on the hustings

on the hustings

Campaigning for office. The noun hustings comes from the Old Norse husthing, for house assembly, which meant a council held by a king or other leader that included his immediate followers (rather than a large assembly of the people). In England husting became a court of law, specifically the highest court of the City of London. Eventually it was transferred, in the plural, to the platform where the city officials sat, and later still to the platform from which candidates for Parliament were nominated. From this last sense came its current meaning of the candidates’ platform for campaign speeches, or simply campaigning. A synonymous phrase with a far simpler history is on the stump. An Americanism dating from the 1700s, it alludes to a tree stump used as a platform by a frontiersman making a speech.
See also: hustings, on
References in classic literature ?
But after a very few sentences of figurative eloquence, the pink-faced gentleman got from denouncing those who interrupted him in the mob, to exchanging defiances with the gentlemen on the hustings; whereupon arose an uproar which reduced him to the necessity of expressing his feelings by serious pantomime, which he did, and then left the stage to his seconder, who delivered a written speech of half an hour's length, and wouldn't be stopped, because he had sent it all to the Eatanswill GAZETTE, and the Eatanswill GAZETTE had already printed it, every word.