Sunday, January 18, 2009

"We could never discover that they were peculiar in that"

You've got to admit, in the War of the Names, the Barnburners beat the Hunkers hands down.

Herbert D.A. Donovan identifies two potential derivations of the term "Hunker." "The less probable explanation is that it derived from the Dutch word 'honk,' a post or station, reflecting on their supposed stationary attitude toward reforms."

The other, which Donovan finds more plausible, is somewhat similar to the traditional one of "hunkering" (i.e., hankering) after spoils:
To their rivals for party supremacy, the equally inappropriate and mystifying name "Hunkers or "Old Hunkers" was given. This was supposed to ridicule their strenuous efforts to get a large "hunk" of the spoils of office; though, as [Horace] Greeley slyly observed, "we could never discover that they were peculiar in that," and it is true that during the epoch of the struggle, the Barnburners probably surpassed their rivals both in getting and keeping offices.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails