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Tarring and feathering

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Tarring and Feathering was a typical punishment used to enforce justice on the early American frontier[?]. Both tar used in construction and feathers from food sources (e.g. chicken) were plentiful in the middle and western United States where the practice primarily flourished. The idea was to hurt and humiliate a person enough so they would leave town and cause no more mischief. Hot tar was either poured or painted on to a criminal while he (rarely she) was immobilized.

Then the person either had feathers thrown on him from buckets or barrels or else he was thrown into a pile of them and rolled around. Then the victim was taken to the edge of town and set free in the hopes he would not return. The feathers would stick to the tar for days making the person's sentence clear to the public. While this pratice was extremely cruel it was usually an effective manner of exile. It was eventually abandoned because it did nothing to rehabilitate[?] its victims of the criminal behavior for which they were sentenced.

The image of the tarred-and-feathered outlaw is so vivid that the expression remains a metaphor for a humiliating public castigation, many years after the practice disappeared.



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