Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chained in Public: Kansas City’s Treatment of Domestic Violence Against Women - 1916

FULL TEXT: Kansas City, Kan., is the first city to take drastic and unusual steps to curb the nationwide spread of wife-beating, and the procedure it has taken is sensational in the extreme. Police Judge Joseph H. Brady has reproduced in spirit the old public pillory only slightly modified from the models used by our Puritanic ancestors.

The ancient English custom of punishing offenders by fastening them in conspicuous chains upon some traveled thoroughfare or popular square, previous to Its re-creation by Judge Brady, had not been seen in America since 1837, the year when the last one was discarded on the grounds that it was too barbarous for civilized people to behold.

The pillory and stocks were employed very little after 1817, when they were finally decreed to be unfit for the imprisonment of women. [This 1817 date may be a reference to the infamous Margaret Pool case, the first ransom child kidnapping in America, which ocurred in Baltimore,  involving a woman who abducted and tortured a toddler and kept the child while awaiting an offer of reward for returning her. The punishment of Nancy Gamble, the kidnapper and her female accomplice, which included putting them in stocks was hotly debated in the press as overly harsh – by males.]

~ Revived for Wife-Beaters. ~

This revival of an old principle of punishment is not to be used in chastising any offenders except wife beaters. In fact Judge Brady decided to revive it only when wife-beating became so prevalent as to assume almost the proportions of an epidemic. The Puritans and other organizations of a like severity of opinions threw not only wife-beaters, but all kinds of petty criminals into the pillory and stocks,

Daniel Defoe, the celebrated author, was put upon a platform in London once with his head and hands fastened in the yoke, because of debt. The system was very fashionable throughout the England and America of colonial days. It had been used extensively to the British Isles for centuries previous to the time of George III, and had been instituted Into the country by the Normans in the time of William the Conqueror.

Every town and city had in its public square a tall unroofed platform with the pillory and stocks upon it. In some instances the heart and hands were clamped fast, in others only the legs, but in either event the public was permitted to cast nil manner of refuse and even stones at the imprisoned wretch.

~ Mob Often Stoned Them. ~

Often the mob would become so excited with the sport of bombarding a helpless person that they would work severe injury and occasion death upon the prisoner.

The new pillory in Kansas City is not so pretentious, although its principle is exactly the same. It consists of a two-inch gas pipe, six feet in height set in a seventy-five-pound hitching weight. About a foot from the base is an iron ring to which a six foot chain and ankle irons are attached.

It has been set up in Huron Park, near the foot of a tail flag pole and directly beside a traffic officer, who is stationed to this, the busiest corner of the town. Thousands of people pass this spot daily.

Judge Brady says: “I want these passers-by and those who will congregate there to draw their own conclusions of a man who will strike a woman.

“For more than twelve years I have been connected with local courts, and have had my ears shocked with tales of brutality by husbands who think a wife should be kept in a state of terrorized subjection. I am going to stop it now.

“Maudlin sentiment about excessive punishment is the cause for much of this kind of crime. It has been the habit of certain brands of reformers to work, for the liberation of men justly sent to prison with the result that they are encouraged to repeat their offense.

“For my part I ask no greater pleasure than to add a drop of bitterness to the cup of any brute who would assault his wife.

“I have listened to the bragging statements of men coming out of workhouses where they have taken nothing more strenuous, than a rest cure. They boast that the only way to rule a home is through fear. I am tired of hearing this. I have come to the conclusion that the chronic wife-beater and myself never will understand each other. My lectures on the duties of a husband fall on deaf ears. Their contentions that I am sophisticated in the ways of women are obnoxious to my views of human conduct. When I send them to the workhouse a bunch of sentimental women and foolish men go to their rescue, sympathize with the prisoner and finally procure his release on parole. Soon he is back in court again for the same offense.

“The whipping post is now out of date except in London and Delaware, where it is being operated with success.”

Despite considerable criticism of the method many clubwomen in Kansas City have declared themselves heartily in favor of Judge Brady’s plan.

~ Increase of Wife-Beating. ~

From all quarters comes the report of ho increase in wife-beating. Chief of Police H. W. Hammill of Kansas City, Mo., while, doubting the propriety of a public pillory, admitted that physical chastisement vented by husbands upon wives had become so common that something decisive was needful in the way of correction.

That wife-beating in some sections of the country is increasing is stated by Judge John Newcomer of the Municipal Court of Chicago, who as an authority upon the psychology and theories of correction of wife-beating is as well known ns for his services in domestic relations courts.

“While I doubt whether wife-beating is on the increase,” said Judge Newcomer, “taking the country as a whole, it is certainly true that it is more prevalent in some particular parts. Certain classes of foreign-born inhabitants are crone to wife-beating, due more to their lack of education than to their essential brutality.

~ Largely Due to Ignorance. ~

“It is with these people largely a matter of ignorance. They have been taught that their wives are their property and that they have every right to bestow lickings upon them whenever it becomes advisable they have been brought up in the wrong atmosphere, and the habit of whipping and cuffing their spouses become, habitual a mere reminder marital responsibility.

Liquor has been blamed for a great part of the wife-beating, but I have found in cases before me little but a contributing cause and not the main incentive. The reason that wife-beaters are so often under the. influent of alcohol at the time of the beating is not in itself  proof that strong drink is responsible

Even a small amount of liquor intensifies the emotions and feelings, and in that condition an upbraiding wife will provoke the assault which has been the back of her husband’s brain in the form of a half-formulated determination.

“There is no doubt that there is another psychological side to wife-beating which in the more idle and sensation-hungry classes is occasionally seen. But this is nothing more nor less than a survival of the caveman ethics of courtship and mastery and the endurance of it by women of this class is a subject of inquiry into abnormal psychology.

~ Only Expression of Authority. ~

“The common run of wife-beaters perform this act of cruelty as little more than an expression of authority. He is quite to be surprised and astounded upon arrested and brought up before a judge for punishment. However, he usually repeats the offense several times.

“I am a very strong advocate of sending a man who licks his wife to hard labor in some stone quarry and of paying the wife something during the absence of her husband.

“If the state or city were to pay her a certain sum during the incarceration of her husband, we would not see so many wives begging for the return of their husbands. As the situation now stands many wives are tend destitute when their bread-winners are thrown into the bridewell and they prefer to be beating to starving.

“A wife-beater should be made to worse hard and earn money for the support of his family during his sentence.

~ Fickleness of Women to Blame. ~

“I very much doubt if the pillory and stocks would not brutalize the spectators more than the prisoner. The public whipping and hangings were practically discontinued in America, not so much because of any barbarism toward the prisoner as because the sight of the punishment brutalized the spectators and officials in the case.

‘The fickleness of some women has encouraged the act of wife-beating. Their prerogative of changing their minds has confused the issue in many cases and made life miserable for the justices.

“It is a very common thing for a woman to prosecute her brutal husband and in the hatred engendered by pain and humiliation insist that the judge give him the maximum penalty, only to return two or three days after the sentence has been proclaimed, begging and sobbing for her husband’s freedom. She dogs the foot-steps of the judge everywhere.” Her pleas din into his ears every day.

“Native-born American women, with the exception of that limited class which are reared in idleness and luxury, permits the licking, do not accept the premise that a husband has a right to do as he please with his wife. The trouble is not so much with Americans of the old stock as with Americans who have been born in some particular parts of Europe.

“In very many cases foreign-born wives have lived with their husbands for years, mutely receiving regular beatings, never uttering n word of protest until they suddenly discovered that such barbarism was not lawful or proper.”

[J. Keeley, “A Public Square Pillory for Criminals in 1916 – How Kansas Has Revived This Ancient Punishment to Curb the Epidemic of Wife-Beating and How the Figure Shed a New Light on the Strange Psychology of Woman-Thrashing All Over the World,” The Salt Lake Tribune (Ut.), magazine section, p. 2]


• You have been told that before the rise of feminism in the 1960s that domestic violence against women was tolerated by society as acceptable behavior and was not taken seriously by police and the courts.

You have been lied to. The people who told you these lies were paid to tell them you. In most cases you paid your own money (taxes and tuition fees) to be lied to.

Here is one of countless pieces of evidence that demonstrate the truth.

• To see more eloquent, vivid evidence proving the lie and giving you the truth, see:

19th Century Intolerance Towards Domestic Violence

Treatment of Domestic Violence Against Women Before 1960this post collects cases classified by the form of punishment or sentencing (whether judicial or through community action)

No, the claim that laws created by males were for the benefit of males is false. Yes, the "Rule of Thumb" myth has been proven to be a marxist-feminist hoax, taking an ancient English common historical notation published in the 18th century and extrapolating it into unsupported claims that 18th and 20th century United States communities, courts and legislatures (laws on the books) were in agreement with the18th century historical notation (Blackstone).


“[O]nly since the 1970s has the criminal justice system begun to treat domestic violence as a serious crime, not as a private family matter.”

From the entry: “Domestic Violence” on

This claim has been proven to be false.


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