Flamewars, 1839 Style

by Joey deVilla on March 23, 2010

I’ve heard a lot of people say that the need to have arguments in public and win popular support is an unintended consequence of social networking services. I think that things like Twitter and Facebook make it easier and that they vastly expand the reach of an argument, but that we’ve had that urge to have flamewars long before the internet.

Here’s a data point for my thesis: a placard from 1839 that wouldn’t seem out of place on any online debate, aside from the dated language.

"TO THE PUBLIC: The object of this placard is to inform the Public that Gen. Leigh Read has declined giving me an apology for the insult offered me at St. Mark, on the 5th inst. That he has also refused to me that satisfaction, which as an honorable man, (refusing to apologise,) he was bound to give. I therefore pronounce him a Coward and a Scoundrel. -- WILLIAM TRADEWELL, Tallahassee, Oct. 26, 1839."

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Cam March 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm

“aside from the dated language”
- That and the fact that he used real names and the people involved know where they live. It is much easier to call a person a scoundrel when they can’t find you to beat the crap out of you. William Tradewell shows he is NOT a coward.

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