A recent tweet by the U.S. president includes this assurance:
I don't have a Racist bone in my body!
A blog post by David Graham, "The One Color the White House Sees Clearly" at The Atlantic Online offers this commentary on the history of the expression "doesn't have a racist bone in [one's] body":
As Christopher Petrella and Justin Gomer wrote in an April Washington Post essay on the history of “racist bones,” the phrase gained currency during the Ronald Reagan administration. When confronted about the racial impacts of its policies, the White House would simply insist it didn’t see color; the policies were intended to affect everyone the same.
Reagan's presidency began in January 1981, but the earliest match for not having "a racist bone in [one's] body" that an Elephind newspaper database search finds is from eight years before that, from Fr. Lawrence E. Lucas, "Giving Thanks," in the Pittsburgh Catholic (December 1, 1972):
It’s thanking the Lord for those good concerned whites who do not have a racist bone in their bodies, who live next door to a black family (the only one in the neighborhood) and who have a close colored friend: the same ones standing in line ready to do violence to prevent a housing project that might attract blacks or blocking the way of young black children in "their school."
The usage here is sarcastic and suggests that the author has heard the expression more than once from or on behalf of people whose claimed lack of racist bones he strongly doubts.
I suspect that not having "a racist bone in [one's] body" is an offshoot of the older expression about not having "a mean bone in [one's] body." The earliest Elephind match for that expression is from Donald Cameron, "Meanness," in the [Hay, New South Wales] Riverine Grazier (April 5, 1884):
The youth whom I will call Brown was known in the town as a firt-rate fellow, free and generous, sociable and ready to share whatever he had with his friends and acquaintances. People would say, "What a fine, free young chap Brown is; not a mean bone in his body. What a contrast to Smith."
Interestingly, "mean" in this instance has the sense "stingy" or "miserly," not "cruel" or "hurtful."
My questions are as follows:
When, where, and in what context did "racist bone in [one's] body" first appear in print?
When, where, and in what context did "mean bone in [one's] body" first appear in print?
Are these two expressions related to an even earlier "[adjective] bone" that was used in a similar way, or is "mean bone" the first of its kind?
Update (July 17. 2019)
To this point, site participants have noted the following earliest documented occurrences of longstanding members of the "not a [modifier] bone in [one's] body" family:
"not a lazy bone in his body": 1826
"not a selfish bone": 1836
"not ... a mean bone": 1858
"not a jealous bone": 1882
"hasn't an artistic bone" 1923
"ain't a racist bone": 1967
Evidently, the "racist bone" is a latecomer to an old and fairly numerous family.