Michigander etymology and Abraham Lincoln and blends

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 12 13:55:03 UTC 2012

There exists an intriguing tale about the coinage of the term
"Michigander" and Abraham Lincoln. The article at the following link
suggests that Lincoln coined the term in a speech he gave in the US
House of Representatives on July 27, 1848 by blending "Michigan" and


[Begin excerpt]
Some residents of the University’s home state identify themselves as
Michiganders, while others opt for Michiganians as more high-toned. A
few even like Michiganite.
Prof. Richard W. Bailey of the English department has traced the first
documented use of "Michigander" to an 1848 speech by Abraham Lincoln.
In Nineteenth Century English (University of Michigan Press, 1996),
Bailey cites Lincoln’s usage as an example of word-formation by
blending - Michigan + gander.
[End excerpt]

Wikipedia and Wikitionary have entries for Michigander that include
the hypothesis about Lincoln's coinage of the word on July 27, 1848:


The 1842 cite below suggests that the word was already in print before
Lincoln's speech.

Cite: 1842 June 25, Bellows Falls Gazette, [Short untitled article],
Page 3, Column 4, Bellows Falls, Vermont. (GenealogyBank)

[Begin excerpt; Check for typos]
A neat little Paper, called "The Brunswicker," has reached us.
"Phaebus! what a name!" "The Vermonter" does well enough, and so would
the Rhode-Islander, and Marylander and New-Yorker - but come to the
New Hampshirer, or Massachusettser, or Connecticutter, or Michigander
- "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." - The Locomotive.
[End excerpt]

Here is another cite before Lincoln's speech that uses "Michi-Gander".
This term might be an interesting topic for etymologists.

Cite: 1848 July 4, Hudson River Chronicle, Page 2, Sing-Sing, New
York. (GenealogyBank)

[Begin excerpt; Check for typos]
Having concluded upon our course--having decided to support the
nominees, for the reasons previously given, we shall go into the
canvass devoted, soul and body, to the success of the ticket, and
through the four months that will intervene between the present time
and the election, each number of the CHRONICLE shall hurl "a little
more grape" at the great Michi-Gander. and what- ever aid we can give
to the effort to break up and rout the legions of locofocoism, shall
be freely and cheerfully rendered.
[End excerpt]

Garson O'Toole

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

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