Thursday, July 9, 1998

Old Burlington Laws

Like many other historic towns, Burlington has quite a background in the area of local laws, including some which may seem a little strange to modern-day residents. Here are a few examples which were in effect in 1879:
  • Throwing stones down an alley was punishable by a fine of 3 dollars, or 24 hours in jail.
  • Throwing putrid fish in the streets would earn you a fine of 5 dollars.
  • A 10-dollar fine was levied on those who dug pits in the roads.
  • Anyone who obstructed a constable from catching a runaway goat would be fined 25 dollars.
Naturally, not all laws were quite this strange. One rather practical law decreed that stray geese would be killed and their meat be used to feed the poor, with a small portion taken out to feed the family of the constable responsible for apprehending them.

And in 1851, a precursor of modern environmental laws established a 5-dollar fine and up to five days in jail as the punishment for anyone who put "any offensive, putrid or unwholesome substance, whatever" in the Delaware River.

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