Criminal Law

Crim. Law Journal Winter 2020, Vol. 20, Issue 1

AMERICAN SLAVE BRANDING: INSIDIOUS IDENTIFICATION AND DEPRAVED PUNISHMENT

By Lani L. Biafore, Esq.*

A 1845 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier entitled “Branding Slaves on the Coast of Africa Previous to Embarkation. The lithograph depicts a “kneeling, frightened African prisoner being branded on the back by a hot iron held by a slaver.” 1

Introduction

The 1845 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier, supra, entitled Branding Slaves on the Coast of Africa Previous to Embarkation depicts a "kneeling, frightened African prisoner being branded on the back by a hot iron held by a slaver."2 While many injustices inherit in American slavery have been argued, discussed, and written, the concept of slave branding is often mentioned in brief sentences regarding the myriad of punishments inflicted on a slave during the slavery period in the United States.

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