[Ads-l] "slave"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 2 21:37:17 EDT 2016


> The term “freemen,” whose heroism is celebrated in the fourth
stanza, would have encompassed both.

Not quite. In fact, this goes off the deep end in the opposite direction.
"Freemen" unquestionably means the free citizens of the United States, just
as "hirelings and slaves" refers to the British. See OED, def. 1, and
consider the repetition of the signature phrase, "land of the free." I.e.,
as opposed to the land of British monarchical rule.

Key would have had to have been an amazing visionary to believe, in 1814,
that slaves of the Americans would one day be "freemen." And he would also
have to have been incredibly inept to place such a prophecy into this
particular poem with no buildup, no explanation, and no clue that he didn't
mean U.S. citizens.

I see nothing in the poem indicating that Key wanted his audience to think
about the wartime or peacetime activities of black slaves. "The
Star-Spangled Banner" contrasts brave, free Americans with the contemptible
British. Perhaps even more, it is about the symbolic significance of the
flag (and Ft. McHenry) withstanding a nightlong bombardment by several
British warships - the WMDs of the period.

 Literal African slaves would seem not to figure into that metaphoric and
symbolic  patriotic discourse.

JL

On Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 8:14 PM, Joel Berson <berson at att.net> wrote:

> I'm gratified to read that Mark Clague agrees with me.  :-)  In
> particular, I quote another paragraph from his article, additional to the
> one Ben quotes:
>
> "The middle two verses of Key's lyric vilify the British enemy in the War
> of 1812, what Key refers to in Verse 3 as "hirelings and slaves." This
> enemy included both whites and blacks, largely British professional
> soldiers (hirelings) but also the Corps of Colonial Marines (slaves). The
> Colonial Marines were escaped black American slaves who joined British
> forces because of the promise of freedom in return for fighting their
> former masters."
>
> Joel
>
>
>       From: Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
>  To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>  Sent: Friday, September 2, 2016 6:48 PM
>  Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "slave"
>
> Mark Clague, a musicologist at the University of Michigan and the founding
> board chairman of the Star Spangled Music Foundation, wrote this rebuttal
> on CNN:
>
> http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/31/opinions/star-spangled-banner-
> criticisms-opinion-clague/
>
> The New York Times has an interview with Clague:
>
> http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/03/arts/music/colin-
> kaepernick-national-anthem.html
>
> Relevant excerpt:
>
> ----
> The social context of the song comes from the age of slavery, but the song
> itself isn’t about slavery, and it doesn’t treat whites differently from
> blacks. The reference to slaves is about the use, and in some sense the
> manipulation, of black Americans to fight for the British, with the promise
> of freedom. The American forces included African-Americans as well as
> whites. The term “freemen,” whose heroism is celebrated in the fourth
> stanza, would have encompassed both.
> ----
>
>
> On Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 3:38 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > And the basis for preferring that reading over the figurative use of
> > "hirelings and slaves" as a set phrase is what?
> >
> > Cf. OED "slave," Ib & 2a.
> >
> > The stanza in question:
> >
> > And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
> > That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
> > A home and a country should leave us no more!
> > Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
> > No refuge could save the hireling and slave
> > From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
> > And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
> > O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
> >
> > These "hirelings and slaves" vaunted that war would end the United
> States.
> > Former slaves rather than minions of the Crown?
> >
> > JL
> >
> >
> >
> > JL
> >
> >
> >
> > On Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 3:15 PM, Joel Berson <berson at att.net> wrote:
> >
> > > My reading is yes, Francis Scott Key was referring to enslaved blacks
> who
> > > had been recruited by the British -- along with the "hirelings",
> Hessian
> > > soldiers who made up a large proportion of the British forces in
> America,
> > > to reclaim the United States as a British colony.
> > >
> > > Joel
> > >
> > >
> > >      From: Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> > >  To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > >  Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 1:12 PM
> > >  Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "slave"
> > >
> > > This piece has been widely circulated over the last few days:
> > >
> > > https://theintercept.com/2016/
> > 08/28/colin-kaepernick-is-righter-than-you-know-the-
> national-anthem-is-a-
> > celebration-of-slavery/
> > >
> > > Snopes investigates:
> > >
> > > http://www.snopes.com/2016/08/29/star-spangled-banner-and-slavery/
> > >
> > >
> > > On Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 12:37 PM, Jonathan Lighter <
> > wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com
> > > >
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > I stand corrected.
> > > >
> > > > I was too flabbergasted/dismayed/etc. to choose a more historically
> > > precise
> > > > term, something I'm pedantically inclined to do at all times.
> > > >
> > > > Google shows that Blake is not alone in his belief.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > On Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 11:57 AM, Laurence Horn <
> > laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> > > > wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > > On Aug 31, 2016, at 11:02 AM, Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET>
> wrote:
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Sali,
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Do you consider 1814, when "The Star-Spangled Banner" was
> written,
> > as
> > > > > being during the colonial period of the US?  A very Anglo-philic
> > > stance,
> > > > > just what the British were still believing then?  :-)  I would say
> > > there
> > > > > were "enslaved African-Americans" in 1814.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Joel
> > > > >
> > > > > Maybe it depends on whether to be an "X-American" you have to be an
> > > > > American citizens.  As late as the Dred Scott decision (1850s?) it
> > was
> > > > > clear that legally slaves (or "enslaved persons") were not
> citizens,
> > > and
> > > > > thus perhaps on that basis were not (African-)Americans.  On the
> > other
> > > > > hand, they would have been considered American slaves, where
> > "American"
> > > > is
> > > > > more of a place name than nationality.  This is all pretty
> > hindsighty,
> > > of
> > > > > course.
> > > > >
> > > > > LH
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >      From: Salikoko S. Mufwene <s-mufwene at UCHICAGO.EDU>
> > > > > > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > > > > > Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 9:51 AM
> > > > > > Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "slave"
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Just a minor correction, JL. From a historical perspective, there
> > > were
> > > > > > enslaved Africans, not enslaved African Americans during the
> > colonial
> > > > > > history of the US or of the 13 English colonies. During that time
> > the
> > > > > > class of Americans was very restricted, even some Europeans did
> not
> > > > > > count as Americans.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Sali.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > On 8/31/2016 7:06 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > > > > >> Former tennis star James Blake has explained to CNN that "The
> > > > > Star-Spangled
> > > > > >> Banner" is "a song that advocates the killing of slaves."
> > > > > >>
> > > > > >> The "hireling and slave" in the song, of course, are not
> enslaved
> > > > > >> African-Americans but redcoats, Hessian mercenaries, and
> cringing
> > > > > Tories.
> > > > > >>
> > > > > >> Proof? Read the lyrics.
> > > > > >>
> > > > > >> Of course, as D----d T---p has demonstrated, words don't mean
> much
> > > > > anymore.
> > > > > >>
> > > >
> > >
> >
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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>
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



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