Date: Sun, 6 Oct 1996 03:16:21 -0400

From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: You'll catch Jessie!

I've gotta call someone named Jesse at his office next week, and maybe

I'll catch him in. Which brings me to the phrase, "You'll catch Jessie!"

In the Magazine of American History's series on Political Americanisms

(vol. 13, 1885, pg. 201), you'll see this:

"GIVE 'EM JESSIE." A party war cry current in the Presidential campaign

of 1856. Fremont, the Republican candidate, had fifteen years before made a

runaway match with Jessie, daughter of Thomas H. Benton, and the popular

favor with which runaway matches are apt to be regarded was made much of in

this case, the lady's name being freely used in song and story by her

husband's political supporters.

A reply was on pg. 302:

GIVE 'EM JESSE [Yes, without the "i"--ed.]--_Editor of Magazine of

American History_: Pardon me if I point out one unquestionable inaccuracy in

Mr. Norton's valuable paper on "Political Americanisms" in your last number

{x111. 201]. The phrase "Give 'em Jesse" [sic] was a familiar New England

objurgation in my boyhood, twenty years before the Fremont campaign, to which

he attributes it. The application to that campaign and the change in

spelling proceeded first, I believe, from Dr. William Francis Channing

(afterwards the inventor of the telegraphic fire alarm), who devised for that

campaign a series of motto wafers, on one of which was inscribed "Give 'em

Jessie." I remember well the amusement created by this new application of an

old phrase, and am not surprised that the new form has driven out the old

one. T. W. H., CAMBRIDGE, Mass.

T. W. H. is probably correct about the antiquity of this American

phrase. This item comes from the New Orleans Daily Picayune, 24 June 1842,

pg. 4, col. 1. For those of you from Boston, I'll also include the "Hub"


Origin of Old Expressions

A great many quaint and useful sayings are floating about, the point and

peculiar expression of which are universally understood, while true paternity

of any one of them is about as questionable as the riddle of the spynx. In

consequence of this unfortunate state of things we have gone into a series of

profound antiquarian researches, and now endeavor to offer the "heraldry" of

a few.

_You'll catch Jessie!_--This is a prophecy of coming danger or trouble.

Jessie was the uglist girl in the village, with the sourest temper, the

sharpest tongue, the shrillest voice, the thinnest lips _and_ the _curliest_

nose that was ever seen or heard of; and blind-man's-bluff was at length

abandoned in the village, because the lads were afraid to be blind-folded,

lest they should "catch Jessie." Here the phrase originated, for the lads

would tease each other when tying the handkerchief by whispering

mischievously--_"You'll catch Jessie!"_


_Up to the Hub._--This phrase is of very simple and local origin. A

dull country fellow was driving a heavy ox team over a piece of swampy land.

when the waggon suddenly settled down into an impassable quagmire.

"Well," said the master, when he came many hours after to view the

mischief--"well, you seem to have done it now pretty essentially."

_"Up to the hub!"_ said the innocent driver, with so droll an expression

of countenance as rivetted, unconsciously to himself, immortality upon the