Introduction to United States v. Haws et al.

Document Transcript

United States v. Haws, H. W. Miller, G. Miller, JS, and H. Smith
United States District Court for the District of Illinois, Springfield, Sangamon Co., Illinois, 11 June 1842
 
Historical Introduction
In April 1842, , United States attorney for the district of , brought charges against , , , JS, and for an unpaid promissory note given to the federal government. Haws, JS, and the others had purchased the steamboat Des Moines from the government in a public auction in September 1840. The five men gave Robert E. Lee, who was overseeing the sale on behalf of the government, a promissory note for $4,866.38 due in eight months. A few months after the purchase, the steamboat, which was renamed the Nauvoo, was damaged while piloted by Benjamin and William Holladay. JS and the other owners blamed the Holladays for the wreck and brought a lawsuit against them in November 1840 in the Circuit Court, claiming $2,000 in damages. In February 1841, JS and his partners received a promissory note from Charles B. and Marvin B. Street to pay for their purchase of several shares in the boat.
In May 1841, because the promissory note to the federal government remained unpaid, Charles B. Penrose, the newly appointed solicitor for the Treasury, arranged to collect payment by seeking the arrest of JS and . He instructed Montgomery Blair, United States district attorney in , to apprehend the two men in , as they were thought to travel there. This plan failed, and initiated a common law in the United States district court in , Illinois, in April 1842. The defendants, except for , were notified of the proceedings in May. In June, Butterfield filed a claiming that the defendants owed the federal government $10,000. On 11 June, the day of the trial, the defendants failed to appear and the court awarded the United States $4,866.38 for the delinquent promissory note and $317.93 in damages, as well as the court costs.
Though five men were charged in ’s action, JS became the focus of the repayment. Butterfield informed Penrose that “unless the Judg[men]t can be collected of [JS] and his brother it will be lost as the other defendants are all insolvent.” In April 1842, two weeks before the summons for this litigation was served on them, JS and Hyrum Smith had petitioned for bankruptcy. Some viewed this as an attempt to avoid paying creditors with the assets he had. JS’s financial dealings, especially land transactions, were called into question. Butterfield looked into claims made by and found several transactions in that Butterfield considered fraudulent, either because the transfers took place after JS had applied for bankruptcy or because JS had transferred property to noncreditors, including family members. Butterfield concluded that Bennett’s accusations of fraud were accurate and wrote to the court opposing JS’s petition for bankruptcy.
Despite opposing JS’s bankruptcy proceedings, sought to reach an arrangement wherein the bankruptcy would be accepted in return for JS and his partners repaying the debt owed the federal government. In December 1842, JS and other church leaders offered Butterfield a bond, payable in four annual installments and secured “by a Mortgage in real estate,” to satisfy the 11 June judgment. Butterfield recommended this arrangement to Penrose, explaining, “If I should defeat [JS] obtaining his discharge under the Bankrupt Act (of which I have no doubt) it would then be necessary to institute proceedings in , to set aside fraudulent he has made, in order to subject his property to execution. Such a proceeding would be attended with costs and delays.” Penrose countered that if JS would pay a third of the judgment in cash and the balance in installments over one to three years, then he would consent. When no agreement could be reached, however, another attempt was made to collect the judgment in July 1843. An officer approached JS and demanded payment, but JS apparently refused, and the officer was unable to find property to seize.
 
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

    “Extensive Sale on Account of the United States,” Quincy (IL) Whig, 5 Sept. 1840, 3; Oaks and Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process,” 735–738. Illinois senator Richard M. Young, Illinois governor Thomas Carlin, and Quincy, Illinois, merchant D. G. Whitney provided references for the signers of the note. (Richard M. Young and Thomas Carlin to Robert E. Lee, 10 Sept. 1840; Endorsement from Richard M. Young and D. G. Whitney, 10 Sept. 1840, microfilm, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, copy at CHL; Collins and Perry, Past and Present of the City of Quincy, 142–143.)  

    Quincy Whig. Quincy, IL. 1838–1856.

    Oaks, Dallin H., and Joseph I. Bentley. “Joseph Smith and Legal Process: In the Wake of the Steamboat Nauvoo.” Brigham Young University Law Review, no. 3 (1976): 735–782.

    Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury / National Archives Reference Service Report, 23 Sept. 1964. “Record Group 206, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, and Record Group 46, Records of the United States Senate: Records Relating to the Mormons in Illinois, 1839–1848 (Records Dated 1840–1852), Including Memorials of Mormons to Congress, 1840–1844, Some of Which Relate to Outrages Committed against the Mormons in Missouri, 1831–1839.” Microfilm. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1964. Copy in Records Related to Church Interaction with Federal Government, 1840–1852, CHL.

    Collins, William H., and Cicero F. Perry. Past and Present of the City of Quincy and Adams County, Illinois. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1905.

  2. 2

    Introduction to Miller et al. v. B. Holladay and W. Holladay.  

  3. 3

    Oaks and Bentley, “Joseph Smith and Legal Process,” 740–741. JS and his partners in the steamboat initiated a lawsuit against the Streets in 1844 for nonpayment. (Declaration, 8 May 1844, JS et al. v. C. B. Street and M. B. Street [Hancock Co. Cir. Ct. 1846], Materials Received from Mark W. Hofmann, CHL.)  

    Oaks, Dallin H., and Joseph I. Bentley. “Joseph Smith and Legal Process: In the Wake of the Steamboat Nauvoo.” Brigham Young University Law Review, no. 3 (1976): 735–782.

    Historical Department. Materials Received from Mark W. Hofmann, 1980–1985. CHL. CR 100 306.

  4. 4

    “Appointments by the President,” Madisonian (Washington DC), 23 Mar. 1841, [2]; John Bell to Charles B. Penrose, 29 May 1841, microfilm, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, copy at CHL.  

    The Madisonian. Washington DC. 1837–1841.

    Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury / National Archives Reference Service Report, 23 Sept. 1964. “Record Group 206, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, and Record Group 46, Records of the United States Senate: Records Relating to the Mormons in Illinois, 1839–1848 (Records Dated 1840–1852), Including Memorials of Mormons to Congress, 1840–1844, Some of Which Relate to Outrages Committed against the Mormons in Missouri, 1831–1839.” Microfilm. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1964. Copy in Records Related to Church Interaction with Federal Government, 1840–1852, CHL.

  5. 5

    Letter, Charles B. Penrose to Montgomery Blair, 1 June 1841.  

  6. 6

    Summons, 25 Apr. 1842 [U.S. v. Haws et al.]. Federal law gave United States district courts jurisdiction over civil cases in which the United States was a party to the action. (An Act to Establish the Judicial Courts of the United States [24 Sept. 1789], Public Statutes at Large, vol. 1, pp. 76–77, sec. 9.)  

    The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845. . . . Edited by Richard Peters. 8 vols. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846–1867.

  7. 7

    Summons, 25 Apr. 1842 [U.S. v. Haws et al.]. Haws could not be found. Records indicate that he was in the vicinity of Nauvoo, Illinois, when the others were served with notice. (Ledger A, 275, Nauvoo House Association, Records, CHL.)  

    Nauvoo House Association. Ledger A, 1841–1845. Nauvoo House Association, Records, 1841–1846. CHL.

  8. 8

    Declaration, ca. 7 June 1842 [U.S. v. Haws et al.]. Butterfield claimed both the $4,866.38 of the 1840 promissory note and an additional $5,133.62 “for so much money before that time lent and advanced by the said plaintiff to the said defendants.” The declaration was worded according to legal conventions of the time. Though it appeared to plead multiple causes of action (“for divers goods, wares, and Merchandize” and for money “lent and advanced”), it was actually one cause stated in different ways. (See Historical Introduction to Declaration to the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, 7 May 1838 [JS for the use of J. Granger v. Smalling and Coltrin].)  

  9. 9

    Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 11 June 1842 [U.S. v. Haws et al.]; Docket Entry, Fieri Facias, ca. 18 July 1842 [U.S. v. Haws et al.]. Illinois law provided that the court could assign the clerk “to assess the damages, by computing the interest.” (An Act concerning Practice in Courts of Law [29 Jan. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], p. 532, sec. 13.)  

    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.

  10. 10

    Letter, Justin Butterfield to Charles B. Penrose, 2 Aug. 1842. Hyrum Smith was also found to be insolvent, and only JS’s property was pursued. (JS, Journal, 9–20 Dec. 1842; Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 17 July 1852, U.S. v. JS et al. [C.C.D. Ill. 1852], Complete Records, vol. 4, p. 637, National Archives, Chicago.)  

    Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 17 July 1852, U.S. v. JS et al. [C.C.D. Ill. 1852]. Complete Records, vol. 4, 1837–1856. National Archives, Chicago.

  11. 11

    The return of service noted that a summons was read to the defendants, except Haws, on 4 May 1842. On 18 April 1842, JS, Hyrum Smith, and others traveled to Carthage and “testified to their lists of insolvency.” (Summons, 25 Apr. 1842 [U.S. v. Haws et al.]; JS, Journal, 18 Apr. 1842; “District Court of the United States,” Wasp, 7 May 1842, 3.)  

    The Wasp. Nauvoo, IL. Apr. 1842–Apr. 1843.

  12. 12

    “The Mormons,” Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 1 July 1842, [2].  

    Sangamo Journal. Springfield, IL. 1831–1847.

  13. 13

    John C. Bennett, who had been excommunicated in May 1842 and left Nauvoo in June, alleged that JS had been involved in fraudulent land transactions. In one of his letters to the editor of the Sangamo Journal, Bennett identified three instances when JS had transferred property after applying for bankruptcy. If these transactions took place after JS applied for bankruptcy, they would be considered void. (“Gen. Bennett’s Third Letter,” Sangamo Journal, 15 July 1842, [2]; see also Hancock Co., IL, Deed Records, 1817–1917, vol. K, pp. 21, 151, 159–161, 1 Jan. 1842; 9 and 18 Apr. 1842, microfilm 954,599, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    Sangamo Journal. Springfield, IL. 1831–1847.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  14. 14

    Letter, Justin Butterfield to Charles B. Penrose, 11 Oct. 1842.  

  15. 15

    JS to Justin Butterfield, 16 Dec. 1842, microfilm, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, copy at CHL.  

    Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury / National Archives Reference Service Report, 23 Sept. 1964. “Record Group 206, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, and Record Group 46, Records of the United States Senate: Records Relating to the Mormons in Illinois, 1839–1848 (Records Dated 1840–1852), Including Memorials of Mormons to Congress, 1840–1844, Some of Which Relate to Outrages Committed against the Mormons in Missouri, 1831–1839.” Microfilm. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1964. Copy in Records Related to Church Interaction with Federal Government, 1840–1852, CHL.

  16. 16

    Justin Butterfield to Charles B. Penrose, 17 Dec. 1842, microfilm, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, copy at CHL.  

    Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury / National Archives Reference Service Report, 23 Sept. 1964. “Record Group 206, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, and Record Group 46, Records of the United States Senate: Records Relating to the Mormons in Illinois, 1839–1848 (Records Dated 1840–1852), Including Memorials of Mormons to Congress, 1840–1844, Some of Which Relate to Outrages Committed against the Mormons in Missouri, 1831–1839.” Microfilm. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1964. Copy in Records Related to Church Interaction with Federal Government, 1840–1852, CHL.

  17. 17

    Charles B. Penrose to Justin Butterfield, 11 Jan. 1843, microfilm, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, copy at CHL.  

    Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury / National Archives Reference Service Report, 23 Sept. 1964. “Record Group 206, Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, and Record Group 46, Records of the United States Senate: Records Relating to the Mormons in Illinois, 1839–1848 (Records Dated 1840–1852), Including Memorials of Mormons to Congress, 1840–1844, Some of Which Relate to Outrages Committed against the Mormons in Missouri, 1831–1839.” Microfilm. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1964. Copy in Records Related to Church Interaction with Federal Government, 1840–1852, CHL.

  18. 18

    Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 17 July 1852, U.S. v. JS et al. [C.C.D. Ill. 1852], Complete Records, vol. 4, p. 637, National Archives, Chicago.  

    Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 17 July 1852, U.S. v. JS et al. [C.C.D. Ill. 1852]. Complete Records, vol. 4, 1837–1856. National Archives, Chicago.