State v. White

Decision Date30 July 1886
Citation64 N.H. 48,5 A. 828
CourtNew Hampshire Supreme Court

Reserved cases from Strafford county.

Appeals from the police court of Somersworth. The complaints are alike, and allege, in substance, that the respondents, October 21, 1885, within the compact part of the town, beat a drum, in violation of Gen. Laws, c. 269, § 5. The respondents offered to prove that they beat the drum in accordance with their sense of religious duty, and in so doing were worshiping God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and were not disturbing the public peace, or the religious worship of others. The court ruled the evidence did not constitute a defense, and the respondents excepted.

G. E. Beacham, for the State.

W. S. Pierce, for respondents.

CLARK, J. The statute upon which the complaints are founded is as follows:

"No person shall, within the compact part of any town, fire or discharge any cannon, gun, pistol, or other fire-arms, or beat any drum, except by command of a military officer having authority therefor, or fire or discharge any rockets, squibs, crackers, or any preparation of gunpowder, except by permission of a majority of the police officers or selectmen, in writing, or make any bonfire, or improperly use or expose any friction matches, or knowingly raise or repeat any false cry of fire." Gen. Laws, c. 269, § 5.

This statute, like sections 7, 10, and 14 of the same chapter, against obstructing streets and sidewalks, and prohibiting fast driving in any street within the compact part of a town, is designed for the security of the public convenience, safety, and tranquillity. As it would be no defense to a complaint for a violation of the statute against incumbering streets, or for fast driving, to show that there was nobody else in the street at the time, and therefore no actual danger of obstruction or collision, so it would be no defense to show that no actual disturbance of the peace or of the religious worship of others resulted from the violation of the statute by the respondents. The act complained of being expressly prohibited by the statute for the prevention of disturbance of the public peace and tranquillity, an actual disturbance is not necessary to complete the offense. State v. Cate, 58 N. H. 240. To constitute the offense charged, no other intent or consequence is required than the intentional doing of the act which the statute prohibits. 1 Bish. Crim. Law, 428. Nor is it a legal justification that the act was done in the performance of religious services, in accordance with the religious belief of the respondents. To recognize such a defense would be to make the professed religious belief and practices of the respondents superior to the statute. Reynolds v. U. S., 98 U. S. 145.

It is contended that the statute is in conflict with article 5 of the bill of rights, and that it is an unauthorized invasion of the rights of conscience and religious freedom secured by the constitution. Article 5 declares that "every individual has a natural and inalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience and reason; and no...

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25 cases
  • Minersville School Dist. v. Gobitis
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • March 4, 1940
    ...P. 1067; the regulation of the exhumation of dead bodies, In re Wong Yung Quy, C.C., 2 F. 624, 632; the preservation of quiet, State v. White, 64 N.H. 48, 5 A. 828 (Salvation Army); City of Louisiana v. Bottoms, Mo.App., 300 S. W. 316; the suppression of mail frauds, New v. United States, 9......
  • State v. Mack
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • December 22, 2020
    ...(emphasis added).We begin with a survey of our case law interpreting the phrase "disturb the public peace." N.H. CONST. pt. I, Art. 5. In State v. White, the defendants were charged and convicted of beating a drum, without advance permission, within the compact part of a town in violation o......
  • State v. Weedman
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • June 27, 1929
    ...under which parties shall assert or exercise their rights without coming in conflict with any constitutional provision. State v. White, 64 N.H. 48, 5 A. 828; Constitutional Limitations, § 596. It is clear from the decisions above quoted and under the decisions referred to later in my opinio......
  • Dederick v. Smith
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • April 7, 1936 such restraints and burdens as are reasonably necessary to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity." State v. White, 64 N.H. 48, 50, 5 A. 828, 830; Canaan v. Enfield Village Fire District, 74 N.H. 517, 544, 70 A. Definite authority to legislate with reference to this matter is......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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