"fall guy" antedating (1895)

Marc Velasco marcjvelasco at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 21 15:31:11 UTC 2008

nicely done.

I've long suspected datings from the 1890's would be found.  And the locales
you found are pretty interesting too.  Most of the sources I've seen, point
to its beginnings out west.

Newspaperarchives.com says there are at least six citations before 1897.
Supposedly some of them have to do with boxing, though I haven't seen them.
(Two of these are apparently from the NYT, but I haven't found them on NYT's
site... so I'm not sure what newspaperarchives is talking about.)

For me, what's particularly interesting about your 1896 cite, is its
relation to political machinery/corruption.  That's a context for which I
hadn't heard of its existence up until now.  Most of us are readily familiar
with the 'fall guy' who takes the hit to quell a political scandal, but this
one seems much more in line with its early usage regarding con-jobs, etc.

On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 9:39 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> Subject:      "fall guy" antedating (1895)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ADS-L archive has 1903, from Barry Popik.
> Rocky Mountain News, (Denver, CO) Monday, December 16, 1895; pg. 8; Issue
> 350;
> col E
> [Headlines:] Farragarger in Hiding,
> Says Goulding Advised Him to Keep Mum and Close.
> Fears Other Bunco Steerers.
> Sort of a Kind of a Prisoner, as the Chief Wants to Keep Him Within
> Reach--The
> Story of How He Was Worked and the Easy Game He Proved--Only Wants Half of
> His
> Money Back--Bunco Man at the Depot Who Played Policeman
> [article begins :] William Farragarger, who played the part of the "fall
> guy" in the poker game which netted the Seventeenth street grafters $1,100
> is
> now a quasi prisoner in a Denver hotel where he was stored away {before a
> grandjury appearance] by Chief Goulding, who advised him to keep in
> seclusion
> so that bunco men might not find him and rob him of the $140 returned to
> him by
> them to enable the "sucker" to get out of the country....[followed by
> details of
> the scam]
> The Denver Evening Post, (Denver, CO) Friday, May 08, 1896; page 1; col H
>     Webber in the Deal
> President of the Fire and Police Board Takes a Stand ...
> ....In this game Senator Teller is to be used as the "fall guy," to use the
> choice term of the combine....[Teller to be urged to run for Governor, with
> an
> operative of the combine on the ticket for Lt. Governor; then Teller to
> become
> Senator again, and the combine's man, "pledged to every scheme of the
> combine,"
> to become Governor.]
> Stephen Goranson
> http://www.duke.edu/~goranson <http://www.duke.edu/%7Egoranson>
> "Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and Judah the Essene"
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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