Red Hannah reminder of the past

Sussex County whipping post.

Less than a block off The Circle on the side yard of the old Sussex County courthouse is a relic of criminal punishment. People walk by it everyday and don’t even notice it’s an original Sussex County whipping post.

Dubbed Red Hannah by county blacks, the whipping post was not officially abolished in Delaware until 1972, although the last official whipping occurred 20 years prior on June 16, 1952. Delaware was one of the last states to do away with the post.

The whipping post was used as source of corporal punishment for male criminals for centuries.

Criminals could receive 40 lashes for a variety of crimes including wife beating, maiming with intent to ravish, poisoning, assault, embezzlement, robbery, counterfeiting, stealing a horse, ass or mule and showing false lights to cause a ship to wreck.

There were 600 whippings between World War I and World War II, but only five from 1946 to 1952 as the public and key politicians took stands against what was called a barbaric form of punishment.

The following is from an article written by Hal Roth in 2006, which was reprinted from a 1910 newspaper:

“Here in the United States there has been a widespread delivery of sarcastic comment every time one of the three Delaware jails ties up a horse thief to the historic whipping post and squares accounts with him by literally taking it out on his hide.

“Delaware has listened to the voluminous lecturing upon the theme of her Dark-Age barbarism but has defiantly held on to her uncivilized method of dealing out justice. And now the French government, doubtless after a profound study of the Delaware scheme, is proposing seriously to introduce the whipping post as a restraining terror to a certain class of offenders.”

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2 Responses to “Red Hannah reminder of the past”

  1. Caron Lipper Says:

    Thanks for the information, very informative.

  2. John Paul Parks Says:

    I think society would be better served if the whipping post were brought back as a method of punishment. It brings home to the offender, in a painful and acute way, that his conduct is not acceptable, and, at the same time, minimizes his exposure to the prison system, where he might be subjected to far worse abuse at the hands of other inmates. From my study of the old Delaware laws on the subject, the permissible range was not less than five nor more than sixty lashes, well laid across the prisoner’s bare back, and the usual sentence was twenty.

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