A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 20, 2011
Dark Horse

Entry in progress—B.P,

Wikipedia: Dark horse
Dark horse is a term used to describe a little-known person or thing that emerges to prominence, especially in a competition of some sort.

Origin
The term began as horse racing parlance. A dark horse is a race horse that is not known to gamblers and thus is difficult to place betting odds on.

The earliest-known use of the phrase is in Benjamin Disraeli’s novel The Young Duke (1831). Disraeli’s protagonist, the Duke of St. James, attends a horse race with a surprise finish: “A dark horse which had never been thought of, and which the careless St. James had never even observed in the list, rushed past the grandstand in sweeping triumph.”

Use in the political arena
The term has been used politically in such countries as Peru, Philippines and United States.

Politically, the term reached America in the nineteenth century when it was first applied to James K. Polk, a relatively unknown Tennessee Democrat who won the Democratic Party’s 1844 presidential nomination over a host of better-known candidates. Polk won the nomination on the ninth ballot, and went on to win the presidential election.

Other famous dark horse candidates for the United States presidency include:

. Franklin Pierce, chosen as the Democratic nominee and later elected the 14th president in 1852
. Abraham Lincoln, chosen as the Republican nominee and elected as the 16th president in 1860.
. Rutherford B. Hayes, elected the 19th president in 1876.
. James A. Garfield, elected the 20th president in 1880.
. Warren G. Harding, elected the 29th president in 1920 after his surprise nomination.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
dark, adj.
Of whom or which nothing is generally known; about whose powers, etc., the public are ‘in the dark’.
dark horse (Horse Racing slang), a horse about whose racing powers little is known; hence fig. a candidate or competitor of whom little is known or heard, but who unexpectedly comes to the front. In U.S. Polit., a person not named as a candidate before a convention, who unexpectedly receives the nomination, when the convention has failed to agree upon any of the leading candidates.
1831 B. Disraeli Young Duke I. ii. v. 163 A dark horse, which had never been thought of‥rushed past the grand stand in sweeping triumph.
1860 Sat. Rev. 9 593/1 A Headship‥often given by the College conclaves to a man who has judiciously kept himself dark.
1865 Sketches from Camb. 36 Every now and then a dark horse is heard of, who is supposed to have done wonders at some obscure small college.
1884 in Harper’s Mag. Aug. 472/1 A simultaneous turning toward a ‘dark horse’.

3 April 1845, Southern Patriot (SC), pg. 2:
A match had been made on the ice, between the American horse Dread, and the Canadian horse Corbeau. Large sums of money were bet upon Dread, as his performances were well known; whilst Corbeau was comparatively a dark horse. The Canadian, however, won the race easily in two heats of 2.45 and 2.39.

27 November 1875, Pomeroy’s Democrat (Chicago, IL), “TheQuestion of Religion as a Means of Political Agitation, “ pg. 7:
A chief cause of the defeat of the Drmocratic party will be found in the parade on the Republican side of the alleged inclination ofthe Democracy toward the Catholic Church. It is not easy to say to what extent this means of agitation has been influential. So much, however, is certain, that the Republicans made liberal use of it, and that, moreover, in the future they will again ride this dark horse.

7 January 1876, Cincinnati (OH) Daily Enquirer, pg. 5:
THE GENERAL AS A FAVORITE STEED.
White it may not be generally known, it may not be considered treason to state that General Hodge himself has friends who look upon him as the dark horse in the Senatorial race.

5 April 1876, New York (NY) Herald, “The Canvass for the Presidency,” pg. 5:
Conckling, with the backing of Cameron, becomes, in a sporting sense, the favorite, but—Tne Dark Horse may win.

Chronicling America
23 May 1876, National Republican (Washington, DC), pg. 1, col. 1:
Judge Miller as the “Great Unknown.”
George Alfred Townsend writes to the New York Graphic that perhaps Judge Miller, of Iowa, now on the Supreme Bench, is the dark horse.

4 December 1878, Cincinnati (OH) Daily Gazette, pg. 5:
Ohio Modesty.
From the Chicago Tribune.
Because the Hon. J. D. Cox, of Ohio, the other day suggested that Vice President Wheeler might be an available dark horse candidate for the Presidency in 1880, an indignant Ohio newspaper inquires if Mr. Cox don’t know a man in his own State fit to name in that connection.

21 January 1879, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Political Points,” pg. 1:
The value of a “dark-horse” candidate when a lot of wealthy politicians are wrangling over a big office cannot be overestimated. (...)—Baltimore Gazette.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Saturday, August 20, 2011 • Permalink