Monday 21 March 2011


First came the shotgun and then came the shotgun wedding. First, came the railroad, and then people were railroaded into doing things. And I had always assumed, by this pretty pattern, that first came the bulldozer and then came the bulldozing of people. How wrong I was! How wrong and how innocent!

A bull-dose is a dose of the bull-whip, or maybe a dose strong enough to kill a bull; and it was the punishment given out in the 1876 American election to those black citizens of the United States who were considering voting for the Wrong Party.

The wrong party in this case was the Republican Party, and the bull-dose given to those who were southern and black and ready to vote for the Elephant was a couple of hundred lashes. The OED's first citation runs:

If a negro is invited to join it [a society called ‘The Stop’], and refuses, he is taken to the woods and whipped. This whipping is called a ‘bull-doze’, or doze fit for a bull.

That's democracy for you. People were thus bull-dozed long before the invention of the bulldozer. In fact, several things including guns were given the name of bulldozer before the large vehicle that we know today was christened in the 1930s.

And it's got nothing whatsoever to do with dozing bulls.

An enemy of freedom

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