"Guinea" etymology

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 3 06:17:59 UTC 2010

"classification" of "negroes" and "Guinea negro" was identified as
being "more stupid than other kinds".

The reporting of this kind of thinking on the part of slave-drivers
lasted at least through the publication of the Mandingo novels by Kyle
Onstott, beginning in 1957, and reprinted in paperback for a couple of
dekkids or more after that, and a couple of movies, beginning in 1975.


On Mon, May 3, 2010 at 1:35 AM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Guinea" etymology
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I posted two links for "Guinea negro" last Thursday that I grabbed from
> GB. One was Cooper's Red Rover. The other was some random text. But I
> was only looking at 1830-50, and even then only did a partial search.
> http://bit.ly/bJ7kSz
> http://bit.ly/b1CYIb
> I thought it was interesting that a piece in 1843 Knickerbocker referred
> to the New Guinea district identified therein as "African settlement".
> Elsewhere, I saw a reference to "classification" of "negroes" and
> "Guinea negro" was identified as being "more stupid than other kinds". I
> did nor record the location at the time.
> What I did not do before posting is search GNA. So I made up for that
> now. And the results are rather telling.
> Looking backwards, the latest citation for "Guinea Negro" was from a
> February 2009 Miami Herald column by Leonard Pitts which was reproduced
> by a number of newspapers and websites nation-wide in the two weeks that
> followed (last week of February and first week of March). The column was
> in response to the NYPost cartoon that was widely derided as racist. But
> the quote with "Guinea Negro" was picked up from an 1899 Atlanta
> Constitution.
> http://bit.ly/9emYIg
>> "An original Guinea negro whose blood has not been crossed is as
>> docile as a shepherd dog." --The Atlanta Constitution, June 4, 1899
> The hits from 1920 forward all contain old quotes from the 1800s, except
> one that refers to "British Guinea Negro". From 1900 to 1913, it is more
> interesting:
> Pay-Per-View - Boston Daily Globe - ProQuest Archiver - Dec 19, 1903
> ... leader of the "New Guinea negro district, and chairman Boardman of
> the school committee had a heated argument over the school committee s
> edict. ...
> Reading Eagle - Google News Archive - Aug 10, 1913
> ... the Guinea nigger was looked down on by members of su perior tribe?,
> and one of a higher race often felt that a Guinea negro was fit only to
> serve him. ...
> NEGRO KNEW NAPOLEON.; John Francis Observed Fallen Conqueror's …
> New York Times - Mar 17, 1912
> To the Editor o[ The Ncw Yort; Timcs: Your article headed "lh at St.
> Helella" brings to my mind *to fact that in 1860 a Guinea negro by the
> name of John I; ...
> Waifs of the Time A Pathetic Story of the Little Southern "Darky"
> Pay-Per-View - Atlanta Constitution - ProQuest Archiver - Aug 10, 1902
> ... know that while they were jolly and un- complaining and had a
> dialect that would make easy by comparison the Jargon of a South
> Carolina Guinea negro, ...
> In particular, note the first (Boston) hit that refers to the "New
> Guinea district". The Atlanta Constitution gets a number of hits
> post-1860, although all are behind PQ wall.
> Pay-Per-View - Atlanta Constitution - ProQuest Archiver - Jun 19, 1899
> The preacher is Is calle,. a "guinea" negro, one of those who live onl
> the rice plantations. They have a dialect peculiar to themselves and the
> intonation ...
> This one is obviously useful, but clearly has OCR problems. In any case,
> there is a mix of expressions meaning /literally/ a Guinea native (where
> "Guinea" is vaguely the British colonial Equatorial Africa--the same
> area whose gold gave name to the guinea coin--one 1897 reference is to
> "Gulf of Guinea Negro") and more generally a subset of African slaves
> and their descendants in the US. A couple of hits in 1884 and 1888 refer
> to "New Guinea negro".
> So it is quite clear that the usage stretches at least from the 1820s
> (Cooper) to the early 1900s, and that goes for both "Guinea negro" and
> "New Guinea district". I am not suggesting that there was no such usage
> before the 1820s, but I simply did not search earlier papers or books.
> I also did not bother looking for "Guinea nigger" although this was an
> obvious evolutionary development:
> http://bit.ly/dyPfoE
> Popular science monthly, Volume 81. November 1912
> Negroes Who Owned Slaves. By Calvin D. Wilson. p. 484
>> The black man in America has always been imitative, and his desire to
>> do what the white man did doubtless also influenced him in this
>> matter. Moreover, there were in his country tribal differences and
>> antagonisms which continued to obtain in America; the " Guinea nigger
>> " was looked down on by members of superior tribes, and one of a
>> higher race often felt that a Guinea negro was fit only to serve him.
> VS-)
> On 5/2/2010 9:19 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>> ...
>> I think one can so infer for "Guinea", as the historians of Northern
>> black post-bellum settlements apparently do   (I have not -- yet --
>> gone to those secondary sources.)  But finding written evidence is a
>> different matter.
>> Thoreau's sentence -- "Some say that he was a Guinea Negro." -- seems
>> unambiguous that "Guinea", at least as the place name, was used as an
>> attributive with a noun referring to a person.  Google Books finds 6
>> different instances of "he was a Guinea negro" (including Thoreau)
>> between 1845 and 1890.
>> And another for "he's a Guinea negro", additionally with "Guinea" =
>> "African person" -- "Helvington: a dramatic story in five acts"
>> (Memphis: Bulletin Pub. Co., 1867), page 10:
>>        "NED W.  Oh, that is old Crow. He's a Guinea negro. MRS. S. How
>> interesting! A Guinea? Do introduce me, I wish
>> to converse with him."
>> For "Guineas live", there is Joel Chandler Harris's "Daddy Jake the
>> runaway: and short stories told after dark" N.Y: The Century Co.,
>> 1896), in a story titled "Why the Guineas Stay Awake", page 120:
>>        "Yit, soon er late , w'en he got ter whar de guineas live at,
>> he foun' um all soun' asleep. ..."
>> Joel
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