Posted by ESC on September 04, 2003
In Reply to: The river, down posted by ESC on September 04, 2003
: : Looking for the origin of this phrase......believe that it is distinct from "sold down the river" and may have something to do with being sent to prison e.g to Sing Sing from New York City.
: : Thank you!-)
: SELL DOWN THE RIVER - "To betray someone. The saying originated in the southern states of the United States and was used in connection with the illegal slave trade after 1808. The South and Southwest cotton and sugar businesses were booming, and slaves from the upper South were bought, transported down the Mississippi River and sold at the markets of Natchez or New Orleans." From the "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
UP THE RIVER - "was originally an underworld term for a sentence in a reformatory or jail. It probably derives from the fact that New York State's most famous prison, Sing Sing, is 'up the river' from New York City." From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).