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Judicial CP - August 1878

Corpun file 22387


The New York Times, 14 August 1878

A Girl Whipped for Larceny.

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The Richmond Dispatch of Tuesday prints the following letter from Mr. A.M. Kelly concerning a case which has been widely commented on by newspapers:

"The Northern papers have during the past month very diligently circulated a story of the public whipping on the bare back of a white girl by a black constable in Elizabeth City County, of this State, upon a conviction for petty larceny. The publication has been generally accompanied by indignant denunciation of the Virginia people who could elect such an officer that would impose such a punishment on a female, and upon the public sentiment that would tolerate it; and I presume every right-thinking man instinctively shared somewhat that sentiment. Suspecting that there was some exaggeration, if not a wholesale falsehood, in the story, I addressed the County Clerk a request for information as to the facts, who courteously and promptly returned a letter, inclosing the following statement by the Sheriff:

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HAMPTON, Va., Aug, 10, 1878.

DEAR SIR: Referring to the whipping of the white girl at "Mill Creek Village," in this county, about which you inquire, allow me to state the following facts:

Some time in July last a white girl named Ida Cook (not Medill) was arraigned before Justice Larrabee, charged with larceny. The girl was convicted of stealing a pair of shoes and stockings from one of her neighbors.

The Justice gave the girl her choice, either to go to jail for 30 days, or to receive 15 stripes. The girl's mother, who was present, did not wish her to go to jail, but told her to take the whipping. The Justice urged that she had better go to jail. The girl and mother both then insisted upon the whipping, and to be then released. The Justice, after much hesitation, directed that the girl should be whipped and released. The sentence of 15 stripes was then executed by Moses Anderson, the constable of that district, who is a negro. None of the prisoner's clothing was removed, and the punishment was mildly inflicted, no one being present but the constable and myself.

Very respectfully,
M.H. HAAS, Sheriff Elizabeth City County.
To Hon. A.M. KELLEY, Richmond, Va.

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