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View Diary: Racist song in my kid's music class, Part 2 (313 comments)

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  •  My 2 cents. (none)
    As a third generation Floridian, I have to comment on the origin of the term Cracker. Here is a site that adds some weight to some of the above comments.
    See the "What is a Cracker?" page. And yes, my Grandfather and Great Uncle raised Scrub cows, shot and ate Piney-woods rooters and made Low-bush lightning as well as Rot gut.

    The interpretation that I always heard was that it was derived from the Shell Cracker, an easy to catch and tasty main staple of the Florida pioneers diet.

    It was not until a few years ago that I learned that the term also has a negative connotation.

    The present administration is rolling back the Great Society, the New Deal, the Enlightenment, and the Renaissance.

    by JohnInWestland on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 03:04:07 PM PST

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    •  thanks (none)
      That first link you give is quite interesting. I actually read the cracked-corn version in a book I edited, written by a Florida native from a small town on the Panhandle not too far north of Apalachicola (near where I currently live). The link you give says the cracked-corn story is the Panhandle's version, so that explains it!
    •  Word-Detective (none)
      sides with the first of those possible etymologies.  You can check the full article here.

      But the actual source is almost certainly the much older slang sense of "to crack" meaning "to boast or brag," first seen around 1460, and its derivative "cracker," meaning "braggart," which appeared around 1509. The earliest use of "cracker" used in the "poor white" sense discovered so far bears out the connection. In a letter written to the Earl of Dartmouth in 1766, an observer named Gavin Cochrane, referring to bands of outlaws operating at that time in the Southern U.S., noted: "I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode."

      Evidently these outlaws were so successful that their exploits, along with their bragging habits, became legendary throughout the eastern United States. By the early 19th century, "cracker" had become a term applied to poor Southern whites in general.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 04:22:08 PM PST

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