A: The first blackmailers were Scottish landlords who exploited farmers by making them pay rent in livestock or services if they couldn’t pay in cash. Unfortunately for them, the goods they had to hand over were usually worth more than the rent owed, and the landlords didn’t make change.
Around the same time, however, local chieftains started going after the same farmers with the kind of scheme the mafia usually refers to as “selling insurance.” They made an offer the farmers couldn’t refuse: protection for a fee. If the farmers didn’t pay, then the chieftains would unfortunately be unable to prevent ruffians from destroying crops and sacking property.
A raw deal to say the least, the Scottish farmers referred to both types of those situations as “black” because they associated it with the color with evil. They also called it black because both payments were made in goods rather than silver coins (called “white money”). As for the “mail” part, it doesn’t refer to the postal system. That “mail” comes from the German word for “pouch.” The “mail” in the black mail is related to the Old Norse word for “payment” or “agreement.”Powered by Sidelines