The "peculiar institution", from 1828 through 1847

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Nov 27 18:25:35 UTC 2010

(Sent to Jesse; copied here in case anyone wishes
to try harder.  I've used EAN, Genealogybank, and
Google Books, the databases I do not have to go to a library for.)

For "peculiar institution" = 'Southern slavery',
the OED draft revision June 2010 has 1829 Jan. 1
(in the plural), and then 1861 (in the singular).

1828 Jan. 26.  [The earliest I've found; plural.]
Richmond Enquirer [Virginia], p 3, col. 2.  [GenealogyBank]
A meeting of the Friends of Jackson was held at
New Orleans on the 19th December. ...
On occasions like the present, the friends of
General Jackson in our sister states have deemed
it necessary to publish to the world the motives
which induce them to give him a preference over
Adams as a candidate for the Presidency­--it
seems however, superfluous to assign the causes
of our preference in Louisiana; a state annexed
to the union in opposition to the recorded votes
of Mr. Adams in the Senate of the United States;
in Louisiana, from whose citizens he would have
withheld the dearest rights and privileges of
freemen; in Louisiana, whose peculiar
institutions have been for years a theme of
invective for the earliest associates, now the
confidential friends of Mr. Adams­nor can it be
required of the inhabitants of new Orleans
minutely to explain the ground of their
predilection for the hero, who under the smiles
of heaven, saved their city from ravage, their
hearths from pollution, and their altars from profanation.
1833 Apr. 13.  [The earliest I've found that
explicitly mentions slavery (the OED's 1829 quotation does not).]
Winyaw Intelligencer [S. C.], p. 1, col. 2.  [GenealogyBank]
Are not the incendiary papers of the
North­established for the avowed purpose of
exciting insurrection among us­still increasing?
One has just been established in New York called
“The Emancipator,” which declares that it “will
advocate the entire and immediate emancipation of
Slaves” ... The mass of the Northern people
understand not our peculiar institutions­--are
prejudiced against them from their very cradles ...
1835 Aug. 18.  [The earliest I've found in the
singular, and explicit re slavery; note that this is a Northern source.]
The Argus (Portland, Maine), p. 3, col. 1.  [GenealogyBank]
Our Southern brethren will find in the subjoined
proceedings of one of the largest meetings ever
held in the city of Portland, something of the
spirit which actuates the great mass of the
people of the North on the Abolition project. ...
Public opinion, the ultimate arbiter on all such
questions, is decidedly against all interference,
direct or remote, with the peculiar institution
of slavery in the Southern States. The
intelligent and patriotic among us, however they
may differ on other subjects, are unanimous on
this. They regard all such attempts as direct
infraction of the compromise by which alone our
Union under the present constitution was
effected, and as a palpable invasion of the
rights of the States, or of the people of the
South, which they have never surrendered to the
control of the Federal Government.
1839 Sept. 25.  ["Peculiar domestic institution",
8 years earlier than the earliest I have found it
spoken by John C. Calhoun, to whom some attribute
it (and this is another Northern source).]
Jamestown Journal [N. Y.], p. 2, col. 4.  [GenealogyBank]
The account we publish in this paper of a riot at
Marion, Ohio, is another specimen of the
corrupting influence of slavery. The peculiar
domestic institution of the South, is thus
showing itself in a way not very likely to
increase its advocates among the freemen of the North.

And for the record, a few more that Jesse is not much interested in:
1828 Dec. 30, Richmond Enquirer; and Dec. 31,
Daily National Journal [D.C.] -- same as OED's quotation of 1829 Jan. 1.
1834 Sept. 9 and 1835 July 30, Southern Patriot
[S.C.], "peculiar institutions".
1837 Feb. 6 [published 1853], "peculiar
institution" used by Calhoun in the U.S. Senate.
1838 July 5, "peculiar institution" used by John Q. Adams in the U.S. House.
1847 March 9, published March 23, Southern
Patriot [S.C.], "peculiar domestic institution"
used by Calhoun at a meeting in Charleston.


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