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In the state of Delaware survive many of the customs which rendered English justice so deadly a century and a half ago. Latest achievement of this commonwealth which still champions the whipping post is a popular, public hanging. A crowd which the spectators at the old Newgate prison would have recognized as kin gathered 5000 strong to see the execution of a negro.
Undoubtedly the instinct of ages past animated the men and women who quietly listened to the sickening snick which marked the end of a black man's life. Such incidents make understand able the sang-froid of the French women of the Parisian terror who knitted without dropping a stitch while the guillotine cut off royalist heads.
To the Delaware folk there was also a circus element in the death penalty. Cheerfully, the crowd selected vantage spots from which to witness the proceedings. Something of the sub-conscious hope that the trapeze acrobat will fall must have drawn men to the hanging, for the death of the platform performer was in this case a certainty.
In many respects the modern audience governed itself in the classic manner handed down from generations of hanging. Despite twentieth century civilization, the etiquette of old-fashioned justice held sway. After the noose had done its work, the body hung long on view for the edification of the populace. Babes in arms were hoisted high on their mother's shoulders that they might see their first dead wrong doer,--no doubt with the worthy expectation of a consequent decrease in crime twenty years hence.
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