Introduction to State of Illinois v. Elliott–A and State of Illinois v. Elliott–B

Document Transcript

State of Illinois v. Elliott–A
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Justice of the Peace Court, 18 December 1843
 
State of Illinois v. Elliott–B
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Justice of the Peace Court, 18 December 1843
 
Historical Introduction
On 18 December 1843, JS participated in the proceedings of two legal cases that grew out of attempts to prosecute for his role in the kidnapping of . In November 1843, —a son of Daniel Avery, a Latter-day Saint living in , Illinois—had been accused of stealing a mare and colt from Joseph McCoy in Clark County, Missouri. On 12 November, a group of Missourians kidnapped Philander Avery at , Illinois, and took him to Clark County, where they extracted a forced confession, under threat of “death or seven years imprisonment,” that implicated his father in the thefts. On 2 December, nearly three weeks after Philander Avery’s kidnapping, Hancock County militia colonel led an armed group of men opposed to the Saints, including Elliott, to Vernon Doty’s mill in southern Hancock County and kidnapped Daniel Avery, taking him to the and forcing him to cross into Clark County, despite his demands for a hearing or trial. Once he arrived in , the elder Avery was remanded to jail to await the next session of the circuit court.
News of the kidnappings reached on 5 December 1843 and caused considerable excitement and concern. Over the next several days, JS and others gained further intelligence regarding how the Averys had been taken and the potential threat to other Latter-day Saints in and around Nauvoo. On 11 December, Latter-day Saint filed a complaint before Justice of the Peace attesting that had participated in the kidnapping of , a crime punishable by up to seven years in the state penitentiary. Johnson issued a warrant for Elliott’s arrest that same day. Although JS was nominally not involved in this process, the complaint was apparently sworn to at his home, and —one of JS’s clerks—served as scribe for both the complaint and the warrant. Nevertheless, no action was taken on the warrant until nine o’clock at night on 17 December, when constable and ten men left Nauvoo to serve it on Elliott in southern Hancock County. When Follett and his posse initially confronted him, Elliott drew his pistol and “swore he would shoot” the men. However, after , a member of the posse, threatened to return fire and informed Elliott that they had come to arrest him with legal process, he surrendered.
and his men returned to with in the afternoon of 18 December and immediately took him before in the assembly room above JS’s store. There , Follett, and testified regarding Elliott’s actions and statements. An account of the hearing in the Warsaw Message claimed that , , and JS served as “prosecutors” in the case. Nevertheless, it is likely that JS participated in an unofficial capacity, as Elliott’s attorney objected to his questioning of the witnesses. When the testimony turned to Elliott’s antagonism toward him, JS inserted himself in the proceedings, claiming that “he had a right to hear concerning himself.” At the conclusion of the hearing, Johnson determined there was to hold Elliott over to the next session of the circuit court to answer the charge of kidnapping and set his bail at $3,000. JS again interjected and encouraged Johnson to lower the bail, but the suggestion was ignored.
During this hearing, testified that had said that JS “was a bad man,” that “a plan was in operation” to kidnap JS, and that “he would be popped over.” JS interpreted this as evidence of a plot “to take my life by some body— or co[mpany] of Individuals” and swore out his own complaint before Justice of the Peace accusing Elliott of using “threatening language” against him. A hearing based on this complaint commenced shortly after Elliott had been remanded to jail on the kidnapping charge. From extant documents, it is unclear whether or Foster presided over this second hearing. In defense of the proceedings, , one of ’s city attorneys, argued that the prosecution was supported by an statute that stated that “the use of threatening language is sufficient to criminate individuals.” After hearing testimony from Chase, , , and Elliott, Nauvoo city attorneys and Stiles denounced the “diabolical conduct of those wretches” in and Illinois for “destroying and kidnapping their fellow men.” Afterward, and JS spoke about the “inhumanity and deeds of blood” committed by Missouri.
During JS’s speech, two messengers arrived from reporting rumors that was assembling a large mob in southern to resist any further arrests. JS then announced that he was withdrawing his charges against , promising to pay the costs of the hearing as well as provide room and board for Elliott and two friends who had accompanied him during his arrest. The hearing adjourned sometime after ten o’clock that night.
Although was apparently conveyed to the jail in , he did not remain imprisoned for long. By 10 January 1844, he served as the secretary for a convention of the Anti-Mormon Party in Carthage. In May 1844, he and four accomplices were indicted for kidnapping and false imprisonment, but the kidnapping charge was dropped in October 1844, and the charge of false imprisonment never went to trial. However, while these charges grew out of the same incident that led to Elliott’s initial prosecution, it is unclear whether they represent a continuation of the legal proceedings before or a new prosecutorial attempt. Although the Neighbor had editorialized in December 1843 that it hoped JS’s forgiveness would make “an indelible impression” on the minds of Elliott and other antagonists, Elliott remained an ardent opponent of JS and participated in JS’s assassination in June 1844.
 
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

    Affidavit from Philander Avery, 20 Dec. 1843, Thomas Bullock Copy. Although documents subsequently created by Latter-day Saints or others in Nauvoo stated that Philander Avery was kidnapped on Sunday, 19 November, legal documents from Clark County, Missouri, indicate that Avery was in the Missourians’ custody by 13 November, suggesting the kidnapping took place on the preceding Sunday, 12 November. (See Affidavit from Dellmore Chapman, 6 Dec. 1843; JS, Journal, 6 Dec. 1843; Affidavit from Daniel Avery, 28 Dec. 1843; Philander Avery, Testimony, [Clark Co., MO], 13 Nov. 1843, State of Missouri v. Philander [Clark Co. Cir. Ct. 1843], Clark County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Clark County Courthouse, Kahoka, MO; and John Dedman, Mittimus, [Clark Co., MO], 13 Nov. 1843, State of Missouri v. Philander Avery [Clark Co. Cir. Ct. 1843], Clark County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Clark County Courthouse, Kahoka, MO.)  

    Clark County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Clark County Courthouse. Kahoka, MO.

  2. 2

    Affidavit from Daniel Avery, 28 Dec. 1843.  

  3. 3

    JS, Journal, 5 Dec. 1843; Letter to Thomas Ford, 6 Dec. 1843.  

  4. 4

    Docket Entry, ca. 11–18 Dec. 1843 [State of Illinois v. Elliott–A]; Complaint, 11 Dec. 1843 [State of Illinois v. Elliott–A]; Warrant, 11 Dec. 1843 [State of Illinois v. Elliott–A]; Letter to Thomas Ford, 11 Dec. 1843; see also An Act Relative to Criminal Jurisprudence [26 Feb. 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1834–1837], p. 207, secs. 55–56.  

    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.

  5. 5

    Clayton, Journal, 11 Dec. 1843; Complaint, 11 Dec. 1843 [State of Illinois v. Elliott–A]; Warrant, 11 Dec. 1843 [State of Illinois v. Elliott–A].  

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.

  6. 6

    JS, Journal, 17 Dec. 1843; Clayton, Journal, 18 Dec. 1843.  

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.

  7. 7

    Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843. The Warsaw Message claimed that Elliott initially resisted arrest because he thought “the Danite Band was upon him.” (“The Late Arrest,” Warsaw [IL] Message, 3 Jan. 1844, [1].)  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

  8. 8

    JS, Journal, 18 Dec. 1843; Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843.  

  9. 9

    “The Late Arrest,” Warsaw [IL] Message, 3 Jan. 1844, [1]. The Nauvoo Neighbor’s account of the hearing does not specify JS’s role. (Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843.)  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

  10. 10

    Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843; “The Late Arrest,” Warsaw [IL] Message, 3 Jan. 1844, [1].  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

  11. 11

    Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843.  

  12. 12

    JS, Journal, 18 Dec. 1843; Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843.  

  13. 13

    While JS’s journal states that this hearing commenced “immed[i]ately af[ter] the sentinc [sentence] of Esqr Johnson,” the report published in the Nauvoo Neighbor states that there was a one-hour recess between the two hearings. (JS, Journal, 18 Dec. 1843; Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843.)  

  14. 14

    The published account of the trial in the Nauvoo Neighbor identifies the judge of the second hearing only as “the court” and implies that Johnson continued to preside over the proceedings. However, in the account in JS’s journal, Willard Richards inserted that the second hearing occurred “before R. D. Foster J. P.” It is also possible that Johnson and Foster presided over the hearings together. (Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843; JS, Journal, 18 Dec. 1843; Introduction to State of Illinois v. Eagle and State of Illinois v. Sympson.)  

  15. 15

    The published account in the Nauvoo Neighbor appears to reference two statutes to support this claim; one criminalized verbal threats and the other written threats. According to the account, Stiles quoted “An Act to Regulate the Apprehension of Offenders, and for Other Purposes,” a law that authorized justices of the peace to arrest and try “all persons who shall threaten to break the peace, or shall use threats against any person within this state.” However, the published account also cited to the page number of a different Illinois statute that criminalized sending letters “threatening to maim, wound, kill, or murder” another individual. (Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843; An Act to Regulate the Apprehension of Offenders [6 Jan. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1834–1837], p. 237, sec. 1; An Act Relative to Criminal Jurisprudence, [26 Feb. 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1834–1837], p. 219, sec. 111.)  

    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.

  16. 16

    Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843.  

  17. 17

    Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843; JS, Journal, 18 Dec. 1843; “The Late Arrest,” Warsaw (IL) Message, 3 Jan. 1844, [1]–[2]; Clayton, Journal, 19 Dec. 1843. Wilford Woodruff recorded that after JS “manifested mercy towards his enemies . . . he lifted up his hands towards heaven & declaired that if Missouri came against us any more he would fight them & defend his rights.” (Woodruff, Journal, 18 Dec. 1843.)  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

    Clayton, William. Journals, 1842–1845. CHL.

    Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.

  18. 18

    JS, Journal, 18 Dec. 1843.  

  19. 19

    “Meeting of Citizens,” Warsaw (IL) Message, 17 Jan. 1844, [2].  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

  20. 20

    Hancock Co., IL, Circuit Court Record, 1829–1897, vol. D, pp. 114, 129, 199, 377, microfilm 947,496, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  21. 21

    An ambiguous docket entry for the May 1844 term of the circuit court released Elliott from a recognizance to appear before the circuit court to answer a criminal complaint, presumably a reference to the outcome of the hearing before Johnson. (Docket Entry, Dismissal, 24 May 1844 [State of Illinois v. Elliott–A].)  

  22. 22

    Account of Hearings, 20 Dec. 1843; “Meeting of Citizens,” Warsaw (IL) Message, 17 Jan. 1844, [2]; “Examination of John C. Elliott,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 19 Feb. 1845, [2]; “Decision of the Court,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 19 Feb. 1845, [3].  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

    Nauvoo Neighbor. Nauvoo, IL. 1843–1845.