Why is extortion money called “blackmail”?

If there is “blackmail” then there must be “white mail.” Mail was a Scottish word for rent or tax, and during the reign of James I, taxes or mail were paid in silver, which, because of its colour, was called “white mail.” During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, bandits along the Scottish border demanded protection money from the farmers. Because black signified evil, this cruel extortion was called a black tax, or “blackmail.”

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