[Ads-l] hat name

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 29 21:12:00 UTC 2016

On Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 2:38 PM, Benjamin Barrett <mail.barretts at gmail.com>

> It seems like an important historical term if it is or has been in use.

Naming subject peoples has always been a problem, even when the
subject-peoples name themselves.

There's the ongoing hoo-rah over the character with the first name, "Miss
Watson's old nigger Jim" and no surname, none being necessary, since
everyone knew which "Jim" he was from his first name. After Emancipation,
he might have become "Jim Watson" or even "James Watson."

Thurgood Marshall's ancestor is said - perhaps apocryphally, to have
mirror-imaged this process. Marshall was descended from a slave known as
"Mr. Thoroughgood's man, Marshall," leading you to expect him to be renamed
to "Marshall Thoroughgood," upon emancipation. However, the ancestor is
said to have gone with "Thoroughgood Marshall," instead. Marshall himself
is said to have changed the spelling of his first name to match its

Such name-changing is - or was - commonplace. I was born "Wilson Garrett
Gray," a name that I have never used under any circumstances at any time in
my life. For no particular reason. Thangs jes' be's that way. Youneverknow.
The middle name is my mother's maiden name.
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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

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