Law And Punishment

Punishments of Authors and Books,
page 5 of 8

The New Haven magistrates had early given their word in favor of a whipping-post, in these terms:

“Stripes and whippings is a correction fit and proper in some cases where the offense is accompanied with childish or brutish folly, or rudeness, or with stubborn insolency or bestly cruelty, or with idle vagrancy, or for faults of like nature.”

In the “Pticuler” Court of Connecticut this entry appears. The “wounding” was of the spirit not of the body:

“May 12, 1668. Nicholas Wilton for wounding the wife of John Brooks, and Mary Wilton the wife of Nicholas Wilton, for contemptuous and reproachful terms by her put on one of the Assistants are adjudged she to be whipt 6 stripes upon the naked body next training day at Windsor and the said Nicholas is hereby disfranchised of his freedom in this Corporation, and to pay for the Horse and Man that came with him to the Court to-day, and for what damage he hath done to the said Brooks His wife, and sit in the stocks the same day his wife is to receive her punishment.”

In New York a whipping-post was set up on the strand, in front of the Stadt Huys, under Dutch rule, and sentences were many. A few examples of the punishment under the Dutch may be given. A sailmaker, rioting in drink around New Amsterdam cut one Van Brugh on the jaw. He was sentenced to be fastened to a stake, severely scourged and a gash made in his left cheek, and to be banished. To the honor of Vrouw Van Brugh let me add that she requested the court that these penalties should not be carried out, or at any rate done in a closed room. One Van ter Goes for treasonable words of great flagrancy was brought with a rope round his neck to a half-gallows, whipped, branded and banished. Roger Cornelisen for theft was scourged in public, while Herman Barenson, similarly accused was so loud in his cries for mercy that he was punished with a rod in a room. From a New York newspaper, dated 1712, I learn that one woman at the whipping-post “created much amusement by her resistance” — which statement throws a keen light on the cold-blooded and brutal indifference of the times to human suffering.


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