Complaint, 18 December 1843 [State of Illinois v. Elliott–B]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Personally appeared before me, , a justice of the peace for , Joseph Smith, who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith, that one of said is guilty of a breach of the peace for this, that on or about the second instant, the said did use threatening language concerning your deponent as informed that said threatening language was made in the county of , and further this deponent saith not.
Subscribed and sworn to this 18th of Dec. A. D. 1843.
, J. P. [p. [2]]


  1. 1

    According to Sisson A. Chase’s testimony, the conversation in which Elliott threatened JS occurred on or around 5 December 1843. (“Kidnapping,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 20 Dec. 1843, [2].)  

  2. 2

    Although JS’s complaint did not identify which law he accused Elliott of breaking, Nauvoo’s city attorneys argued that the prosecution’s case was supported by an Illinois statute that stated, “the use of threatening language is sufficient to criminate individuals.” The account of the hearing published in the Nauvoo Neighbor apparently references two statutes to support this claim. One statute criminalized verbal threats, and the other criminalized written threats. Stiles quoted “An Act to Regulate the Apprehension of Offenders, and for Other Purposes,” a law authorizing 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 cited to the page number of a different Illinois statute, which criminalized sending letters that threatened “to maim, wound, kill, or murder” another individual. (“Kidnapping,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 20 Dec. 1843, [2]; An Act to Regulate the Apprehension of Offenders, and for Other Purposes [6 Jan. 1827], p. 237; An Act Relative to Criminal Jurisprudence [26 Feb. 1833], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1839], p. 219, sec. 111.)