Enforcing the Law

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To punish criminals, a unique two-story whipping post and pillory was located behind the New Castle County Courthouse. This photograph was taken about 1900. In Delaware, the whipping post was finally abolished in 1972.

Enforcing the Law

The whipping post and pillory have a long history in Delaware. Whipping was first sanctioned as a form of punishment in 1717. By the 1840s, there was some opposition to its use and many thought reforms were needed. The Legislature did revise the code and in 1852 there was a provision that no more than sixty lashes or more than one hour in the pillory would be executed for all sentences combined. The code also stated that whippings were to be well laid on the bare back and in public with the post and pillory near the jail of each county. The pillory was abolished in 1905, but the whipping post was law until 1972. The post was last used as a form of punishment in 1952.

The General Photograph Collection is a broad collection of photos spanning the 20th century with a few from the late 19th century with the 1940s through the 1960s heavily represented. It has a variety of subjects from business and local events to towns and education. This photograph is from the government and politics section.