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Picture of shufitz
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Here are two on-line two resources if you're trying to trace the older history of a word.

In George Washington's personal papers (65,000 documents), you can for a particular word, and view both a trancript and the handwritten text of the original document. This is part of the Library of Congress site, so presumably others of their collections are similarly searchable.

Bailey's Dictionary is on-line in what appears to be the 1772 edition. If you search a word, it will take you directly to its definition. Warning: it's slow. To use it the first time you'll have to download the djvu plug-in, which is free; if I managed that task, no doubt you can.

Again, this seems to be part of a larger collection of papers from that period.
 
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Picture of Caterwauller
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There is yet another good reason to avoid politics. Can you imagine all of your correspondence being saved, catalogued, digitized . . . all to be searchable by generations to follow. Crikey!


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