Date: Mon, 2 Sep 1996 21:01:13 -0400
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: "RUNNING" FOR PRESIDENT--Is this the origin?
(I think the previous message went out to the wrong address--sorry.)
Why do Americans "run" for President? Why don't they "sit" or "stand"
for office? Why "run"?
H. L. Mencken, in THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE, pg. 245, states that "A member
of Parliament, if he be one who respects the integrity of his mother-tongue,
does not _run_ for office; he _stands_. But of late the American _to run_
has been coming in, and not long ago an M.P. wrote to me: 'If I think of my
own _candidature_ (_candidacy_), I say _'I ran,'_' etc. An English candidate
is not _nominated_, but _adopted_. If he _stands_ successfully, he _sits_ at
Westminster, and is a _sitting member_."
Does anyone know why we "run"? "Running mate" came later; does anyone
have a "sitting mate"?
This item, which MAY OR MAY NOT be helpful, comes from the political
humor publication THE JUDGE, vol. 6, no. 146, pg. 13, col. 1, August 2, 1884:
"Running" for the Presidency.
"YOUNG AMERICA" wants to know why we speak of a candidate "running" for
the Presidency. The term has its origin, my son, in a famous Indian
amusement called "running the guantlet." In this exciting national game the
citizens ranged themselves into two lines, facing each other, each free and
independent voter and his wife being armed with clubs, stones, hickory
"gads," black-snake mule whips, and one thing and another. Down between
these lines the candidate started on the livliest run his eager legs could
do, and the citizens with great enthusiasm kept him up to his work by letting
him have it whenever they could reach him as he sailed. Every time he
received an unusual thump, that raised a welt like a stuffed snake or laid
the hide open to the bone, or erected a prussian blue lamp as big as a hen's
egg, the entire convention howled with delight and the delegates earnestly
besought each other to give him another one just like it in the same place.
If the candidate got to the end of the course alive, everybody treated
him with the greatest consideration, shook hands with him and asked him to
have something with them, expressing not only their forgiving willingness,
but their most magnanimous anxiety to have anything with him, and the man who
had given him the awfullest lick, right across the misery, with a mahogany
club trimmed with spikes, came right up and assured him that in all their
differences of opinion during the cause he had ever maintained the
profoundest respect and unselfish affection for the candidate personally, and
was now willing to accept the collectorship of Gnu Jahrk [New York-ed.] or
the mission at Senzhames to prove it.
"But you don't see any similarity or connection between that sort of
thing and running for President?"
"Young man, get thee to a kindergarten! You have deceived me. You said
in your letter that you were eleven years old. I see that you are only
three-and-a-half. Go! to a kindergarten go!"--BOB BURDETTE.