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Posted by ESC on May 25, 2001

In Reply to: Nobody else knows, either posted by R. Berg on May 25, 2001

: : I know it is not a phrase but anybody have anything on "caucus"?

: : There is an ancient germanic/romantic/latin word "kauka" meaning drinking vessel but then the trail gets cold.

: : One of the organizers of the Boston Tea Party was the Caucus Club of Boston whose sole mission was to oust the Brits from the US Colonies in the 1760s or so.

: : Since the New England Colonies were big on shipbuilding, were the members of said club workers who used "caulking"---a rubbery waterproofing material--hence the word "caucus" from "caulkers"?

: : Since my sources are mainly cyberdigital net objects I was hoping somebody had a book or 2 sitting on a real wooden shelf which could be accessed by human digits.
: : I thank you in advance,
: : bk

: : BTW,
: : For all you barbequers (sp?) this weekend:

: : Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?
: : Ever notice how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?

: "Caucus" is a tough one. Oxford English Dict.: "Arose in New England: origin obscure. Alleged to have been used in Boston U.S. before 1724; quotations go back to 1763. Already in 1774 Gordon ("Hist. Amer. Rev.") could obtain no 'satisfactory account of the origin of the name'. Mr. Pickering, in 1816, as a mere guess, thought it 'not improbable that "caucus" might be a corruption of "caulkers'," the word "meetings" being understood'. For this, and the more detailed statement quoted in Webster, there is absolutely no evidence beyond the similarity of sound; and the word was actually in use before the date of the event mentioned in Webster. Dr. J. H. Trumbull ("Proc. Amer. Philol. Assoc." 1872) has suggested possible derivation from an Algonkin word "cau-cau-as-u," . . . 'one who advises, urges, encourages', from a vb. meaning primarily 'to talk to', hence . . . 'to urge, promote, incite to action'. For such a derivation there is claimed the general suitability of the form and sense, and it is stated that Indian names were commonly taken by clubs and secret associations in New England; but there appears to be no direct evidence."

William Safire, in "Safire's New Political Dictionary," (Random House, New York, 1993), says: "...the term itself seems to be genuinely American, deriving from an Indian word meaning elder or counselor. John Adams in 1763 noted the existence of a discussion group in Boston called the Caucus Club."