"quality of being distinct or individual, individuality," 1815, from individual + -ism. As the name of a social philosophy favoring non-interference of government in lives of individuals (opposed to communism and socialism) first attested 1851 in writings of J.S. Mill.
Is it not the chief disgrace in the world, not to be an unit; not to be reckoned one character; not to yield that peculiar fruit which each man was created to bear, but to be reckoned in the gross, in the hundred, or the thousand, of the party, the section, to which we belong; and our opinion predicted geographically, as the north or the south? [Emerson, "The American Scholar," 1837]