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Territorial Enterprise, April 1, 1864

[April Fools' hoax]


The following complaint was yesterday made in the Court of Judge Davenport, by Mr. Thomas Fitch, of this city. We understand that the Judge has reserved the complaint for consideration, not being fully assured of the propriety of issuing the warrant prayed for by the complainant. So the matter stands at our present writing:

Thomas Fitch vs. W. F. Myers. -- In Recorder's Court, Virginia City, Storey County. -- Thomas Fitch, complainant, complains of W. F. Myers, and for cause of complaint says, that said W. F. Myers did, on the 30th March, 1864, in the office of Myers & Daggett, in the city of Virginia, use the following language, that he (defendant) "did not believe that a negro was the equal of a white man, that negroes were inferior to white men, and were designed by God Almighty to be the servants of white men," and defendant also used other language derogatory of the character of our fellow-citizens of African descent, and calculated to damnify them and bring them into contempt and ridicule. And complainant further says that prior to the slanderous and wicked language of the defendant aforesaid, our colored fellow-citizens enjoyed a good reputation, and that by said slanderous language the colored race aforesaid were greatly scandalized, and the Government of the United States brought into disrepute and the Southern Confederacy encouraged, and Uncle Abe greatly maligned, and the public peace jeopardized and all Union men injured and traitors benefited. Now, therefore, this complainant prays that a warrant may issue against the defendant for misprision of treason, and that defendant's body be taken into custody, and that defendant be punished either by hanging, or by being compelled to pack sand-bags at Fort Churchill, and that he also be compelled to take the oath of allegiance, and be otherwise dealt with according to the statutes in such case made and provided.

Thomas Fitch, Complainant.

[Reprinted in Mark Twain in the Virginia Evening Bulletin and Gold Hill Daily News (Falcon Hill Press, 1981), p. 62 - 64 which reprinted Virginia Evening Bulletin, April 1, 1864. Portions also reprinted in Fatout, Mark Twain in Virginia City, p. 181.]

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