The New International Encyclopædia/Jayhawker

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The New International Encyclopædia
Jayhawker
Edition of 1905. See also Jayhawker on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

JAY'HAWKER. A name applied in the Southern and Western States of the American Union to an irregular, lawless, freebooting soldier not enlisted or in uniform — a guerrilla or bushranger. The term originated in Kansas during the bloody strife between the slavery and anti-slavery parties, and is said to have been first applied to a few isolated ‘Free State’ men in the southeastern part of the Territory, who organized a system of retaliation against pro-slavery outrages, but who ultimately became robbers and assassins. The term appeared in a proclamation of Gen. James Lane in October, 1861, in which he declared that the people of Kansas were neither thieves, plunderers, nor jayhawkers. The term was also applied by General Sheridan during the Reconstruction period to certain lawless persons in Louisiana. Its origin is not certainly known. According to one theory, it was first applied to Colonel Jennison, of New York, who was known among his comrades as the ‘Gay Yorker,’ a phrase from which jayhawker was corrupted. A more probable theory is that the term was derived from jay and hawk in allusion to the predatory nature of these birds.