1837 "nigger" -- a useful context?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat May 9 22:00:07 UTC 2009

The following quotation seems useful for its explicit context of "a
hostile term of abuse or contempt" (sense 1.b., from 1775--).  The
earlier quotations in OED draft rev. Mar. 2009 do not expressly state
the hostility, but rather are "merely" derogatory of persons.

"Negro or nigger, is an approbrious [sic] term, employed to impose
contempt upon them as an inferior race, and also to express their
deformity of person.  Nigger lips, nigger shins, and nigger heels,
are phrases universally common among the juvenile class of society,
and full well understood by them; they are early learned to think of
these expressions, as they are intended to apply to colored people,
and as being expressive or descriptive of the odious qualities of
their mind and body."

Hosea Easton, _A Treatise on the Intellectual Character, and Civil
and Political Condition of the Colored People of the U. States, and
the Prejudice Exercised by Them. By Rev. H. Easton, A Colored Man_
(Boston: Isaac Knapp, 1837), p. 40.

Interdates 1818 -- a1849.

Google Books, full view.  The initial portion (about 2/3) is quoted
in Joanne Pope Melish, _Disowning Slavery_ (Cornell Univ. Press, 1998), p. 245.


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

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