Appendix 1: Missouri Extradition Attempt, 1842–1843, Selected Documents, Introduction

Document Transcript

On 6 May 1842, former governor was shot at his home in , Missouri. Boggs’s injuries were serious but not fatal. The ensuing criminal investigation focused first on a silversmith named Tompkins. However, early insinuations about a possible Mormon involvement soon gained greater traction after , the former mayor of , Illinois, published reports alleging that JS’s associate , who was in Independence at the time of the assassination attempt, committed the crime at the express direction of JS. While no direct evidence implicated either Rockwell or JS, animosity was known to exist between the accused men and Boggs because Boggs had played a pivotal role in the expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri in 1838.
In an affidavit dated 20 July 1842, stated that based on “evidence and information now in his possession,” he believed JS was an accessory before the fact in orchestrating the assassination attempt. Based on that affidavit, governor issued a requisition on 22 July 1842 for the extradition of JS from to Missouri, claiming he was a fugitive from justice. Illinois governor then issued an arrest warrant for JS based on Reynolds’s requisition. JS was arrested in on 8 August 1842 and immediately petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. The Nauvoo Municipal Court granted the writ and ordered JS to appear before it for a hearing on the arrest. The arresting officer, uncertain as to the legality of the municipal court’s actions, returned the writ and arrest warrant to Carlin, thereby necessitating the release of JS. Governor Carlin disputed the effort to review the arrest, claiming that the municipal court lacked legal authority to rule on the warrant. On 20 September 1842, Governor Carlin increased his efforts to comply with Missouri’s extradition request by issuing a proclamation offering a reward to any citizen for the capture of JS, who had gone into hiding to avoid arrest.
In August 1842, , a lawyer and former associate justice of the Supreme Court, was elected Illinois governor, replacing . Following this change in administration, a delegation representing JS traveled from to in early December to determine Governor Ford’s disposition regarding the extradition efforts. Meeting with several prominent attorneys, judges, and politicians, including Ford, the delegation concluded that should JS appear in Springfield, the entire situation could be resolved satisfactorily. The delegation also met with , the attorney for the district of Illinois, and retained him to represent JS in the matter.
Accompanied by a few close colleagues, JS left for on 27 December 1842 and arrived on 30 December. Upon JS’s arrival, recommended filing a new petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court before Judge . As the petition needed to be based on an arrest and as the original arrest warrant was not immediately available, the following day (Saturday, 31 December 1842) Butterfield filed a petition for a new arrest warrant. issued the new arrest warrant the same day, and Butterfield filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Pope granted and issued the writ, set bail at $4,000, and scheduled the hearing on the writ for the following Monday, 2 January 1843.
On Monday morning, JS (represented by ) and the state of (represented by Illinois attorney general ) appeared before . Lamborn asked for a continuance to prepare for the hearing on the writ. Pope granted the request and moved the hearing to Wednesday, 4 January 1843.
At the hearing, , speaking first, made two substantive arguments: First, the case should be dismissed because the federal court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the arrest warrant and underlying requisition as these matters were governed by the state. Second, no factual inquiry was appropriate and the court should consider only any procedural irregularities in the extradition pleadings. and his associate counsel, , countered that a matter of extradition arising between two states was inherently, perhaps exclusively, a federal issue as contemplated by the Constitution. Second, Butterfield argued that it was appropriate for the court to examine both the legal sufficiency and the accuracy of the facts underlying the extradition request. This argument included an attack on the admissibility of ’s affidavit and proffered additional affidavits rebutting the facts alleged by Boggs. These affidavits were submitted to establish that JS could not be considered a fugitive from justice because he was in when the assassination attempt occurred.
The following day, announced his opinion from the bench. He ruled that the federal court had jurisdiction over the proceedings as conferred on it by the Constitution. Pope then addressed the merits of the case, ruling that he did not need to determine the admissibility of the affidavits submitted by JS, his colleagues, and others, as the affidavit itself was insufficient to support the requisition. Pope found Boggs’s allegations to be both opinion and conclusions of law, neither of which were admissible factual contentions. Finally, the Boggs affidavit failed to aver that JS had actually fled from the , a prerequisite to his being classified as a fugitive; Missouri governor ’s inclusion of such an allegation in the requisition did not remedy this defect. Based on these findings, Judge Pope ordered the discharge of JS.
Relying in part on the notes that had taken throughout the proceedings, prepared a written opinion of his 5 January ruling. This opinion was first published on 16 January 1843 in the Times and Seasons; soon after, it was published in the newspaper Sangamo Journal, as well as in various other newspapers, including the newspaper The Wasp. The official version of Judge Pope’s opinion was first published in McLean’s Reports in 1847.


  1. 1

    McLaws, “Attempted Assassination,” 53–55.  

    McLaws, Monte B. “The Attempted Assassination of Missouri’s Ex-Governor, Lilburn W. Boggs.” Missouri Historical Review 60, no. 1 (Oct. 1965): 50–62.

  2. 2

    This requisition began the second of three attempts (1840–1841, 1842–1843, and 1843) to extradite JS to Missouri.  

  3. 3

    A comparison of the earlier published versions with the McLean version shows no substantive differences.