systems of Foreign Law. 2 vols. Philadelphia: T. and J. W. Johnson, 1839.

    Mann, Bruce H. Neighbors and Strangers: Law and Community in Early Connecticut. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  4. 4

    Docket Entry, ca. 4–18 Dec. 1840 [Niswanger v. Greene]. Illinois law required parties in justice of the peace proceedings to “bring forward all . . . demands against the other” that could be consolidated. However, “debts to be set-off must be between the parties to the record,” meaning between Niswanger and Greene in this case. Furthermore, a defendant could not “introduce at the trial as a set-off, any note, bond, debt or claim against the plaintiff” that was purchased after the suit had commenced. (An Act concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables [3 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], p. 406, secs. 15–16; Cotton, Treatise on the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace in the State of Illinois, 407; “Set-off,” in American Dictionary [1828].)  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

    Cotton, Henry G. A Treatise on the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace in the State of Illinois, with Practical Forms. Ottawa, IL: By the author, 1845.

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  5. 5

    Docket Entry, ca. 4–18 Dec. 1840 [Niswanger v. Greene].