A Brief History of Black Friday: How the Mega-Shopping Day Came to Be

The origins of the ever-expanding holiday shopping frenzy on, and beyond, the day after Thanksgiving.

The revolting beginning

Andrea Y. Fraser / Shutterstock.com

The first popularly recorded use of the phrase “Black Friday” had nothing to do with shopping for bargains and everything to do with a fight over who would rule England. On Dec. 6, 1745, the army of the Jacobite political movement, which had been marching south from Scotland in support of returning Roman Catholic “Bonnie Prince Charlie” Edward Stuart and his heirs to the British throne, began a retreat northward.

The English government dubbed the day “Black Friday” as news had reached London that the Jacobites had reached Derby, 10 days from London. Panicky people rushed to withdraw their money from the Bank of England, almost toppling the bank, but the deposed prince and his councilors decided that day they were unlikely to have enough military support to succeed.

The era is depicted in the “Outlander” sci-fi/drama/romance book series by Diana Gabaldon and adapted into the hit TV series of the same name starring Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, the time-traveling nurse, now in its third season on Starz.

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