What is the origin of the term 'Cracker' as it refers to racist whites?
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
The term "cracker" was and is used most frequently in the southern U.S., especially in Georgia and Florida. Since the 1870s, a nickname for Georgia is "The Cracker State".
Usage of the term "cracker" generally differs from "hick" and "hillbilly" because crackers reject or resist assimilation into the dominant culture, while hicks and hillbillies theoretically are isolated from the dominant culture. In this way, the cracker is similar to the redneck. In the African American community, "cracker" is a racist term for whites.
Since 1900 "cracker" has also been used as a proud or jocular self-description. With the huge influx of new residents from the North, "cracker" is now used informally by some white residents of Florida and Georgia ("Florida cracker" or "Georgia cracker") to indicate that their family has lived there for many generations. However, the term "white cracker" is not always used self-referentially and remains a racist term to many in the region.
There are various theories about the origin of the term "cracker."
The term cracker was in use during Elizabethan times to describe braggarts. The original root of this is the Middle English word crack meaning "entertaining conversation" (One may be said to "'crack' a joke"); this term and the alternate spelling "craic" are still in use in Ireland and Scotland. It is documented in Shakespeare's King John (1595): "What cracker is this . . . that deafes our ears / With this abundance of superfluous breath?"
By the 1760s, this term was in use by the English in the British North American colonies to refer to Scots-Irish settlers in the south. A letter to the Earl of Dartmouth reads: "I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by Crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who often change their places of abode." A similar usage was that of Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species, to refer to "Virginia squatters" (illegal settlers).
Historically the word suggested poor, white rural Americans with little formal education. Historians point out the term originally referred to the strong Scots-Irish of the backcountry (as opposed to the English of the seacoast). Thus a sociologist reported in 1926, "As the plantations expanded these freed men (formerly bond servants) were pushed further and further back upon the more and more sterile soil. They became 'pinelanders,' 'corn-crackers,' or 'crackers.'" [Kephard Highlanders] Frederick Law Olmsted, a prominent landscape architect from the northern United States, visited the South as a journalist in the 1850s and noted that some crackers "owned a good many negroes, and were by no means so poor as their appearance indicated."
Other possible origins of the term "cracker" are linked to early Florida cattle herders that traditionally used whips to herd wild Spanish cattle. The crack of the herders' whips could be heard for great distances and were used to round cattle in pens and to keep the cows on a given track. Also, "cracker" has historically been used to refer to those engaged in the low paying job of cracking pecans and other nuts in Georgia and throughout the southeast U.S.
- How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
- goldensparkler61Lv 41 decade ago
'Cracker' is the person that used to use the whip on the slaves. They would crack the whip to get them to work I guess.
- 1 decade ago
If Im correct my black history teacher said it meant when white slave owners would crack the whip, hence cracker
- 1 decade ago
well, i didn't know, so i looked it up in google.
two meanings, poor southern white trash, or from the Celtic, loudmouth. either way they said that nobody knows how it started.
- 1 decade ago
Cracker meaning lack of pigmentation.
- 412 KiDLv 51 decade ago
The sound of the slave masters whip it has nothing to do with the skin color of a white person.
- SketchLv 41 decade ago
Just read the link below.