a slur upon the name of Thompson

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sun Apr 5 18:02:21 UTC 2009

"One-Eyed Thompson" was a rascal.  It's remarkable how consistently even the straight-laced papers refer to him as "one-eyed Thompson".  There is a brief sketch of his career in villainy and his family background in The Old Merchants of New York.

I hadn't thought of "Thompson's news" as signifying "stolen news", but it's a possibility; I had been supposing "stale news".

I also hadn't thought of Bennett ad his Herald as "normally mild-mannered"; but in comparison to Mike Walsh and his Subterranean just about everyone would seem mild-mannered.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Gerald Cohen <gcohen at MST.EDU>
Date: Sunday, April 5, 2009 11:19 am
Subject: Re: a slur upon the name of Thompson

>      In reply to George Thompson's question below, here's a
> possibility.  I
> quote now from my monograph _Origin of the Term "Shyster": Supplementary
> Information_ (Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang), 1984,
> p. 83:
> "THOMPSON, WILLIAM H. -- often referred to by his nickname 'one-eyed
> Thompson.' He was indicted on six counts of larceny but was somehow released
> on a nolle prosequi.  In spite of repeated editorials in the _Daily Herald_,
> Thompson remained free; (a detailed article appears in the Sept. 21, 1843
> _Herald_.  The failure to prosecute underscores the corruptness of District
> Attorney Whiting, who was repeatedly denounced as a shyster by Walsh.
> Cf.
> the Walsh-like outburst from the normally mild-mannered _Herald_ (Aug.
> 30,
> 1843): 'That notorious thief and scoundrel known as William H.
> Thompson, or
> 'one-eyed Thompson'...."
>   Btw, a picture of One-Eyed' Thompson appeared in the National Police
> Gazette, March 27, 1847, reproduced in my above-mentioned monograph,
> p. 11.
>    The connection of this fellow with the Thompson mentioned in the Herald
> item of Feb. 6, 1843 seems clear: The other newspapers are allegedly
> stealing the Herald's material in a manner similar to the larceny of
> "One-Eyed Thompson.
> Gerald Cohen
> On 4/4/09 8:55 PM, "George Thompson" <george.thompson at NYU.EDU> wrote:
> >
> > [James Gordon Bennett was the publisher/editor of the New York
> Herald.  Here,
> > he is boasting that because he publishes an issue on Sundays, his
> Herald gets
> > reports of events of Saturday to his readers before the Sabbath-observing
> > papers do.  The Herald's  reports will be copied and garbled by the
> other city
> > papers on Monday, but his readers will already know the stories]
> >
> > It will be "Thompson's news" to the majority of the public. . . .
> > New York Herald, February 6, 1843, p. 2, col. 2
> >
> > So who was this Thompson, and how does his name come to be
> synonymous with
> > stale news?  As you all well know, some of us Thompsons provide our
> readers
> > with only the freshest advices.
> >
> > GAT
> >
> > George A. Thompson
> > Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre",
> Northwestern Univ.
> > Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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