Entry in progress—B.P.
Wiktionary: acknowledge the corn
By folk tale, attributed to an instance of a man who stole several horses and the corn to feed them but in court only admitted to stealing the corn.
to acknowledge the corn
1. (idiomatic) To acknowledge defeat or admit to a mistake; to cop a plea; to admit to a small error but not a larger one.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
to acknowledge (admit, confess) the corn: to confess or acknowledge a charge, imputation, failure, etc. (orig. U.S.).
1839 Daily Picayune (New Orleans) 15 Apr. 2/1 We were certain it was not Dutch, and was in error in saying it was Scotch, and ‘acknowledge the corn’.
1842 Spirit of Times (Philadelphia) 16 Mar., Your honor, I confesses the corn. I was royally drunk.
1846 N.Y. Herald 27 June, The Evening Mirror very naively comes out and acknowledges the corn.
1854 B. P. Shillaber Life & Sayings Mrs. Partington 152 The old Sherry admitted the corn, turned over and slept on it.
2 October 1837, Macon (GA) Telegraph, pg. 2, col. 2:
The Nullifiers acknowledge the corn then and admit that all Cuthbert ever said about them is true?
21 November 1839, Florida herald and Southern Democrat (St. Augustine, FL), pg. 1, col. 5:
It was not fair for the farmer to expose them after all, if they did not “acknowledge the corn,” or how do you know it, Mr. Knew Ear-eh?
(A reply to the newspaper New Era—ed.)
Voices from 19th-Century America
Dictionary of Americanisms, by John Russell Bartlett. (NY: Bartlett and Welford, 1848)
ACKNOWLEDGE THE CORN. An expression of recent origin, which has now become very common. It means to confess, or acknowledge a charge or imputation. The following story is told as the origin of the phrase:
Some years ago, a raw customer, from the upper country, determined
to try his fortune at New Orleans. Accordingly he provided himself with two flat-boats—one laden with corn and the other with potatoes—and down the river he went. The night after his arrival he went up town, to a gambling house. Of course he commenced betting, and his luck proving unfortunate, he lost. When his money was gone, he bet his “truck;” and the corn and potatoes followed the money. At last, when completely cleaned out, he returned to his boats at the wharf; when the evidences of a new misfortune presented themselves. Through some accident or other, the flat-boat containing the corn was sunk, and a total loss. Consoling himself as well as he could, he went to sleep, dreaming of gamblers, potatoes, and corn.
It was scarcely sunrise, however, when he was disturbed by the “child of chance,” who had arrived, to take possession of the two boats as his winnings. Slowly awakening from his sleep, our hero, rubbing his eyes, and looking the man in the face, replied: “Stranger, I acknowledge the corn—take ‘em; but the potatoes you can’t have, by thunder.”—Pittsburgh Com. Advertiser.
The Evening Mirror very naively comes out and acknowledges the corn, admits that a demand was made, &c.—New York Herald, June 27, 1846.
Mr. Tyler, in reply (to certain charges), boldly acknowledges the corn, and says that the cards of invitation were signed by him, &c.—New York Tribune, Jan. 26, 1845.
Enough, said the Captain. I’m hoaxed, I’m gloriously hoaxed. I acknowledge the corn.—Pickings from the Picayune, p.80.
2 October 1880, The Sentinel (Trenton, NJ), pg. 1, col. 4:
“I acknowledge the Corn.”
This is the origin of the phrase “I acknowledge the corn:” In 1828 Mr. Stewart, a member of Congress, said in a speech that Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana sent their haystacks, cornfields and fodder to New York and Philadelphia for sale.
Mr. Wickliffe, of Kentucky, called him to order, declaring that those States did not send haystacks or cornfields to New York for sale.
“Well, what do you send?” asked Stewart.
“Why, horses, mules, cattle and hogs.”
“Well, what makes your horses, mules, cattle and hogs? You feed one hundred dollars’ worth of hay to a horse. You just animate and get upon the top of your haystack and ride off to market. How is it with your cattle? You make one of them carry fifty dollars’ worth of hay or grass to the Eastern market. How much corn does it take, at thirty-three cents a bushel, to fatten a hog?”
“Why, thirty bushels.”
“Then you put thirty bushels into the shape of a hog and make it walk off to the Eastern market.”
Then Mr. Wickliffe jumped up and said: “Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the corn.”
New York City • Food/Drink • (0) Comments • Monday, August 27, 2012 • Permalink
A new idiom, shall I say. I really appreciate your website. An interesting website with an interesting design. A lot of interesting info. Thanks.