Thursday, September 15, 2011

Women’s Groups Oppose Male Leaders’ Desire to Punish Domestic Violence Against Women With Flogging – Washingron DC 1906

FULL TEXT: Representative Bert Adams, of Pennsylvania, a bachelor member of the House, and a handsome one at that, is the able champion in Congress of all women in the District of Columbia whose husbands insist on having their own way by corporal punishment. In other words, this bachelor is the “father” of the bill to provide corporal punishment for wife-beaters in the District of Columbia. Representative Adams has had several talks with President Roosevelt, who heartily approves of the bill. The measure has also the indorsement and approval of the three District Commissioners and Maj. Sylvester, superintendent of police.

Mr. Adams has been interested in this subject since he was a member of the Pennsylvania legislature twenty-two years ago, and proposes to see to its enactment into law. As an unmarried member he is the subject of much good-natured raillery by the members of the House, but he asserts that his bachelorhood makes him a disinterested party and naturally the one who could frame the best bill.

On January 6 Mr. Adams arose in his seat in the House and said:

“Mr. Speaker, I desire the serious attention of the House to a question which some people, uninformed, are inclined to treat with a spirit of levity – the bill to provide corporal punishment in the District.”

The bill is as follows: “That whenever hereafter any male person in the District of Columbia shall beat, bruise, or mutilate his wife the court before whom such offender shall be tried and convicted shall direct the infliction of corporal punishment upon such offender, to be laid upon his bare back, to the number of lashes not exceeding thirty, by means of a whip or lash of suitable proportions and strength for the purpose of this act.”

“Section 2. That the punishment provided in the first section of this act shall be inflicted by the marshal of the District of Columbia, or by one of his deputies, within the prison inclosure, and in the presence of a duly licensed physician or surgeon and of the keeper of the said prison or one of his deputies, but in the presence of no other person.”

President Roosevelt has long been in favor of some stringent law in the District of Columbia to prevent wife-beating. In his message to the Fifty-eighth Congress he said:

“There are certain offenders, whose criminality takes the shape of brutality and cruelty toward the weak, who need a special type of punishment. The wife-beater, for example, is inadequately punished by imprisonment, for imprisonment may often mean nothing to him, while it may cause hunger and want to the wife and children who have been the victims of his brutality. Probably some form of corporal punishment would he the most adequate way of meeting this kind of crime.”

It was in pursuance with this suggestion that Mr. Adams introduced the bill. The bill will come up before the Committee on the District of Columbia, at an early day, and it is thought that it will be, favorably reported.

In discussing the bill, Representative Adams said:

“I should say that one great difficulty in having the bill receive favorable report, or on presenting arguments on its merits, is to get the people to eliminate, the sentimental notion against the infliction of corporal punishment and to consider fairly the economic reasons for the application of the whipping post to the particular crime of wife-beating. Except the shock to his emotions, the average citizen is in no wise interested whether a man beats or does not beat his wife. But what is the result to the citizen pecuniarily? The cost of the trial of the wife-beater is incurred under the present law, and if convicted, the wife-beater is incarcerated and the taxpayer pays for his support. But the evil does not end here. The wife and children of the wife-beater are deprived of the support he could give them, and they probably pro to the almshouse. There again the taxpayer foots the bills. As to the alleged inhumanity of the punishment, the opponents of the trill lose sight of the woman who has been beaten and the maudlin sympathy goes out to the brute who inflicted the pain. For one year the statistics gathered in Pennsylvania show that there were 500 cases of wife-beating, most of the cases traceable to intoxication. That I suggest as a thought for the temperance advocate. Five hundred cases in the whole State of Pennsylvania, where there is a tremendous foreign population, against 250 cases in the District of Columbia in one year. It seems to me the time is ripe for action.

“In the State of Maryland, where a similar law to the bill I have prepared was passed, I am informed there was but one conviction for the offense, and that the crime has practically ceased.” When approached by a reporter, Commissioner Macfarland said that he was entirely in. favor of the measure for the establishment of a whipping post Ira the District.”

The Commissioners,” he said, “have once more recommended the enactment of the bill for corporal punishment of wife-beaters, with the statement that they were especially moved to do so by the fact that the punishment would he administered in private. Personally, I believe in corporal punishment for some children, because nothing else will meet the case. A moderate whipping in private will not hurt the man, and it will certainly deter the man from such acts. In judging this matter, the public should not be confused by the misrepresentations put forth by its opponents. It does not propose a public pillory or whipping-post or brutal or cruel whippings, but simply such treatment as will affect men who are flesh rather than spirit.”

Commissioner Biddle smiled when asked for his opinion on the measure. “This
bill, you know, was proposed by a bachelor, Congressman, and .now you want his opinion of the bachelor Commisioner. Personally, I am in favor of the bill. In my opinion, the present method of punishing this offense does not meet the necessities of the case, as it has the effect to take away from, the wife her means of support during the period of the incarceration of her husband.”

Commissioner “West admitted that he had heartily indorsed the bill of Representative Adams, and said: “A man who beats his wife ought himself to be beaten. This is certainly one of the cases where the old Mosaic law, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life Tor a life,’ ought to toe enforced. If such a law as the one proposed’ by the Hon. Mr. .ni.dams should be enacted I do not believe it would be put into execution more than two or three times. It would teach human brutes a well-deserved lesson.”

Maj. Sylvester, the Chief of Police, has a rather intimate knowledge of the subject.
“The statistics,” “he said, “gathered from a police standpoint should alone warrant the adoption of the bill, and when we stop to think of the many dastardly details which attach to many of the cases, the reasons of its adoption are all the more formidably presented.”

J. Goldsworth Gordon, president of the school board, expressed himself in no uncertain terms. I am heartily in favor of it. It is a most salutary thing, and the only punishment adequate to the offense “

Right Rev. Henry Satterlee, Bishop of Washington, said: “The cruelty of the whipping post is objectionable to me, but I do believe that there are some persons who are only brought to their senses by such punishment. In addition there are other classes of persons, who, like anarchists, are extremely sensitive to anything that makes them ridiculous. I do believe that the disgrace of coming to the whipping post would-be a great deterrent to this species of crime.”

It would seem that a bill which so thoroughly champions women’s cause would be indorsed by them, but, with two or three exceptions, they looked horrified when the subject of the whipping-post was mentioned, and said dramatically, “Certainly not.”

Ellen Spenser Mussey, the woman lawyer, said: “I do not believe in the whipping post. I consider it a step backward, and in this age we can surely find a more advanced method to punish such brutality. At all events,” she said with a smile, “the woman whose husband was perhaps justly receiving the lash would stone the sheriff.”

Mrs. West, wife of Commissioner West, evidently does not agree entirely with her husband on the subject. “I have not given this subject very serious condition,” she said, “for it is hard for me to imagine a man who would In at his wife or a wife who would endure such humiliation. But I am opposed to whipping a child or even a dog, so I am opposed to the whipping post.”

Mrs. Mary S. Lockwood, one of the four of the original founders of the Daughters of the Revolution and a member of the Federation of Clubs, and probably one of the best known women in Washington, remarked: “My daughter and I were discussing this subject only this morning at breakfast, and we decided, after gi.injj over both sides of the question, that we are unalterably opposed to the establishment of a whipping post in Washington, or anywhere else. It is brutal, demoralizing, and degrading. Isn’t it disgrace enough for a family to have the father beat the mother of his children, without the additional disgrace attached to the flogging of the father? The law, as it now stands, is disgraceful. When a man, in  drunken rage, beats the woman he has promised to honor and cherish, the law steps in and gives him sixty or ninety days at hard labor. The government qr is the worth of the laborer’s hire, and the wife and helpless children clinging to her skirts can starve for the time the provider for the family is in jail. I am in favor of the confinement at hard labor for the wifebeater, and the governor to turn over the receipts of the hire the convict’s helpless family.”

Mrs. Mary S. Henderson, wife of ex-Senator Henderson said, tersely be the point: “Do away with the dram shops. And see if a whipping post is recovered. Statistics show that nine-tenths of the wife-beating cases are due to the brute being under the influence of liquor.”

Mrs. Francis, a colored member of the school board, announced herself as being utterly against the bill. “It is humiliating and degrading,” she said, “but if established should be applied to white and colored alike.”

Mrs. William E. Chandler, wife of ex-Senator Chandler, of New Hampshire, left no room for doubt that the bill had sympathy. “I cannot imagine any punishment too strenuous for the man heats his wife. If the woman who had been beaten would sew her husband up in a sheet when he is asleep, and when he awake use the cat-o‘-nine tails him, vigorously, there would be fewer a for wife-beating. But the women won’t do this, and the bill of Mr. Adams is the next best thing. Let the wife-beater have a taste of the medicine he has given the woman so unfortunate as to be his wife.”

Mrs. Margaret Dye Ellis, superintendent of legislative and petition work for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Baton, said: Last year I wrote an article for the Union Signal, our official paper, in which I partially indorsed the whipping post, but it caused a storm of protest and I was well criticized. I have spent weeks in Delaware investigating the whipping post, and while the lash is not applied to wifebeaters, but for larceny only, I am not so sure that such a sentence, judiciously carried out, is wrong. There are three whipping posts in Delaware, one at Dover, one at Newcastle,, and one at Georgetown. I visited each one of those places, and at Newcastle I was fastened to one of the posts, my hands tied, while the sheriff demonstrated with a whip the manner in which the lashed were applied. A sheriff in Delaware, according to the law, may not deputize any one to inflict the punishment but must  do so personally. After the prisoner’s hands have been tied and his back bared, he takes the lash and applies it, with his arms straight out. He may not bend his arm, for fear of inflicting too severe a blow. The law also provides that the whipping post must be public to further humiliate the victim, and the gates of the prison yards are thrown wide open, I have known of children on their way from school to stop and witness a flogging. This is extremely degrading and demoralizing, and, I understand, is to be prohibited if the law goes into effect in Washington.”

[“Whipping Post for the Wife Beater – Indorsed By Officials; Opposed By Women,” The Washington Post, Jan. 28, 1906, Part 2, 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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