Tarring and feathering has been dated back to the crusades but was still used even through the 1900’s. This was a very popular method of punishment in Europe, but was also prominent here in the US.
Tarring and feathering was a punishment used for a wide variety of sins stretching from political views, religious beliefs, down to what was seen as social wrongs. For example, if a person were to have an adulterous affair, they may have tarred and feathered.
Though some victims did die by this type of punishment, death was not the goal; the purpose of this was usually pain and public humiliation.
The attacking mob would often strip the victim to his/her waist, and the hot tar would either be poured or painted on. The feathers were usually readily available as most people owned a pillow; sometimes the victim would be forced to roll in the feathers, but most often people would simply throw them at their target. All of this really just depended on the mob. To further humiliate, they’d usually parade the offender through town, often a beating would be given, and the victim was likely to be left tied somewhere for everyone could see.
Very often the surviving victim would be warned to leave town – or else.