Further Antedating of "African-American"

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 25 12:31:10 UTC 2011

The best part here is that it shows the evolution from [African
[American colony]] to [African-American]--but, although this is a noun
and it's completely integral, the meaning is still "Americans in
Africa", not "Americans /from/ Africa". I am assuming, also, that "free
negroes" refers to the indigenous population. Of course, there is a
subtext that the "Americans" who ended up in Liberia are themselves
/from/ Africa, so it may well be a moot point. However, the question
remains as to when the tag "African-American" stopped being applied to
someone who was physically in Africa.

Both types of finds are significant--and I don't want to discount Joel's
pair in the least--but the significance is rather different.


On 9/25/2011 8:02 AM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> African-American (OED3 1855)
> 1832 _Edinburgh Encyclopedia_ XVII. 275 (Google Books)  Since the year 1822 the Americans have founded a colony at the mouth of the river Mesavada, to the south of Sierra Leone.  This colony has been called Liberia, and the principal town Monrovia.  The population consists of African-Americans, and of free negroes.
> NOTE:  Although the 1832 dating appears to be accurate based on the digitized title page, one never knows with Google Books, so this would need to be verified in the print before being accepted.
> Fred Shapiro
> Editor
> YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)

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