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Mugwump (A)

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A word borrowed from the Algonquin, meaning one who acts and thinks independently. In Eliot’s Indian Bible the word “centurion” in the Acts is rendered mugwump. Those who refuse to follow the dictum of a caucus are called in the United States mugwumps. The chief of the Indians of Esopus is entitled the Mugwump. Turncoats are mugwumps, and all political Pharisees whose party vote cannot be relied on.

“‘I suppose I am a political mugwump,ʹ said the Englishman. ‘Not yet,ʹ replied Mr. Reed. ‘You will be when you have returned to your allegiance.ʹ”—The Liverpool Echo, July 19th, 1836.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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