Typically when people think of historical moments in time, 'yo mama' jokes are not the first thing that comes to mind. Perhaps they should. According to Scripted.com, the first recorded motherly insult came in 3500 BCE, scribed on a tablet found in Babylon. That random and wild find notwithstanding, most people are familiar with 'yo mama' jokes thanks to their overwhelming trendy popularity in the 1990s. But it appears somebody in Portland, Maine, was ahead of the curve because in 1910, a motherly insult led to a very public and very ugly political incident.

Shared on Reddit by newtestleper79, a newspaper excerpt outlines the incident with vivid detail. The headline alone 'Maine Editor Thrashed by Senator Hale's Son' paints a picture that things were very different in the United States of America more than a century ago. The synopsis of the story seems to be this. A newspaper editor named Charles Thornton Libby used the power of print to insult the mother of hopeful politician Frederick Hale. Hale felt the slight towards his mother to be so significant, that he traveled to Portland, Maine, and administered a horse whipping to Charles Thornton Libby in public.

Portland City Hall in Portland, Maine, on June 21, 2019.
Townsquare Media

The rest of the excerpt reads like an old timey 'put up your dukes' kind of fight. Frederick Hale whipped and then punched Libby, with no return blows thrown. After the public whooping, Libby declared that he respected Hale more because of the ferociousness the man had in sticking up for his mother. Never underestimate the power of the 'yo mama' joke, even more than 100 years ago.


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