Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Mar 7 18:25:09 UTC 2007

We discussed this some months ago, but the following exx. have appeared from the dead, so to speak, so here they are.

  1892, in John W. Blassingame _Slave Testimony_ (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1977) 507: She is what is known as a "blue-gum nigger."...There was a superstition, not yet extinct, that the bite of a "blue-gum nigger" is more deadly than that of a rattlesnake.

  1896 M. E. M. Davis_An Elephant's Track_ (N.Y.: Harper's) 192 : Der ain' no whiskey in de jug dat kin heal up de bite of a blue-gum nigger

  a1898 in C. W. Brann _Complete Works of Brann the Iconoclast_  IX 164 :But seriously, a man who will make such a suggestion doesn't deserve to die a respectable death. He ought to be bit by a blue-gum nigger, clawed by a buzzard, kicked by a blind jackass and buried face down in a pile of compost.

  1899 in Seymour Stark _Men in Blackface_ (N.p.: Xlibris, 2001) 70: I'se a blue-gum nigger, / You don't want to fool wid me, / I'se as bad a nigger as a nigger man can be.

  1900-02 Joel Chandler Harris _The Making of a Statesman and Other Stories_ (N.Y.: McClure Phillips, 1902) 155: “I'm a blue-gum nigger,” remarked the hack-driver, with a frown.

  1928-29 William Faulkner _The Sound and the Fury_ (rpt. N.Y.: Random House, 1956) 84: They making a bluegum out of you....And when family woman look him in the eye in the full of the moon, chile born bluegum.

  1931 John E. Uhler _Cane Juice: A Story of Southern Louisiana_ 294 (N.Y.: Century, 1931): Dey's a conjur' hyah!...Dey's a blue-gum nigger hyah.

  1952 Eugene Brown _Trespass_ (rpt. N.Y.: Popular Library, 1964) 116: Just who in hell you think you is, you blue-gum jigaboo?

  1965 _New Yorker_ (Apr. 10) [http://www.newyorker.com/archive/content/?060123fr_archive01] : A relatively friendly sheriff in Sunflower County, Mississippi, warned me, confidentially, that my client was a "blue-gum nigger." "Their mouths are filled with poison," he said. "Don’t let him bite you.”...I said I’d try to be careful.

  With luck, I'll never think of this again. The date to beat, from last time, is 1891.


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