Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Sun Jul 21 14:23:07 UTC 2002

On Sun, 21 Jul 2002, Susan Dean Gilbert wrote:

#Last month's Smithsonian(July, pp.70-77) had a wonderful piece on Ida
#B. Wells and her advocacy for families and victims of lynching.
#Clarissa Myrick-Harris mentioned that the word picnic is believed to
#be a abbreviated or truncated synthesis of the horrific practice of
#"picking" a "ni_ _er" and then lynching him for sport while people sat
#around and ate lunch. She says that today many African Americans see
#this term as insulting and derogative.

If _Smithsonian_ published that without comment, they ought to be
ashamed of themselves for spreading falsehood and promoting ignorance.
It takes no deeper research than the Oxford English Dictionary to find
the word traced back to about 1800 "as an English institution" [i.e., in
England -- not the US], to 1748 in English with reference to foreign
countries, and to French in 1692!! I will give only the earliest

1748 Chesterfield, Letter to Son (in Germany, apparently Berlin):
 29 Oct., I like the description of your _Pic-nic_; where, I take it for
granted, that your cards are only to break the formality of a circle.

The definition for this period is "A fashionable social entertainment in
which each person present contributed a share of the provisions".

-- Mark A. Mandel

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