Potential racism of "auction block"
JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Wed Jul 31 14:20:59 UTC 2002
So what are these earlier examples, Jesse?
Looking at the cites in the Making of America database, it appears that most early uses of "auction block" were pejorative uses by abolitionist writers starting in the early 1850s. Of course, it's possible that the MoA database has a pro-abolitionist bias.
From: Jesse Sheidlower [mailto:jester at PANIX.COM]
Sent: Tuesday, July 30, 2002 11:09 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Potential racism of "auction block"
I don't dispute the fact that the phrase has been in use for
some time even in a figurative sense, nor that auctions have
been around for a very long time, as Frank acknowledges. But
my earliest example (which I don't have now, I'm at home) of
the _phrase_ "auction block" is several decades earlier than
1865, and it and other examples seem to suggest that the
phrase was associated with slavery in a more than random way.
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