Caucus - Origin of The Term

Origin of The Term

The origin of the word caucus is debated, but it is generally agreed that it first came into use in the English colonies of North America.

A February 1763 entry in the diary of John Adams of Braintree, Massachusetts, is one of the earliest appearances of Caucas, already with its modern connotations of a "smoke-filled room" where candidates for public election are pre-selected in private:

This day learned that the Caucas Clubb meets at certain Times in the Garret of Tom Daws, the Adjutant of the Boston Regiment. He has a large House, and he has a moveable Partition in his Garrett, which he takes down and the whole Clubb meets in one Room. There they smoke tobacco till you cannot see from one End of the Garrett to the other. There they drink Phlip I suppose, and there they choose a Moderator, who puts Questions to the Vote regularly, and select Men, Assessors, Collectors, Wardens, Fire Wards, and Representatives are Regularly chosen before they are chosen in the Town...

An article in Great Leaders and National Issues of 1896 surveying famous presidential campaigns of the past, begins with an unsourced popular etymology of the origin of the caucus:

The Origin of the "Caucus"
The presidential nominating convention is a modern institution. In the early days of the Republic a very different method was pursued in order to place the candidates for the highest office in the land before the people. In the first place, as to the origin of the "caucus." In the early part of the eighteenth century a number of caulkers connected with the shipping business in the North End of Boston held a meeting for consultation. That meeting was the germ of the political caucuses which have formed so prominent a feature of our government ever since its organization.

No wholly satisfactory etymology has been documented. James Hammond Trumbull suggested to the American Philological Association that it comes from an Algonquian word for "counsel", 'cau´-cau-as´u'. Other sources claim that it derived from medieval Latin caucus, meaning "drinking vessel" such as might have been used for the flip drunk at Caucus Club of colonial Boston.

An analogical Latin-type plural "cauci" is occasionally used.

Read more about this topic:  Caucus

Other articles related to "origin of the term, origin, the term":

Sweat Box - Origin of The Term
... The origin for the term "sweat box" is said to date back to when Walt Disney would view the scenes completed through rough animation with his animators and critique their work ...
Cloud Clients - History - Origin of The Term
... The origin of the term cloud computing is unclear ... The term became popular after Amazon.com introduced the Elastic Compute Cloud in 2006 ...
Alphabet City, Manhattan - 20th Century - Origin of The Term
... The term's first appearance in the New York Times is in a 1984 editorial penned by then mayor Ed Koch, appealing to the federal government to aid in fighting crime on the ...

Famous quotes containing the words origin of, term and/or origin:

    For, though the origin of most of our words is forgotten, each word was at first a stroke of genius, and obtained currency, because for the moment it symbolized the world to the first speaker and to the hearer. The etymologist finds the deadest word to have been once a brilliant picture.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents—if the term is to be used at all.
    Bernadette McAliskey (Nee Devlin)

    The real, then, is that which, sooner or later, information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is therefore independent of the vagaries of me and you. Thus, the very origin of the conception of reality shows that this conception essentially involves the notion of a COMMUNITY, without definite limits, and capable of a definite increase of knowledge.
    Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914)