Ordinance, 10 June 1844

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An ordinance concerning libels and for other purposes.
Whereas the saints in all ages of the world, have suffered persecution and death; by wicked and corrupt men under the garb of a mor[e] holy appearance of religion; and whereas the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints from the moment that its first “truth sprung out of the earth” till now, has been persecuted with death, distruction and extermination; and whereas men, to fulfil the scriptures, that [“]a man’s enimies are they of his own household,” have turned traitors in the church and combined and leagued with the most corrupt scoundrels and villians that disgrace the earth unhung, for the heaven daring and damnable purpose of revenge on account of disappointed lust; disappointed projects of speculation, fraud, and unlawful designs, to rob and plunder mankind with impunity; and whereas such wicked and corrupt men have greatly facilitated their unlawful designs; horrid intentions and murderous plans by polluting, degrading and converting the blessings and utility, of the press, to the sin-smoking and blood stained, ruin of innocent communities, by publishing lies false statements; coloring the truth, slandering men, women, children, societies and countries, by polishing the characters of black legs, high way men and murderers, as virtuous, and whereas a horrid, bloody secret plan, upheld, sanctioned, and largely patronized by men, in and out of it, who boast that all they want for the word “go,” to exterminate or ruin the latter day saints, is, for them to do “oneunlawful act, and the work shall be done, is now fostered cherished, and maturing in , by men too, who help’d to obtain the <​very​> charter they would break; and some of them drew up and voted for the very ordinances they are striving to use as a [p. [1]] “scare crow” to frighten the surrounding country in rebellion; mobbing and war; and whereas, while the blood of our brethren, from wells, holes and naked <​prair[i]es​>, and the ravishment of female virtue, from , and the smoke from the altars of infamy, prostituted by , and continued in the full tide of experiment and disgraceful damnation by the very self called fragments of a body <​of​> villians <​degraded men​> that have got up a press in , to destroy the charter of the ; to destroy mormonism, men, women and children, as did, by force of arms; by Fostering Laws that Emmonate from corruption, and betray with a kiss: wherefore to honor the state of and those patriots who gave the charter, and for the benefit, convenience, health and happiness of said :
Sec. 1. Be it ordained by the city council of the city of , that if any person or persons shall write or publish, in said , any false statement, or libel any of the citizen[s] for the purpose of exciting the public mind against the chartered privileges, peace and good order of said ; or shall slander, (according to the definition of slander or libel by [William] Blackstone or [James] Kent <​or the act in the statute of ​>,) any portion of the inhabitants of said , or bribe any portion of the citizens of said , for malic[i]ous purposes; or in any manner or form excite the prejudice of the community against any portion of the citizens of said for evil purposes, he, she, or they shall be deemed disturbers of the peace, and upon conviction before the mayor or municipal court shall be fined in any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars, or imprisoned six months, or both, at the discretion of said mayor or court [p. [2]]
Sec. 2. Be it farther ordained that nothing <​in the for[e]going section​> shall be <​so​> construed as to interfere <​with​> the right of any person to be tried by a jury of his own vicinage; with the freedom of speech or the liberty of the press, according to the most liberal meaning of the constitution; the dignity of freemen; the voice of truth; and the rules of virtue.
Sec. 3. and be it farther ordained that this ordinance shall be in force from and after its passage.
Pres. Protem—
Passed June 10 1844
R[e]corder [18 lines blank] [p. [3]]
An Ordinance Concering Libels & for other purposes
Passed June 10th1844
Filed— [p. [4]]

Footnotes

  1. new scribe logo

    Cancellation and insertion in the handwriting of William W. Phelps.  

  2. new scribe logo

    Insertion in the handwriting of William W. Phelps.  

  3. new scribe logo

    Insertion in unidentified handwriting.  

  4. new scribe logo

    Insertion in the handwriting of William W. Phelps.  

  5. new scribe logo

    Signature of George W. Harris.  

  6. new scribe logo

    Endorsement in the handwriting of Willard Richards.  

  7. new scribe logo

    Docket and filing notation in the handwriting of Willard Richards.