President = C. E. O. of a brothel, 1831
george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri May 21 23:40:33 UTC 2010
Joel Berson asks: "Is this instead a satiric slur on the sitting President of 1831, and not literally the title of the CEO of a brothel? The President in 1831 was Andrew Jackson. *** It would, of course, help if one found a furniture sale, or something
that could be satirized as one, attended by Jackson or some of his officials or supporters."
I don't read the political folderol in these papers, generally. I have the vague notion that the Courier at this time was a Jackson paper. But even if it were an opposition paper, I think it's very unlikely that this story is an allegory, or whatever, or a hint that Jackson has so debased the office that "President" was on a level with the manager of a whore house. I suppose it was suggested by a real incident.
To wander a bit -- years ago I heard an interview with an elderly jazz musician who was on the faculty of some liberal arts college. He was asked how he liked teaching at a college. Well, he thought it was wonderful, he was especially happy to see so many young people interested in the music, and some of them played really well -- but there was one thing that made him uncomfortable. When the students spoke to him, they always addressed him as "Professor". Now, when he was a young fellow, coming up, a "Professor" was a man who played piano in a whore house, so to him "Professor" was a term of opprobrium.
George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
Date: Friday, May 21, 2010 7:07 pm
Subject: Re: President = C. E. O. of a brothel, 1831
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Is this instead a satiric slur on the sitting President of 1831, and
> not literally the title of the CEO of a brothel? The President in
> 1831 was Andrew Jackson. I am only faintly familiar with anything
> past 1740, but my little reading about political campaigns of the
> early 19th century suggests that much writing was
> opprobrious. Jackson certainly was controversial. His supporters
> were considered common and low class, and I can imagine him being
> compared to the manager of a brothel.
> From "A Historical Perspective on Presidential Campaigns", by Dr.
> Ken Stevens, first three paragraphs
> "Think the mudslinging of the 2000 political campaign has sunk
> politics to a new low? Actually, as the dean of presidential
> historians-and TCU emeritus professor-Paul F. Boller, has
> demonstrated in his best-selling book Presidential Campaigns, things
> aren't as bad as they used to be. In the Jacksonian Era-the period
> between the election of Andrew Jackson and the election of Abraham
> Lincoln-scurrilous and vindictive politics was an art form.
> Undoubtedly the most sordid presidential contest in American history
> involved Jackson and John Quincy Adams-the son of a former
> president-in 1828. Bad feeling between the candidates went back to
> the 1824 election, which Adams had won under suspicious
> circumstances. Since no candidate had received a majority in the
> electoral college, the choice devolved on the House of
> Representatives. There, the Jacksonians charged, Speaker of the House
> Henry Clay had made a "corrupt bargain" to support the New Englander
> in exchange for the office of secretary of state. That very year the
> Jacksonians began organizing for the election of 1828.
> For sheer meanness the 1828 campaign has never been matched. ..."
> It would, of course, help if one found a furniture sale, or something
> that could be satirized as one, attended by Jackson or some of his
> officials or supporters.
> At 5/21/2010 06:37 PM, George Thompson wrote:
> > Elegant Furniture. -- Of late, several sales by auction
> > have been announced, of splendid furniture of "a family going to
> > Europe," and the furniture has been exhibited the day previous to
> > the sale for the inspection of the wealthy and fashionable
> > inhabitants of the city. It may not be generally known that some
> > of the sales thus announced, are at houses of assignation or ill
> > fame. Now this is very wrong, to allow our wives and daughters to
> > be attracted to such places, under the impression that the sale
> > referred to is in a house of respectability. All the Magdalens,
> > excepting their President, appeared at a recent sale, mingling with
> > ladies of the first respectability, and overbidding for such
> > articles as they fancied. *** Imagine young ladies parading
> > through the bedrooms, admiring the splendid furniture and rich
> > hangings, without being aware of their owners. . . . ***
> > Morning Courier & New-York Enquirer, August 5, 1831, p. 2,
> col. 3
> >This is new to me and to the OED.
> >Madams were called "abbesses" and their brothels "nunneries". I see
> >that OED has president = the head of a religious house, occasionally
> >applied to a woman, but not since the 1390s or thereabouts.
> >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
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
More information about the Ads-l