In June 1844, in the upper chambers of Colony House on Newport’s Washington Square, Thomas Wilson Dorr stood trial for treason. Two years earlier, Dorr forcibly tried to implement the People’s Constitution—a document under which he was elected governor and that he believed had replaced the antiquated colonial Charter. Prior to Dorr’s election as the “People’s Governor” in April 1842, Chief Justice Job Durfee had departed from the rules of judicial propriety and toured the state speaking out against the People’s Constitution. Now Durfee, a Tiverton native, had the responsibility of presiding over a trial that could very well end with a trip to the gallows for Dorr. He was well aquatinted with Durfee. In the 1830s, Dorr appeared before Durfee numerous times as an attorney in high-profile cases. Dorr surely knew that his chances of walking out of the courtroom a free man were not good.
Chaput, Erik J. and DeSimone, Russell J.
"Newport County in the 1842 Dorr Rebellion,"
Newport History: Vol. 83
, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.salve.edu/newporthistory/vol83/iss271/2