Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A bit of Davy Crockett 

Crockett is said to have created the word logrolling (used in the post below). I wanted to see where it came from, and it does appear in "Sketches and eccentricities of Col. David Crockett of west Tennessee" by J.S. French in 1833. Crockett apparently wrote a narrative as a preface to the book to correct any wrong impressions, but from this I think we can say the word comes perhaps from a story about Crockett more than from Crockett's own mouth. French relates the following story at pages 79-80 -- I've corrected what appear to be typos, Crockett's words in italics:
While in the legislature, there was a bill before it for the creation of a county. The author of if wished to run the boundary line, so as to support his popularity ; to this the colonel was opposed, because his interest was affected by it. They were hammering at it for some time ; whatever the author of the bill would affect by speaking, the colonel would undo by logrolling; until the matter was drawing to a close, when he rose and made the following speech:

"Mr. Speaker, � Do you know what that man's bill reminds me of? Well, I 'spose you don't, so I'll tell you. Well, Mr. Speaker, when I first come to this country, a blacksmith was a rare thing; but there happened to be one in my neighbourhood : he had no striker, and whenever one of the neighbours wanted any work done, he had to go over and strike till his work was finished. These were hard times, Mr. Speaker, but we had to do the best we could. It happened that one of my neighbours wanted an axe, so he took along with him a piece of iron, and went over to the blacksmith's to strike till his axe was done. The iron was heated, and my neighbour fell to work, and was striking there nearly all day ; when the blacksmith concluded the iron wouldn't make any axe, but 'twould make a fine mattock ; so my neighbour wanting a mattock, concluded he would go over and strike till his mattock was done ; accordingly, he went over the next day, and worked faithfully ; but towards night the blacksmith concluded his iron wouldn't make a mattock, but 'twould make a fine ploughshare ; so my neighbour wanting a ploughshare, agreed that he would go over the next day and strike till that was done ; accordingly, he again went over, and fell hard to work ; but towards night the blacksmith concluded his iron wouldn't make a ploughshare, but 'twould make a fine show ; so my neighbour, tired working, cried, a show let it be � and the blacksmith holding up the red hot iron, threw it into a trough of water near him, and as it fell in, it sung out show. And this, Mr. Speaker, will be the way with that man's bill for a county ; he'll keep you all here doing nothing, and finally his bill will turn out a show, now mind if it don't."
Any parallels between this story and the Senate health care bill are coincidental. Or not. Anyway, seemed worthy of its own post.

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