"huzzah" labelled Colonial speech

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Mar 24 16:08:37 UTC 2006

I haven't done that much reading in colonial newspapers and don't have
a "huzza" in my notes until after the revolution.  But here are three;
the first one, at least, is entertaining.

        WANTED, TWO JOURNEYMEN PRINTERS – one of whom, at least, must
be a single Man, who can submit himself to the Customs of a second
table in bachelor’s Hall; both must be steady Printers, willing to
work at all Seasons requisite: their Pay shall be as good as the
Season shall admit of.  ***
        N-Y Journal, January 5, 1788, p. 3, col. 4;
        [a long letter purportedly from a journeyman printer,
addressed to the others] Huzza, my boys! exult forever! the coast is
clear; we shall soon teach these damn fancy master Printers how to
behave! ***  . . . here is the lad to begin with the balls to paint
the chops, and with the brier, to pick the teeth, of the first MASTER
PRINTER, who shall dare to offer a SECOND TABLE, or ever refuse to be
directed in his business, by A JOURNEYMAN PRINTER.  Printers Street,
sign of the Balls and Brier, Jan 8th, 1788.
        N-Y Journal, January 9, 1788, p. 3, col. 3

        [convicts break out of the NY State Pen, located at the time
in Greenwich Village]  *** Meanwhile, captain Pray, the keeper of the
prison, apprized of the circumstance, ran in and attempted to seize
some of the villains, but was himself instantly struck down, stabbed
twice, and severely bruized.  They left him and proceeded to the front
gate, seized the keeper of it, and wrested from him the key -- they
opened the gate deliberately, sallied into the road, and had the
impudence even to HUZZA as they proceeded to the shore.  Having found
a boat ready for their purpose, they rowed to the opposite side of the
north river, and landed a little above the Houboken ferry house.  It
appears on examination they took with them 8 loaded muskets, and that
they are 15 in number  ***
        Commercial Advertiser, November 4, 1800, p. 3, col. 2, from

        She is the largest vessel of her denomination on the ocean.
She took the water in fine style amidst the huzzas of a vast concourse
of spectators.
N-Y E Post, September 27, 1813, p. 3, col. 3

[I know that some of you have low minds, so I had better explain the
the "balls" in the first passage were balls of cloth saturated in ink
that a printer's assistant would pat over the type in order to ink it.]
[But as the poet said, youth is fleeting, but a low mind is a joy


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
Date: Friday, March 24, 2006 8:32 am
Subject: "huzzah" labelled Colonial speech

> I've quickly checked WordOrigins, but I haven't checked the ADS-L
> archives....
> I've spotted this tidbit in my morning paper in an article (AP) on
> the new Revolutionary City gimmick at Colonial Williamsburg:
> "Now they're [costumed workers] performing a play, improvising a bit
> as they walk among the audience, asking observers whether they want
> to break free from England and encouraging people to shout 'Huzzah,'
> a Colonial cheer."
> Has this in fact been found to be the case concerning "Huzzah"? The
> only place I've encountered it is at Ren Faires as part of the
> (fakey) Elizabethan-speak. I see that C11 dates it to 1573. But is it
> still used in the late 1770s?
> This development is really worrisome (to me) because in the museum
> field, we often look to Colonial Williamsburg as a leader in
> conservation of artifacts and historical interpretation.
> ---Amy West
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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