Sunday, March 1, 1970

Lynch law will not do in Nauvoo

History of the Church Volume 6 Page 284-285

6 -- 284
Monday, April 1, 1844. —In the courtroom in the Mansion, Mr. J. Easton was brought up as being accessory to whipping Chism, [a Negro]. Referred the case to Alderman Wells. On investigation, it appeared to the satisfaction of the court that he had been on trial for the same offense before Robert D. Foster, and acquitted.

I extract from the Neighbor: —

Comment on the Negro Chism's Case.

After the court dismissed the case, General Smith fearlessly stated that he believed that it was a plot on the part of those who were instrumental in getting up the previous trial to thwart the ends of justice and screen the prisoner from the condemnation he justly deserves. Mr. Foster then stated, by way of an apology, that at the time he issued the warrant he did not know that the prisoner was under an arrest, or that there was any process out against him.

We hope, for the honor of such a man as Mr. Foster, that his statement is true. Mr. Foster, however, called upon one of his jurors, Mr. Carn, to corroborate what he had said; but, to our astonishment, he replied that when Mr. Foster summoned him to appear and act as a juryman, he was not informed what case he was to act upon, nor did he learn until he entered the office, where he acted according to the evidence given; but believed then, as well as now, that it was a sham trial, and a mere mockery of justice. We state facts as they are, and let the public judge for themselves.

6 -- 285
The statement of the Negro was that Messrs. Easton, Townsend, and Lawyer W. H. J. Mart were the persons engaged in this diabolical affair. Mr. Gibbs, one of the witnesses against Townsend, believed the above persons were engaged in it; but as a Negro knows nothing in this state, and Mr. Gibbs could not positively swear to it, of course we don't know; but we have our opinion, and so have the public. We don't remember ever having seen more indignation manifest than was manifested on this occasion, and the public mind is not satisfied at the turn affairs have taken. Lynch law will not do in Nauvoo, and those who engage in it must expect to be visited by the wrath of an indignant people, not according to the rule of Judge Lynch, but according to law and equity.

It was thought best to acquit Easton and leave the case to the Circuit Court

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