In Connecticut, some years ago, there was a politician named K. N. Bill whose given-names were Kansas Nebraska , and he had a sister baptized Missouri Compromise . . . . Thornton reprints a paragraph from the Congressional Globe of June 15, 1854, alleging that in 1846, during the row over the Oregon boundary, when “Fifty-four forty or fight” was a political slogan, many “canal boats, and even some of the babies . . . were christened 54° 40′ .”Shades of William Faulkner’s Snopes names: Admiral Dewey Snopes, Colonel Sartoris Snopes, Montgomery Ward Snopes, Saint Elmo Snopes, and (my favorite) Wallstreet Panic Snopes.
H. L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States , 4th ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936).
Also from The American Language
The American a : The American v. the Englishman : Anglic : “Are you a speed-cop?” : Benjamin Franklin and spelling : B.V.D. : English American English : Franco-American : “[N]o faculty so weak as the English faculty” : On professor : Playing policy : “There are words enough already” : The -thon , dancing and walking Through -thing and -thin’ : The verb to contact