When is a U.S. senator like a British hunting dog?

In case you’ve ever wondered (as I have) why the second in command of each party caucus in the U.S. Senate goes by the title of “Whip,” I came across the origin this weekend as I make my way through the outstanding multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro. Caro writes:

In 1913, for the first time, the Democratic caucus elected an Assistant Leader, called a “whip” after the”‘whipper-in” of a British fox hunt who is assigned to keep the hounds from straying, whipping them back into line if necessary.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/12/2013 - 07:11 pm.

    Caro’s “Master of the Senate”

    I read Caro’s great work shortly after it was published and still find it a valuable resource about the arcane rules and odd customs of the Senate. I wonder if anyone of the current Democratic leaders of the Senate have ever read it, or, as Johnson did, read and mastered these rules. I often get the impression that the Republicans have read both and, like their ancestors, the Dixiecrats, they have used this knowledge to great effect to thwart change and progress.

    Interesting history of the origin of the term “whip.” I recently watched the brilliant BBC program “House of Cards” with its two sequels, “To Play the King” and “The Final Cut” about the rise of Frances Urquhardt. (On which the US series is based). Urquhardt starts his career as a Tory whip. I wonder if the US Senate version came directly from fox hunting directly or was adapted from this British parliamentary position?

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/13/2013 - 07:26 am.

    (quote)Part II – Hunting


    Part II – Hunting Etiquette

    A. LANDOWNERS – “You have no business on a man’s land but are there by his sufferance and he is entifled to every consideration.” If you take down a rail you should put it back. If you open a gate you should shut it. If you break,a fence or do any damage that you cannot repair, you should report it at once to the responsible officers of the Hunt so it may be made good. Do not jump fences unnecessarily. If your horse breaks a fence when hounds are running, or when there is no other way through, it is an accident; but if you jump a farmer’s fence for fun or experience, it means to him that you are too lazy to build a schooling course for yourself, and the Hunt and all hunting people are blamed for your thoughtlessness. Do not hack on private property without the express permission of the owner. Be careful when smoking, particularly during the dry seasons.

    B. NEVER CROWD THE HUNTSMAN – Never get between the Huntsman and the pack, and never, if you can possibly avoid it, get between any hound and the Huntsman. The Huntsman should be given the right of way at all times – pull your horse well away from the passing hounds with your horse facing the hounds.

    C. THE WHIPPERS-IN must also be given the right of way at all times. The sooner each gets forward to his proper position, the surer you are of sport. Do not follow a Whipper-In when he is sent off on a point. Never get between a Whipper-In and the Huntsman on the road. Never ride beside a Whipper-In for he may have to turn quickly and unexpectedly.

    D. THE HOUNDS – Keep away from them at all times. Even if you consider the hounds worthless, the Master may be quaintly indifferent to your opinion. Remember the quietest horse will kick at a strange dog, and the stupidest dog distrusts a strange horse, so KEEP AWAY. NO HOUND CAN HUNT WHILE FIGURING THE ODDS OF BEING BITTEN, KICKED, OR STEPPED ON, and if the Field keep pressing them in any direction, however slowly, the benighted beasts are capable of thinking there is a rational cause for it. And KEEP AWAY FROM THE HUNTSMAN so he may be in full view of the hounds so they can see him and follow his movements and signals. Do not get between the Huntsman and the Whipper-In on the road. There are miles of road before and behind where your equestrianism will be more appreciated.

    E. COURTESY TO OTHER RIDERS – “Remember that the most important gait in a hunter is the halt. If your horse won’t stand, teach him; if he won’t learn, sell him; if he won’t sell, shoot him.”…”If your horse is a kicker, braid a red ribbon in his tail as a warning but remember, the red ribbon does not rid you of responsibility. If some darn fool keeps riding up on his heels, and he shows signs of resenting it, hold his head up and warn them off. Do not crowd against other horses or get the annoying habit of getting slightly ahead of another horse.” If you see a hole, turn your head to the rear and say “ware hole” in a tone just loud enough to reach the rider next behind. If you go through a gate, the last man through is expected to close it. YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY AT ONCE IF YOUR HORSE REFUSES A JUMP. Never jump so close behind another person that you take a chance of jumping on him it he falls. These rules, of course, are merely common sense and the people who break them do so either through ignorance or lack of control. More exercise for your horse and less oats may be all that is needed. Sometimes a different bit will help.

    (end quote)

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