antedating "face the music" (1834); and "vetoite"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Sep 27 18:14:16 UTC 2007

Interesting that the early cites are all coming from New Hampshire.
When some of us were looking at this expression on alt.usage.english a
few years ago, I pulled up some antebellum cites from ProQuest, with
the earliest used by New Hampshire senator John P. Hale in 1848. That
led Donna Richoux to speculate that the phrase might have originated
in the New England tradition of contra dancing, which was apparently
most popular in New Hampshire:

These earlier cites would certainly lend credence to that theory. But
it would be great to find a smoking gun, something explicitly
connecting "face the music" to contra dancing.

--Ben Zimmer

On 9/27/07, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> Another early cite (also from New Hampshire):
> As Van Buren, however, has now given 'assurances' that he will not be
> a _Vetoite_, we are curious to see how the tories will get over it.
> Come gentlemen-no dodging-face the music.-_Dover Enquirer_.
> Portsmouth [New Hampshire] Journal of Literature and Politics, May
> 23, 1835, page 2, col. 6.  Early American Newspapers.
> vetoite:  not in OED2.  No Google hits.
> Joel
> At 9/27/2007 01:25 PM, Stephen Goranson wrote:
> >1834 The editor of the Courier has profitted by the suggestion of his Troy
> >neighbor of the Patriot, and with a proper show of feeling accuses the editor
> >of the Statesman of having been turned out of the Hall of the House of
> >Representatives by the Tories (News) [19th C US Newspapers]
> >      New-Hampshire Statesman and State Journal (Concord, NH) Saturday, August
> >02, 1834; Issue 12; page 3, col B.
> >....Will the editor of the Courier explain this black affair. We want no
> >equivocation--'face the music' this time--Gove and Barton are able backers.
> >
> >1838  New-Hampshire Statesman and State Journal, (Concord, NH) Saturday,
> >February 17, 1838; Issue 41; page 3, col B. [19th C US N]
> >     Suppression of Documents by Stinson?s Bondsmen Vox Populi.
> >Category: News
> >....Face the music, Governor!
> >
> >1838 New-Hampshire Statesman and State Journal, (Concord, NH) Saturday, March
> >10, 1838; Issue 44; page 2, col A   Multiple News Items Category: News [19th C
> >US N]
> >....Uncle Sam has to face the music; while if the loss falls upon their
> >opponents, it touches their cold victuals.
> >
> >1838 Dover Gazette & Strafford Advertiser, (Dover, NH) Tuesday, November 20,
> >1838; Issue 52; [page 1?-- Browse list not working; the page includes
> >the paper
> >name and date in upper right and no page no.], col A
> >     The editor of the Enquirer says he has conclded [sic] the
> >publication of Mr
> >Bonds Speech Category: News [19th C US N]
> >....We like to have men come "up to the chalk"--face the music, George.
> >
> >
> >faced  the music:
> >1836 The Herald, (New York, NY) Tuesday, March 29, 1836; Issue 17; page
> >4,col A
> >     Boston Police Category: News [19th C US N]
> >....The court appeared to be somewhat struck with the sublime
> >indifference with
> >which he faced the music, or rather the fire of the witnesses, and
> >asked him if
> >he did not wish to question them.
> >
> >Stephen Goranson
> >
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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