The Official Story
The verdict of the Supreme Judicial Court
The Supreme Judicial Court justices heard the case of Joseph North vs. the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on July 10, 1790. The all-male jury's verdict two days later was "not guilty." (The cases against the other two men were continued to the next session and then dropped.)
(Why was there an all-male jury? According to 18th century American law, only male property owners could vote, and only those who voted could serve on juries.)
The official record tells us nothing about what was said in court.
Most probably it came down to a case of his word versus her word. Since Judge North was a prominent member of the community and Rebecca Foster was the wife of a discredited minister, one could argue that the verdict was predictable, no matter what evidence was presented.
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votes for any district, the deficiency shall be supplied in the following
manner, viz. The members of the House of Representatives, and
such Senators as shall be declared elected, shall take the names of
such persons as shall be found to have the highest number of votes in
such district, and not elected, amounting to twice the number of Senators
wanting, if there be so many voted for; and out of these, shall elect
by ballot a number of Senators sufficient to fill up the vacancies in
such district; and in this manner all such vacancies shall be filled
up in every district of the Commonwealth; and in like manner all vacancies
in the Senate, arising by death, removal out of the State, or otherwise,
shall be supplied as soon as may be after such vacancies shall happen.
- Provided nevertheless, That no person shall be capable of
being elected as a Senator, who is not seized in his own right, of a
freehold within this Commonwealth, of the value of three hundred pounds,
at least, or possessed of personal estate to the value of six hundred
pounds at least, or of both to the amount of the same sum, and who has
not been an inhabitant of this Commonwealth for the space of five years
immediately preceding his election; and at the time of his election,
he shall be an inhabitant in the district for which he shall be chosen.
- The Senate shall have power to adjourn themselves, provided such
adjournments do not exceed two days at a time.
- The Senate shall choose its own President, appoint its own officers,
and determine its own rules of proceedings.
- The Senate shall be a court with full authority to hear and determine
all impeachments made by the House of Representatives, against any officer
or officers of the Commonwealth, for misconduct and mal-administration
in their offices. But previous to the trial of every impeachment, the
members of the Senate shall respectively be sworn, truly and impartially
to try and determine the charge in question, according to evidence.
Their judgement, however, shall not extend further than to removal from
office, and disqualification to hold or enjoy any place of honour, trust,
or profit, under this Commonwealth : But the party so convicted, shall
be nevertheless, liable to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment,
according to the laws of the land.
- Not less than sixteen members of the Senate shall constitute a quorum
for doing business.
C H A P T E R 1
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
- THERE shall be in the
Legislature of this Commonwealth, a representation of the people, annually
elected, and founded upon the principle of equality.
- And in order to provide for a representation of the citizens of this
Commonwealth, founded upon the principle of equality, every corporate
town containing one hundred and fifty rateable polls, may elect one
Representative : Every corporate town, containing three hundred and
seventy five rateable polls, may elect two Representatives : Every corporate
town, containing six hundred rateable polls, may elect three Representatives;
and proceeding in that manner, making two hundred and twenty five rateable
polls the mean increasing number for every additional Representative.
Provided nevertheless, that each town now incorporated, not having
one hundred and fifty rateable polls, may elect one Representative :
But no place shall hereafter be incorporated with the privilege of electing
a Representative, unless there are within the same one hundred and fifty