Item #4040 [SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804. S. C. Carpenter.
[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804
[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804
[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804
[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804
[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804
[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804
[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804
[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804
[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804
"One of the rarest of American trials" (Wynn Sale Catalogue, 1893)

[SOUTH CAROLINA TRIAL 1805]. Report of the Trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon for the Murder of John Cannon, on the night of the 24th October, 1804

Charleston, South Carolina: Printed at the Office of the Charleston Courier, 1805. First Edition. 8vo. [3]-127, INCOMPLETE: lacking half-title, title-page (here in facsimile), and pp. 93-127 (paperstock browned throughout, p. [5] stained and a little soiled). Recent sympathetic wrappers, title written in ink on upper cover. Fair. Item #4040

Described in 1893 as "One of the rarest of American trials" (Catalogue of the Extraordinary Collection of Law Trials made by the late Edmund B. Wynn, no. 1275). Whereas our copy is significantly incomplete, we invite all haters to find another, but please be patient because no copy (complete or otherwise) has appeared at auction since 1963.

McDade explains that this is "an unusual case at Goosecreek, South Carolina, in which the wife's lover murdered her husband outside the house and put the body in bed with the wife who attempted to conceal the crime. He was convicted and hanged. She, with Southern consideration for womankind, was acquitted" [but nonetheless she was scorned, shamed, and humiliated for violating her marriage vow].

But the trial was of national significance because "the Nettles-Cannon Trial gives a preliminary glimpse of the scope of state efforts to transform the criminal justice system in the first decades after the ramification of the Constitution, and suggests some of the reasons those efforts remained incomplete" (Dale, p. 23).

"The trial of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon (1805), who presumably conspired to kill Cannon’s husband, serves as an example to show how key actors in the process from the detection of a crime to the actual trial were ordinary members of the community, how legal arguments had little impact on the outcome of the trial, how jurors judged the law rather than the facts, or how Nettles did not appeal his eventual conviction. The state and the people, in this period, cooperated in order to achieve justice." (Birte Christ, 2012 review of Elizabeth Dale's "Criminal Justice in the United States 1789-1939," online at H-Soz-Kult. Dale discusses the significance of the trial on pp. 23-30).

Finally: "The S.C. Carpenter reports on these two cases may be the earliest surviving records of full trial proceedings in South Carolina." (W. Lewis Burke, "A History of the Opening Statement From Barristers to Corporate Lawyers: A Case Study of South Carolina" in: American Journal of Legal History, 1993, vol. XXXVII, p. 38).

This trial was featured in the 2014-2015 exhibition of "Murder and Women in 19th-Century America Trial Accounts in the Yale Law Library."

COMMENT: This copy contains the complete transcripts of the witness testimonies and cross-examinations, and all the arguments of the DEFENSE pleaded by the lawyers of Joshua Nettles and Elizabeth Cannon. It does not contain "The Defense Being Gone Through, The Attorney-General Rose in reply and said: May it please your Honor" (etc.) The Attorney-General's text continues through (pp. 93-114); following it is "The Judge's Charge" (pp. 115-124) and an unrelated account of the execution of Richard Dennis Jun., which was appended to this edition because "it came too late to be published with the trial of Dennis, and is therefore, according to promise, published with that of Nettles" (pp. 125-127).

CENSUS OF COPIES ON THE MARKET SINCE 1885:

1. Goodspeed's 1963 Catalogue 511 (apparently it had appeared in Goodspeed's 1940 and 1943 catalogues).

Prior to that, we located the following copies at auction, all of which took place 106 years ago or more:

2. John C. Brady, Esq. copy, sold at Henkels, 19 Oct. 1917, lot 380;
3. Maj. Edward Willis copy, sold at Henkels, 29 Oct. 1914, lot 527;
4. Hon. Samuel C. Cobb copy, sold at Anderson Galleries, 30 March 1906, lot 560;
5. John H.V. Arnold, Esq. copy, sold at Bangs, 23 April 1900, lot 1362;
6. Edmund B. Wynn copy, sold at Bangs, 7 Feb. 1893, lot 1275;
7. W. Elliot Woodward's 74th Sale: Trials and Criminal Biography, sold at Bangs, 19 April 1885, lot 1130.

Sabin 11005. McDade, Annals of Murder, no. 715.

Price: $850.00

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