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The Lash In Delaware

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The whipping-poat in the New Castle Jail yard had se ven victims yesterday. Three boya, who had stolen something like $15, got ten lashes apiface. Tweiiiy lashe.s were applied to the backs of four other prisouers who had been convicted of laretmy. Sheriff Clark did not handle the cat in a particularly forcible manner, and the men who were strung up in the pillory didn't seem to mind the blows mucti. The whipping-post has greatly degenerated in late years. There was a time when it was applied indiscrimmütely to thieves and felons of high and low degree. 5Tow it is inainly used as a sort of scare crow for chicken-thieves, sneak thieves and errant trampa known as "peach-plucks." There are Delawareans living in this city who remember, as children of youths, a time when some of the blue hen's most respectable chickens were put into the pen known as the pillory and made to expíate their offenses agaiust law aad moral ity by a torced embrace of the whipping-post. As a child the writer remembers having seen uien who, after being whipped. were by law compelled to wear the letter "F' (felon) over the back of their coats as long as they remeilied within the boundaries of the state. Other people, a littleolder, will recollect how in Dover a man who had been a prominent ehurch member and most highly respetable citizen for some act of dishonesty was publicly whipped and condemned to wear the stigma of disgiace, the letter "F," aa long as he lived; or to abandon his home and business and take up his abode in anotuer state He resolved to stay wliere his interests and aiïections iüolined him to remain. Although he was a storc-ketpfr and his occupation necessitated his appearance in public, he attended to his business in person, and it is said by those who frequented his store as purchasers that he had his stock so arranged and was so adroit in his movements that no one ever caught a sight of the badge of bis disgrace while being waited on by him. In the old time, when Delaware was more rigid in her righteousness than she is to-day, it was held by those who made and those who adiuinistered the laws that dishonesty was much more heinous when engaged in by those placed by social position above want and amid respectable surroundings than when induiged in by those tempted by necessity and evil companionship. Consequently, when a prominent citizen was caught stealing or forging, his punishment was always made heavier and more severe than that meted out to rogues of either of the classes contemptuously knovtn as "poor whites" or "free niggers.' In tact, a half century ago so large a proportion of the crimináis punisliel by whipping, was of the respectable class of society that a lady on visiting Delaware some years ago, having heard that this, that, and the other distinguished citizen was descendant of some one who had been publicly whipped, asked: "Do not all the aristocrats of Delaware derive their patients of nobility f rom the whipping-post ?" Toward the close of the last century an eminent and well-beloved gentleman of Sussex county, a public benefactor, distinguished for piety, feil from his high estáte. He was a magistrate.and noted for his wisdom and excellence of judgmenl. On one occasion there was brought before him in his official capacity some counterfeiters who had been arrested for passing bad inoney, a large amount of which was found upon their persons. The magistrate, as was his duty, took possession of the counterfeit stuff, to destroy it, it was supposed. The rogues were committed for trial, and subsequently pilloried and whipped. Years afterward the neighborhood was flooded witá "bogus nioney," at length traced to the "Squire," who had committed the culprits alluded to, and who, it was af terwards discovered, bad been for a long time passing the inoney he had contiscated for destruction. Every effort was made to shield this beloved i-.ud respected citizen from the consequences of his offense, but without any avail whatever. Ho was whipped most severely in the jail-yurd at Dover, and the sheriff who inüicted tho punishinent was so fearful that he might be accused of partiality for a rich and respectable criminal that he cut so deeply into the flesh as to casse the blood to run off the end of the lash and down his own hands, while the back of the unfortunate offender was a sight on which the most stoical could not look without horror and pity. Some thirty-flve years ago a wellknown aDd very able politician of Wilmington run íor eongress. and carne witliin three votes f being elected. He spent more inoney than he could afford, and in order to tide over a ttunporary embarrassment forged the indorsement of his brother-in-law, a distinguisüed pliysician of the city, to a note given by him, intending to make it up before it came to maturity and so escape any bad consequences. It so happened that he was not on good terms with his brother-in-law, and this the teller of the bank at which the note was presented for discount knew. '. t was theref ore retained until the matter could be inquired into. The teller took occasion speedily to see the doctor, and said, suddenly: "Why, ysu have made four quarrel up with J and have ;ommenced indorsing for him, eh?" "I lave done nothing of the sort," said the doctor, who was thrown off his guard, and who for family reasons, would have cut his tongue out before giviug his relative away, had he taken time to hink before speaking. His after tempts to hush up the matter were without avail. Politica] opponents of Ihe unfortunate oulprit got hold of the 3tory, and he was Indicted, bried, and Eound guilty of the crime of forging, and sentenced to bewhipped. Tliat he would have been so punished therb is no doubt had not hia lovely and loving wife gone to the governor and governor's wife, and 30 wronght upon the sympathies of both as to secure his pardon. But from that time forth he was politically and socially dead. Among the most beautiful, highly cultured, and charming women of the State some thirty years ago were the four daughters of a high official who had had the inisfortune to be bom kleptomaniacs. It was well-known to all the citizens of the town in which they resided that they had mherited this mania from their mother, who was a constitutional thief. These girls would take anything i.hat they could lay their hands on, from mouse-traps to flshing tackle. The acquisitions made in this way were, in nine cases out of ten, wholly useless and wórthless to them. Their father, knowing this propensity of wife and offspring, visited the different storekeepers of the town and requested them to send the bill to him for any articles they inight miss after visits from the female members of his family. There was, therefore, no particular trouble about the pecuiations of these young ladies imtil a new storekeeper canie to town, who, on receiving the usual intimation from tiieir father, said to some of his bors, "Kleptomania be hanged; it's nothing but thiefomania, and if they were poor women they would haveit thrashed out of them at the whippisgpost. If they come into my store to do any stealing I'll have them arrested and whipped as quick as if they were chicleen thieves." No one believed the fellow would carry out his threat, but he (lid. T wo of the sisters came into his place, and after they were gone he missed a bundie of gloves, He followed them up the street, called a Constable, had them arrested, searched, and would have had them committed to jail as common thieves had not bail been promptly offered by a score of citizens for their appearance to answer the charge at court. Now began the tug of war. It was known that if the case came to trial the young ladies would be sentenced to be whipped, and that this sentence would not be remitted by the Governor, who was one of the sternly righteous men who belieyed his position demanded of him the exaction of the sentence pronounced bv law, save in the case of af ter-discovered extenuating evidenee. The only thing left for the afflicted father, who had already been much impoverished through the peculations of his famih, was to buy the prosecutor off. This he did, and reduced himself to almost absolute want by complying with the demands made upon him. The father never recovered from his public disgrace, and died soon after. The daughters, however, who never seemed to understand that they had been guilty of any criminality, beid up their heads bravely. and all married well. Some of them are living to-day. beloved wives and good rnothers, who, under the very shadow of the whipping-post, it is said. get their dry goods and other merchandise in 1he old fashion, while husbands or sons oay up, iust as their father did.


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat