1837 "nigger" -- a useful context?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 10 07:58:30 UTC 2009

An excellent work, Joel. Thank for finding it and bringing it to my
attention! Twenty years in the Harvard College Library, informally
known as "Widener Library," and I never came came across it!
Unfortunately, what the author describes on page 40ff is still all too
common to this very day. As everyone no doubt knows by now, I could
tell you stories ...

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 6:00 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
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> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â 1837 "nigger" -- a useful context?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The following quotation seems useful for its explicit context of "a
> hostile term of abuse or contempt" (sense 1.b., from 1775--). Â 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. Â 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. Â The initial portion (about 2/3) is quoted
> in Joanne Pope Melish, _Disowning Slavery_ (Cornell Univ. Press, 1998), p. 245.
> Joel
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