Southerns vs. southerners

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Dec 18 16:37:23 UTC 2001

A few weeks before the passage quoted below, the editor of The Evening
Star (Mordecai Noah) had reviewed a novel called The Kentuckian in New
York, or, the Adventures or Three Southerns, published anonymously, as
by "A Virginian".  The paragraph below was preceeded by several
paragraphs responding to the review, copied from an unnamed Georgia
newspaper, but the specific remarks by the Georgia editor that prompted
the paragraph I quote aren't included.   Evidently since the book was
published by Harper's, of New York City, the Georgia editor suspected
that it was really by a Yankee.  The author is in fact a Virginian,
William Alexander Caruthers.

Now read on.

        "As to the affectation which the editor charges in using the
term Southerns, we would ask him for his authority in using
Southerners.  There is no authority on the subject except the Scotch,
and it authorized Southrons.  We had the authority of one of the most
distinguished transatlantic female writers of the day for our term."
        Evening Star, July 2, 1834, p. 2, col. 4.

I see that the earliest citations for Southerners, Southerns and
Southrons given in the Dict of Americanisms are all from 1827 or 1828.
DAE gives Southerns as first dated to 1834, and the subtitle of
Kentuckian in New York is given as the source.

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

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