Riding shotgun: Difference between revisions

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The expression "riding shotgun" is derived from "[[shotgun messenger]]", a colloquial term for "express messenger", when [[stagecoach]] travel was popular during the American [[American frontier|Wild West]] and the [[Colonialism|Colonial]] period in [[Australia]]. The person rode alongside the driver. The first known use of the phrase "riding shotgun" was in the 1905 novel ''The Sunset Trail'' by Alfred Henry Lewis.
 
{{quote|Wyatt and Morgan Earp were in the service of The Express Company. They went often as guards-- "riding shotgun," it was called-- when the stage bore unusual treasure.<ref name=sunsettrail>{{cite web|url=https://booksarchive.googleorg/details/sunsettrail00lewigoog|page=[https://archive.comorg/books?iddetails/sunsettrail00lewigoog/page/n373 349]|quote=rwg3AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA349&dq=%22riding+riding shotgun%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjC7NSYjJXaAhXG2VMKHUmfDZYQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=%22riding%20shotgun%22&f=false.|title=The Sunset Trail|publisher=A.L. Burt Company|last=Lewis|first=Alfred Henry|accessdate=30 March 2018}}</ref>}}
 
It was later used in print and especially film depiction of stagecoaches and wagons in the [[Old West]] in danger of being robbed or attacked by [[bandit]]s. A special armed employee of the express service using the stage for transportation of bullion or cash would sit beside the driver, carrying a short [[shotgun]] (or alternatively a [[rifle]]),[https://books.google.com/books?id=QILdMe7lYXgC&lpg=PP1&dq=.gov%3Ariding%20shotgun%20wild%20west%20stagecoach&pg=PR6#v=onepage&q=shotgun&f=false] to provide an armed response in case of threat to the cargo, which was usually a strongbox.<ref>{{Cite book|title=The Old West in Fact and Film: History Versus Hollywood|last=Agnew|first=Jeremy|publisher=McFarland|year=2012|isbn=0786468882|location=Jefferson, North Carolina|pages=17}}</ref> Absence of an armed person in that position often signaled that the stage was not carrying a strongbox, but only passengers.<ref name=phrases>{{cite web|url=http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/riding-shotgun.html|title=Riding shotgun|work=phrases.org.uk|accessdate=May 1, 2010}}</ref>