Mormon History

Debate Over Nauvoo Charters - 1843

Quincy Whig February 8, 1843


                House -- Jan. 12, 1843.

A bill for an act repealing certain Nauvoo Charters -- read twice.

Mr. Logan would have objectionable charters amended, not repealed, unless some substantial cause was shown.

Mr. Owens said he did not believe this this house would consent to repeal these charters rashly and without sufficient pretext. It would look extremely bad for the Legislature to do so, without finding something extraordinarily objectionable. He knew that a loud cry had been made in the last election canvass by demogogues -- but he would protest against such destructive legislation. He asked for his constituents' equal rights with other people.

Mr. Smith of Hancock county, asked the attention of the House for a few moments, in expressing his sentiments. If honorable gentlemen had pledged themselves in their election campaigns to vote against the charters of the city of Nauvoo, they had made a bad promise. Members could not vote for a repeal of charters to the destruction of property, and the violation of vested rights, without a violation of the Constitution. If the individuals enjoying these chartered privileges had transgressed the Laws of the State, or had exceeded the limitations of the acts of incorporation, he would extend both hands to remedy such evils, as far as he constitutionally could. The Agriculture Society of Nauvoo, had acquired a considerable amount of property -- a vast amount of land -- and farms were extending in every direction over the wild and unbroken prarie. Should such extended interests be injured?

The Nauvoo House association had issued a large amount of stock which was not only owned by the people there, but by individuals in all societies throughout the State.

He would deprecate the destruction of such important interests and rights, by such rash and party legislation. He believed that prejudice would not control the actions of honorable gentlemen. He asked that it might be allowed the people commonlt called "Mormons," to exercise their own religious views. This was allowed to all men and all societies. The measure was certainly a most extraordinary one; and he asked if the name "Mormon," attached to these charters was not the cause of this extraordinary opposition: -- Prejudice, charges, misrepresentations, gross and false, had been circulated through the land, till these people had been subjected to a load of oppression from which they had hardly recovered. An honorable gentleman had prophesied that 10 years shall not roll away, before the people of this State would rise up and expel the mormons!

Here was a prophet indeed! Shall it be said that this State will re-enact the scenes and murderous outrages of the State of Missouri? He could, were it not consuming the time of the house, exhibit the crimes and violent proceedings of the Missouri mobs against the defenceless, the weak, and the innocent. He could speak of the murder of 17 persons by a ruthless mob, on their knees begging for life, and of the sacrifice of a boy whose brains were blown out while imploring for mercy from his savage murderers. He would not trespass upon the time of the house; he would show that the acts of the city authorities of Nauvoo were not so dangerous as demogogues had stated.

Joseph Smith had been yielded to the proper authorities, and the general laws of the State -- had been honorably discharged by the proper courts, from the false claims of Missouri upon him.

His people were a law abiding people -- he did not, could not believe that honorable gentlemen would act upon any other principle, than those of honor and constititional right.

Mr. Davis of Bond, said he deemed that the remarks of the gentlemen had reference to his expressions on a former day. The gentleman had most eloquently addressed the house; and he had hoped to have heard a mormon sermon. He had said that the requisitions from Missouri were false; he would stand up, and say that the man had a right to charge the honorable authorities of Missouri with falsehood. He would stand up for the honor of that State -- and would boldly proclaim his full belief that the mormon charters were dangerous in the extreme; and if suffered to continue, would at no distant day cause the most serious trouble among the people of this State.

He drew his belief from what he knew of the character of the mormons. Not a step should be taken in the votes upon these charters, but would find him in firm opposition to them; he cared not for their religious views. They might worship a horse, or bow down to Joseph Smith, if they would; his opposition was to the dangerous powers conferred by their charters. He had proclaimed his position, and he would firmly keep his stand.

Mr. Logan moved to lay the bill on the table -- carried -- ayes 60, nays 43.