Complaint, 29 November 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Hunter]
JS, Complaint, before , against Thomas Hunter, , Hancock Co., IL, 29 Nov. 1842, City of Nauvoo v. Hunter (Nauvoo, IL, Municipal Court 1842); handwriting of ; signature of JS; certified by , 29 Nov. 1842; docket and notations by , , Hancock Co., IL, [29 Nov. 1842]; docket and notation by , [, Hancock Co., IL], 28 Feb. 1843; two pages; BYU. Includes dockets, notation, endorsement, and redaction.
Single leaf, measuring 8⅞ × 7¾ inches (23 × 20 cm). The document was inscribed in black and brown ink. The top and left sides of the recto have the square cut of manufactured paper, whereas the right and bottom sides were apparently cut by hand. The document was folded and docketed for storage, presumably by or .
The document was docketed by , who served as city recorder and clerk of the Nauvoo Municipal Court from 1841 to 1843. When City of Nauvoo v. Hunter was appealed, Sloan forwarded this and other documents pertaining to the case to the Circuit Court, where they were filed by circuit court deputy clerk on 28 February 1843. The document entered private possession at an unknown time and was eventually acquired by businessman and politician Ogden L. Mills (1884–1937). In 1969 this and other documents from Mills’s collection were auctioned by Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc. of . Markings on the document suggest that it was subsequently sold by another dealer or auction house. It was later acquired by Brigham Young University.
Important Autographs, 27; American Book-Prices Current 1969, 1446.
Important Autographs and Manuscripts: The Distinguished Collection of the Late Ogden L. Mills and Other Owners. New York: Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1969.
American Book-Prices Current 1969: A Record of Literary Properties Sold at Auction in England, the United States, and Canada. Vol. 75, September 1968–August 1969. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972.
On 29 November 1842, JS swore out a complaint in , Illinois, accusing Thomas Hunter of violating a Nauvoo city ordinance pertaining to religious societies. This ordinance had been passed in March 1841 with the explicit support of JS, then a member of the city council. It guaranteed that all “religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration and equal Privilieges” in Nauvoo and criminalized “ridiculing[,] abusing, or otherwise depreciating another in consequence of his religion.” The 29 November complaint was the second of two complaints JS made against Hunter for the same insult. JS swore out the first complaint on 28 November before alderman , accusing Hunter of insulting him and thereby violating the city ordinance regarding vagrants and disorderly persons. Based on that complaint, Hunter was arrested on 29 November and placed in the charge of alderman to be tried later that day. After Hunter’s arrest but before his trial, JS filed this second complaint with alderman , this time arguing that Hunter’s insults violated the city’s ordinance regarding religious societies. While JS’s first complaint against Hunter relied on the vagueness of Nauvoo’s vagrancy law, the language of his second complaint directly echoed the wording of the ordinance on religious societies by accusing Hunter of using “ridiculous and abusive language” against JS’s character, including his “Moral and relegious character.” Acting on behalf of Wells, city attorney wrote up JS’s complaint, which JS signed and Wells certified. JS’s second complaint against Hunter was also one of two complaints JS swore out before Wells on 29 November regarding violations of this ordinance; the other complaint targeted .
Hunter’s trial took place on 29 November before the Nauvoo Municipal Court, with presiding. After JS’s second complaint was read to the court, Hunter pleaded guilty to the charge. JS then “forgave Hunter the judgement,” and the court accordingly discharged Hunter without a fine. However, the court ordered Hunter to pay the full costs of the suit—amounting to eight dollars—and issued a ten-dollar fine against Hunter for contempt of court because he had used “disrespectful and abusive language” to dismiss the authority of ’s municipal court. Hunter appealed his conviction to the Circuit Court, which issued an injunction to halt the execution of the judgment. In February 1843, provided copies of the court transcript and other documents, including JS’s original complaints, to the circuit court. In May 1843, during the circuit court’s next session, Hunter’s attorney motioned to dismiss the suit. The court granted the dismissal on the grounds that the municipal court lacked jurisdiction and ordered Nauvoo to pay Hunter’s court costs.
Personally appeared before me one of the Justices of the peace and Aldermaman in and for the City of — Joseph Smith, who being first Duly sworn according to Law Deposeth and says that, <he has been inform & verily believs> that on or about the 26th Instant— one Thomas J. Hunter of the and aforesaid Did use and make ridiculous and abusive language concerning Deponents character thereby Depreciating affiants Moral and relegious character— and Deponent further Says that the Said Thos. J. Hunter did make use of the Said Language contrary to an ordinance entitled “an ordinance in relation to religious Societies[”] and further this Deponent Saith not—
Subscrebed and Sworn to before this 29th day of November A D 1842