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Washington (Whipping) Post, December 25, 1904. When President Teddy Roosevelt used his bully pulpit to advocate the flogging of wife-beaters, 60% of D.C. clergy backed his play. Arguments pro and con are pretty interesting: You’ve got the one Presbyterian who connects his support for “the lash” to the fact that he’s a “Confederate,” then a Catholic whose opposition stems from his boyhood eyewitness of the brutal whipping of a Maryland “colored man.” It comes as no surprise that flogging sentences were indeed meted out far more frequently to black than white offenders–I’ll post some stats on that later. The con camp also includes slippery-slope thinkers who ask why wives who beat their husbands and/or children shouldn’t also be eligible for a horsehide rolfing. Which reminds me, I’ve got a fair stockpile of abused-husband anecdotes to unload at some point too. The last image in the gallery is of a whipping penalty enacted on April 20, 1926. Five lashes is actually a pretty light sentence and maybe shows waning enthusiasm for the tradition. Ten and twenty lashes seemed to be the standard of industry in its heyday in Maryland and Delaware.

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