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Old Southern Politicalisms

Old Southern PoliticalismsBourbon – A Democrat of the straightest sect, a “fire-eater”.  Applied for the most part to Southern Democrats of the old school.  This use of the word probably antedates the Civil War but no instance of such use has been found in print.  We must look to the old Bourbon party in France – uncompromising adherents of political tradition for its paternity.  “They learned nothing and forgot nothing.”

Buncombe, Bunkum, etc. – Talking merely for talk’s sake. The original employment of the word in this sense is ascribed to a member of Congress from Buncombe County, North Carolina, who explained that he was merely “talking for Buncombe,” when his fellow-members could not comprehend why he was making a speech.

Chivalry – “The Southern Chivalry” was a common phrase before and during the Civil War.  It was claimed as a proud title by Southerners and their friends but has always been heard and used in the North with a shade of derisive contempt.

Fire-Eater – A bitter Southern partisan.  It came into use during the early anti-slavery, and is of frequent occurrence in the journals of that time.  It is equivalent to Bourbon, but probably of earlier origin.

Mason and Dixon’s Line – A boundary line surveyed in 1766 by two English surveyors, named Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, to settle a dispute as to territory between Pennsylvania and Maryland.  It follows the fortieth parallel of latitude, and was originally marked by milestones having on one side the armorial bearings of Penn, and on the other those of Lord Baltimore.