Third Degree

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Wed Dec 1 01:26:32 UTC 1999

    Gerald Cohen (and Elizabeth Gibbens, for that Safire fellow) had asked me about "the third degree"--the police punishment that probably originated in New York City.  I had a lot of citations and I even went to the Masonic Temple on West 23rd Street, but I didn't have an antedate of the DA's and OED's "third degree" citation from November 1900 EVERYBODY'S MAGAZINE.
     This is from A DAUGHTER OF THE TENEMENTS (1895) by Edward W. Townsend, pg. 269:

     As he was brought into the Inspector's room Cullen and Tom went out together.
     "I guess we'll have time to walk around a block or two, while the Inspector puts that Chink through the 'third degree!'" the detective remarked.
     Tom had heard of the police operation known as the (Pg. 270--ed.) "third degree." but he knew it would be useless to question Cullen about it.

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