Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Curious Punishments of Bygone Days

Curious Punishments of Bygone Days. This was written in 1896 by social historian Alice Morse Earle and illustrated by Franz Hazenplug. It covers Colonial American punishments. The full text and illustrations are presented here at this site.

Chapters of the book include The Ducking Stool, The Stocks, The Pillory, The Whipping Post, and The Scarlet Letter.

I am certainly grateful that I will not be targeted for punishment as was the practice in colonial days. It seems awful brutal. Those whippings in particular seemed inhumane. However, given a choice, I would probably pick a bad beating over several years in prison any day. There were social and economic benefits to quick and cheap punishment.

From the site:

As a good, sound British institution, and to have familiar home-like surroundings in the new strange land, the whipping-post was promptly set up, and the whip set at work in all the American colonies. In the orders sent over from England for the restraint of the first settlement at Salem, whipping was enjoined, "as correcçon is ordaned for the fooles back" -- and fools' backs soon were found for the "correcçon"; tawny skins and white shared alike in punishment, as both Indians and white men were partakers in crime. Scourgings were sometimes given on Sabbath days and often on lecture days, to the vast content and edification of Salem folk.

The whipping-post was speedily in full force in Boston. At the session of the court held November 30, 1630, one man was sentenced to be whipped for stealing a loaf of bread; another for shooting fowl on the Sabbath, another for swearing, another for leaving a boat "without a pylott." Then we read of John Pease that for "stryking his mother and deryding her he shalbe whipt."

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