In 1848 James Stephenson slandered the character of Miranda Sharpe. The Iredell Circuit took up the case at the behest of Miranda’s brother Abner (a licensed preacher and Sunday School superintendant on the circuit). A committee decided the following:
“Viz. In as much as the report was in circulation unfavourable to the character of Miranda Sharpe, And Jas. F. Stephenson having been interrogated with regard to said report in our Judgement related it as favourable (or more so) as the former report. We therefore acquit the said James F. Stephenson of said charges.”
I am not entirely clear why they acquitted him, but two things come to mind—
1. Stephenson was not guilty because what he said about Miranda was true, or
2. Stephenson was not guilty because what he said about Miranda was not nearly as bad as what someone else had said about her.
How do you read this? What am I missing?