Quote: 'till they could see the white of their eyes (attrib General Putnam 1800 June)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 1 01:02:19 UTC 2011

Victor wrote:
> I still have "gherkin",
> "white of their eyes" 1801 ref involving Putnam (antedating all other Putnam
> attributions by about 3-5 years) that I never posted and a handful of others
> that need attention.

Victor's comment about the "whites of their eyes" quotation reminded
me that I never posted the following citation that I found way back in
May 2010. This cite antedates the Putnam attribution to 1800 not 1801.

Cite: 1800 June, The Columbian Phenix and Boston Review, Historical
Sketch From a Note in the Rev. Mr. Parish's Eulogy on Gen. Washington,
Page 331, Printed by Manning & Loring, Boston. (Google Books full

[The pronoun "he" refers to General Israel Putnam at the Battle of Bunker Hill.]

... he harangued his men as the British first advanced, charged them
to reserve their fire, till they were near, 'till they could see the
white of their eyes,' were his words.


It's possible that this is the cite that Victor found, and the dates
1801/1800 are confused. Hence, he may deserve credit for finding this
cite first.

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

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