John Fowler Trow.

Alton trials: of Winthrop S. Gilman, who was indicted with Enoch Long, Amos B. Roff, George H. Walworth, George H. Whitney, William Harned, John S. Noble, James Morss, Jr., Henry Tanner, Royal Weller, Reuban Gerry, and Thaddeus B. Hurlbut; for the crime of riot, committed on the night of the 7th of online

. (page 1 of 13)
Online LibraryJohn Fowler TrowAlton trials: of Winthrop S. Gilman, who was indicted with Enoch Long, Amos B. Roff, George H. Walworth, George H. Whitney, William Harned, John S. Noble, James Morss, Jr., Henry Tanner, Royal Weller, Reuban Gerry, and Thaddeus B. Hurlbut; for the crime of riot, committed on the night of the 7th of → online text (page 1 of 13)
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Committed on the night of the 7th of November, 1837, while engaged in defending a













On the night of the 7th of November, 1337, in unlawfully and forcibly entering the
Warehouse of Godfrey, Gilman <fc Co., and breaking up and destroying a



A Member of the Bar of the Alton Municipal Court.



University Press, 36 Ann-street.

18 3 8.

Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1838, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.


There has rarely been an occurrence that has pro-
duced so deep and intense interest, throughout our
whole country, as the disgraceful and murderous affair
at Alton, Illinois, on the night of the 7th November

But the indictment of the defenders, and the trial of
an owner of the warehouse, for the crime of riot, in at-
tending to protect his property from mob violence,
together with the singular verdict of the Jury, in the
case of those of the mob that were tried, has, if possible,
increased the feeling, and created a great desire in the
public mind, to know the facts in the case. The pub-
lication of these trials has been loudly called for through
several public journals.

To gratify the public, and at the same time correct
the contradictory reports that have been circulated, by
giving the facts without comment, as they were drawn
out in evidence, is deemed sufficient apology for spread-
ing the " Alton Trials" before the public.

The Publisher.

New- York, March 27, 1838,

IlLo* 6"


MttniCiP /a^TS, t „ y , im 0n ' | Hon. Wiffiam Martin, Judg*

People of the State of Illinois, 5

vs. > Indictment for Riot.

Winthrop S. Gil man. >

13. F. Murdock, City Sol'r. ) | G. T. M. Davis, Esq., }

Samuel G. Bailey, > For Gov't. A. Cowles, Esq., >Forl)ef'ts

U. F Linder, Att'y Gen'l. ) 1 G. W. Checkering, Esq., )

At the opening of the Court on this the 16th day of
January, 1838, the above case came on for trial. The
Clerk proceeded to empannel a jury. The regular
pannel having been exhausted, talesmen were returned
by the Sheriff, and at last, after the names of thirty-
four persons had been returned, a jury was obtained,
sworn to try the issue, consisting of the following
named individuals : — James S. Stone, Timothy Terrel,
Stephen Griggs, Effingham Cock, George Allcorn,
Peter Whittaker, Horace W. Buffum, Washington
Lijbbey, Luther Johnson, George L. Ward, Anthony
Olney, Jacob Rice. In constituting this Jury the Go-
vernment and accused exercised each their prerogative
of peremptory challenge to its full extent, and twelve
individuals called to the jury box were set aside for in-
competency, by reason of their having formed or ex-
pressed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the

Upon the first calling of the case, W. S. Gilman,
by his counsel, moved for a trial separate from the
other individuals included with him in the indictment,
alleging that it was grounded, as well upon his right to
have a separate trial, as upon the fact, that it was ne-
cessary for his complete, full, and perfect justification :



that intent entered into the composition of the offence
with which he was charged, and he could in no way
so well as by a separate trial, show how utterly devoid
he was of any criminal intent in the commissions oi
the acts for which he here stood indicted as a criminal.
He urged, that if denied his application he might suffer
injustice and wrong, inasmuch as the exercise by the
individuals jointly indicted with him, of their separate
rights to peremptory challenge, might conflict with the
lormation of a jury by which his acts were to be judg-
ed. "Having the right, I ask," said his counsel, "to
be permitted its full exercise. I have the right, and I
cite Dane's Abridgement to the point."

Per Curiam. The motion is granted, and there-
upon a plea of Not Guilty, individually, nor jointly with
the others named in the indictment, was entered.

Murdock, for Government, in opening. — The de-
iendant is indicted for a violation of the 117th section
of the criminal code of this State, which runs in these
words : " If two or more persons actually do an unlaw-
ful act with force or violence against the person or pro-
perty of another, with or without a common cause of
quarrel, or even do a lawful act, in a violent and
tumultuous manner, the persons so offending shall be
deemed guilty of a Riot, and, on conviction, shall se-
verally be fined not exceeding two hundred dollars, or
imprisonment not exceeding six months."

The indictment is in these words : " Of the January
Term of the Municipal Court of the City of Alton, in
the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and
thirty eight.

State of Illinois, City of Alton, ss.

The Grand Jurors chosen, selected, and sworn,
in and for the body of the City of Alton, in the county
of Madison, in the name and by the authority of
the People of the State of Illinois, upon their oaths
present, that Enoch Long, Amos B. Roff, George H.
Walworth, George H. Whitney, William Harned, John
S. Noble, James Morse, junior, Henry Tanner, Royal


Weller, Reuben Gerry, and Thaddeus B. Hurlburt, and
Winthrop S. Gilman, all late of the City of Alton, in
the county of Madison, and State of Illinois, on the
seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred thirty-seven, with force and
arms, at the city of Alton aforesaid, and within the cor-
porate limits of said city, unlawfully, riotously, and rou-
tously, and in a violent and tumultuous manner, resist-
ed and opposed an attempt then and there being made
to break up and destroy a printing press, then and there
being found the goods and chattels of
contrary to the form of the statute in such cases made
and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the
people of the State of Illinois.

And the Jurors aforesaid, in the name and by the
authority aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do fur-
ther present, that Enoch Long, Amos B. RofT, George
H. Walworth, George H. Whitne}^, William Harned,
John S. Noble, James Morse, junior, Henry Tanner,
Royal Weller, Reuben Gerry. Thaddeus B. Hurlburt,
and Winthrop S. Gilman, all late of the city of Alton,
in the county of Madison, and State of Illinois, on the
seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven, with force
and arms, at the city of Alton aforsesaid, and within
the corporate limits of* said city, unlawfully, riotously,
routously, and in a violent and tumultuous manner de-
fended and resisted an attempt then and there being
made by divers persons, to the jurors aforesaid un-
known, to force open and enter the store-house of Ben-
jamin Godfrey and Winthrop S. Gilman, there situate,
contrary to the form of the statute in such case made
and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the
People of the State of Illinois.

Francis B. Murdock,
Prosecuting Attorney for the Municipal Court

of the City of Alton "

Endorsed upon the back ' A true bill.'

Thomas G. Hawley, Foreman."


You perceive, Gentlemen of the Jury, that the indict-
ment charges in each count a distinct offence. In the
first it is alleged, that the defendant, with others, unlaw-
fully, riotously, and in a violent and tumultuous man-
ner, on the 7th day of November last, resisted and op-
posed an attempt made by divers persons to break up
and destroy a printing press, then being the property
of Benjamin Godfrey and Winthrop S. Gilman : and in
the second count it is charged against the same indi-
viduals, that they in the same violent and tumultuous
manner defended and resisted an attempt then and
there being made by divers persons to break open
and enter the storehouse of Godfrey & Gilman. The
charge is for an unlawful defence of property — unlaw-
ful, because violently and tumultuously done. The de-
fendants had a right to defend their property — every
individual has. The offence consists in doing the act
in a manner not sanctioned by law, but in direct viola-
tion of its letter and spirit. They assembled at the
storehouse of Godfrey & Gilman, armed with mus-
kets and rifles, with the acknowledged intent of using
them in defence of property ; and they did use them.
The assembly of such a body of men armed in this
manner, and for the avowed purpose of defending pro-
perty from destruction, was calculated greatly to ex-
cite the feelings of the community, and to lead to a
breach of the peace.

The counsel for the defence will place their justifi-
cation upon the principles of the Common Law of
England, which recognises the right of every indivi-
dual to defend his own house from a violent intrusion,
and also to assemble his friends to aid him in its de-
fence. This rule of law was established in a barba-
rous age, when man fought with man, and clan was ar
rayed against clan. Then, every man's house was his
castle and protection, and men were justified in using
more violent means in defence of their homes and their
firesides, than in protection of other property. But, gen-
Llem<'.i, I take the broad ground, that the common law


of England, so far as it relates to crimes, has no force
in the state of Illinois. This is the opinion of many
of the ablest lawyers of the state. iNo one will say
that an individual can be indicted at common law in our
courts. We have a criminal code of our own, and un-
less the crime be defined and punished by statute, it is
not an offence here. The first clause of the criminal
code is in these words, " That the following shall, from
and after the first day of July next, constitute the code
of criminal jurisprudence of this State." The Legisla-
ture intended to establish anew system of criminal law.
To define crimes, and fix their respective punishments.
And when the Legislature said that a " violent and tu-
multuous" defence of property shall constitute crime,
it said that the law, and the law only, shall be every
man's castle and sure protection ; and the section under
which these defendants were indicted, was enacted for
the purpose of providing for the punishment of such,
who, not relying upon its power to protect their rights,
endangered the peace of society by the use of violent
means. The facts, gentlemen, the people expect to
prove, it is unnecessary for me to detail to you. You
are all familiar with the melancholy history.

Attend to the evidence.

Edioard Keating, Esq. called and sworn. — On the
night of the seventh of November last, I went into the
storehouse of Godfrey, Gilman & Co. accompanied by
Mr. Henry H. West. I saw in the store a number of
people, and perhaps eight or ten of them armed. Mr.
Gilman was not in the room. Mr. West inquired for
him, — he was sent for, and came down from above to
see us. Gilman was not armed. We went in to ap-
prise Mr. G. and the rest, that the storehouse would
be blown up or burned, if the press was not given up.
Gilman expressed a great deal of surprise that such a
proceeding should be thought of, and that the citizens
of Alton would allow such a thing to take place. He
said they had come to the determination to defend the
property, and should do so if necessary, with their


lives. This was perhaps an half hour before the mor>
assembled. Mr. Gilman was not armed if I recollect
aright. I saw there Messrs. Gilman, Tanner, Wal-
worth, Lovejoy, and (here witness was interrupted by
counsel for defence, who admitted that all who were
named in the indictment were present in the building
during the attack.) All whom I saw had arms, except
Gilman. I saw no guns stacked up in any part of the
room. I left the building, and soon after went to my
office. At the time of the attack by those outside upon
the building, I heard the report of firearms. The first
report I supposed to be from a pistol, and immediately
after, or nearly at the same time, I heard another re-
port, which I took to be that of a gun. My impression
is, that these guns were from those outside. I judged
so from the sound, or noise of the report. Almost im-
mediately after the report of the second gun, I heard a
third, and exclaimed as I sprung to my office window,
that must be from the inside. I heard, as I raised my
window, the cry that a man was shot. I soon heard
the report of another gun fired from the inside, and a
man immediately cried out he was wounded. I now
went down stairs, and out, and met persons carrying
the body of Bishop to the office of a physician (Dr.
Hart.) The mob had dispersed generally. I stood a
few moments, and then returned to my office. Soon 1
heard a rush, and upon going to my window, found the
mob had again assembled. I went out and joined the
Mayor, whom I found addressing the crowd. We
stood a little while— a gun was fired, the shot whistled
about and came close round us. Soon after I saw ano-
ther gun, pointed in the direction in which I stood,
flash, and I decamped. These shots I now speak of,
came apparently from the corner of the warehouse
next the river, — were fired in the direction of those at-
tacking the building, and appeared to be fired at some
people who were engaged in raising a ladder to the
roof of the warehouse. The press was soon after-
wards given up. I then went into the building, and found


there Mr. Weller, one of its defenders, and the only
one of them I saw there. He was wounded, and was
sitting in a chair, near the stove, in the counting-room,
bathing his leg. I went into the building previous to
the attack upon it, and before any persons had assem-
bled outside. I met no one on my return when I left
the warehouse. I did not see Mr. Gilman when I
first went in; he was sent for at the request of myself
and Mr. West, and came down stairs to meet us. I
did not recognise more than five or six of those in the
building. All I saw, except Mr. Gilman, had arms. I
saw no supernumerary arms. 1 don't know whether I
saw any others in the building than those indicted. (By
defendant's counsel objected, that the prosecution have
no right to question a witness whether other individuals
than those indicted were present, and objection sustain-
ed.) I did see Tanner, Lovejoy, Walworth, and Gil-
man. I was informed, before Gilman came down
stairs, by some of those whom I saw there, that they
had assembled to defend the press, but that they did
not expect any attack that night. Gilman, however,
not only said they had assembled to defend the press,
but that they should do so, if it was necessary, with
their lives. Each man whom I saw, except Gilman,
had a gun. The doors were not " blockaded," and I
was astonished at the little preparation for defence I
saw. I was sitting in my office at the time of the first
shots. I heard a pistol fired first, and then one or two
guns on the outside, then heard another gun, which,
from the sound, I judged to be fired from the inside.
As I went to my office window, another gun w r as fired
from the warehouse, and perhaps two ; and some one
screamed he was wounded. This was after Bishop
was wounded, but before he was carried off. I had
made up my mind an attack would be made that night,
before it actually took place.

Cross-examined. — Did you not know a company
had assembled that night to break open the warehouse !
3y walking the street that evening, I met five or six


persons, and I felt confident that an attack would be
made, and in the manner I have related. My object in
going into the warehouse, was to let those inside know
that unless the press was given up, there was danger the
building would be burned or blown up. Such was the
rumor. I believed it. After I left the warehouse, I
went to the Mayor's office, staid there perhaps fifteen
minutes, left, went into my own, and had been there
about the same time when the attack first was made.

At the time the Mayor was addressing the people-
outside, I saw four or five guns in the hands of individ-
uals in the crowd. This was after the guns had been
fired by those inside the warehouse. The mob first
armed themselves with stones. The reports of the
first two guns fired were at the same time — simultane-
ous with the shower of stones ; the smaller explosion,
that which I took to be a pistol, was a moment before.
At the time of the third gun, I started to my window ;
the mob were then in front of the warehouse, and about
six or eight feet from it. The crowd were then throw-
ing stones.

I saw the preparation to burn the building, but it was
after the time I now speak of. There were cries to burn
the building, and from a great many voices ; they were
given at the onset, after Bishop was shot.

It was about eight o'clock in the evening that I un-
derstood that the building would be burned or blown up,
if the press was not given up.

Q. Did Gilman state to you, at the time you were in
the warehouse, that they were there by, and acting under
authority ? I do not recollect ; Gilman appeared to be
very much astonished at the communication I made
him. Q. Did Gilman, at the time when he said they
would defend the press, if necessary, with their lives,
request you and Mr. West, or either of you, to call upon
the Mayor, and request him, from them, to summon
the people to suppress the mob ? He did ask Mr.
West to do so. Q. Did Gilman address the people
outside ? I do not know, I was not there. Q. Did


West go to the Mayor, in pursuance of such request
made him 1 I do not know. I left West in the ware-
house, and went to the Mayor's office alone.

Q. Did others express surprise that an attack was
to be made upon the building, or press, that night, be-
sides Gilman ? (Objected to, by Government, on the
ground that Gilman was alone on trial, and so irrele-
vant, and objection sustained.)

Examined by Counsel for Government. — I saw no
attempt to fire the building till Bishop was killed ; nor
did I see any intention to use firearms till that event.
In fact, I saw no arms, till the period when the Mayor
was addressing the crowd. I knew of the intention to
blow up, or set fire to the building, and communicated
such knowledge to Gilman before the mob assem-

Again Examined by Counsel for Defendant. —
Q. Did you not see persons assembled together, prior
to the night of the 7th, armed with pistols, and avow-
ing their intention to destroy the press ? (Objected to
by Government, but sustained.) Prior to the night of
the 7th, and on that of the 6th, I was down upon the
bank of the river : a number of people were there to-
gether. I talked with one who had a club ; told him
that his stick was not much of a weapon, or some such
thing. He dropped his club, and showed me a pair of
pistols in his dress, about his body. An order was soon
issued by some one of them, " Forward march. Let's

go up to H , and get some drink." They marched

off, but soon came back again. — had further conversa-
tion, in which they said they were waiting for the press ;
(here objection made by Government's Counsel, that this
evidence was improper, unless connected with individ-
uals who composed the mob, and objection sustained ;)
at this time, there were ten or fifteen people assembled.
I had pocket pistols, I carry them always.

The Court here stopped the witness, and stated,
that a petition had been presented to the Court, request-
ing the Government would draw to its aid the services



of the Attorney General of the State, U. F. Linder.
Under the law, the Court has the power to appoint
counsel for Government, to assign to gentlemen the
duty of appearing in any cause, where, for any of the
causes stated in the law, the necessity should exist for
such appointment. But in the case at Bar, it seems to
the Court that none of the emergencies contemplated
by the law, as ground for the exercise of the power of
the Court, in reality exist. The Government are rep-
resented in this cause by the City Attorney, and if lie
does not choose to seek aid in the services of others, it
is not for the Court to interfere. While the people's
Attorney is acting in the discharge of his duty, the
Court have no authority to interfere and direct him to
accept the tendered services of others. The Court
would say it entertained a high regard for the petition-
ers, but, to grant the prayer of their petition, it would
arrogate to itself power not delegated to it by law. Under
the law, and the facts presented, the Court has no right
to appoint any Counsel in aid of the prosecuting officer ;
and an arrangement to secure Mr. Linder's services
must be by consent and agreement of the officer, upon
whom the law had imposed the duty of conducting the

Davis, in behalf of Mr. Gilman, expressed perfect
acquiescence in any arrangement which should be
made. They had supposed they should find him and
the Attorney General side by side with the City Attor-
ney in the prosecution of this cause ; they knew not
that he was not to assist the prosecuting officer, until
the very moment the trial came on, — and in behalf of his
client, the defendant, he would say, that though he could
not deprive the Government of the aid, if the individual
tendered it ; nor compel the Government to receive the
services, if they were disinclined so to do ; yet he hoped
he might be permitted to express the perfect satisfac-
tion the defendant would feel at finding the Attorney
General supporting the laws of the land in conducting
this prosecution.


By Murdock. — The gentleman's services are ac-

Question by one of the jurors. — At the time you
went to the warehouse, had there been any attack upon
■he building ? Ans. — Not to my knowledge.

Henry W. West. — On the night of 7th of November
last, about eight o'clock in the evening, I was standing in
my store door. John Solomon passed, and remarked,
that he believed there would be a mob that night, and
that preparations were making to burn or blow up the
warehouse unless the press was surrendered, and that
the building would be destroyed, unless the press should
be given up ; said Gilman had been friendly to him, and
he did not want to see him injured, or his property de-
stroyed. He urged me to go up and tell Gilman. In
company with Mr. Keating I went into the ware-
house, and inquired for Gilman ; he was up stairs ; we
sent up to him that we wanted to see him, and he came
down. I then told Gilman the rumors, and the circum-
stances. Gilman replied to me that he had thought the
matter over seriously, and said he should not give up
the press, but should defend his property at the risk of
his life. I returned to my store. Soon started to go
to the warehouse again. Met Dr. Beall on the way,
and asked him to go with me ; he declined. I then
asked him to use his influence to suppress the mob
and to endeavor to get them to disperse ; he replied he
could have no influence and would have nothing to do
with it. I kept on, and went up to and into the ware-

The mob came while I was in the warehouse — a stone
was thrown against the door. I think Gilman went to the
garret door, opened it, and asked them what they want-
ed. The mob replied, the press. Gilman said it did not
belong to him, it was stored with them, and he should

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Online LibraryJohn Fowler TrowAlton trials: of Winthrop S. Gilman, who was indicted with Enoch Long, Amos B. Roff, George H. Walworth, George H. Whitney, William Harned, John S. Noble, James Morss, Jr., Henry Tanner, Royal Weller, Reuban Gerry, and Thaddeus B. Hurlbut; for the crime of riot, committed on the night of the 7th of → online text (page 1 of 13)