"Sons of Liberty" -- Barre's or not?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Aug 7 01:48:27 UTC 2012

Still further digging in my mailbag:  Also in
March 2010 I asked David Hackett Fischer the following:

>Did Isaac Barré's use of the phrase "sons of
>liberty" in his speech to Parliament inspire the
>colonials, or had Barré heard colonials use the
>phrase previously?  Everyone says the former,
>including your own "Liberty and Freedom," p. 22, n. 14.

I sent him the 1738 and 1764 quotations as
evidence that the phrase had been in use earlier.

(Barre had been in in the colonies during the
French and Indian War, as Victor observed, and it
ended just 2 years before the Stamp Act and
Barre's speech; he apparently also had
correspondents in the colonies.  So he might have
picked up the phrase from Americans.  Of course
Barre's use could have (re)inspired the colonials
to use the phrase even though they had used it
earlier themselves; the speech as a whole must have been very inspiring.)

To date I have received no reply from Fischer.


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

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