[Ads-l] Quote: If I owned Hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 2 04:18:12 EDT 2021

I received a request from a political pundit to explore the provenance
of the quip in the subject line. Here is a link to the Quote
Investigator article:

The Yale Book of Quotations and Barry Popik have entries on this
topic. The earliest match I found appeared a couple months before the
previously known citations.

[ref] 1866 February 22, The Mobile Daily Times, Communicated from
TRAVELER to the Editor of Mobile Times, Quote Page 2, Column 1,
Mobile, Alabama. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
So Gen. Sheridan, who was obliged to stop in Texas awhile on duty,
said if “he owned Texas and h--l both, he would rent Texas and live in
[End excerpt]

The other most important cites in the QI article are dated July 8,
1883 and 1938. The 1938 cite presents an excerpt from a speech by
General Philip Sheridan that supposedly occurred in 1880. It would be
nice to have earlier evidence for that speech.

H. L. Mencken’s “A New Dictionary of Quotations” and Burton
Stevenson's "The Macmillan Book Of Proverbs" (1948) both claim that
Sheridan used the expression in 1855. Mencken and Stevenson usually
provide valuable information, but I have found no evidence before

Feedback welcome
Garson O'Toole

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

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