[Ads-l] OT: Re: slave

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Fri Sep 2 07:19:16 EDT 2016

On 9/1/16 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> Date:    Wed, 31 Aug 2016 14:13:23 -0400
> From:    Jonathan Lighter<wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Re: "slave"
> I believe Snopes and some of the historians have dropped the ball on this.
> Have they any understanding, themselves, of what the song and its third
> stanza are about?
> Don't they know (Duhhh...Why should they?) that "hirelings and slaves" was
> a political idiom of the period meaning, essentially, "contemptible
> mercenaries and gutless lackeys."
> ECCO, ?1747: "Their Senators shall be Fools and Debauchees, Hirelings and
> Slaves."
> 1748: "And dare the Hireling slave recommend the suppressing of our JUST
> Etc.
> JL
Yup, my interpretation inclines that way, along with yours.
My reading is that it's contrasting those who fight for external reasons 
(pay, forced to: "hireling," "slave") and those who fight for internal 
reasons (freedom, bravery).
But we do need to remember just who were "the free" at that point in time.

---Amy West

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

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