What Does This Expression Mean...[Run out of town on a rail]?

What does the expression “run out of town on a rail” mean?

Pretty much what it sounds like. In the 19th century, when the townspeople didn’t particularly like someone (say, a petty swindler), they’d tie him to a wooden fence rail and carry him (hanging down from it) to the town limits, making it clear he wasn’t allowed back again. Tar and feathers were optional.

Ah! Thanks…I was thinking someone was simply thrown on a train.

Tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail.

There is a scene of this in “O Brother, Where art Thou?”, perfect example.

Edited title to indicate subject.

General Questions Moderator

I remember that this was the fate of the Duke and the Dolphin at the end of “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn”

It was the subject of a famous Abraham Lincoln anecdote. A group of friends from Illinois was visiting the White House. One of them asked Lincoln how he enjoyed being President. Lincoln replied with a story of a man being tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. When the man was asked how he liked it, he was quoted by Lincoln as saying “If it weren’t for the honor of it, I’d just as soon walk.”

That’s the Duke and the Dauphin :wink:

Not hanging from it, the picture shows him sitting astride it. (echoing the ball-crushing theme from another thread)

Also from Mark Twain - in Tom Sawyer there were moves afoot to run Injun Joe out of town on a rail for grave-robbing, but it turned out that no-one was willing to take the lead, and so the idea was quietly dropped.

I’ve had it done both ways.

It’s a long story, and I don’t want to talk about it.

You do know that throughout the novel Huckleberry called him Dolphin, as he (a barely literate teen) wasn’t sure what the title Dauphin really denoted…