Date: Mon, 6 Oct 1997 06:18:30 -0400
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: "The Backbone of America"; First Monday in October; NY Yankees
THE BACKBONE OF AMERICA
OED's non-anatomical definitions for "backbone" include "the main or
important element, mainstay" (earliest citation is 1849) and "strength of
character, stability of purpose, resoluteness, sturdiness, firmness"
(earliest citation is 1843). OED found English citations, but America may
have had "backbone" first.
This is from the Charleston Mercury, 20 June 1840, pg. 2, col. 6:
_From the New Orleans Picayune._ (Probably only a few days prior to
"THE BACKBONE OF AMERICA."
VHICH IS CLOSELY CONNECTED VITH THE SUBJECT OF ANATOMY.
Ve're trav'lin' o'er our "backbone," George,
And I tell you it's a vide bone!
But vouldn't it be proper
If it vas called our _side_ bone?
Our figure's wery much increased
Awkvard at wery best,
And vhile condensin' in the east,
Ve've spread out in the vest!
Vell, George, ve should have too much sides
For von poor back to bear,
But luckily in fattenin' ve
Prowided for that 'ere;
Ve've got _two_ backbones! vhich prewents
All such lopsided bother,
And yonder sun's the vhole day long
Trav'lin' from von to t'other!
Two spines! a wery curious fact
In the "order wertebrated;"
And then our _ribs_ of States, so vide
And vell "articulated!"
Our soil so braced with muscle, and
Such rivers for our weins;
And all our "wiscera" complete
Except, perhaps, the brains!