A quite wonderful column appeared in the New York Times back in May 1899, headlined: “VIRGINIA PEOPLE SLANDERED. An Imaginary Picture of the Flogging of a Girl Published by a French Journal.”
The story reports that a top French paper had published an illustration – sadly not reproduced – of a sheriff flogging an eighteen-year-old girl with a whip, whilst she was tied to the stocks in the main square of a Virginia town.
Nice find, Abel! Imaginary flogging though it was, it’s a nifty few column inches, and so I thought it was worth extracting from .pdf into a .jpg and transcribing in full:
VIRGINIA PEOPLE SLANDERED
An Imaginary Picture of the Flogging of a Girl Published by a French Journal
Washington, May 23  — An example of the manner in which anti-American prejudice is formed in some portions of Europe has been brought to the attention of the State Department in the issue of Le Petit Marseillais of Marseilles, France, of May 7.
This paper contains a full-page illustration in garish colors representing “A Girl Undergoing Punishment by the Whip in America.” The two prominent figures in the picture are the girl who is undergoing a public flogging and the Sheriff. The latter is a tall figure wearing a red shirt and black trousers, his right arm, with which he is wielding a cruel lash, bared to the elbow, while the girl stands with her arms in the stocks and body bare to the hips receiving the blows from the whip.
The chastisement is witnessed, apparently with enjoyment, by a miscellaneous assemblage of old men, young women, and little children, all well dressed, while a number of soldiers stand in the background to support the proceeding with the official authority of the United States Government. Explaining the illustration, Le Petit Marseillais says:
“In a country like America, where one is accustomed to find only progress and new discoveries, one is very much surprised to see a turn — backward — like punishment by the whip. This retrograde movement is performed in the State of Virginia, in which the Legislative Assembly has voted a law permitting the application of corporal chastisement in public.
“The first person upon whom this punishment has been inflicted is a girl eighteen years of age, who was whipped on the public square of Manassas. If one did not notice the modern dress of the crowd present at the scene, in the presence of the Sheriff and the representatives of the public force, he would have thought himself in the Middle Ages in seeing the unhappy girl naked to the waist, both hands held in a piece of plank, while the executor of the law acquitted himself conscientiously of his mission.”
It is only necessary to say that punishment by flogging is not authorized by the laws of Virginia, and that the illustration is purely imaginary.
All right, you kinky academic types. You’ve got a very precise citation: Le Petit Marseillais, May 7, 1899. Next time you’re in the sort of academic library with a rich collection of old French tabloid newspapers, dig that bad boy up. A microfilm print if you must, but if you can lay hands on a color photocopy (or a surreptitious digital photo, depending on the policies of your archive) of the “in garish colors” original, that would be much preferred. You get it, Spanking Blog will publish it.