Extradition hearings for Prophet Joseph Smith to be re-enacted in Illinois

for Prophet Joseph Smith to be re-enacted in Illinois

An 1842 extradition hearing involving the Prophet Joseph Smith will be the focus of two days of events in Nauvoo and Springfield, Ill., Sept. 23-24, followed by an encore presentation at the University of Chicago Oct. 14.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission are co-sponsors of a re-enactment and panel discussion in Springfield preceded by a presentation in Nauvoo by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve.

The extradition hearing for the Prophet stemmed from the attempted assassination in May 1842 of Lilburn W. Boggs, former governor of Missouri. As governor in 1839, he had issued the infamous Extermination Order that resulted in the Latter-day Saints being driven from Missouri into Illinois, where they found refuge in Quincy and eventually established the nearby city of Nauvoo.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will be the site of re-enactment of extradition hearing for Joseph Smith.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will be the site of re-enactment of extradition hearing for Joseph Smith. Photo: Photo by R. Scott Lloyd

Missouri authorities accused Joseph Smith of conspiracy in the murder attempt and tried to get him extradited back into the state to face charges. A city court in Nauvoo temporarily freed the Prophet under a legal writ of habeas corpus.

Acting on advice from a U.S. district attorney, Joseph took the case to the Illinois Supreme Court at the Illinois capital, Springfield, seeking dismissal of the extradition. There, in December 1842, he prevailed, with the court ruling that the charges went beyond the evidence in Boggs' original affidavit and thus lacked foundation.

A re-enactment of Joseph's three habeas corpus hearings in Illinois will be staged Sept. 24 at the Lincoln museum in Springfield. The re-enactment will be followed by a panel discussion on the use of habeas corpus from Joseph Smith's time to the present day.

In Chicago, an encore presentation of the re-enactment and discussion will occur Oct. 14 at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Chicago.

In Nauvoo, on Sept. 23, the day before the re-enactment in Springfield, the program events will include tours of historic sites in the town, followed by a presentation by Elder Oaks at the Church's visitors' center on the topic "Behind the Extraditions: Joseph Smith, the Man and the Prophet." Elder Oaks is a former Utah Supreme Court Justice.

"The preparation for these events has been meticulous, representing the efforts of scores of attorneys and judges throughout Illinois," said Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, who serves on the program committee. "Every person in Illinois should want to see this interesting part of the history of our state as well as that of a faith that took its roots right here. From Nauvoo to Springfield to Chicago, everyone who wants to be a part of this wonderful experience certainly will have a chance."

Taking part in the panel discussion following the re-enactments in Springfield and Chicago will be U.S. District Court Judge Sue Myerscough of the Central District of Illinois; Michael Scodro, Illinois State solicitor general; Jeffrey Colman, partner at Jenner & Block in Chicago, who has worked on behalf of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay; and Jeffrey N. Walker, an editor with the legal series of the Joseph Smith Papers Project sponsored by the Church History Department.

In Chicago, the panel will involve as moderator David A. Strauss, professor of law at the University of Chicago.

For more information and tickets to the events in Nauvoo, Springfield and Chicago, visit the website

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