top of page

The Nauvoo Charter

When the Latter-day Saints settled in Commerce they were seeking personal safety and protection of their rights. In the autumn of 1840, Joseph Smith, John C. Bennett, and others saw the protections afforded in the civil charters of other Illinois cities, and began working on one for Nauvoo.

The proposed Nauvoo Charter was submitted to the Illinois General Assembly for their twelfth session, and was passed on December 16, 1840, with both Whigs and Democrats voting nearly unanimously in its favor in both chambers. Following its passage in the House, Abraham Lincoln, as one who voted in favor, “cordially congratulated [Bennett] on its passage.”

The charter was broad in scope. It included many clauses from other Illinois city charters, but also maximized protection for the Saints. One such protection was the ability of the municipal court to issue writs of habeas corpus. The Saints used habeas writs to seek legal action in sympathetic courts, and the very legality of arrest charges could be challenged.

Latter-day Saints used habeas writs to such an extent that many non-Mormons in and around Nauvoo felt that they were abusing the American legal system. The perceived abuse of the Nauvoo Charter contributed to the growing animosity against the Church, and became a contributing factor to the mob violence.

After its original passage, each session of the legislature faced growing movements to repeal or amend the charter. After the tragic events of 1844, the charter was repealed in January 1845.

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Most Sunday services were held in homes across town where space would allow. One Thursday a month, a fast and prayer meeting would also be held in homes. On special occasions, weather permitting, Sain

In 1846, as the Saints were leaving the United States, Brigham Young sent Jesse C. Little to Washington DC to try to get aid from the federal government for the move to the West. Little arrived just a

Although Illinois was free, it wasn’t until February 1845 that the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that slaves could not be held in the state. But that didn’t mean that Black people could come and go, or

bottom of page