Letter from Thomas Ford, 12 December 1843

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Dec 12 1843
Genl Joseph Smith
Sir [break] I have received your favor of the 6th instant together with the proceedings of a Public meeting of the citizens of on the Subject of the late Kidnapping by the people of and others; of two citizens of this
You request to know if any portion of the Legion Shall be called out. My answer is No. The Militia Cannot be called out except in the cases specified by me in my letter to dated in the month of August last; in which I took the ground that the Militia can only be called out to repel an invasion Suppress an insurrection or on some extreme emergency; and not to suppress prevent or punish individual Crimes [break] I still am of opinion that the ground assumed by me, on that occasion is the true One [break] The prevention and punishment of individual offences have been confided by the Constitution and laws of this , to the judicial power and not to the executive
If a citizen of the has been Kidnapped; or if property has been stolen from this <​& carried​> to the State of those who have done either are guilty of an indictable offence. But the constitution and the laws have provided no means whereby either the person or property taken away [p. [1]] except by an can be returned except by an appeal to the laws of [break] The Governor has no legal right to demand the return of either [break] The only power I would have would be, simply this; If any of the guilty persons should be charged with larceny or Kidnapping And by indictment or affidavit duly certified, and with having fled to than then I would have the power and it would become my duty to make a demand upon the Governor of for the surrender of the fugitives to be tried by the courts of this . I am fully satisfied that in ordinary cases this is all the power I would possess. It would be simply a power to be exercised in aid of the Judicial power. Any other powers to be exercised by the Governor would be to make him a dictator and a despot [break] It is true that an extraordinary case might arise in which the inhabitants of one State might rise in warlike and hostile array against those of another In which case a State of War would exist and then only could I interfere
I would adv[i]se your citizens to be strictly peaceable towards the people of . You ought to be aware that in every country individuals are liable to be visited by with wrong which the law is slow to redress and Some of which are never redressed in this world [p. [2]] This fact however has never been held to be a justification for violence not warranted by law
If any of the people of should invade for the purpose of rescuing persons there in jail, the consequence would be that indictments would be presented against them and demands made upon me for their arrest and Surrender. Which demands I would [be] compelled to obey and thus they would be harrassed by interminable demands and prosecutions And very likely it would lead to a species of border warfare which would be exceedingly annoying to a peaceably City; and if you could be placed in the wrong might lead to exceedingly unpleasant consequences with reference both to law and public opinion
You inform me that you are informed that is about to make a new demand for you; and you implore my protection from what you term this renewed persecution [break] In the month of August last I was furnished by your friends with a very large amount of affidavits and evidence, said to be intended to show cause why no further writs should be issued against you [break] As they are very volumenous I have not yet read them and probably never will, unless a new demand should be made in which case they will recieve a careful perusal and you may rest assured, that no steps will be taken by me but such as the Const[it]ution and laws may require
I am very Respectfully &c [p. [3]]
General Joseph Smith
Illinois
 
— Gov
Dec 12th 1843

Footnotes

  1. new scribe logo

    Docket in handwriting of Willard Richards.