"civil rights", 1827

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Jun 30 19:20:00 UTC 2009

Under "civil, a." sense 5.b., the OED has as part of its definition
"spec. in the U.S., the rights of Black people as citizens."  Its
first citation for this sense is 1866.  (Its only earlier citation
here, 1721, is clearly about the rights of the [white male] people of
the colony of Massachusetts against the royal prerogative.)  There
are 19 quotations (anywhere) for "civil right[s]" earlier than 1866,
but I suspect none apply to the rights of slaves or blacks.

1827 March 16, Freedom's Journal;. page 1. col. 1.  [This is the
first issue of the first African American owned & edited newspaper in
the U.S. (John Russworm and Samuel Cornish).  Quotation from an
article titled "To Our Patrons", stating the purpose of the newspaper.]

"The civil rights of a people being of the greatest value, it shall
ever be our duty to vindicate our brethren, when oppressed, and to
lay the case before the publick. We shall also urge upon our brethren
(who are qualified by the laws of the different states) the
expediency of using their elective franchise; and of making an
independent use of the same. We wish them not to become the tools of party."


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list