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Letter of August 1, 1613, by Virginia Company shareholder Chamberlain in England to eminent diplomat Carleton advising of news of Pocahontas's capture and the promise of gold among the terms of ransom. His account of Virginia and the pertinent Pocahontas episodes grows over the subsequent editions of his work. (Richmond: Virginia State Library Press, 1957, with introduction by A. Rowse.) (New York: Da Capo Press, 1971.) Letter of June 18, 1614, by the governor of Virginia, who recounts an unsuccessful voyage to Powhatan to negotiate the ransom of Pocahontas and also his role in her conversion to Christianity, a conversion that preceded her marriage to Rolfe, which, in turn, precipitated a period of peace. They speculate it’s a colloquial perversion of “cater-corner.” Variations include: catawampous, cattywampus, catty wonkus. Naturally, Standard Oil threw a hissy fit and tried to impeach him on some fairly erroneous charges (including attending a drunken party with a stripper). He reportedly said the company had offered legislators as much as ,000 for their votes to kick him out of office — what he called “enough money to burn a wet mule.” We Northerners may not know what that means, but at least we know where it comes from.

If you’re living “in high cotton,” it means you’re feeling particularly successful or wealthy. “She was madder than a wet hen.” Hens sometimes enter a phase of “broodiness” — they’ll stop at nothing to incubate their eggs and get agitated when farmers try to collect them.Inebriated Southerners have measured their drunkenness by him ever since. “She’s as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.” When a pig dies, presumably in a sty outside, the sun dries out its skin.This effect pulls the pig’s lips back to reveal a toothy “grin,” making it look happy even though it’s dead.An extremely cocky rooster might think the sun rises simply because he crows. “That thing is all catawampus.” Catawampus adj: askew, awry, cater-cornered.Similarly, an extremely cocky man might think the same when he speaks — and also that everyone should listen to him. “That’s about as useful as tits on a bull.” Only female dairy cows produce milk. And even if you could “milk anything with nipples,” bulls tend to be rather ornery. Lexicographers don’t really know how it evolved, though. “He’s got enough money to burn a wet mule.” In 1929, then-Governor of Louisiana Huey Long, nicknamed “The Kingfish,” tried to enact a five-cent tax on each barrel of refined oil to fund welfare programs.

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(Richmond: Virginia State Library Press, 1957, with introduction by A. Rowse.) (New York: Da Capo Press, 1971.) Hamor, Secretary of the Virginia colony, recounts in detail Captain Argall's capture of Pocahontas, her marriage to Rolfe, and includes the three 1614 letters of Dale, Rolfe, and Whitaker, cited above, as appendices.