The Pigg River Slangwhanger, 1840

The following description appeared in The Richmond Enquirer, Richmond, Virginia, on March 21, 1840. Who knew that Chatham (which at that point was not called Chatham yet) had piazzas back then? Probably most folks simply called them porches.

Chatham did have a number of taverns in the 1800s, as Frances Hallam Hurt and other writers documented. Some of these taverns were sites of murders, fights, and other crimes.

If anyone figures out who the Pigg River slangwhanger might be, please leave a comment!

I attended our court yesterday, and, as the boys in your street would say, we had some fun. The Whigs, ever active, were out in obedience to a call . . . It was suspected they intended to speechify for the purpose of getting up a hurrah for Harrison. About 12 o’clock, it was announced at the taverns that there was to be – not a Whig meeting – but speeches delivered, and all were invited to attend.

When I reached the designated point, I found a Whig meeting organized in a piazza. . . . After a short time, I heard the voice of the great Pig[g] River slangwhanger. . . . The aforesaid slangwhanger adopted pretty much the same style of blustering, self-confidence, he used seven years ago, when he returned from Richmond a Nullifier, and met with a memorable discomfiture.

He talked very large, and loud, and boastingly – Told what great things he could do in argument, and how easily he could convince the people, if they would hear him. (Forgetting that almost every voter in the county has heard him again and again, within the last seven years, and that he has talked to them more than any three men in the county.)

He went so far as to challenge his adversaries to meet him in argument. This challenge was promptly accepted. – For this, he seemed not to be prepared: He forthwith drew back . . . . Some sharpshooting and excitement followed, but no discussion. The meeting seemed to fail . . . It produced no animation, no hurrahs among the Whigs. One of the resolutions I heard announced, was, that every Whig voter in the county, should be placed on the Whig Committee of Vigilance. This is truly a committee of the whole!