[Ads-l] Slight antedating of "It's a free country"

Steven Losie stevenlosie at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 19 03:03:45 UTC 2022

Slight antedating of "It's a free country"

The Yale Book of Quotations cites James Flint's _Letters from America_,
published in 1822, containing a letter dated June 28, 1819. Here is a
slightly earlier instance, from a newspaper article published on July 5,
1819, quoting a letter dated May 8, 1819:

[begin quote]
Extract of a letter from Philadelphia, written by a native of Lincolnshire,
dated May 8, 1819: — "[..] I am disgusted with the number of black
servants, and still more shocked at the laziness of republican females, who
attend very little to household concerns. It is not unusual to see young
women stand for hours, with their bodies half out the window, staring at
passengers. All the men wear pantaloon trowsers, from the President down to
a porter; I accidentally had breeches and gaiters on one day, and such a
singular dress drew the eyes of these staring damsels to such a degree,
that I was a little picqued, and being determined to try their modesty a
little, I asked one, 'What do you stare at me for?' when she retorted, if
not very politely, yet characteristically enough, 'It's a free country, and
we do as we like!'"
[end quote]

Source: The Leeds Intelligencer and Yorkshire General Advertiser
Date: 5 July 1819 (from a letter dated 8 May 1819)
Page: 2
Column: 5
Database: Newspapers.com

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

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