Monday, March 11, 2013

19th Century Intolerance Towards Domestic Violence


Disinformation about domestic violence is widely strewn; it is to be found in journalism, pop culture, textbooks and even in professional reference sources edited by the most respected publishers. The “rule of thumb” hoax is a well-known example of such a myth which has been exposed. Yet a still-pervasive myth is that preceding the rise of professional domestic violence policies designed by Marxist-oriented activists (circa 1980) that society at large as well as the legal and law enforcement system regarded domestic violence as a “private” matter unworthy of being treated as a crime.

Yet this claim is a flat-out fiction. The historical record demonstrates that not only was domestic violence against women not regarded as a private matter not to be interfered with, but there are numerous reports of community members taking it upon themselves to stop the crime – as well as responsible police action and harsh judicial action.

There was controversy at times as to what the best way to deal with domestic violence offenses might be. Despite the currently dominant Marxist-oriented theories which incorrectly guess that in the past “patriarchy” caused men to seek to control women with all manner of power, resulting in their tolerance of other men’s crimes against women, the historical record demonstrates that it was males who were not only more likely than females to take a harder line against male offenders (see post Society’s Acceptance of Domestic Violence?) but jurors in murder cases (at a time when all jurors were male) were ready to acquit women who killed battering husbands.

In fact, male jurors were so sympathetic towards battered wives that they frequently acquitted women in cases where the evidence clearly showed the wife had murdered a husband in carefully planned cold blood that there was a major national controversy from about 1912-1922 over the issue. During this period prosecutors in major cities lobbied to have state laws changed to allow women to serve on juries due to their belief that only women could be relied upon to resist the lies and charms of sociopathic husband-killers on trial. (see post: Chivalry Justice Quotes)

Punishments for male domestic violence offenders to be found in the following nineteenth century cases (and those in the companion post) include: lynching, tarring and feathering, beating (by witnesses, community members; or by the case judge himself), court-ordered pillorying, court-ordered flogging (in public, in courtroom, or in jail), banishment from town (by community members), jail term, chain gang, court-ordered wartime conscription.

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COMMUNITY RESPONSES to DV

FULL TEXT: On Saturday night last. Joseph Hines, tinsmith, 34 Cherry street, New York, was killed by some persons unknown. It appears that Hines and his brother came home drunk at 11 o’clock last night. Hines began to beat his wife, when the children cried “murder!” Three young came in from the street on hearing these cries, and seeing what Hines was about, they seized him and gave him a terrible thrashing, leaving him senseless on the floor. He was laid on the bed, but died early on Monday morning. William Meyers, who lives in the vicinity, is charged with being one of the persons who whipped Hines, but he denies the charge. It is a pity that every vile rascal who beats wife could not served in the same manner.


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FULL TEXT: A dastardly husband was followed to a billiard saloon at St. Louis, last week, by his young wife, and begged to accompany her home; he went outside the door, and there knocked her down; on returning to his game, the poor woman’s scream was heard by a gentleman inside, who, learning the cause, well thrashed the ignoble wife-beater.


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FULL TEXT: It is reported that a man in this city beat his wife a day or two ago, and that he is in the habit of beating her. All right, our Sheriff is a skillful hand with a buggy whip, we presume he will settle with all our wife beaters. Pay them off in their own coin; our reporter will be on hand.

[Untitled, Los Angeles Daily Herald (Ca.), Apr 13, 1876, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT: —The Wheeling papers give an account of how they treat wife beaters down the Ohio river. At New Martinsburg [West Virginia] lives a man named Huber, who had been in the habit of whipping his wife when he happened either to have in too much applejack or when she did anything to displease him. One of these unfortunate conditions existed the other night, and he walloped her soundly. The neighbors heard the cries. They seized Huber, and, not with the entreaties of the sore-beaten wife, hurried him off to the river. There a committee had the exquisite pleasure of giving him a ducking. He bawled loudly for mercy every time his head came out of the water, and protested to high heaven that he would never maltreat his wife again. These promises were echoed by successive duckings until the fellow was nearly drowned.


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FULL TEXT: A. J. Capher, a wife beater, residing near Sturgeon, Mo., was taken from his bed Thursday night by three masked men and given forty lashes.


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FULL TEXT: Some ladies and gentlemen of Pittsburg are organizing a society for the protection of married women , the chief object being the creation and maintenance of a fund for the prosecution of wife-beaters. Such an organization with a large membership roll would do good, indirectly as well as directly. The collection of a trifling admission fee from each member and the designation of an even smaller amount as dues would raise money enough to pay for counsel in many such cases, and the awakening of public opinion on the subject that would follow the announcement of the movement would tend to encourage the courts to make the sentences of convicted wife-beaters as severe as the law allows. It might even result in the passage of a law making the penalty severer.


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FULL TEXT: A wife beater named Polenski, of Barnesville, Minn., was taken from jail by a mob and a rope placed around his neck to hang him, but he begged so piteously for his life that the mob relented and let him go on a promise of good behavior in the future.


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FULL TEXT: Gaylord, Kan., July 29.—Saturday night Mrs. John Emmons, against the advice of her husband, went to the depot to see an excursion train come in. Upon her return her husband knocked her down while she had her baby in her arms, and threatened to shoot their two small children. The city marshal arrested Emmons and locked him up. Shortly after the jail was broken into by a mob, and Emmons was given a coat of tar and feathers. Emmons is a clerk in a grocery store.


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FULL TEXT: LaCrosse, Wis., Nov. 20.—Hans Jacob Olson was hanged to a tree near the town of Preston Sunday night by a mob and his wife and 17-year-old son were among those who pulled on the rope. Olson was a morose and quarrelsome fellow, always at variance with his neighbors, and frequently beat his wife and children. He had served one year in the penitentiary, and upon his release made threats of revenge upon all who were concerned in his conviction. Being unable to give bond to keep the peace he was sent to the county jail for six months, and was released only last Tuesday. His first act upon reaching home was a fearful attack upon his son and his wife. The names of those who took part in the lynching, other that Olson's wife and son, have not been revealed and it is not probable that any steps will be taken to discover them.


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FULL TEXT: Waldo, Fla., Sept. 7. – Dan Wiggins, a notorious wife beater, was dragged from his home by a masked mob. Wiggins was carried into the woods and lashed to a tree Several women of the neighborhood who sympathized with Mrs. Wiggins were present, and as soon as Wiggins had been tied they began to whip him. After beating him unmercifully, Wiggins was untied and left to make his way home. It is thought that Wiggins will die.

[“Wife Beater Beaten by Women.” syndicated (Trenton Times (N.J.), Sep 7, 1894, p. 6]

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FULL TEXT: John Winders, a notorious wife beater, was found hanging in the woods near Hopkinsville, Ky. He had been lynched by vigilantes who hail repeatedly warned him to leave.


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FULL TEXT: West Chicago. Ill., July 25.—Indignant citizens treated Valentine Miller, a wife beater, to a coat of tar and feathers, and only his piteous appeals saved him from being lynched.


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FULL TEXT: Sterling, Ill., July 23.—Half drowned beneath a pump and later recaptured for a repetition of his offense to be threatened with the noose, Patrick McCormick, of Tampico, a small town near here, likely will be lynched, if he again heats his wife. As it is, McCormick has fled. Fifty men early today surrounded his home, aroused by the cries of Mrs. McCormick, and held the husband under the town pump until he promised never to mistreat his wife again. Later he repeated the offense and the crowd was making ready a rope with which to string him up when he fled.



LAW ENFORCEMENT & JUDICIAL RESPONSES to DV

FULL TEXT: The Jersey Justices are shrewd and unswerving in the administration of the law. If they happen to make a mistake on the side of mercy, and find a prisoner rather pleased than otherwise at the extent of his sentence, they quickly reconsider the matter. In the Essex County Court yesterday a wife beater was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, just as he was going out the Judge detected a pleased expression on his face, and heard him say “Thank you, Judge, I can stand that.”

It was unfortunate for the wife beater, for the Judge did not intend that he should have a punishment that he was pleased with. So he called him back and doubled his term.


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FULL TEXT: A Wife Beater. – John Swan, who resides in the lower part of the city, was before the Police Justice this morning to answer for cruelly beating his wife. The evidence adduced clearly proved that John is a success as a wife-beater. He was adjudged guilty and sentenced to thirty days in the chain-gang, a punishment he richly merits.


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FULL TEXT: Foxboro, Mass., November 16.— On Sunday evening the citizens of this quiet village, were startled by the report that a woman had been severely beaten by her husband. The particulars of the affair are as follows: Elbridge G. Lincoln and his wife Louisa live in a portion of a tumble-down house belonging  to Mrs. Sally Morse, about two miles from the Centre, off from the direct road to East Foxboro. He is sixty-five years old and she if fifty. They were married in Taunton twenty years ago, and have lived in Taunton, Norton, Mansfield and Foxboro.

They have had a good many family “jars,” and he once gave her a severe boating when they lived in Taunton, for which ho received due punishment. Last Sunday, as was his custom, he had been partaking freely of gin instead of gospel, and after a noisy afternoon at sunset he ordered his wife to leave the house. She did so, and started through the woods for the Morse neighborhood. When about a quarter of a mile from the house, her husband stole noiselessly upon her, and without any warning, struck her a heavy blow on the back part of the head with a hickory club that he had brought from the house. She fell to the ground. He ordered her up and then struck her another blow on the hand, telling her that she must not go to the Morse district. Ho then returned to the house, she following slowly. When she saw him go into the house, she “cut and run” through the woods to the house of Joseph A. Kingsbury, where she told the story of the assault.

~ Her Wounds – Arrest and Conviction of Lincoln. ~

On examination, her head was found to be badly bruised and cut, the scalp having been laid open about two inches, and the blood had flowed freely. Her band was also badly bruised, but no bones wore broken Medical aid was summoned, after which she was taken to the house of Tyler Morse, whore she spent the night. Nothing daunted, the next morning she returned to her habitation, found her husband “ mum,” packed up a bundle of clothes, and having no money started on foot for his sisters in Norton, some ten miles distant.

Before arriving at his sisters she was overtaken by Deputy Sheriff Carroll; who brought her to Foxboro, where she spent the night. Mr. Lincoln came over to Foxboro, Monday morning, for a fresh supply of rum, and on his return was arrested by the Deputy Sheriff and placed in the lock-up. This forenoon, he was taken before Justice Warner of Wrentham, who pronounced him guilty and sentenced him to the House of Correction for ninety days. He appealed, but in default of bail was sent to serve his sentence.

[“Another Wife-Beater at Foxboro—His Crimes and His Punishment.” The Boston Daily Globe (Ma.), Nov. 17, 1875, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT: In the California Legislature, senate introduced a bill to summarily punish wife beaters, to the effect a battery, if inflicted upon the wife the assailant, shall be punishable by the infliction of no less than twenty-one lashes on the bare back to be administered by the Sheriff of the county, under the direction of the court or judge. This is very good, but capital punishment would be better.


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FULL TEXT: It is reported that a man in this city beat his wife a day or two ago, and that he is in the habit of beating her. All right, our Sheriff is a skillful hand with a buggy whip, we presume he will settle with all our wife beaters. Pay them off in their own coin; our reporter will be on hand.

[Untitled, Los Angeles Daily Herald (Ca.), Apr 13, 1876, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT: Virginia City, Nev. – The woman-beater’s post, which now stands grim and inexorable at the corner of the county jail, is an object of interest to scores who visit it daily. It is about 8 feet high and 8 inches square, made of pine, with 2 round pegs, about an inch in diameter, run through it at a point about 5 feet from the ground. The arms of the victim will be run through these pegs and tied behind.

No one passes the post without stopping to inspect and make some remarks. A woman who passed it yesterday paused before it for a moment and ejaculated, “Thank God!”

The post has several inscriptions scribbled upon it in pencil, some of which read as follows:” Stewart’s bill,’’ “The Widder,” “Fee the Judge,” “Here’ the Place to get Well Posted,” “A Household Treasure,” “No Family should be without it.”

[“The Wife-Beater’s Pillory.” (from Virginia City (Nev.) Chronicle), Dodge City Times (Ka.), Apr. 7, 1877, p. 7]

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FULL TEXT: According to the “Act to prevent cruelty to Women” recently incorporated into the statutes of Nevada, a “Wife Beater’s Whipping Post” has recently been put in position in front of  the court-house of Austin in that State This post is not erected for the convenience of husbands who believe that to spare the rod is to spoil the woman, as it is not the wives who are tied to it during the process of flagellation, but their lords and masters, who upon conviction of the crime of wife beating are delivered into the gentle hands of the constable for their just deserts. Tied to this post in the broad publicity of the city square at mid day, the wife whipper is made to understand by numerous lashes well laid on, that the accomplishment of wife whipping is one deserving of public recognition Nevada must be nice State, if the crime in question is so common that the post for its punishment is as prominent an institution as the calaboose in ordinary towns. The Reveille says that every woman who passes the Austin post, casts upon it looks of undisguised admiration.

[Untitled, Butte Miner (Mt.), Nov. 20, 1877, p. 2]

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EXCERPT: SENATE, Jan., 11th.—A concurrent resolution for a special committee to report upon advisability of a Minnesota representation at the Paris Exposition was adopted. Bills were introduced to abate penalties and taxes for 1876-7 of grasshopper sufferers, and for public pillories for wife beaters. After participating in the inauguration ceremonies adjourned to Thursday next at 2:30 p. m.

[“Minnesota Legislature – Twentieth Annual Message.” The Princeton Union (Mn.), Jan. 16, 1878, p. 2]

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FULL TEXT: Texarkana, Sept 26. – This afternoon Ed Parker attacked his wife with a soda-water bottle about some trivial matter. The blow inflicted a painful wound, which bled profusely, though it is not considered dangerous. The woman is in a delicate condition. After committing the dastardly deed Parker fled across the state line into Arkansas, but was pursued and captured by officer Gregory. He refused to go back to Texas, but when the Arkansas police learned of the offence they pushed Parker over the line, saying they had enough wife beaters in Arkansas already and would not think of tolerating more. The Texas officer then locked Parker up.

[“A Wife Beater.” Waco Evening News (Tx.), Sep. 27, 1888, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT: Wilkesbarre, Pa., Dec. 7 – Alderman John. F. Donohue of this city gave a wife-beater a remarkable lesson. As a result the man has two black eyes and is badly bruised about the face and body. The wife-beater is Frank Oldfield, who weighs 170 pounds and was brought from Plymouth by a constable. “You’ve been up for beating your wife a dozen times,” said the alderman, when Oldfield appeared. The latter said it was a few more times.

“Well,” said Donohue, “it won’t happen again if I can help it. There’s only one way to deal with such cattle.”

Oldfield was compelled to take off his coat, and the alderman took off his coat and cuffs. Then he pulled Oldfield out of the prisoner’s pen, sent two constables to keep the door shut, cautioned the spectators to remain quiet and then told Oldfield to defend himself.

Donohue opened the battle by knocking Oldfield, down with a right hand blow in the face. The prisoner arose and tried to retaliate, but the alderman rained blows on him with precision and force.

Twice more Oldfield went down, but arose. Finally he clinched, only to be thrown heavily. Then he rushed for the door, but the cheering spectators threw him back. He clinched again and both men fell. Donohue got on top and ignoring all ring rules, punched the prisoner until he promised never to beat his wife again.

“Now, go home,” said Donohue, and behave like a man.”

As Donohue resumed his coat, another wifebeater. David Rowlands, cowered in the prisoner’s pen. The alderman asked him if the object lesson was not a good one. Rowlands agreed tremulously and was discharged.

[“A Lesson In Court. – Muscular Judge Inflicts Condign and Fitting Punishment on Confirmed Wife Beater. - Gould Family Council Will not Withhold Imperiled Fortune for a Love Match. - Officer’s Annoyance of a Woman who Slighted his Attentions Brings him in Trouble.” Evening Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Io.), Dec. 7, 1898, p. 1]

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