pumpkin lads

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed May 19 22:14:02 UTC 2004

This day, at 12 o'clock, two Boats, the YANKEE and the SNIPE, start from Powles Hook to Courtlandt street wharf, for one hundred Dollars; the former to be rowed with four, and the latter with six oars.  The YANKEE is to be rowed by four pumpkin lads, and is, as yet, the favorite.  The SNIPE is very deceitful, and if not closely watched, will give her antagonist the DODGE.  N-Y Gazette & General Advertiser, February 16, 1808, p. 3, col. 1

I have seen reports on this race in several other newspapers, but none give any idea of what a "pumpkin lad" might be.  A story in the Gazette the next day included the interesting sidelight: "The Snipe was rowed by six negroes, who pulled a good strong oar, but they were not so dexterous as the PUMPKIN LADS."  N-Y Gazette & General Advertiser, February 17, 1808, p. 3, col.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

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