Problem with OED's First Use of "Capitalism"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Mar 22 16:13:35 UTC 2012

This was discussed in 2007 (October-November); Subject: Antedating of
"Capitalism" and "capitalist".  From the archives it seems I may be
to blame for the 1816 quotation!  The last word in that discussion
was from Fred:

>I had posted an 1848 antedating of "capitalism" (OED 1854).  Stephen
>Goranson and Joel Berson posted earlier citations in an Argentinian
>context going back to 1816, but I responded that I had been aware of
>such citations but had regarded them as not the same term, probably
>referring to Buenos Aires as the capital of the country rather than
>referring to financial capital.  I think the following citation
>makes clear that I was correct in this:
>1820 H. M. Brackenridge _Voyage to Buenos Ayres_ 107 (Making of the
>Modern World)  The new government immediately took measures to
>convene a NATIONAL CONGRESS, which would fairly represent the whole
>body of the people; and to do way [away with?] every idea of
>capitalism, it was appointed to meet at Tucuman, 1200 miles in the interior.


At 3/22/2012 10:33 AM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
>I have just started to take a look at the March batch of OED
>revisions.  I see a problem with the entry for "capitalism."  The
>1816 first use citation is clearly not referring to the economic
>sense of the word, but rather to some kind of Argentinian usage
>relating to Buenos Aires being the capital of the country.  This is
>clearcut if one looks at the source periodical of the citation and
>at other early uses of the word.
>Fred Shapiro
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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