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JOHN HUMPHREY NOYES
First digital edition 2017 by Maria Ruggieri
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTORY
CHAPTER II - BIRDS-EYE VIEW OF THE EXPERIMENTS
CHAPTER III - THEORY OF NATIONAL EXPERIENCE
CHAPTER IV - NEW HARMONY
CHAPTER V - INQUEST ON NEW HARMONY
CHAPTER VI - YELLOW SPRINGS COMMUNITY
CHAPTER VII - NASHOBA
CHAPTER VIII - SEVEN EPITAPHS
CHAPTER IX - OWEN'S GENERAL CAREER
CHAPTER X - CONNECTING LINKS
CHAPTER XI - CHANNING'S BROOK FARM
CHAPTER XII - HOPEDALE
CHAPTER XIII - THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES
CHAPTER XIV - THE NORTHAMPTON ASSOCIATION
CHAPTER XV - THE SKANEATELES COMMUNITY
CHAPTER XVI - SOCIAL ARCHITECTS
CHAPTER XVII - FUNDAMENTALS OF SOCIALISM
CHAPTER XVIII - LITERATURE OF FOURIERISM
CHAPTER XIX - THE PERSONNEL OF FOURIERISM
CHAPTER XX - THE SYLVANIA ASSOCIATION
CHAPTER XXI - OTHER PENNSYLVANIA EXPERIMENTS
CHAPTER XXII - THE VOLCANIC DISTRICT
CHAPTER XXIII - THE CLARKSON PHALANX
CHAPTER XXIV - THE SODUS BAY PHALANX
CHAPTER XXV - OTHER NEW YORK EXPERIMENTS
CHAPTER XXVI - THE MARLBORO ASSOCIATION
CHAPTER XXVII - PRAIRIE HOME COMMUNITY
CHAPTER XXVIII - THE TRUMBULL PHALANX
CHAPTER XXIX - THE OHIO PHALANX
CHAPTER XXX - THE CLERMONT PHALANX
CHAPTER XXXI - THE INTEGRAL PHALANX
CHAPTER XXXII - THE ALPHADELPHIA PHALANX
CHAPTER XXXIII - LA GRANGE PHALANX
CHAPTER XXXIV - OTHER WESTERN EXPERIMENTS
CHAPTER XXXV - THE WISCONSIN PHALANX
CHAPTER XXXVI - THE NORTH AMERICAN PHALANX
CHAPTER XXXVII - LIFE AT THE NORTH AMERICAN PHALANX
CHAPTER XXXVIII - END OF THE NORTH AMERICAN PHALANX
CHAPTER XXXIX - CONVERSION OF BROOK FARM TO FOURIERISM
CHAPTER XL - BROOK FARM PROPAGATING FOURIERISM
CHAPTER XLI - BROOK FARM PROPAGATING SWEDENBORGIANISM
CHAPTER XLII - THE END OF BROOK FARM
CHAPTER XLIII - THE SPIRITUALIST COMMUNITIES
CHAPTER XLIV - THE BROCTON COMMUNITY
CHAPTER XLV - THE SHAKERS
CHAPTER XLVI - THE ONEIDA COMMUNITY
CHAPTER XLVII - REVIEW AND RESULTS
CHAPTER XLVIII - DEDUCTIVE AND INDUCTIVE SOCIALISMS
The object of this book is to help the study of Socialism by the inductive method. It is, first and chiefly, a collection of facts; and the attempts at interpretation and generalization which are interspersed, are secondary and not intentionally dogmatic.
It is certainly high time that Socialists should begin to take lessons from experience; and for this purpose, that they should chasten their confidence in flattering theories, and turn their attention to actual events.
This country has been from the beginning, and especially for the last forty years, a laboratory in which Socialisms of all kinds have been experimenting. It may safely be assumed that Providence has presided over the operations, and has taken care to make them instructive. The disasters of Owenism and Fourierism have not been in vain; the successes of the Shakers and Rappites have not been set before us for nothing. We may hope to learn something from every experiment.
The author, having had unusual advantages for observing the Socialistic movements, and especial good fortune in obtaining collections of observations made by others, has deemed it his duty to devote a year to the preparation of this history.
As no other systematic account of American Socialisms exists, the facts here collected, aside from any interpretation of them, may be valuable to the student of history, and entertaining to the general reader.
The present issue may be considered a proof-sheet, as carefully corrected as it can be by individual, vigilance. It is hoped that it will call out from experts in Socialism and others, corrections and additions that will improve it for future editions.
Wallingford, Conn., December, 1869.
CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTORY
Many years ago, when a branch of the Oneida Community lived at Willow Place in Brooklyn, near New York, a sombre pilgrim called there one day, asking for rest and conversation. His business proved to be the collecting of memoirs of socialistic experiments. We treated him hospitably, and gave him the information he sought about our Community. He repeated his visit several times in the course of some following years, and finally seemed to take a very friendly interest in our experiment. Thus, we became acquainted with him, and also in a measure with the work he had undertaken, which was nothing less than a history of all the Associations and Communities that have lived and died in this country, within the last thirty or forty years.
This man's name was A.J. Macdonald. We remember that he was a person of small stature, with black hair and sharp eyes. He had a benevolent air, but seemed a little sad. We imagined that the sad scenes he had encountered while looking after the stories of so many short-lived Communities, had given him a tinge of melancholy. He was indeed the "Old Mortality" of Socialism, wandering from grave to grave, patiently deciphering the epitaphs of defunct "Phalanxes." We learned from him that he was a Scotchman by birth, and a printer by trade; that he was an admirer and disciple of Owen, and came from the "old country" some ten years before, partly to see and follow the fortunes of his master's experiments in Socialism: but finding Owenism in ruins and Fourierism going to ruin, he took upon himself the task of making a book, that should give future generations the benefit of the lessons taught by these attempts and failures.
His own attempt was a failure. He gathered a huge mass of materials, wrote his preface, and then died in New York of the cholera. Our record of his last visit is dated February, 1854.
Ten years later our attention was turned to the project of writing a history of American Socialisms. Such a book seemed to be a want of the times. We remembered Macdonald, and wished that by some chance we could obtain his collections. But we had lost all traces of them, and the hope of recovering them from the chaos of the great city where he died, seemed chimerical. Nevertheless, some of our associates, then in business on Broadway, commenced inquiring at the printing offices, and soon found acquaintances of Macdonald, who directed them to the residence of his brother-in-law in the city. There, to our joyful surprise, we found the collections we were in search of, lying useless except as mementos, and a gentleman in charge of them who was willing we should take them and use them as we pleased.
On examining our treasure, we found it to be a pile of manuscripts, of letter-paper size and three inches thick, with printed scraps from newspapers and pamphlets interspersed. All was in the loosest state of disorder; but we strung the leaves together, paged them, and made an index of their contents. The book thus extemporized has been our companion, as the reader will see, in the ensuing history. The number of its pages is seven hundred and forty-seven. The index has the names of sixty-nine Associative experiments, beginning with Brook Farm and ending with the Shakers. The memoirs are of various lengths, from a mere mention to a narrative of nearly a hundred pages. Among them are notices of leading Socialists, such as Owen, Fourier, Frances Wright, &c. The collection was in no fit condition for publication; but it marked out a path for us, and gave us a mass of material that has been very serviceable, and probably could not elsewhere be found.
The breadth and thoroughness of Macdonald's intention will be seen in the following circular which, in the prosecution of his enterprise, he sent to many leading Socialists.
"New York, March, 1851.
"I have been for some time engaged in collecting the necessary materials for a book, to be entitled 'The Communities of the United States,' in which I propose giving a brief account of all the social and co-operative experiments that have been made in this country - their origin, principles, and progress; and, particularly, the causes of their success or failure.
"I have reason to believe, from long experience among social reformers, that such a work is needed, and will be both useful and interesting. It will serve as a guide to all future experiments, showing what has already been done; like a light-house, pointing to the rocks on which so many have been wrecked, or to the haven in which the few have found rest. It will give facts and statistics to be depended upon, gathered from the most authentic sources, and forming a collection of interesting narratives. It will show the errors of enthusiasts, and the triumphs of the cool-thinking; the disappointments of the sanguine, and the dear-bought experience of many social adventurers. It will give mankind an idea of the labor of body and mind that has been expended to realize a better state of society; to substitute a social and co-operative state for a competitive one; a system of harmony, for one of discord.
"To insure the truthfulness of the work, I propose to gather most of my information from individuals who have actually been engaged in the experiments of which I treat. With this object in view, I take the liberty to address you, asking your aid in carrying out my plan. I request you to give me an account of the experiment in which you were engaged at ——. For instance, I require such information as the following questions would call forth, viz:
- "1. Who originated it, or how was it originated?
- "2. What were its principles and objects?
- "3. What were its means in land and money?
- "4. Was all the property put into common stock?
- "5. What was the number of persons in the Association?
- "6. What were their trades, occupations and amount of skill?
- "7. Their education, natural intelligence and morality?
- "8. What religious belief, and if any, how preached and practised?
- "9. How were members admitted? was there any standard by which to judge them, or any property qualification necessary?
- "10. Was there a written or printed constitution or laws? if so can you send me a copy?
- "11. Were pledges, fines, oaths, or any coercive means used?
- "12. When and where did the Association commence its experiment? Please describe the locality; what dwellings and other conveniences were upon it; how many persons it could accommodate; how many persons lived on the spot; how much land was cultivated; whether there were plenty of provisions; &c., &c.
- "13. How was the land obtained? Was it free or mortgaged? Who owned it?
- "14. Were the new circumstances of the associates superior or inferior to the circumstances they enjoyed previous to their associating?
- "15. Did they obtain aid from without?
- "16. What particular person or persons took the lead?
- "17. Who managed the receipts and expenditures, and were they honestly managed?
- "18. Did the associates agree or disagree, and in what?
- "19. How long did they keep together?
- "20. When and why did they break up? State the causes, direct and indirect.
- "21. If successful, what were the causes of success?
"Any other information relating to the experiment, that you may consider useful and interesting, will be acceptable. By such information you will confer a great favor, and materially assist me in what I consider a good undertaking.
"The work I contemplate will form a neat 12mo. volume, of from 200 to 280 pages, such as Lyell's 'Tour in the United States,' or Gorrie's 'Churches and Sects of the United States.' It will be published in New York and London at the lowest possible price, say, within one dollar; and it is my intention, if possible, to illustrate the work with views of Communities now in progress, or of localities rendered interesting by having once been the battle grounds of the new system against the old.
"Please make known the above, and favor me with the names and addresses of persons who would be willing to assist me with such information as I require.
"Trusting that I shall receive the same kind aid from you that I have already received from so many of my friends,
"I remain, very respectfully, yours, "A.J. Macdonald."
Among the manuscripts in Macdonald's collection are many that were evidently written in response to this circular. Many others were written by himself as journals or reports of his own visits to various Associations. We have reason to believe that he spent most of his time from his arrival in this country in 1842 till his death in 1854, in pilgrimages to every Community, and even to every grave of a Community, that he could hear of, far and near.
He had done his work when he died. His collection is nearly exhaustive in the extent of its survey. Very few Associations of any note are overlooked. And he evidently considered it ready for the press; for most of his memoirs are endorsed with the word "Complete," and with some methodical directions to the printer. He had even provided the illustrations promised in his circular. Among his manuscripts are the following pictures:
A pencil sketch and also a small wood engraving of the buildings of the North American Phalanx;
A wood engraving of the first mansion house of the Oneida Community;
A pencil sketch of the village of Modern Times;
A view in water-colors of the domain and cabin of the Clermont Phalanx;
A pencil sketch of the Zoar settlement;
Four wood engravings of Shaker scenes; two of them representing dances; one, a kneeling scene; and one, a "Mountain meeting;" also a pencil sketch of Shaker dwellings at Watervliet;
A portrait of Robert Owen in wood;
A very pretty view of New Harmony in India ink;
A wood-cut of one of Owen's imaginary palaces;
Two portraits of Frances Wright in wood; one representing her as she was in her prime of beauty, and the other, as she was in old age;
A fine steel engraving of Fourier.
In the following preface, which was found among Macdonald's manuscripts, and which is dated a few months before his death, we have a last and sure signal that he considered his collection finished:
"I performed the task of collecting the materials which form this volume, because I thought I was doing good. At one time, sanguine in anticipating brilliant results from Communism, I imagined mankind better than they are, and that they would speedily practise those principles which I considered so true. But the experience of years is now upon me; I have mingled with 'the world,' seen stern reality, and now am anxious to do as much as in me lies, to make known to the many thousands who look for a 'better state' than this on earth as well as in heaven, the amount (as it were at a glance) of the labors which have been and are now being performed in this country to realize that 'better state'. It may help to waken dreamers, to guide lost wanderers, to convince skeptics, to re-assure the hopeful; it may serve the uses of Statesmen and Philosophers, and interest the general reader; but it is most desirable that it should increase the charity of all those who may please to examine it, when they see that it was for Humanity, in nearly all instances, that these things were done.
"Of necessity the work is imperfect, because of the difficulty in obtaining information on such subjects; but the attempt, whatever may be its result, should not be put off, since there is reason to believe that if not now collected, many particulars of the various movements would be forever lost.
"It remains for a future historian to continue the labor which I have thus superficially commenced; for the day has not yet arrived when it can be said that Communism or Association has ceased to exist; and it is possible yet, in the progress of things, that man will endeavor to cure his social diseases by some such means; and a future history may contain the results of more important experiments than have ever yet been attempted.
"I here return my thanks to the fearless, confiding, and disinterested friends, who so freely shared with me what little they possessed, to assist in the completion of this work. I name them not, but rejoice in their assistance.
"New York City, 1854."
The tone of this preface indicates that Macdonald was discouraged. The effect of his book, if he had lived to publish it, would have been to aggravate the re-action against Socialism which followed the collapse of Fourierism. We hope to make a better use of his materials.
It should not be imagined that we are about to edit his work. A large part of his collections we shall omit, as irrelevant to our purpose. That part which we use will often be reconstructed and generally condensed. Much of our material will be obtained from other sources. The plan and theory of this history are our own, and widely different from any that Macdonald would have been willing to indorse. With these qualifications, we still acknowledge a large debt of gratitude to him and to the Providence that gave us his collections.
CHAPTER II - BIRDS-EYE VIEW OF THE EXPERIMENTS
A general survey of the Socialistic field will be useful, before entering on the memoirs of particular Associations; and for this purpose, we will now spread before us the entire Index of Macdonald's collections, adding to it a schedule of the number of pages which he gave to the several Associations, and the dates of their beginning and ending, so far as we have been able to find them. Many of the transitory Associations, it will be seen, "made no sign" when they died. The continuous Communities, such as the Shakers, of course have no terminal date.
Associations, &c. No. of Pages. Dates.
Alphadelphia Phalanx 7 1843-6.
Auxiliary Branch of the Association of All Classes of All Nations 3 1836.
Blue Spring Community 1 1826-7
Brazilian Experiment 1 1841.
Brook Farm 20 1842-7.
Brooke's Experiment 5 1844.
Brotherhood of the Union 1 1850-1.
Bureau Co. Phalanx 1 1843.
Cincinnati Brotherhood 5 1845-8.
Clarkson Industrial Association 11 1844.
Clermont Phalanx 13 1844-7.
Colony of Bethel 11 1852.
Columbian Phalanx 1 1845.
Commonwealth Society 1 1819.
Communia Working Men's League 1 1850.
Convention at Boston of the Friends of Association 2 1843.
Convention in New York for organizing an Industrial Congress 1 1845.
Co-operating Society of Alleghany Co. 1 1825.
Coxsackie Community 2 1826-7.
Davis' Harmonial Brotherhood 2 1851.
Dunkers 4 1724.
Ebenezer Community 5 1843.
Emigration Society, 2d Section 4 1843.
Forrestville Community 1 1825.
Fourier, Life of 3
Franklin Community 1 1826.
Garden Grove 1 1848.
Goose Pond Community 1 1843.
Grand Prairie Community 2 1847.
Grand Prairie Harmonial Institute 8 1853.
Guatemala Experiment 1 1843.
Haverstraw Community 3 1826.
Hopedale Community 13 1842.
Hunt's Experiment of Equality 12 1843-7.
Icaria 82 1849
Integral Phalanx 5 1845.
Jefferson County Industrial Association 3 1843.
Kendal Community 4 1826.
Lagrange Phalanx 2 1843.
Leraysville Phalanx 5 1844.
Macluria 7 1826.
Marlboro Association 10 1841.
McKean County Association 1 1843.
Modern Times 3 1851.
Moorhouse Union 6 1843.
Moravians, or United Brethren 9 1745.
Murray, Orson S. 3
Nashoba 14 1825-8.
New Lanark 10 1799.
New Harmony 60 1825-7.
North American Phalanx 38 1843-55.
Northampton Association 7 1842.
Ohio Phalanx 11 1844-5.
Oneida Community 27 1847.
One-mentian Community 6 1843.
Ontario Phalanx 1 1844.
Owen, Robert 25
Prairie Home Community 23 1844.
Raritan Bay Union 5 1853.
Sangamon Phalanx 1 1845.
Shakers 93 1776.
Skaneateles Community 18 1843-6.
Social Reform Unity 23 1842.
Sodus Bay Phalanx 3 1844.
Spiritual Community at Mountain Cove 3 1853.
Spring Farm Association 3 1846-9.
St. Louis Reform Association 1 1851.
Sylvania Association 25 1843-5.
Trumbull Phalanx 13 1844-7.
United Germans 2 1827.
Venezuelan Experiment 25 1844-6.
Warren, Josiah, Time Store &c. 11 1842.
Washtenaw Phalanx 1 1843.
Wisconsin Phalanx 21 1844-50.
Wright, Frances 9
Wilkinson, Jemima, and her Community 5 1780.
Yellow Springs Community 1 1825.
Zoar 8 1819.
On general survey of the matter contained in this index, we may begin to sort it in the following manner:
First, we will lay aside the antique religious Associations, such as the Dunkers, Moravians, Zoarites, &c. We count at least seven of these, which do not properly belong to the modern socialistic movement, or even to American life. Having their origin in the old world, and most of them in the last century, and remaining without change, they exist only on the outskirts of general society.
Next, we put out of account the foreign Associations, such as the Brazilian and Venezuelan experiments. With these may be classed those of the Icarians and some others, which, though within the United States, are, or were, really colonies of foreigners. We see six of this sort in the index.
Thirdly, we dismiss two or three Spiritualistic attempts that are named in the list; first, because they never attained to the dignity of Associations; and secondly, because they belonged to a later movement than that which Macdonald undertook to record. The social experiments of the Spiritualists should be treated by themselves, as the sequelæ of the Fourier excitement of Macdonald's time.
The Associations that are left after these exclusions, naturally fall into two groups, viz.; those of the Owen movement, and those of the Fourier movement.
Robert Owen came to this country and commenced his experiments in Communism in 1824. This was the beginning of a national excitement, which had a course somewhat like that of a religious revival or a political campaign. This movement seems to have culminated in 1826; and, grouped around or near that year, we find in Macdonald's list, the names of eleven Communities. These were not all strictly Owenite Communities, but probably all owed their birth to the general excitement that followed Owen's labors, and may therefore, properly be classified as belonging to the Owen movement.
Fourierism was introduced into this country by Albert Brisbane and Horace Greeley in 1842, and then commenced another great national movement similar to that of Owenism, but far more universal and enthusiastic. We consider the year 1843 the focal period of this social revival; and around that year or following it within the forties, we find the main group of Macdonald's Associations. Thirty-four of the list may clearly be referred to this epoch. Many, and perhaps most of them, never undertook to carry into practice Fourier's theories in full; and some of them would disclaim all affiliation with Fourierism; but they all originated in a common excitement, and that excitement took its rise from the publications of Brisbane and Greeley.
Confining ourselves, for the present, to these two groups of Associations, belonging respectively to the Owen movement of 1826 and the Fourier movement of 1843, we will now give a brief statistical account of each Association; i.e., all we can find in Macdonald's collection, on the following points: 1, Locality; 2, Number of members; 3, Amount of land; 4, Amount of debt; 5, Duration. We give the amount of land instead of any other measurement of capital, because all and more than all the capital of the Associations was generally invested in land, and because it is difficult to distinguish, in most cases, between the cash capital that was actually paid in, and that which was only subscribed or talked about.
As to the reliability of these statistics, we can only say that we have patiently picked them out, one by one, like scattered bones, from Macdonald's heap. Though they may be faulty in some details, we are confident that the general idea they give of the attempts and experiences of American Socialists, will not be far from the truth.
Experiments of the Owen Epoch.
Blue Spring Community; Indiana; no particulars, except that it lasted "but a short time."
Co-operative Society; Pennsylvania; no particulars.
Coxsackie Community; New York; capital "small;" "very much in debt;" duration between 1 and 2 years.
Forrestville Community; Indiana; "over 60 members;" 325 acres of land; duration more than a year.
Franklin Community; New York; no particulars.
Haverstraw Community; New York; about 80 members; 120 acres; debt $12,000; duration 5 months.
Kendal Community; Ohio; 200 members; 200 acres; duration about 2 years.
Macluria; Indiana; 1200 acres; duration about 2 years.
New Harmony; Indiana; 900 members; 30,000 acres, worth $150,000; duration nearly 3 years.
Nashoba; Tennessee; 15 members; 2,000 acres; duration about 3 years.
Yellow Spring Community; Ohio; 75 to 100 families; duration 3 months.
Experiments of the Fourier Epoch.
Alphadelphia Phalanx; Michigan; 400 or 500 members; 2814 acres; duration 2 years and 9 months.
Brook Farm; Massachusetts; 115 members; 200 acres; duration 5 years.
Brooke's experiment; Ohio; few members; no further particulars.
Bureau Co. Phalanx; Illinois; small; no particulars.
Clarkson Industrial Association; New York; 420 members; 2000 acres; duration from 6 to 9 months.
Clermont Phalanx; Ohio; 120 members; 900 acres; debt $19,000; duration 2 years or more.
Columbian Phalanx; Ohio; no particulars.
Garden Grove; Iowa; no particulars.
Goose Pond Community; Pennsylvania; 60 members; duration a few months.
Grand Prairie Community; Ohio; no particulars.
Hopedale; Massachusetts; 200 members; 500 acres; duration not stated, but commonly reported to be 17 or 18 years.
Integral Phalanx; Illinois; 30 families; 508 acres; duration 17 months.
Jefferson Co. Industrial Association; New York; 400 members; 1200 acres of land; duration a few months.
Lagrange Phalanx; Indiana; 1000 acres; no further particulars.
Leraysville Phalanx; Pennsylvania; 40 members; 300 acres; duration 8 months.
Marlboro Association; Ohio; 24 members; had "a load of debt;" duration nearly 4 years.
McKean Co. Association; Pennsylvania; 30,000 acres; no further particulars.
Moorhouse Union; New York; 120 acres; duration "a few months."
North American Phalanx; New Jersey; 112 members; 673 acres; debt $17,000; duration 12 years.
Northampton Association; Massachusetts; 130 members; 500 acres of land; debt $40,000; duration 4 years.
Ohio Phalanx; 100 members; 2,200 acres; deeply in debt; duration 10 months.
One-mentian (meaning probably one-mind) Community; Pennsylvania; 800 acres; duration one year.
Ontario Phalanx; New York; brief duration.
Prairie Home Community; Ohio; 500 acres; debt broke it up; duration one year.
Raritan Bay Union; New Jersey; few members; 268 acres.
Sangamon Phalanx; Illinois; no particulars.
Skaneateles Community; New York; 150 members; 354 acres; debt $10,000; duration 2-1/2 years.
Social Reform Unity; Pennsylvania; 20 members; 2,000 acres; debt $2,400; duration about 10 months.
Sodus Bay Phalanx; New York; 300 members; 1,400 acres; duration a "short time."
Spring Farm Association; Wisconsin; 10 families; duration 3 years.
Sylvania Association; Pennsylvania; 145 members; 2394 acres; debt $7,900; duration nearly 2 years.
Trumbull Phalanx; Ohio; 1500 acres; duration 2-1/2 years.
Washtenaw Phalanx; Michigan; no particulars.
Wisconsin Phalanx; 32 families; 1,800 acres; duration 6 years.
Recapitulation and Comments.
- 1. Localities. The Owen group were distributed among the States as follows: in Indiana, 4; in New York, 3; in Ohio, 2; in Pennsylvania, 1; in Tennessee, 1.
The Fourier group were located as follows: in Ohio, 8; in New York, 6; in Pennsylvania, 6; in Massachusetts, 3; in Illinois, 3; in New Jersey, 2; in Michigan, 2; in Wisconsin, 2; in Indiana, 1; in Iowa, - 1.
Indiana had the greatest number in the first group, and the least in the second.
New England was not represented in the Owen group; and only by three Associations in the Fourier group; and those three were all in Massachusetts.
The southern states were represented by only one Association, that of Nashoba, in the Owen group and that was little more than an eleemosynary attempt of Frances Wright to civilize the negroes.
The two groups combined were distributed as follows: in Ohio, 10; in New York, 9; in Pennsylvania, 7; in Indiana, 5; in Massachusetts, 3; in Illinois, 3; in New Jersey, 2; in Michigan, 2; in Wisconsin, 2; in Tennessee, 1; in Iowa, 1.
- 2. Number of members. The figures in our epitome (reckoning five persons to a family when families are mentioned), give an aggregate of 4,801 members: but these belong to only twenty-five Associations. The numbers of the remaining twenty are not definitely reported. The average of those reported is about 192 to an Association. Extending this average to the rest, we have a total of 8,641.
The numbers belonging to single Associations vary from 15 to 900; but in a majority of cases they were between 100 and 200.
- 3. The amount of land reported is enormous. Averaging it as we did in the case of the number of members, we make a grand total of 136,586 acres, or about 3,000 acres to each Association! This is too much for any probable average. We will leave out as exceptional, the 60,000 acres reported as belonging to New Harmony and the McKean Co. Association. Then averaging as before, we have a grand total of 44,624 acres, or about 1,000 acres to each Association.
Judging by our own experience we incline to think that this fondness for land, which has been the habit of Socialists, had much to do with their failures. Farming is about the hardest and longest of all roads to fortune: and it is the kind of labor in which there is the most uncertainty as to modes and theories, and of course the largest chance for disputes and discords in such complex bodies as Associations. Moreover, the lust for land leads off into the wilderness, "out west," or into by-places, far away from railroads and markets; whereas Socialism, if it is really ahead of civilization, ought to keep near the centers of business, and at the front of the general march of improvement. We should have advised the Phalanxes to limit their land-investments to a minimum, and put their strength as soon as possible into some form of manufacture. Almost any kind of a factory would be better than a farm for a Community nursery. We find hardly a vestige of this policy in Macdonald's collections. The saw-mill is the only form of mechanism that figures much in his reports. It is really ludicrous to see how uniformly an old saw-mill turns up in connection with each Association, and how zealously the brethren made much of it; but that is about all they attempted in the line of manufacturing. Land, land, land, was evidently regarded by them as the mother of all gain and comfort. Considering how much they must have run in debt for land, and how little profit they got from it, we may say of them almost literally, that they were "wrecked by running aground."
- 4. Amount of debt. Macdonald's reports on this point are few and indefinite. The sums owed are stated for only seven of the Associations. They vary from $1,000 to $40,000. Five other Associations are reported as "very much in debt," "deeply in debt," &c. The exact indebtedness of these and of the remaining thirty-three, is probably beyond the reach of history. But we have reason to think that nearly all of them bought, to begin with, a great deal more land than they paid for. This was the fashion of the socialistic schools and of the times.
- 5. The duration of fourteen Associations is not reported; twelve lasted less than 1 year; two 1 year; four between 1 and 2 years; three 2 years; four between 2 and 3 years; one between 3 and 4 years; one 4 years; one 5 years; one 6 years; one 12 years, and one (it is said) 17 years. All died young, and most of them before they were two years old.
CHAPTER III - THEORY OF NATIONAL EXPERIENCE
Now that our phenomena are fairly before us, a little speculation may be appropriate. One wants to know what position these experiments, which started so gaily and failed so soon, occupy in the history of this country and of the world; what relation they have to Christianity; what their meaning is in the great scheme of Providence. Students of Socialism and history must have some theory about their place and significance in the great whole of things. We have studied them somewhat in the circumspective way, and will devote a few pages to our theory about them. It will at least correct any impression that we intend to treat them disrespectfully.
And first we keep in mind a clear and wide distinction between the Associations and the movements from which they sprung. The word movement is very convenient, though very indefinite. We use it to designate the wide-spread excitements and discussions about Socialism which led to the experiments we have epitomized. In our last chapter we incidentally compared the socialistic movements of the Owen and Fourier epochs to religious revivals. We might now complete the idea, by comparing the Associations that issued from those movements, to churches that were organized in consequence of the revivals. A vast spiritual and intellectual excitement is one thing; and the institutions that rise out of it are another. We must not judge the excitement by the institutions.
We get but a very imperfect idea of the Owen and Fourier movements from the short-lived experiments whose remains are before us in Macdonald's collections. In the first place Macdonald, faithful as he was, did not discover all the experiments that were made during those movements. We remember some that are not named in his manuscripts. And in the next place the numbers engaged in the practical attempts were very small, in comparison with the masses that entered into the enthusiasm of the general movements and abandoned themselves to the idea of an impending social revolution. The eight thousand and six hundred that we found by averaging Macdonald's list, might probably be doubled to represent the census of the obscure unknown attempts, and then multiplied by ten to cover the outside multitudes that were converted to Socialism in the course of the Owen and Fourier revivals.
Owen in 1824 stirred the very life of the nation with his appeals to Kings and Congresses, and his vast experiments at New Harmony. Think of his family of nine hundred members on a farm of thirty thousand acres! A magnificent beginning, that thrilled the world! The general movement was proportionate to this beginning; and though this great Community and all the little ones that followed it failed and disappeared in a few years, the movement did not cease. Owen and his followers -especially his son Robert Dale Owen and Frances Wright - continued to agitate the country with newspapers, public lectures, and "Fanny Wright societies," till their ideas actually got foot-hold and influence in the great Democratic party. The special enthusiasm for practical attempts at Association culminated in 1826, and afterwards subsided; but the excitement about Owen's ideas, which was really the Owen movement, reached its height after 1830; and the embers of it are in the heart of the nation to this day.
On the other hand, Fourier (by proxy) started another national excitement in 1842. With young Brisbane for its cosmopolitan apostle, and a national newspaper, such as the New York Tribune was, for its organ, this movement, like Owen's, could not be otherwise than national in its dimensions. We shall have occasion hereafter to show how vast and deep it was, and how poorly it is represented by the Phalanxes that figure in Macdonald's memoirs. Meanwhile let the reader consider that several of the men who were leaders in this excitement, were also leaders then and afterwards in the old Whig party; and he will have reason to conclude that Socialism, in its duplex form of Owenism and Fourierism, has touched and modified both of the party-sections and all departments of the national life.
We must not think of the two great socialistic revivals as altogether heterogeneous and separate. Their partizans maintained theoretical opposition to each other; but after all the main idea of both was the enlargement of home - the extension of family union beyond the little man-and-wife circle to large corporations. In this idea the two movements were one; and this was the charming idea that caught the attention and stirred the enthusiasm of the American people. Owenism prepared the way for Fourierism. The same men, or at least the same sort of men that took part in the Owen movement, were afterward carried away by the Fourier enthusiasm. The two movements may, therefore, be regarded as one; and in that view, the period of the great American socialistic revival extends from 1824, through the final and overwhelming excitement of 1843, to the collapse of Fourierism after 1846.
As a man who has passed through a series of passional excitements, is never the same being afterward, so we insist that these socialistic paroxysms have changed the heart of the nation; and that a yearning toward social reconstruction has become a part of the continuous, permanent, inner experience of the American people. The Communities and Phalanxes died almost as soon as they were born, and are now almost forgotten. But the spirit of Socialism remains in the life of the nation. It was discouraged and cast down by the failures of 1828 and 1846, and thus it learned salutary caution and self-control. But it lives still, as a hope watching for the morning, in thousands and perhaps millions who never took part in any of the experiments, and who are neither Owenites nor Fourierites, but simply Socialists without theory - believers in the possibility of a scientific and heavenly reconstruction of society.
Thus, our theory harmonizes Owenism with Fourierism, and regards them both as working toward the same end in American history. Now we will go a step further and attempt the reconciling of still greater repugnances.
Since the war of 1812-15, the line of socialistic excitements lies parallel with the line of religious Revivals. Each had its two great leaders, and its two epochs of enthusiasm. Nettleton and Finney were to Revivals, what Owen and Fourier were to Socialism. Nettleton prepared the way for Finney, though he was opposed to him, as Owen prepared the way for Fourier. The enthusiasm in both movements had the same progression. Nettleton's agitation, like Owen's, was moderate and somewhat local. Finney, like Fourier, swept the nation as with a tempest. The Revival periods were a little in advance of those of Socialism. Nettleton commenced his labors in 1817, while Owen entered the field in 1824. Finney was at the height of his power in 1831-3, while Fourier was carrying all before him in 1842-3. Thus, the movements were to a certain extent alternate. Opposed as they were to each other theologically - one being a movement of Bible men, and the other of infidels and liberals - they could not be expected to hold public attention simultaneously. But looking at the whole period from the end of the war in 1815 to the end of Fourierism after 1846, and allowing Revivals a little precedence over Socialism, we find the two lines of excitement parallel, and their phenomena wonderfully similar.
As we have shown that the socialistic movement was national, so, if it were necessary, we might here show that the Revival movement was national. There was a time between 1831 and 1834 when the American people came as near to a surrender of all to the Kingdom of Heaven, as they came in 1843 to a socialistic revolution. The Millennium seemed as near in 1831, as Fourier's Age of Harmony seemed in 1843. And the final effect of Revivals was a hope watching for the morning, which remains in the life of the nation, side by side, nay identical with, the great hope of Socialism.
And these movements - Revivalism and Socialism - opposed to each other as they may seem, and as they have been in the creeds of their partizans, are closely related in their essential nature and objects, and manifestly belong together in the scheme of Providence, as they do in the history of this nation. They are to each other as inner to outer - as soul to body - as life to its surroundings. The Revivalists had for their great idea the regeneration of the soul. The great idea of the Socialists was the regeneration of society, which is the soul's environment. These ideas belong together, and are the complements of each other. Neither can be successfully embodied by men whose minds are not wide enough to accept them both.
In fact, these two ideas, which in modern times are so wide apart, were present together in original Christianity. When the Spirit of truth pricked three thousand men to the heart and converted them on the day of Pentecost, its next effect was to resolve them into one family and introduce Communism of property. Thus, the greatest of all Revivals was also the great inauguration of Socialism.
Undoubtedly the Socialists will think we make too much of the Revival movement; and the Revivalists will think we make too much of the Socialistic movement; and the politicians will think we make too much of both, in assigning them important places in American history. But we hold that a man's deepest experiences are those of religion and love; and these are just the experiences in respect to which he is most apt to be ashamed, and most inclined to be silent. So, the nation says but little, and tries to think that it thinks but little, about its Revivals and its Socialisms; but they are nevertheless the deepest and most interesting passages of its history, and worth more study as determinatives of character and destiny, than all its politics and diplomacies, its money matters and its wars.
Doubtless the Revivalists and Socialists despise each other, and perhaps both will despise us for imagining that they can be reconciled. But we will say what we believe; and that is, that they have both failed in their attempts to bring heaven on earth, because they despised each other, and would not put their two great ideas together. The Revivalists failed for want of regeneration of society, and the Socialists failed for want of regeneration of the heart.
On the one hand the Revivalists needed daily meetings and continuous criticism to save and perfect their converts; and these things they could not have without a thorough reconstruction of domestic life. They tried the expedient of "protracted meetings," which was really a half-way attack on the fashion of the world; but society was too strong for them, and their half-measures broke down, as all half-measures must. What they needed was to convert their churches into unitary families, and put them into unitary homes, where daily meetings and continuous criticism are possible; and behold, this is Socialism!
On the other hand, the Socialists, as often as they came together in actual attempts to realize their ideals, found that they were too selfish for close organization. The moan of Macdonald was, that after seeing the stern reality of the experiments, he lost hope, and was obliged to confess that he had "imagined mankind better than they are." This was the final confession of the leaders in the Associative experiments generally, from Owen to the last of the Fourierites; and this confession means, that Socialism needed for its complement, regeneration of the heart; and behold, this is Revivalism!
These discords and failures of the past surely have not been in vain. Perhaps Providence has carried forward its regenerative designs in two lines thus far, for the sake of the advantage of a "division of labor." While the Bible men have worked for the regeneration of the soul, the infidels and liberals have been busy on the problem of the reconstruction of society. Working apart and in enmity, perhaps they have accomplished more for final harmony than they could have done together. Even their failures when rightly interpreted, may turn to good account. They have both helped to plant in the heart of the nation an unfailing hope of the "good time coming." Their lines of labor, though we have called them parallel, must really be convergent; and we may hope that the next phase of national history will be that of Revivalism and Socialism harmonized, and working together for the Kingdom of Heaven.
To complete our historical theory, we must mention in conclusion, one point of contrast between the Socialisms and the Revivals.
The Socialisms were imported from Europe; while the Revivals were American productions.
Owen was an Englishman, and Fourier was a Frenchman; but Nettleton and Finney were both Americans - both natives of Connecticut.
In the comparison we confine ourselves to the period since the war of 1812, because the history of the general socialistic excitements in this country is limited to that period. But the Revivals have an anterior history, extending back into the earliest times of New England. The great American system of Revivals, of which the Nettleton and Finney excitements were the continuation, was born in the first half of the last century, in central Massachusetts. Jonathan Edwards, whose life extended from 1703 to 1758, was the father of it. So that not only since the war of 1812, but before the Revolution of 1776, we find Revivalism, as a system, strictly an American production.
We call the Owen and Fourier movements, American Socialisms, because they were national in their dimensions, and American life chiefly was the subject of them. But looking at what may be called the male element in the production of them, they were really European movements, propagated in this country. Nevertheless, if we take the view that Socialism and Revivalism are a unit in the design of Providence, one looking to the regeneration of externals and the other to the regeneration of internals, we may still call the entire movement American, as having Revivalism, which is American, for its inner life, though Socialism, the outer element, was imported from England and France.
CHAPTER IV - NEW HARMONY
American Socialisms, as we have defined them and grouped their experiments, may be called non-religious Socialisms. Several religious Communities flourished in this country before Owen's attempts, and have continued to flourish here since the collapse of Fourierism. But they were originally colonies of foreigners, and never were directly connected with movements that could be called national. Owen was the first Socialist that stirred the enthusiasm of the whole American people; and he was the first, so far as we know, who tried the experiment of a non-religious Community. And the whole series of experiments belonging to the two great groups of the Owen and Fourier epochs, followed in his footsteps. The exclusion of theology was their distinction and their boast.
Our programme, limited as it is by its title to these national Socialisms, does not strictly include the religious Communities. Yet those Communities have played indirectly a very important part in the drama of American Socialisms, and will require considerable incidental attention as we proceed.
In attempting to make out from Macdonald's collection an outline of Owen's great experiment at New Harmony (which was the prototype of all the Owen and Fourier experiments), we find ourselves at the outset quite unexpectedly dealing with a striking example of the relation between the religious and non-religious Communities.
Owen did not build the village of New Harmony, nor create the improvements which prepared his 30,000 acres for his family of nine hundred. He bought them outright from a previous religious Community; and it is doubtful whether he would have ever gathered his nine hundred and made his experiment, if he had not found a place prepared for him by a sect of Christian Communists.
Macdonald was an admirer, we might almost say a worshiper, of Owen. He gloats over New Harmony as the very Mecca of his devotion. There he spent his first eighteen months in this country. The finest picture in his collection is an elaborate India-ink drawing of the village. But he scarcely mentions the Rappites who built it. No separate account of them, such as he gives of the Shakers and Moravians, can be found in his manuscripts. This is an unaccountable neglect; for their pre-occupation of New Harmony and their transactions with Owen, must have thrust them upon his notice; and their history is intrinsically as interesting, to say the least, as that of any of the religious Communities.
A glance at the history of the Rappites is in many ways indispensable, as an introduction to an account of Owen's New Harmony. We must therefore address ourselves to the task which Macdonald neglected.
In the first years of the present century, old Würtemburg, a province always famous for its religious enthusiasms, was fermenting with excitement about the Millennium; and many of its enthusiasts were expecting the speedy personal advent of Christ. Among these George Rapp became a prominent preacher, and led forth a considerable sect into doctrines and ways that brought upon him and them severe persecutions. In 1803 he came to America to find a refuge for his flock. After due exploration he purchased 5000 acres of land in Butler Co., Pennsylvania, and commenced a settlement which he called Harmony. In the summer of 1804 two ship-loads of his disciples with their families - six hundred in all - came over the ocean and joined him. In 1805 the Society was formally organized as a Christian Community, on the model of the Pentecostal church. For a time, their fare was poor and their work was hard. An evil eye from their neighbors was upon them. But they lived down calumny and suspicion by well-doing, and soon made the wilderness blossom around them like the rose. In 1807 they adopted the principle of celibacy; but in other respects, they were far from being ascetics. Music, painting, sculpture, and other liberal arts flourished among them. Their museums and gardens were the wonder and delight of the region around them. In 1814, desiring warmer land and a better location for business, they sold all in Pennsylvania and removed to Indiana. On the banks of the Wabash they built a new village and again called it Harmony. Here they prospered more than ever, and their number increased to nearly a thousand. In 1824 they again became discontented with their location, on account of bad neighbors and malaria. Again, they sold all, and returned to Pennsylvania; but not to their old home. They built their third and final village in Beaver Co, near Pittsburgh, and called it Economy. There they are to this day. They own railroads and oil wells and are reported to be millionaires of the unknown grade. In all their migrations from the old world to the new, from Pennsylvania to Indiana, and from Indiana back to Pennsylvania; in all their perils by persecutions, by false brethren, by pestilence, by poverty and wealth, their religion held them together, and their union gave them the strength that conquers prosperity. A notable example of what a hundred families can do when they have the wisdom of harmony, and fight the battle of life in a solid phalanx! A nobler "six hundred" than the famous dragoons of Balaklava!
Such were the people who gave Robert Owen his first lessons in Communism, and sold him their home in Indiana. Ten of their best years they spent in building a village on the Wabash, not for themselves (as it turned out), but for a theater of the great infidel experiment. Rev. Aaron Williams, D.D., the historian to whom we are indebted for the facts of the above sketch, thus describes the negotiations and the transfer:
"The Harmonists, when they began to think of returning to Pennsylvania, employed a certain Richard Flower, an Englishman, and a prominent member of an English settlement in their vicinity, to negotiate for a sale of their real estate, offering him five thousand dollars to find a purchaser. Flower went to England for this purpose, and hearing of Robert Owen's Community at New Lanark, he sought him out and succeeded in selling to him the town of Harmony, with all its houses, mills, factories and thirty thousand acres of land, for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This was an immense sacrifice; but they were determined to leave the country, and they submitted to the loss. Having in the meantime made a purchase of their present lands in Pennsylvania, on the Ohio river, they built a steamboat and removed in detachments to their new and final place of settlement."
Thus Owen, the first experimenter in non-religious Association, had substantially the ready-made material conditions which Fourier and his followers considered indispensable to success.
We proceed now to give a sketch of the Owen experiment chiefly in Macdonald's words. When our own language occurs, it is generally a condensation of his.
OWEN'S NEW HARMONY.
"Robert Owen came to the United States in December 1824, to complete the purchase of the settlement at Harmony. Mr. Rapp had sent an agent to England to dispose of the property, and Mr. Owen fell in with him there. In the spring of 1825 Mr. Owen closed the bargain. The property consisted of about 30,000 acres of land; nearly 3,000 acres under cultivation by the society; 19 detached farms; 600 acres of improved land occupied by tenants; some fine orchards; eighteen acres of full-bearing vines; and the village, which was a regularly laid out town, with streets running at right angles to each other, and a public square, around which were large brick edifices, built by the Rappites for churches, schools, and other public purposes."
We can form some idea of the size of the village from the fact which we learn from Mr. Williams, that the Rappites, while at Harmony, numbered one thousand souls. It does not appear from Macdonald's account that Owen and his Community made any important additions to the village.
"On the departure of the Rappites, persons favorable to Mr. Owen's views came flocking to New Harmony (as it was thenceforth called) from all parts of the country. Tidings of the new social experiment spread far and wide; and, although it has been denied, yet it is undoubtedly true, that Mr. Owen in his public lectures invited the 'industrious and well disposed of all nations' to emigrate to New Harmony. The consequence was, that in the short space of six weeks from the commencement of the experiment, a population of eight hundred persons was drawn together, and in October 1825, the number had increased to nine hundred."
As to the character of this population, Macdonald insists that it was "as good as it could be under the circumstances," and he gives the names of "many intelligent and benevolent individuals who were at various times residents at New Harmony." But he admits that there were some "black sheep" in the flock. "It is certain," he says, "that there was a proportion of needy and idle persons, who crowded in to avail themselves of Mr. Owen's liberal offer; and that they did their share of work more in the line of destruction than construction."
Constitution No. 1.
On the 27th of April 1825, Mr. Owen instituted a sort of provisional government. In an address to the people in New Harmony Hall, he informed them, "that he had bought that property, and had come there to introduce the practice of the new views; but he showed them the impossibility that persons educated as they were, should change at once from an irrational to a rational system of society, and the necessity for a 'half-way house,' in which to be prepared for the new system." Whereupon he tendered them a Constitution, of which we find no definite account, except that it was not fully Communistic, and was to hold the people in probationary training three years, under the title of the Preliminary Society of New Harmony. "After these proceedings Mr. Owen left New Harmony for Europe, and the Society was managed by the Preliminary Committee.(!)" We may imagine, each one for himself, what the nine hundred did while Mr. Owen was away. Macdonald compiled from the New Harmony Gazette a very rapid but evidently defective account of the state of things in this important interval. He says nothing about the work on the 30,000 acres, but speaks of various minor businesses as "doing well." The only manufactures that appear to have "exceeded consumption" were those of soap and glue. A respectable apothecary "dispensed medicines without charge," and "the store supplied the inhabitants with all necessaries", probably at Mr. Owen's expense. Education was considered "public property," and one hundred and thirty children were schooled, boarded and clothed from the public funds, probably at Mr. Owen's expense. Amusements flourished. The Society had a band of music; Tuesday evenings were appropriated to balls; Friday evenings to concerts, both in the old Rappite church. There was no provision for religious worship. Five military companies, "consisting of infantry, artillery, riflemen, veterans and fusileers," did duty from time to time on the public square.
Constitution No. 2.
"Mr. Owen returned to New Harmony on the 12th of January, 1826, and soon after the members of the Preliminary Society held a convention, and adopted a constitution of a Community, entitled The New Harmony Community of Equality. Thus, in less than a year, instead of three years as Mr. Owen had proposed, the 'half-way house' came to an end, and actual Communism commenced. A few of the members, who, on account of a difference of opinions, did not sign the new constitution, formed a second Community on the New Harmony estate about two miles from the town, in friendly connection with the first."
The new government instituted by Mr. Owen, was to be in the hands of an Executive Council, subject at all times to the direction of the Community; and six gentlemen were appointed to this function. But Macdonald says: "Difficulties ensued in organizing the new Community. It appears that the plan of government by executive council would not work, and that the members were unanimous in calling upon Mr. Owen to take the sole management, judging from his experience that he was the only man who could do so. This call Mr. Owen accepted, and we learn that soon after general satisfaction and individual contentment took the place of suspense and uncertainty."
This was in fact the inauguration of
Constitution No. 3.
"In March the Gazette says that under the indefatigable attention of Mr. Owen, order had been introduced into every department of business, and the farm presented a scene of active and steady industry. The Society was rapidly becoming a Community of Equality. The streets no longer exhibited groups of idle talkers, but each one was busily engaged in the occupation he had chosen. The public meetings, instead of being the arenas for contending orators, were changed into meetings of business, where consultations were held and measures adopted for the comfort of all the members of the Community.
"In April there was a disturbance in the village on account of negotiations that were going on for securing the estate as private property. Some persons attempted to divide the town into several societies. Mr. Owen would not agree to this, and as he had the power, he made a selection, and by solemn examination constituted a nucleus of twenty-five men, which nucleus was to admit members, Mr. Owen reserving the power to veto every one admitted. There were to be three grades of members, viz., conditional members, probationary members, and persons on trial. (?) The Community was to be under the direction of Mr. Owen, until two-thirds of the members should think fit to govern themselves, provided the time was not less than twelve months."
This may be called,
Constitution No. 4.
In May a third Community had been formed; and the population was divided between No. 1, which was Mr. Owen's Community, No. 2, which was called Macluria, and No. 3, which was called Feiba Peven, a name designating in some mysterious way the latitude and longitude of New Harmony.
"May 27. The immigration continued so steadily, that it became necessary for the Community to inform the friends of the new views that the accommodations were inadequate, and call upon them by advertisement not to come until further notice."
Constitution No. 5.
"May 30. In consequence of a variety of troubles and disagreements, chiefly relating to the disposal of the property, a great meeting of the whole population was held, and it was decided to form four separate societies, each signing its own contract for such part of the property as it should purchase, and each managing its own affairs; but to trade with each other by paper money."
Mr. Owen was now beginning to make sharp bargains with the independent Communities. Macdonald says, "He had lost money, and no doubt he tried to regain some of it, and used such means as he thought would prevent further loss."
On the 4th of July Mr. Owen delivered his celebrated Declaration of Mental Independence, from which we give the following specimen:
"I now declare to you and to the world, that Man, up to this hour, has been in all parts of the earth a slave to a Trinity of the most monstrous evils that could be combined to inflict mental and physical evil upon his whole race. I refer to Private or Individual Property, Absurd and Irrational systems of Religion, and Marriage founded on Individual Property, combined with some of these Irrational systems of Religion."
"August 20. After Mr. Owen had given his usual address, it was unanimously agreed by the meeting that the entire population of New Harmony should meet three times a week in the Hall, for the purpose of being educated together. This practice was continued about six weeks, when Mr. Owen became sick and it was discontinued."
Constitution No. 6.
"August 25. The people held a meeting at which they abolished all officers then existing, and appointed three men as dictators."
Constitution No. 7.
"Sept. 17. A large meeting of all the Societies and the whole population of the town took place at the Hall, for the purpose of considering a plan for the 'amelioration of the Society, to improve the condition of the people, and make them more contented.' A message was received from Mr. Owen proposing to form a Community with as many as would join him, and put in all their property, save what might be thought necessary to reserve to help their friends; the government to consist of Robert Owen and four others of his choice, to be appointed by him every year; and not to be altered for five years. This movement of course nullified all previous organizations. Disagreements and jealousies ensued, and, as was the case on a former change being made, many persons left New Harmony.
"Nov. 1. The Gazette says: 'Eighteen months experience has proved to us, that the requisite qualifications for a permanent member of the Community of Common Property are, 1, Honesty of purpose; 2, Temperance; 3, Industry; 4, Carefulness; 5, Cleanliness; 6, Desire for knowledge; 7, A conviction of the fact that the character of man is formed for, and not by, himself.'
"Nov. 8. Many persons leaving. The Gazette shows how impossible it is for a Community of common property to exist, unless the members comprising it have acquired the genuine Community character.
"Nov. 11. Mr. Owen reviewed the last six months' progress of the Community in a favorable light.
"In December the use of ardent spirits was abolished.
"Jan. 1827. Although there was an appearance of increased order and happiness, yet matters were drawing to a close. Owen was selling property to individuals; the greater part of the town was now resolved into individual lots; a grocery was established opposite the tavern; painted sign-boards began to be stuck up on the buildings, pointing out places of manufacture and trade; a sort of wax-figure-and-puppet-show was opened at one end of the boarding-house; and every thing was getting into the old style."
It is useless to follow this wreck further. Everybody sees it must go down, and why it must go down. It is like a great ship, wallowing helpless in the trough of a tempestuous sea, with nine hundred passengers, and no captain or organized crew! We skip to Macdonald's picture of the end.
"June 18, 1827. The Gazette advertised that Mr. Owen would meet the inhabitants of New Harmony and the neighborhood on the following Sunday, to bid them farewell. I find no account of this meeting, nor indeed of any further movements of Mr. Owen in the Gazette. After his departure the majority of the population also removed and scattered about the country. Those who remained returned to individualism, and settled as farmers and mechanics in the ordinary way. One portion of the estate was owned by Mr. Owen, and the other by Mr. Maclure. They sold, rented, or gave away the houses and lands, and their heirs and assigns have continued to do so to the present day."
Fifteen years after the catastrophe Macdonald was at New Harmony, among the remains of the old Community population, and he says: "I was cautioned not to speak of Socialism, as the subject was unpopular. The advice was good; Socialism was unpopular, and with good reason. The people had been wearied and disappointed by it; had been filled full with theories, until they were nauseated, and had made such miserable attempts at practice, that they seemed ashamed of what they had been doing. An enthusiastic socialist would soon be cooled down at New Harmony."
The strength of the reaction against Communism caused by Owen's failure, may be seen to this day in the sect devoted to "Individual Sovereignty." Josiah Warren, the leader of that sect, was a member of Owen's Community, and a witness of its confusions and downfall; from which he swung off into the extreme of anti-Communism. The village of "Modern Times," where all forms of social organization were scouted as unscientific, was the electric negative of New Harmony.
Macdonald thus moralizes over his master's failure: