Published just before the Civil War, this dictionary offers a fascinating glimpse into the American underworld in the first half of the nineteenth century As New York City's Chief of Police and an owner of the National Police Gazette, George W. Matsell [1811-1877] had an abiding interest in criminal speechways. Although he compiled this dictionary for his colleagues in law enforcement, Matsell recognized its value to the linguist. As he tes in the preface, criminal terms were beginning to enter general usage and appeared regularly in newspapers, court reports and other publications. Includes such entries as acorn (a gallows), hemp the flat (choke a fool), rumbo (a prison) and tyburn blossom (a young thief). The appendix contains samples of criminal speech and writing (with translations) and the vocabularies of gamblers, billiard players, pugilists and stock brokers of the era.