"who would want to see his bloody portrait anyway and would there be fights break out in the great crowds awaiting its unveiling and perhaps they could tar and feather the picture, lacking the article itself."
John Meintz, tarred and feathered for not supporting war bond drives during WWI (ca. 1917-18)8
Public DomainJohn Meintz, tarred and feathered for not supporting war bond drives during WWI (ca. 1917-18) - Credit: National Archives

Tarring and feathering was a type of punishment which involved the victim being stripped to the waist, hot tar being poured or painted onto the person, and then feathers thrown on their body so that they stuck to the tar. The practice was never an official punishment in the United States, but rather a form of vigilante justice or mob vengeance.

Notable victims of tarring and feathering in the U.S. include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leader Joseph Smith Jr. in 1832, and the Jesuit priest Father John Bapst in 1851.

The practice continued into the 20th century, with widespread reports of the punishment being carried out in the U.S. during the years surrounding the First World War. In Europe, there were instances of alleged German collaborators being tarred and feathered following the liberation of France in World War II. Similar tactics were also used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army during the early years of The Troubles. As recently as 2007, loyalist groups in Northern Ireland were linked to the tarring and feathering of an individual accused of drug-dealing.