Goramity: The oath and exaltation 'God Almighty' rendered in writing (with and without capitalization,) as black dialect: But I wish I was back again with old massa on the bay/ For I never knowed I was a fool,till since I runned away;/ For I never wanted vituals, or I never wanted clothes,/ Or I never hurt myself with work, that, goramity knows! "Coloured Fugitive's Lament," Christy's Plantation Melodies, New York: Fisher & Brother, 1851, Book 3: 40-41.
Gossoon: A Gaelic word meaning 'young man.' The word is used in Cotton’s biographical sketch prefacing his “Uncle Snow Songster.” Irish immigrants in the Northeastern United States had a significant role in minstrelsy – in the content of the songs, in the national origins of the minstrels themselves, and in significant numbers of the audience attending these performances in New York or Boston. This ethnic cast to the “only native American art” is, to date, a relatively unexamined one.
Graphic: A term in tumultous transition, reflecting the advent of visual reproduction technologies during the 19th century. In newspapers, books, and photography, the graphic quickly becomes detailed beyond anything previously seen - not sketched, or caricatured, but intensely real.
1) Pertaining to the art of writing or delineating. 2) Well delineated. 3) Describing with accuracy. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1846.
Grotesque: There are few words in the world of minstrelsy that are as fraught with disgust and awe as this. The word underwent subtle but significant evolution during the 19th century, driven in large part by its regular use in minstrel publicity and performance. At the opening of the century grotesque was a word describing fanciful and whimsical behaviour. By the end of the 1800's the word encompassed literary style and artistic content linked to physical disability; the deformed and freakish. The grotesque was closely associated with the eccentric and peculiar insomuch as all three words speak to a singular departure from some supposed norm. This network of related meanings helps to explain why the phrase "the peculiar institution" had such a long run in the political debate of the period. Abolitionists argued that slavery was a distortion of human rights. Slaveowners justified slavery as a necessary restraint on barbarity. See also caricature.
The streets of Topeka were enlivened recently by an original Indian war-dance! A party of Kaws, among whom were several chiefs, begrimmed with paint and bespangled with trinkets and jewels, visited the place on a trading expedition, and were induced to perform their war-dance. The performance was utterly indescribable. Of all the outlandishly grotesque and ridiculous positions it is possible for the body to assume, or the gruntings, howlings and yellings of which the human tongue is capable, this exhibition surpasses everything we had ever before witnessed. It was a sight, however, which it will be well to treasure up in our memory, as not many years will elapse before the wildhaunts of the savage will be converted into thrifty farms and cities—homes of industry and intelligence—while their original possessors shall be known as a people that were, and the legend of a war-dance will be a thrilling theme for the novelist and the antiquarian. "Indian War Dance in Kansas," New York Clipper, May 1, 1858