The Communistic Societies of the United States
Part 7 out of 8
twenty-five dollars per acre which they originally paid.
In my judgment, this feature of the Vineland enterprise, more than any
other, changed it from a merely selfish speculation to one of a higher
order, in which the settlers, to a large extent, have a common interest
with the proprietor of the land. He might have done all the rest--might
have laid out roads, proclaimed a "no fence" law, prevented the
establishment of dram-shops, helped on educational and other
enterprises--and still, had he raised the price of his wild lands as the
settlers increased, he would have been a mere land speculator, and I
doubt if his scheme would have obtained more than a very moderate and
short-lived success. But the undertaking to sell his wild land always at
the one fixed price, not only gave later comers an advantage which
attracted them with a constantly increasing force, but it gave the
poorer settlers an occupation from which many of them gained
handsomely--the improvement of places to sell to new-comers with
capital. The result showed Mr. Landis's wisdom. Improved property,
cleared and planted in fruit, has always borne a high price in Vineland,
and has almost always had a ready sale, but there has never been any
feverish land speculation there.
In twelve years the founder of Vineland was able to collect upon his
tract--which had not a single inhabitant in 1861--about eleven thousand
people. Most of these have improved their condition in life materially
by settling there. Many of them came without sufficient capital, and no
doubt suffered from want in the early days of their Vineland life. But
if they persevered, two or three years of effort made them comfortable.
Meantime they had, what our American farmers have not in general, easy
access to good schools for their children, to churches and an
intelligent society, and the possibility of good laws regarding the sale
Vineland was settled largely by New England people. They are more
restless and changeable than the Germans of Anaheim: less easily
contented with mere comfort. The New-Englander seems to me to like
change, often, for its own sake; the German too frequently goes to the
other extreme, and so greatly abhors change that he does without
conveniences which he might well afford. Anaheim and Vineland differ in
these respects, as the character of their inhabitants differs. But in
both, no one can doubt that the people have been greatly benefited by
the colonizing experiment; that they not merely live better, but have a
higher standard of thinking as well, and are thus better citizens than
they would have been had they remained in their original employments and
Some of the striking practical and moral results of the Vineland plan of
colonization were set forth by Mr. Landis in a speech before the
Legislature of New Jersey last year; and the following extracts from
this address are of interest in this place. He said:
"When I first projected the colony, in 1861, what is now Vineland lay
before me an unbroken wilderness. Nothing was to be heard but the song
of birds to break the silence, which at times was oppressive. It was
necessary that the fifty square miles of territory should be suddenly,
thoroughly, and permanently improved. The land was in good part to be
paid for out of the proceeds of sale. One hundred and seventy miles of
public roads and other improvements were to be made, and the
improvements were to be such as to insure the prosperity of the colonist
in future years, as my outlay was in the early start of the settlement,
and my returns were not to be realized for years to come. If the
settlement should not be prosperous in these years to come, I could
never realize my reward, and besides, ruin, involving character and
fortune, stared me in the face. It was by no temporary efforts or
expedients that I could succeed, but by fixing upon certain principles,
calculated to be creative, healthful, and permanent in their
influences--principles which, while they benefited each colonist day by
day, would have a growing influence in developing the prosperity of the
colony. What were these principles?
"1. That no land should be sold to speculators who would not improve,
but only to persons who would agree to improve in a specified time, and
also to plant shade-trees in front of their places, and seed the
road-sides to grass for purposes of public utility and ornamentation.
"2. That no man should be compelled to erect fences, that his neighbor's
cattle might roam at large; but that the old and shiftless and wasteful
system should be done away with.
"3. That the public sale of intoxicating drinks should be prohibited,
and that this prohibition should be obtained by leaving it to a vote of
"By the first principle, the continual improvement of the land was
secured. Employment was furnished to laborers at remunerative prices.
The value of the land was increased by the mutual effort of the
colonists. The value of my land was also enhanced, and it was made more
and more marketable.
"By the second principle, a vast and constant expense was saved--greater
than the cost and annual interest upon all the railroads of the United
States. Stock was improved, the cultivation of root crops was
encouraged, and the economizing of fertilizers.
"By the third principle, the money, the health, and the industry of the
people were conserved, that they might all be devoted to the work before
"I am in candor compelled to say that I did not introduce the
local-option principle into Vineland from any motives of philanthropy. I
am not a temperance man in the total-abstinence sense. I introduced the
principle because in cool, abstract thought I conceived it to be of
vital importance to the success of my colony. If in this thought I had
seen that liquor made men more industrious, more skillful, more
economical, and more aesthetic in their tastes, I certainly should then
have made liquor-selling one of the main principles of my project."
* * * * *
"The question then came up as to how I could give such direction to
public opinion as would regulate this difficulty. Many persons had the
idea that no place could prosper without taverns--that to attract
business and strangers taverns were necessary. I could not accomplish my
object by the influence of total-abstinence men, as they were too few in
numbers in proportion to the whole community. I had long perceived that
there was no such thing as reaching the result by the moral influence
brought to bear on single individuals--that to benefit an entire
community, the law or regulation would have to extend to the entire
community. In examining the evil, I found also that the moderate use of
liquor was not the difficulty to contend against, but it was the
immoderate use of it.
"The question, then, was to bring the reform to bear upon what led to
the immoderate use of it. I found that few or none ever became
intoxicated in their own families, in the presence of their wives and
children, but that the drunkards were made in the taverns and saloons.
After this conclusion was reached, the way appeared clear. It was not
necessary to make a temperance man of each individual--it was not
necessary to abridge the right or privilege that people might desire to
have of keeping liquor in their own houses, but to get their consent to
prevent the public sale of it by the small--that people in bartering
would not be subject to the custom of drinking--that they would not have
the opportunity of drinking in bar-rooms, away from all home restraint
or influence; in short, I believed that if the public sale of liquor was
stopped either in taverns or beer saloons, the knife would reach the
root of the evil. The next thing to do was to deal with settlers
personally as they bought land, and to counsel with them as to the best
thing to be done. In conversation with them I never treated it as a
moral question--I explained to them that I was not a total-abstinence
man myself, but that on account of the liability of liquor to abuse when
placed in seductive forms at every street corner, and as is the usual
custom that followed our barbarous law that it incited to crime, and
made men unfortunate who would otherwise succeed; that most of the
settlers had little money to begin with, sums varying from two hundred
to one thousand dollars, which, if added to a man's labor, would be
enough in many cases to obtain him a home, but which taken to the tavern
would melt away like snow before a spring sun; that new places were
liable to have this abuse to a more terrible extent than old places, as
men were removed from the restraints of old associations, and in the
midst of the excitement of forming new acquaintances; and that it was a
notorious fact that liquor-drinking did not add to the inclination for
physical labor. I then asked them--for the sake of their sons, brothers,
friends--to help establish the new system, as I believed it to be the
foundation-stone of our future prosperity.
"To these self-evident facts they would almost all accede. Many of them
had witnessed the result of liquor-selling in the new settlements of the
Far West, and were anxious to escape from it. The Local-Option Law of
Vineland was not established, therefore, by temperance men or
total-abstinence men only, but by the citizens generally, upon broad
social and public principles. It has since been maintained in the same
way. Probably not one tenth of the number of voters in Vineland are what
may be called total-abstinence men. I explain this point to show that
this reform was not the result of mere fanaticism, but the sense of the
people generally, and that the people who succeed under it are such
people as almost all communities are composed of. This law has been
practically in operation since the beginning of the settlement in the
autumn of 1861, though the act of the Legislature empowering the people
of Landis Township to vote upon license or no license was not passed
until 1863. The vote has always stood against license by overwhelming
majorities, there being generally only from two to nine votes in favor
of liquor-selling. The population of the Vineland tract is about ten
thousand five hundred people, consisting of manufacturers and business
people upon the town plot in the centre, and, around this centre, of
farmers and fruit-growers. The most of the tract is in Landis Township.
I will now give statistics of police and poor expenses of this township
for the past six years:
1867.................... $50 00
1868..................... 50 00
1869..................... 75 00
1870..................... 75 00
1871.................... 150 00
1872..................... 25 00
1867.................... $400 00
1868..................... 425 00
1869..................... 425 00
1870..................... 350 00
1871..................... 400 00
1872..................... 350 00
"These figures speak for themselves, but they are not all. There is a
material and industrial prosperity existing in Vineland which, though I
say it myself, is unexampled in the history of colonization, and must be
due to more than ordinary causes. The influence of temperance upon the
health and industry of her people is no doubt the principal of these
causes. Started when the country was plunged in civil war, its progress
was continually onward. Young as the settlement was, it sent its quota
of men to the field, and has paid over $60,000 of war debts. The
settlement has built twenty fine school-houses, ten churches, and kept
up one of the finest systems of road improvements, covering one hundred
and seventy-eight miles, in this country. There are now some fifteen
manufacturing establishments on the Vineland tract, and they are
constantly increasing in number. Her stores in extent and building will
rival any other place in South Jersey. There are four post-offices on
the tract. The central one did a business last year of $4,800 mail
matter, and a money-order business of $78,922.
"Out of seventy-seven townships in the state, by the census of 1869
Landis Township ranked the fourth from the highest in the agricultural
value of its productions. There are seventeen miles of railroad upon the
tract, embracing six railway stations.
"The result of my project as a land enterprise has been to the interest
of the colonists as well as my own. Town lots that I sold for $150 have
been resold for from $500 to $1500, exclusive of improvements. Land that
I sold for $25 per acre has much of it been resold at from $200 to $500
per acre. This rule will hold good for miles of the territory--all
resulting from the great increase of population and the prosperity of
"Were licenses for saloons and taverns obtainable with the same ease as
in New York, Philadelphia, and many country districts, Vineland would
probably have, according to its population, from one to two hundred such
places. Counting them at one hundred, this would withdraw from the
pursuits of productive industry about one hundred families, which would
give a population of six hundred people. Each of these places would sell
about $3000 worth of beer and liquor per annum, making $300,000 worth of
stimulants a year. I include beer saloons, as liquor can be obtained in
them all as a general thing, and in the electrical climate of America
beer leads to similar results as spirits. Think of the effect of
$300,000 worth of stimulants upon the health, the minds, and the
industry of our people. Think of the increase of crime and pauperism--the
average would be fully equal to other places in which liquor is sold.
Instead of having a police expense of $50, and poor expenses of $400 per
annum, the amount would be swollen to thousands. Homes that are now
happy would be made desolate, and, instead of peace reigning in our
midst, we should have war--the same war that is now carried on
throughout the length and breadth of the land in the conflict that is
waged with crime, where blood is daily shed, where houses are daily
fired, where helpless people are daily robbed, and the darkest of crimes
daily perpetrated. Concentrate the work of this war that is carried on
throughout the land for one day, and you will have as many people killed
and wounded, houses fired or plundered, as in the sack of a city.
"The results in Vineland have convinced me--
"1. That temperance does conserve the industry of the people.
"2. That temperance is conducive to a refined and esthetical taste.
"3. That temperance can be sufficiently secured in a community by
suppressing all the taverns and saloons, to protect it from the abuse of
excessive liquor-drinking. Here is a community where crime and pauperism
are almost unknown, where taxes are nominal, where night is not made
hideous by the vilest of noises, where a man's children are not
contaminated by the evil language and influence of drunkards."
The following letter from the deputy sheriff of Vineland gives the
practical result of the Vineland system of moral cooperation, as it may
"VINELAND, _December_ 4,1873.
"Dear Sir,--_The poor tax in this township amounts to about five cents
to each inhabitant per annum_, and our special expense for police
matters, when any body happens to be engaged on an emergence, amounts to
an average expense _of about one half cent each_. In fact, it may be
said we have little or no crime or breach of the peace; and, though I am
no total-abstinence man, I ascribe this state of things to the absence
of liquor shops, and on this account have always voted against
licensing. Before I came here I acted as constable in Massachusetts, and
have been deputy sheriff and overseer of the poor for five years, and I
know from actual observation that more happiness is secured to men
themselves, to their wives and children, and more peace to the home,
than by any other cause in the world, not excepting all the churches--so
help me God!
"Yours respectfully, T. T. CORTIS, Deputy Sheriff."
In the journal from which I take this letter it is stated that the poor
and police expenses of Perth Amboy, also in New Jersey, amount in the
same year to _two dollars_ per head! The figures need no comment.
The Prairie Home Colony, in Franklin County, Kansas, was established by
a French gentleman, E. V. Boissiere. He owns three thousand acres of
land, and has been engaged during the last three years in putting it in
order for settlement, upon a plan to which he gives the title,
"Association and Co-operation, based on Attractive Industry." So far as
the details of his plan are developed, it appears that he wishes to
secure to colonists constant employment at reasonable wages, and to
enable them to live in an economical manner. It is evident from what
follows that he does not intend to establish a benevolent institution,
and that at _Prairie Home_ there will be no accommodations for
idlers. I reprint here a circular, which is issued by Mr. Boissiere,
and parts of a private note from him, in which, in March, 1874, he gave
me some particulars of the progress of his enterprise:
"A domain of more than three thousand acres, purchased about four years
ago, and then called the 'Kansas Co-operative Farm,' but since named
'Silkville,' from the fact that the weaving of silk-velvet ribbons is
one of its branches of industry, and silk-culture is contemplated, for
which ten thousand mulberry-trees are now thriftily growing, having had
two hundred and fifty acres subjected to cultivation, and several
preliminary buildings erected upon it, it is now thought expedient to
inform those who wish to take part in the associative enterprise for
which the purchase was made, that the Subscribers, as its projectors,
will be prepared to receive persons the ensuing spring, with a view to
their becoming associated for that purpose.
"A leading feature of the enterprise is to establish the 'Combined
Household' of Fourier--that is, a single large residence for all the
associates. Its principal aim is to organize labor, the source of all
wealth, first, on the basis of _remuneration proportioned to
production_, and, second, in such manner as to make it both
_efficient_ and _attractive_. Guarantees of education and
subsistence to all, and of help to those who need it, are indispensable
conditions, to be provided as soon as the organization shall be
sufficiently advanced to render them practicable.
"A spacious edifice, sufficient for the accommodation of eighty to one
hundred persons, will be erected the ensuing season, its walls and
principal partitions, which are to be of stone, being already contracted
for, to be completed by the 1st of October. But the buildings already
erected will furnish accommodations--less eligible, but perfectly
comfortable except in severely cold weather--for at least an equal
"It is not, however, expected that the operations of the ensuing year
will be any thing more than preparative; they will be limited probably
to collecting a few persons to form a nucleus of the institution to be
gradually developed in the future. But, from the first, facilities will
be furnished for industry on the principle of _remuneration
proportioned to production_, by means of which, or otherwise, each
candidate will be required to provide for his own support, and for that
of such other persons as are admitted at his request as members of his
family or other dependents.
"The means of support at present available for those who come to reside
on the domain will be, as they may be stated in a general way,
_opportunities_ to engage, on liberal terms, in as many varieties as
possible of productive industry; but, more particularly, first, an ample
area of fertile land to cultivate; and, secondly, facilities for such
mechanical work as can be executed with hand-tools, especially the
making of clothes, boots and shoes, and other articles of universal
consumption, not excluding, however, any article whatever for which a
market, either internal or external, can be found. But, as far as income
depends upon earnings, the most reliable resource will be agricultural
and horticultural industry, as most of the mechanical work likely to be
required for some time should perhaps be reserved for weather not
suitable to out-door employments. Employment for wages at customary
rates will be furnished to some extent to those who desire it for a part
of their time, but cannot be reliably promised. Steam-power will be
provided as soon as warranted by a sufficient number of associates, and
by the prospect of being applied to profitable production.
"Having provided the associates and candidates with these facilities for
industry, and made them responsible each for his own support, and, at
first, for that of his dependents, the projectors propose to have them
distribute themselves into organizations for industrial operations, and
select or invent their own kinds and mode of cultivation and other
practical processes, under regulations prescribed by themselves. They
will be indulged with the largest liberty, consistent with the
protection of rights and the preservation of order, in choosing their
own employments, and their own industrial and social companions; in
appointing, concurrently with those with whom they are immediately
associated, their own hours of labor, recreation, and repose; and,
generally, in directing their activity in such manner and to such
purposes as their taste or interest may induce them to prefer. We hope
thus to demonstrate that interference with individual choice is
necessary only to restrain people from transgressing their own proper
sphere and encroaching upon that of others, and that restraints, even
for that purpose, will seldom be required, and not at all except during
the rudimentary stage of industrial organization.
"No efforts, therefore, will be made to select persons of similar views
or beliefs, or to mould them afterward to any uniform pattern. That
unanimity which is not expected in regard to practical operations, is
much less expected in regard to those subjects transcending the sphere
of human experience about which opinions are now so irreconcilably
conflicting. All that will be required is that each shall accord to
others as much freedom of thought and action as he enjoys himself, and
shall respect the rights and interests of others as he desires his own
to be respected by them.
"The apprehension that our experiment might be greatly embarrassed by
admitting the totally destitute to participate in it, compels us to say
that such cannot at present be received. The means applicable to our
purpose, considerable as they are, might become inadequate if subjected
to the burden of maintaining objects of charity; while but few could be
thus relieved, even if all the means at command were devoted to that
single object. Our system, if we do not misapprehend it, will, in its
maturity, provide abundantly for all.
"But though we insist that the first participators in our enterprise
shall not be pecuniarily destitute, the amount insisted upon is not
large. So much, however, as is required must be amply secured by the
following cash advances:
"First: rent of rooms and board paid two months in advance for each
person admitted to reside on the domain, including each member of the
applicant's family; and at the end of the first month, payment of these
items for another month, so that they shall again be paid two months in
advance, and so from month to month indefinitely.
"Rent of rooms will be reasonable, and board will be finally settled for
at its cost, as near as may be; but in computing it for advance payment,
it will be rated rather above than below its expected cost, to provide
against contingencies. If too much is advanced, the excess, when
ascertained, will either be repaid or otherwise duly accounted for.
"Facilities for cheap boarding, and for tables graduated to suit
different tastes and circumstances, will be limited at first, and until
associates become numerous enough to form messes and board themselves.
"Second: each person so admitted will be required to deposit, as may be
directed, the sum of one hundred dollars for himself, and an equal sum
for every other person admitted with him at his request, on which
interest will be allowed at the rate of six per cent, per annum. This
deposit is expected to be kept unimpaired until the projectors think it
may safely be dispensed with, but will be repaid, or so much thereof as
is subject to no charges or offsets, whenever the person on whose
account it was made withdraws from the enterprise and ceases to reside
on the domain; as will also any unexpended residue of the amount
advanced for rooms and board.
"This deposit, besides furnishing a guarantee against the destitution of
the person making it, is recommended by another consideration not less
important--it secures him, in case he wishes to retire from the
enterprise, because he can find no satisfactory position in it, or for
any other reason, against retiring empty-handed, or remaining longer
than he wishes for want of means to go elsewhere.
"In addition to these cash advances, each person admitted as an
associate or candidate will be required to provide furniture for his
room, and all other articles needed for his personal use, including,
generally, the hand-tools with which he works. But some of these
articles may, in certain cases, be rented or sold on credit to persons
of good industrial capacity who have complied with the other conditions.
"We should esteem, as especially useful, a class of residents who,
having an income, independent of their earnings, adequate to their
frugal support at least, can devote themselves as freely as they please
to attractive occupations which are not remunerative, it being such
occupations probably that will furnish the first good examples of a true
industrial organization. Next to be preferred are those having an
independent income which, though not adequate to their entire support,
is sufficient to relieve them from any considerable anxiety concerning
it; for they can, to a greater or less extent, yield to the impulses of
attraction with comparative indifference to the pecuniary results of
"It is hoped and expected that the style of living, at least in the
early stages of the experiment, will be frugal and inexpensive. Neatness
and good taste, and even modest elegance, will be approved and
encouraged; but the projectors disapprove of superfluous personal
decorations, and of all expense incurred for mere show without utility,
and in this sentiment they hope to be sustained by the associates.
"As a general rule, applicants who comply with the pecuniary conditions
will be admitted on trial as candidates, to the extent of our
accommodations, without formal inquisition of other particulars; but
each applicant should state his age and occupation, and the ages and
industrial capacities of others, if any, whom he desires to have
admitted with him, and whether any of them are permanently infirm.
References are also requested, and photographs if possible.
"The cardinal object of our enterprise being, as has been said, to
organize labor on the basis of rewarding it according to the value of
its product, and in such manner as to divest it of the repugnance
inseparable from it as now prosecuted, the policy to which recourse will
first be had to effect this object will be to throw upon the associates
the chief responsibility of selecting functions and devising processes,
as well as of marshaling themselves into efficient industrial
organizations. Freedom to select their preferred occupations and modes
of proceeding is proposed, with the expectation that a diversity of
preferences will be developed in both, the respective partisans of which
will vie with each other to demonstrate the superior excellence of their
chosen specialties. Among the numerous merits which recommend this
policy, not the least important is that it will, as is believed, give
full play to all varieties of taste and capacity, and secure a more
perfect correspondence of functions with aptitudes than exists in the
present system of labor. But we are not so committed to any policy as to
persist in it, if, after being fairly tested, it fails of its purpose.
In that event new expedients will be resorted to, and others again, if
necessary, for we should not abandon our enterprise, though our first
efforts should prove unsuccessful. The failure of any particular policy,
therefore, does not involve a final failure, of which indeed the danger,
if any, is remote, inasmuch as care will be taken not to exhaust the
means applicable to our main purpose in a first trial, or in a second,
or even any number of trials. But we have great confidence that not many
trials will be necessary to construct a system of industry and of social
life far in advance of any form of either now prevailing in the world.
"The lowest degree of success--we will not say with which we shall be
satisfied, but to which we can be reconciled--is that the experiment
shall be SELF-SUSTAINING. By this we mean that the associates, aided by
the facilities furnished them, shall produce enough not only to supply
their own consumption, including education for children and subsistence
for all, and to repair the waste, wear, and decay of tools, machines,
and other property used, but enough also to reasonably compensate those
who furnish the capital for the use of it. Less production than this
implies a waning experiment, which must, sooner or later, terminate
adversely. But even though this low degree of success should be delayed,
the domain is indestructible, and being dedicated forever to associative
purposes, must remain unimpaired for repeated trials.
"An ample sufficiency of land will be conveyed to trustees in such
manner as to secure the perpetual use of it to the associates and their
successors. The land to be thus appropriated has on it a large peach
orchard now in full bearing, which yielded last season a large crop of
excellent peaches; 400 selected apple-trees, which have four years'
thrifty growth from the nursery, and a considerable number of other
fruit-trees; and a vineyard of about 1200 young grape-vines. A library
of 1200 volumes in English, besides a large number in French and other
languages, is now here, intended for the use of future associates and
"No fund is set apart for the gratuitous entertainment of visitors.
Those not guests of some one here who will be chargeable for them, will
be expected to pay a reasonable price for such plain and cheap
accommodations as can be afforded them.
"For a more extended explanation of the principles and aim of our
enterprise, and of some of the details of the mode of proceeding,
persons interested are referred to a treatise on 'Co-operation and
Attractive Industry,' published under the auspices of the departed and
lamented Horace Greeley, for which send fifty cents to the
_Tribune_, New York, or to either of the subscribers.
"[_Note_.--It should be understood that the foregoing exposition of
principles and policy, though the best that our present knowledge
enables us to make, is provisional only, and liable to be modified from
time to time as experience makes us wiser.] E. V. BOISSIERE."
"Williamsburg P. O., Franklin Co., Kansas."
On the back of the circular is the following description of Silkville's
position and other particulars:
"Silkville, at which 'The Prairie Home' is located, is near the
southwest corner of Franklin County, Kansas, three miles south of
Williamsburg, at present the nearest post-office; about twelve miles
nearly west of Princeton, on the L. L. and G. Railroad, the nearest
railroad station; and about twenty miles southwest of Ottawa, the county
seat. An open wagon, which carries passengers and the mail between
Williamsburg and Princeton, connects with the cars at the latter place
every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at about 2 o'clock P. M., which (by
special arrangement) will carry passengers with ordinary baggage between
Princeton and Silkville for sixty-five cents each. Fare from Ottawa to
Princeton, nine miles, fifty cents. Persons coming here frequently hire
a private conveyance from Ottawa.
"Through tickets to Kansas City and Lawrence (and perhaps to Ottawa) can
be purchased at the principal railroad stations. Fare from Kansas City
to Ottawa, fifty-three miles, $2.90; from Lawrence to Ottawa,
twenty-seven miles, $1.60."
Under date of March 30,1874, Mr. Boissiere writes me:
"The unitary building is complete so far as masonry and carpenter work
goes, but the plastering and painting will require two months to
complete. Our neighborhood has not settled as fast as I expected, and
will not afford a market for small industries. I would not invite
associates to come on until I establish more firmly the silk business
and some other industries. The country has not yet learned what crops
will pay best. Farmers, are now trying the castor-bean and flax for
seed, with some promise of success. I had information about an oil-mill,
but find it gives occupation to only a very few operators. I think now
of a factory for working the flax-tow into twine and rope, bagging, or
"I have plenty of patience, having lived a farmer's life; and I like
better to go surely than too fast. We have plenty of good coal around
us, selling at fourteen cents per bushel of eighty pounds. We had the
prospect of a railroad crossing our grounds from Ottawa to Burlington,
but the hard times prevent it. Yours, E. V. BOISSIERE."
It is difficult to foretell what will be the outcome of Mr. Boissiere's
effort. The offer he makes to "associates" is not very promising. Land
and employment outside of the great cities are both so plentiful in this
country that men who have capital enough to make the deposit required by
Mr. Boissiere are more likely to settle upon public land under the
homestead act, and carve out their own future.
A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE CUSTOMS AND PRACTICES OF THE AMERICAN
Though brief accounts are given in the preceding pages of several
recently established communistic societies, it is evident that only
those which have been in practical operation during a term of years are
useful for purposes of comparison, and to show the actually accomplished
results of communistic effort in the United States, as well as the means
by which these results have been achieved.
The societies which may thus be properly used as illustrations of
successful communism in this country are the SHAKERS, established in the
Eastern States in 1794, and in the West about 1808; the RAPPISTS,
established in 1805; the BAUMELERS, or ZOARITES, established in 1817;
the EBEN-EZERS, or AMANA Communists, established in 1844; the BETHEL
Commune, established in 1844; the ONEIDA PERFECTIONISTS, established in
1848; the ICARIANS, who date from 1849; and the AURORA Commune, from
Though in name there are thus but eight societies, these consist in fact
of not less than seventy-two communes: the Shakers having fifty-eight of
these; the Amana Society seven; and the Perfectionists two. The
remaining societies consist of but a single commune for each.
It will be seen that the oldest of these communes have existed for
eighty years; the youngest cited here for review has been founded
twenty-two years. Of all, only two societies remain under the guidance
of their founders; though it may be said that the Amana Communes have
still the advantage of the presence among them of some of the original
leading members. The common assertion that a commune must break up on
the death of its founder would thus appear to be erroneous.
These seventy-two communes make but little noise in the world; they live
quiet and peaceful lives, and do not like to admit strangers to their
privacy. They numbered in 1874 about five thousand persons, including
children, and were then scattered through thirteen states, in which they
own over one hundred and fifty thousand acres of land--probably nearer
one hundred and eighty thousand, for the more prosperous frequently own
farms at a distance, and the exact amount of their holdings is not
easily ascertained. As they have sometimes been accused of being land
monopolists, it is curious to see that even at the highest amount I have
given they would own only about thirty-six acres per head, which is, for
this country, a comparatively small holding of land.
It is probably a low estimate of the wealth of the seventy-two communes
to place it at twelve millions of dollars. This wealth is not equally
divided, some of the older societies holding the larger share. But if it
were, the members would be worth over two thousand dollars per head,
counting men, women, and children. It is not an exaggeration to say that
almost the whole of this wealth has been created by the patient industry
and strict economy and honesty of its owners, without a positive or
eager desire on their part to accumulate riches, and without painful
Moreover--and this is another important consideration--I am satisfied
that _during its accumulation_ the Communists enjoyed a greater
amount of comfort, and vastly greater security against want and
demoralization, than were attained by their neighbors or the surrounding
population, with better schools and opportunities of training for their
children, and far less exposure for the women, and the aged and infirm.
In origin the Icarians are French; the Shakers and Perfectionists
Americans; the others are Germans; and these outnumber all the American
communists. In fact, the Germans make better communists than any other
people--unless the Chinese should some day turn their attention to
communistic attempts. What I have seen of these people in California and
the Sandwich Islands leads me to believe that they are well calculated
for communistic experiments.
All the communes under consideration have as their bond of union some
form of religious belief. It is asserted by some writers who theorize
about communism that a commune can not exist long without some fanatical
religious thought as its cementing force; while others assert with equal
positive ness that it is possible to maintain a commune in which the
members shall have diverse and diverging beliefs in religious matters.
It seems to me that both these theories are wrong; but that it is true
that a commune to exist harmoniously, must be composed of persons who
are of one mind upon some question which to them shall appear so
important as to take the place of a religion, if it is not essentially
religions; though it need not be fanatically held.
Thus the Icarians reject Christianity; but they have adopted the
communistic idea as their religion. This any one will see who speaks
with them. But devotion to this idea has supported them under the most
deplorable poverty and long-continued hardships for twenty years.
Again, the Bethel and Aurora Communes, whose members make singularly
little of outward religious observances, are held together by their
belief that the essence of all religion, and of Christianity, is
unselfishness, and that this requires community of goods.
I do not think that any of these people can be justly called fanatics.
On the other hand, the Shakers, Rappists, Baumelers, Eben-Ezers, and
Perfectionists have each a very positive and deeply rooted religious
faith; but none of them can properly be called fanatics, except by a
person who holds every body to be a fanatic, who believes differently
from himself. For none of these people believe that they are alone good
or alone right; all admit freely that there is room in the world for
various and varying religious beliefs; and that neither wisdom nor
righteousness ends with them.
It is also commonly said that all the communistic societies in this
country oppose the family-life, and that in general they advocate some
abnormal relation of the sexes, which they make a fundamental part of
their communistic plan. This, too, is an error. Of all the communes I am
now considering, only the Perfectionists of Oneida and Wallingford have
established what can be fairly called unnatural sexual relations.
At Icaria, Amana, Aurora, Bethel, and Zoar the family relation is held
in honor, and each family has its own separate household. The Icarians
even forbid celibacy. None of these five societies maintain what is
called a "unitary household;" and in only two, Icaria and Amana, do the
people eat in common dining-halls.
The Shakers and Rappists are celibates; and it is often said by the
Shakers that communism cannot be successful except where celibacy is a
part of the system. It is not unnatural that they should think so; but
the success of those societies which maintain the family relation would
seem to prove the Shakers mistaken. And it is useful to remember that
even the Rappists were successful before they determined, under deep
religious influences, to give up marriage, and adopt celibacy. Moreover,
the Rappists have never used the "unitary home" or the common
dining-hall; they have always lived in small "families," composed of
men, women, and children.
It seems to me a fair deduction from the facts, that neither religious
fanaticism nor an unnatural sexual relation (unless voluntary celibacy
is so called) is necessary to the successful prosecution of a
communistic experiment. What _is_ required I shall try to set forth
in another chapter.
The Eben-Ezers and the Perfectionists are the only communes which are at
this time increasing in numbers. At Icaria, Bethel, Aurora, and Zoar,
they hold their own; but they, too, have lost strength during the last
twenty years. The Shakers and Rappists, the only celibate communists,
are decreasing, and have lost during a number of years; and this in
spite of their benevolent custom of adopting and training orphan
children, to whom they devote money and care with surprising and
creditable liberality. The Eben-Ezers get the greater part of their
accessions from among the brethren of their faith in Germany; and they
live in Iowa in such rigorous seclusion, and so entirely conceal
themselves and their faith and plan from the general public, that it is
evident they do not wish to recruit their membership from the
surrounding population. The Perfectionists publish a weekly journal,
send this and their pamphlets to all who wish them, and have always used
the press freely. Their peculiar doctrines are widely known, and they
receive constantly applications from persons desirous to join their
communes. I believe the greater number of these applicants are men; and
I do not doubt that the peculiar sexual relations existing at Oneida and
Wallingford are an element of attraction to a considerable proportion of
the persons who apply for membership, and who are almost without
exception rejected; for it is right that I should here prevent a
misconception by saying that the Perfectionists are sincerely and almost
fanatically attached to their peculiar faith, and accept new members
only with great care and many precautions.
The Perfectionists are essentially manufacturers, using agriculture only
as a subsidiary branch of business. All the other societies have
agriculture as their industrial base, and many of them manufacture but
little, though all have some branch of manufacture. Also, it is the aim
of all to produce and make, as far as possible, every thing they
consume. To limit the expenditures and increase the income is the
evident road to wealth, as they have all discovered.
Much ingenuity has been exercised by all these communists in
establishing profitable branches of manufacture; and they have had the
good sense and courage in whatever they undertook to make only a good
article, and secure trade by rigid honesty. Thus the Shaker garden seeds
have for nearly three quarters of a century been accepted as the best
all over the United States; the Oneida Perfectionists established the
reputation of their silk-twist in the market by giving accurate weight
and sound material; the woolen stuffs of Amana command a constant
market, because they are well and honestly made; and in general I have
found that the communists have a reputation for honesty and fair dealing
among their neighbors, and where-ever their products are bought and
sold, which must be very valuable to them.
Saw and grist mills, machine shops for the manufacture and repair of
agricultural implements, and woolen factories, are the principal large
manufacturing enterprises in which they are engaged; to these must be
added the preserving of fruits, broom and basket making, the preparation
of medicinal extracts, and the gathering and drying of herbs, garden
seeds, and sweet corn, chair-making, and a few other small industries.
One Shaker community manufactures washing-machines and mangles on a
large scale, and another makes staves for molasses hogsheads. Indeed,
the Shakers have shown more skill in contriving new trades than any of
the other societies, and have among their members a good deal of
All the communes maintain shops for making their own clothing, shoes,
and often hats; as well as for carpentry, blacksmithing, wagon-making,
painting, coopering, etc., and have the reputation among their neighbors
of keeping excellent breeds of cattle. The small shops and the improved
cattle are important advantages to their country neighbors; and a farmer
who lives within half a dozen miles of a commune is fortunate in many
ways, for he gains a market for some of his produce, and he has the
advantage of all their mechanical skill. I did not specially investigate
the question, but I have reason to believe that land in the neighborhood
of a communistic society is always more valuable for these reasons; and
I know of some instances in which the existence of a commune has added
very considerably to the price of real estate near its boundaries.
Almost without exception the communists are careful and thorough
farmers. Their barns and other farm-buildings are usually models for
convenience, labor-saving contrivances, and arrangements for the comfort
of animals. Their tillage is clean and deep; and in their orchards one
always finds the best varieties of fruits. In their houses they enjoy
all the comforts to which they are accustomed or which they desire, and
this to a greater degree than their neighbors on the same plane of life;
and, especially, they are always clean. The women of a commune have,
without exception, I think, far less burdensome lives than women of the
same class elsewhere. This comes partly because the men are more regular
in their hours and habits, and waste no time in dram-shops or other and
less harmful places of dissipation; partly, too, because all the
industries of a commune are systematized, and what Yankees call
"chores," the small duties of the household, such as preparing and
storing firewood, providing water, etc., which on our farms are often
neglected by the men, and cause the women much unnecessary hardship and
toil, are in a commune brought into the general plan of work, and
thoroughly attended to.
Of course, the permanence of a commune adds much to the comfort of the
women, for it encourages the men in providing many small conveniences
which the migratory farmer's wife sighs for in vain. A commune is a
fixture; its people build and arrange for all time; and if they have an
ideal of comfort they work up to it.
II.--COMMUNAL POLITICS AND POLITICAL ECONOMY.
Nothing surprised me more, in my investigations of the communistic
societies, than to discover--
1st. The amount and variety of business and mechanical skill which is
found in every commune, no matter what is the character or intelligence
of its members; and,
2d. The ease and certainty with which the brains come to the top. Of
course this last is a transcendent merit in any system of government.
The fundamental principle of communal life is the subordination of the
individual's will to the general interest or the general will:
practically, this takes the shape of unquestioning obedience by the
members toward the leaders, elders, or chiefs of their society.
But as the leaders take no important step without the unanimous consent
of the membership; and as it is a part of the communal policy to set
each member to that work which he can do best, and so far as possible to
please all; and as the communist takes life easily, and does not toil as
severely as the individualist--so, given a general assent to the
principle of obedience, and practically little hardship occurs.
The political system of the Icarians appears to me the worst, or most
faulty, and that of the Shakers, Rappists, and Amana Communists the best
and most successful, among all the societies.
The Icarian system is as nearly as possible a pure democracy. The
president, elected for a year, is simply an executive officer to do the
will of the majority, which is expressed or ascertained every Saturday
night, and is his rule of conduct for the following week. "The president
could not sell a bushel of corn without instructions from the meeting of
the people," said an Icarian to me--and thereby seemed to me to condemn
the system of which he was evidently proud.
At Amana, and among the Shaker communes, the "leading characters," as
the Shakers quaintly call them, are selected by the highest spiritual
authority, are seldom changed, and have almost, but not quite, unlimited
power and authority. The limitations are that they shall so manage as to
preserve harmony, and that they shall act within the general rules of
the societies--shall not contract debts, for instance, or enter upon
speculative or hazardous enterprises.
The democracy which exists at Oneida and Wallingford is held in check by
the overshadowing conservative influence of their leader, Noyes; it
remains to be seen how it will work after his death. But it differs from
the Icarian system in this important respect, that it does give large
powers to leaders and executive officers. Moreover, the members of these
two Perfectionist communes are almost all overseers of hired laborers;
and Oneida is in reality more a large and prosperous manufacturing
corporation, with a great number of partners all actively engaged in the
work, than a commune in the common sense of the word.
At Economy the chiefs have always been appointed by the spiritual head,
and for life; and the people, as among the Shakers and Eben-Ezers,
trouble themselves but little about the management. The same is true of
Zoar and Bethel, practically, though the Baumelers elect trustees.
Aurora is still under the rule of its founder.
Aside from the religious bond, and I believe of equal strength with that
in the minds of most communists, is the fact that in a commune there is
absolute equality. The leader is only the chief servant; his food and
lodgings are no better than those of the members. At Economy, the
people, to be sure, built a larger house for Rapp, but this was when he
had become old, and when he had to entertain strangers--visitors. But
even there the garden which adjoins the house is frequented by the whole
society--is, in fact, its pleasure-ground; and the present leaders live
in the old house as simply and plainly as the humblest members in
theirs. At Zoar, Baumeler occupied a commodious dwelling, but it was
used also as a storehouse. At Aurora, Dr. Keil's house accommodates a
dozen or twenty of the older unmarried people, who live in common with
him. At Amana, the houses of the leaders are so inconspicuous and plain
that they are not distinguishable from the rest. A Shaker elder sits at
the head of the table of his family or commune, and even the highest
elder or bishop of the society has not a room to himself, and is
expected to work at some manual occupation when not employed in
In a commune no member is a servant; if any servants are kept, they are
hired from among the world's people. When the Kentucky Shakers
organized, they not only liberated their slaves, but such of them as
became Shakers were established in an independent commune or family by
their former masters. They "ceased to be servants, and became brethren
in the Lord."
Any one who has felt the oppressive burden of even the highest and
best-paid kinds of service will see that independence and equality are
great boons, for which many a man willingly sacrifices much else.
Moreover, the security against want and misfortune, the sure provision
for old age and inability, which the communal system offers--is no doubt
an inducement with a great many to whom the struggle for existence
appears difficult and beset by terrible chances.
I do not mean here to undervalue the higher motives which lead men and
women into religious communities, and which control the leaders, and no
doubt a considerable part of the membership in such communes; but not
all. For even among the most spiritual societies there are, and must be,
members controlled by lower motives, and looking mainly to sufficient
bread and butter, a regular and healthful life, easy tasks, and equality
Finally, the communal life secures order and system--certainly at the
expense of variety and amusement; but a man or woman born with what the
Shakers would call a gift of order, finds, I imagine, a singular charm
in the precision, method, regularity, and perfect system of a communal
village. An eternal Sabbath seems to reign in a Shaker settlement, or at
Economy, or Amana. There is no hurly-burly. This systematic arrangement
of life, combined with the cleanliness which is a conspicuous feature in
every commune which I have visited, gives a decency and dignity to
humble life which in general society is too often without.
"How do you manage with the lazy people?" I asked in many places; but
there are no idlers in a commune. I conclude that men are not naturally
idle. Even the "winter Shakers"--the shiftless fellows who, as cold
weather approaches, take refuge in Shaker and other communes, professing
a desire to become members; who come at the beginning of winter, as a
Shaker elder said to me, "with empty stomachs and empty trunks, and go
off with both full as soon as the roses begin to bloom"--even these poor
creatures succumb to the systematic and orderly rules of the place, and
do their share of work without shirking, until the mild spring sun
tempts them to a freer life.
The character of the leaders in a commune is of the greatest importance.
It affects, in the most obvious manner, the development of the society
over which they rule. The "leading character" is sure to be a man of
force and ability, and he forms the habits, not only of daily life, but
even of thought, of those whom he governs--just as the father forms the
character of his children in a family, or would if he did not give his
whole life to "business."
But origin, nationality, and previous social condition are, of course,
still greater powers. Thus the German communists in the United States,
who came for the most part from the peasant class in their country,
retain their peculiar habits of life, which are often singular, and
sometimes repulsive to an American. They enjoy doubtless more abundant
food than in their old homes; but it is of the same kind, and served in
the same homely style to which they were used. Their dwellings may be
more substantial; but they see nothing disagreeable in two or three
families occupying the same house. At Icaria I saw French sabots, or
wooden shoes, standing at the doors of the houses; and at dinner the
water was poured from a vessel of tin--not, I imagine, because they
were too poor to afford a pitcher, but because this was the custom at
So, too, among the American societies there are great differences. To
the outer eye one Shaker is much like another; but the New Hampshire and
Kentucky Shakers are as different from each other as the general
population of one state is from that of the other, both in intellectual
character and habits of life; and the New York Shaker differs again from
both. Climate, by the habits it compels, makes trivial but still
conspicuous differences; it is not possible that the Kentucky Shaker,
who hears the mocking-bird sing in his pines on every sunny day the
winter through, and in whose woods the blue-jay is a constant resident,
should be the same being as his brother in Maine or New Hampshire, who
sees the mercury fall to twenty degrees below zero, and stores his
winter's firewood in a house as big as an ordinary factory or as his own
I was much struck with the simplicity of the book-keeping in most of the
communities, which often made it difficult for me to procure such simple
statistics as I have given in previous pages. Sometimes, as at Zoar,
Aurora, and Bethel, it was with great trouble that I could get even
approximate figures; and this not entirely because they were unwilling
to give the information, but because it was nowhere accessible in a
condensed and accurate shape. "If a man owes no money--if he pays and
receives cash--he needs to keep but few accounts," said a leading man at
Aurora to me.
In most of the communes there is no annual or other business statement
made to the members; and this plan, which at first seems to be absurdly
insecure and unbusinesslike, works well in practice. Among the Shakers,
the ministry, whenever they wish to, and usually once a year, overhaul
the accounts of the trustees. The extensive business affairs of the
Rappists have always been carried on by two leading men, without
supervision, and without loss or defalcation. At Amana it is the same,
as well as at Zoar, Bethel, and Aurora. The fixed rule of the communes,
not to run in debt, is a wholesome check on trustees; and though
defalcations have occurred in several of the Shaker communes, they
remain satisfied that their plan of account-keeping is the best.
At Oneida they have a very thorough system of book-keeping--more complete
than would be found, I suspect, in most large manufacturing
establishments; and there I received definite and accurate statistical
information with but little delay. But the Perfectionists have a more
keenly mercantile spirit than any of the other communal societies; they
are, as I said before, essentially a manufacturing corporation.
It is an important part of the commune's economies in living that it
buys its supplies at wholesale. Oddly enough, a person at Buffalo, with
whom I spoke of the Eben-Ezer people, remarked that they were disliked
in the city, because, while they sold their products there, they bought
their supplies at wholesale in New York. The retailer and middle-man
appear to have vested rights nowadays. People seem to have thought in
Buffalo that they obliged the Eben-Ezer men by buying their vegetables.
I have heard the same objection made in other states to the Shaker
societies: "They are of no use to the country, for they buy every thing
in the city at wholesale." As though they did not pay taxes, besides
setting an excellent example of virtuous and moderate living to their
The simplicity of dress usual among communists works also an economy not
only in means, but what is of equal importance, and might be of greater,
a saving of time and trouble and vexation of spirit to the women. I
think it a pity that all the societies have not a uniform dress; the
Shakers and Rappists have, and it is an advantage in point of neatness.
The slop-made coats and trousers worn in many societies quickly turn
shabby, and give a slouchy appearance to the men, which is disagreeable
to the eye, and must be more or less demoralizing to the wearers. The
blue jacket of the Rappist is a very suitable and comfortable working
garment; and the long coat of the Shaker always looks decent and tidy.
As to the dress of the women--in Amana, and also among the Shakers, the
intention seems to be to provide a style which shall conceal their
beauty, and make them less attractive to male eyes; and this is
successfully achieved. At Economy no such precautions are taken; the
women wear the honest dress of German peasants, with a kind of Norman
cap, and the dress is sensible, convenient, and by no means uncomely. At
Oneida the short dress, with trousers, and the clipped locks, though
convenient, are certainly ugly. Elsewhere dress is not much thought of.
But in all the societies stuffs of good quality are used; and none are
the slaves of fashion. I need not point out how much time and trouble
are saved to women by this alone.
The societies have generally as good schools as the average of the
common schools in their neighborhoods, and often better. None but the
Oneida and Wallingford Communists favor a "liberal" or extended
education; these, however, have sent a number of their young men to the
Sheffield scientific school at New Haven. The Shakers and Rappists teach
musical notation to the children; and all the communes, except of course
Icaria, give pretty careful religious instruction to the young.
But, besides the "schooling," they have all preserved the wholesome old
custom of teaching the boys a trade, and the girls to sew, cook, and
wash. "Our boys learn as much, perhaps more than the farmer's or village
boys, in our schools; and we make them also good farmers, and give them
thorough knowledge of some useful trade:" this was often said to me--and
it seemed to me a good account to give of the training of youth.
III.--CHARACTER OF THE PEOPLE; INFLUENCES OF COMMUNISTIC LIFE.
I remark, in the first place, that all the successful communes are
composed of what are customarily called "common people."
You look in vain for highly educated, refined, cultivated, or elegant
men or women. They profess no exalted views of humanity or destiny; they
are not enthusiasts; they do not speak much of the Beautiful with a big
B. They are utilitarians. Some do not even like flowers; some reject
instrumental music. They build solidly, often of stone; but they care
nothing for architectural effects. Art is not known among them; mere
beauty and grace are undervalued, even despised. Amusements, too, they
do not value; only a few communes have general libraries, and even these
are of very limited extent, except perhaps the library at Oneida, which
is well supplied with new books and newspapers. The Perfectionists also
encourage musical and theatrical entertainments, and make amusement so
large a part of their lives that they have nearly half a dozen
committees to devise and superintend them.
At Amana and Economy, as well as among the Shakers, religious meetings
are the principal recreations; though the Shaker union meetings, where
the members of a family visit each other in small groups, may be called
a kind of diversion. At Economy, in the summer, the people enjoy
themselves in flower-gardens, where they gather to be entertained by the
music of a band.
2. The communists do not toil severely. Usually they rise early--among
the Shakers at half-past four in the summer, and five in winter; and in
most of the other communes before or about sunrise. They labor
industriously, but not exhaustingly, all the day; and in such ways as to
make their toil comfortable and pleasant. "Two hired workmen would do as
much as three of our people," said a Shaker to me; and at Amana they
told me that three hired men would do the work of five or even six of
their members. "We aim to make work not a pain, but a pleasure," I was
told; and I think they succeed. The workshops are usually very
comfortably arranged, thoroughly warmed and ventilated, and in this they
all display a nice care.
3. They are all very cleanly. Even in those communes, as at Aurora,
where the German peasant appears to have changed but very little most of
his habits, cleanliness is a conspicuous virtue. The Shaker neatness is
proverbial; at Economy every thing looks as though it had been cleaned
up for a Sunday examination. In the other German communes the neatness
is as conspicuous within the houses, but it does not extend to the
streets and spaces out of doors. The people do not appear to be offended
at the sight of mud in winter, and, like most of our Western farmers, do
not know what good roads are. The Perfectionists pay a little attention
to landscape-gardening, and have laid out their grounds very tastefully.
4. The communists are honest. They like thorough and good work; and
value their reputation for honesty and fair dealing. Their neighbors
always speak highly of them in this respect.
5. They are humane and charitable. In Kentucky, during the slavery
period, the Shakers always had their pick of Negroes to be hired,
because they were known to treat them well. At New Lebanon I was told
that a farm-hand was thought fortunate who was engaged by the Mount
Lebanon Shakers. At Amana and at Economy the hired people value their
situations so highly that they willingly conform to the peculiarities of
the commune, so far as it is demanded. At Oneida, where a large number
of men and women are employed in the factories, they speak very highly
of their employers, though these are the objects of prejudice on account
of their social system. So, too, the animals of a commune are always
better lodged and more carefully attended than is usual among its
6. The communist's life is full of devices for personal ease and
comfort. At Icaria, owing to their poverty, comfort was, until within a
year or two, out of the question--but they did what they could. Among
the other and more prosperous communes, a good deal of thought is given
to the conveniences of life. One sees very perfectly fitted laundries;
covered ways by which to pass from house to outhouses in stormy weather;
ingenious contrivances for ventilation, and against drafts, etc.
7. They all live well, according to their different tastes. Food is
abundant, and well cooked. In some Shaker communes a part of the family
eat no meat, and special provision is made for these. Fruit is every
where very abundant, and forms a large part of their diet; and this no
doubt helps to keep them healthy. They take a pride in their store-rooms
and kitchens, universally eat good bread and butter, and live much more
wholesomely than the average farmer among their neighbors.
8. They are usually healthy, though in some communes they have a habit
of doctoring themselves for fancied diseases. In almost all the Shaker
communes I found hospitals, or "nurse-shops," as they call them, but
oftenest they were empty. In the other societies I saw no such special
provision for serious or chronic diseases.
9. I have no doubt that the communists are the most long-lived of our
population. This is natural; they eat regularly and well, rise and
retire early, and do not use ardent spirits; they are entirely relieved
of the care and worry which in individual life beset every one who must
provide by the labor of hand or head for a family; they are tenderly
cared for when ill; and in old age their lives are made very easy and
pleasant. They live a great deal in the open air also. Moreover, among
the American communists, health and longevity are made objects of
special study; and the so-called health journals are read with great
interest. It results that eighty is not an uncommon age for a communist;
and in every society, except perhaps in Icaria, I saw or heard of people
over ninety, and still hale and active.
10. They are temperate in the use of wine or spirits, and drunkenness is
unknown in all the communes, although among the Germans the use of wine
and beer is universal. The American communes do not use either at all.
But at Economy or Amana or Zoar the people receive either beer or wine
daily, and especially in harvest-time, when they think these more
wholesome than water. At Economy they have very large, substantially
built wine-cellars, where some excellent wine is stored.
Is it not possible that the general moderation with which life is
pursued in a commune, the quiet, absence of exciting or worrying cares,
regularity of habit and easy work, by keeping their blood cool, decrease
the tendency to misuse alcoholic beverages? There is no doubt that in
the German communes wine and beer are used, and have been for many
years, in a way which would be thought dangerous by our temperance
people; but I have reason to believe without the occurrence of any case
of habitual intemperance. Possibly scientific advocates of temperance
may hereafter urge a more temperate and sensible pursuit of wealth and
happiness, a less eager life and greater contentment, as more conducive
to what we narrowly call "temperance" than all the total-abstinence
11. It is a fixed principle in all the communes to keep out of debt, and
to avoid all speculative and hazardous enterprises. They are content
with small gains, and in an old-fashioned way study rather to moderate
their outlays than to increase their profits. Naturally--as they own in
common--they are not in haste to be rich. Those of them who have
suffered from debt feel it to be both a danger and a curse. None of the
communes make the acquisition of wealth a leading object of life. They
have greater regard to independence and comfort. Their surplus capital
they invest in land or in the best securities, such as United States
12. In those communes where the family relation is upheld, as the people
are prosperous, they marry young. At Amana they do not permit the young
men to marry before they reach the age of twenty-four.
In the celibate societies a number of precautions are used to keep the
sexes apart. Among the Shakers, especially, there are usually separate
doors and stairways in the dwelling-houses; the workshops of the sexes
are in different buildings; they eat at separate tables; and in their
meetings men and women are ranged on opposite sides of the hall.
Moreover, no one is lodged alone, even the elders and ministry sharing
the sleeping-room with some other brother. It is not even permitted that
a man and woman shall stand and talk together on the public walk. In
most of their schools the sexes are also separated. In some of their
dwellings, where but a single staircase exists, there is a rule that two
persons of opposite sexes shall not pass each other on the stairs. They
are not allowed to keep pet animals; nor to enter the room of another
sex without knocking and receiving permission; nor to visit, except by
appointment of the elders or ministry; nor to make presents to each
other; nor to visit the shops of the other sex alone. At Economy there
are separate entrance-ways to the dwellings for the two sexes.
It is not pretended in the celibate communes that the celibate life is
easy; they confess it to be a sacrifice; but as they are moved to it by
their religious faith, they rigorously maintain their rule. I am
satisfied that very few cases of sexual irregularity have occurred among
them, and they rigorously expel all those who transgress their rules.
It is natural that they should assert that celibacy is healthful; and,
indeed, they point to the long life and general good health of their
members in proof; and the fresh and fair complexions of a great number
of their middle-aged people might be cited as another proof. Yet I have
been told that the women are apt to suffer in health, particularly at
the critical period of life. I must add, however, that I could hear of
no cases of insanity or idiocy traceable to the celibate condition. Of
course there is no force used to keep members in a commune; and those
who are uncomfortable leave and go out into the world. The celibate
communes keep very few of the young people whom they train up.
13. The communal life appears to be, at first view, inexorably dull and
dreary; and the surprise was the greater to a visitor like myself to
find the people every where cheerful, merry in their quiet way, and with
a sufficient number and variety of healthful interests in life. But,
after all, the life of the communist has much more varied interests and
excitements than that of the farmer or his family; for a commune is a
village, and usually forms a tolerably densely crowded aggregation of
people--more like a small section cut out of a city than like even a
village. There is also a wholesome variety of occupations; and country
life, to those who love it, presents an infinite fund of amusement and
That this is a correct view is shown by the curious fact that at Amana,
when the farmers of the surrounding country bring in their wool, which
they sell to the society, they bring with them their wives and children,
who find enjoyment in a stay at the little inn; at Zoar the commune's
hotel is a favorite resort of the country people; the neighbors of the
Icarians come from miles around to attend the school exhibitions and
other diversions of these communists; and about Aurora, in Oregon, the
farmers speak of the commune's life as admirably arranged for amusement
14. Several of the societies have contrived ingenious mechanical means
for securing harmony and eliminating without violence improper or rather
uncongenial members; and these appear to me to be of high importance.
The Shakers use what they call "Confession of sins to the elders;" the
Amana people have an annual _"untersuchung,"_ or inquiry into the
sins and the spiritual condition of the members; the Perfectionists use
what they rightly call "Criticism"--perhaps the most effective of all, as
in it the subject is not left to tell his own tale, but sits at the
_oyer_ of his sins and disagreeable conduct, being judge rather
than witness. But all these devices are meritorious, because by their
means petty disputes are quieted, grievances are aired and thus dispersed,
and harmony is maintained; while to one not in general agreement with the
commune either is unbearable, and will drive him off. As I have
described these practices in detail, under their proper heads, I need
not here do more than mention them.
In judging of the _quality_ of the communal life, I have found
myself constantly falling into the error of comparing it with my own, or
with the life of men and women in pleasant circumstances in our great
cities. Even when thus studied it has merits--for the commune gives its
members serenity of spirit, and relieves them from many of the follies to
which even the most sensible men and women nowadays are reluctantly
compelled to submit; not to speak of the petty and lowering cares which
these follies and the general spirit of society bring to almost every
one. It is undoubtedly an advantage to live simply, not to be the slave
of fashion or of the opinion of others, and to keep the body under
But to be fairly judged, the communal life, as I have seen and tried to
report it, must be compared with that of the mechanic and laborer in our
cities, and of the farmer in the country; and when thus put in judgment,
I do not hesitate to say that it is in many ways--and in almost all
ways--a higher and better, and also a pleasanter life.
It provides a greater variety of employment for each individual, and
thus increases the dexterity and broadens the faculties of men. It
offers a wider range of wholesome enjoyments, and also greater
restraints against debasing pleasures. It gives independence, and
inculcates prudence and frugality. It demands self-sacrifice, and
restrains selfishness and greed; and thus increases the happiness which
comes from the moral side of human nature. Finally, it relieves the
individual's life from a great mass of carking cares, from the necessity
of over-severe and exhausting toil, from the dread of misfortune or
exposure in old age. If the communal life did not offer such or
equivalent rewards, no commune could exist. For though in almost all of
those I have described a religious thought and theory enter in, it may
nevertheless be justly said that all arose out of a deep-seated
dissatisfaction with society as it is constituted--a feeling which is
well-nigh universal, and affects men and women more the more thoughtful
they are; that they continue only because this want of something better
is gratified; but that a commune could not long continue whose members
had not, in the first place, by adverse circumstances, oppression, or
wrong, been made to feel very keenly the need of something better. Hence
it is that the German peasant or weaver makes so good a communist; and
hence, too, the numerous failures of communistic experiments in this
country, begun by people of culture and means, with a sincere desire to
live the "better life." J. H. Noyes, the founder of the Perfectionist
communes, gives, in his book on "American Socialisms," brief accounts of
not less than forty-seven failures, many of them experiments which
promised well at first, and whose founders were high-minded, highly
cultivated men and women, with sufficient means, one would think, to
[Transcriber's Note: Lengthy footnote relocated to chapter end.]
Now, why these successes in the face of so many failures? Certainly
there was not among the Shakers, the Rappists, the Baumelers, the
Eben-Ezers, the Perfectionists, greater business ability or more
powerful leadership? Greater wealth there was not, for most of the
successful societies began poor. If education or intellectual culture
are important forces, the unsuccessful societies had these, the
successful ones had them not.
Mr. Noyes believes that religion must be the base of a successful
commune. Mr. Greeley agreed with him. I believe that religion must be
the foundation of every human society which is to be orderly, virtuous,
and therefore self-denying, and so far I do not doubt that they are
right. But if it is meant, as I understand them, that in order to
success there must be some peculiar religious faith, fanatically held, I
do not believe it at all.
I believe that success depends--together with a general agreement in
religious faith, and a real and spiritual religion leavening the
mass--upon another sentiment--upon a feeling of the unbearableness of
the circumstances in which they find themselves. The general feeling of
modern society is blindly right at bottom: communism is a mutiny against
Only, whether the communist shall rebel with a bludgeon and a petroleum
torch, or with a plow and a church, depends upon whether he has not or
has faith in God--whether he is a religious being or not. If priestcraft
and tyranny have sapped his faith and debauched his moral sense, then he
will attack society as the French commune recently attacked
Paris--animated by a furious envy of his more fortunate fellow-creatures,
and an undiscriminating hatred toward every thing which reminds him of
his oppressors, or of the social system from which he has or imagines he
has suffered wrong. If, on the contrary, he believes in God, he finds
hope and comfort in the social theory which Jesus propounded; and he
will seek another way out, as did the Rappists, the Eben-Ezers, the
Jansenists, the Zoarites, and not less the Shakers and the
Perfectionists, each giving his own interpretation to that brief
narrative of Luke in which he describes the primitive Christian Church:
"And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and
sold their possessions and goods; and parted them to all men as every
man had need."
These words have had a singular power over men in all ages since they
were written. They form the charter of every communistic society of
which I have spoken--for even the Icarians recall them.
IV.--CONDITIONS AND POSSIBILITIES OP COMMUNISTIC LIVING.
Reviewing what I have seen and written, these questions occur:
I. On what terms, if at all, could a carefully selected and homogeneous
company of men and women hope to establish themselves as a commune?
II. Would they improve their lives and condition?
III. Have the existing societies brought communal life to its highest
point; or is a higher and more intellectual life compatible with that
degree of pecuniary success and harmonious living which is absolutely
I. I doubt if men and women in good circumstances, or given to an
intellectual life, can hope to succeed in such an experiment. In the
beginning, the members of a commune must expect to work hard; and, to be
successful, they ought always to retain the frugal habits, the early
hours, and the patient industry and contentment with manual labor which
belong to what we call the working class. Men cannot play at communism.
It is not amateur work. It requires patience, submission;
self-sacrifice, often in little matters where self-sacrifice is
peculiarly irksome; faith in a leader; pleasure in plain living and
healthful hours and occupations.
"Do you have no grumblers?" I asked Elder Frederick Evans at Mount
Lebanon; and he replied, "Yes, of course--and they grumble at the elder.
That is what he is for. It is necessary to have some one man to grumble
at, for that avoids confusion."
"Do you have no scandal?" I asked at Aurora, and they said, "Oh
yes--women will talk; but we have learned not to mind it."
"Are you not troubled sometimes with disagreeable members?" I asked at
Oneida; and they answered, "Yes; but what we cannot criticize out of
them we bear with. That is part of our life."
"_Bear ye one another's burdens_" might well be written over the
gates of every commune.
Some things the communist must surrender; and the most precious of these
The man to whom at intervals the faces and voices of his kind become
hateful, whose bitterest need it is to be sometimes alone--this man need
not try communism. For in a well-ordered commune there is hardly the
possibility of privacy. You are part of a great family, all whose
interests and all whose life must necessarily be in common. At Oneida,
when a man leaves the house he sticks a peg in a board, to tell all his
little world where he is to be found. In a Shaker family, the elder is
expected to know where every man is at all hours of the day. Moses,
wandering over the desert with his great commune, occasionally went up
into a mountain; but he never returned to the dead level of his
Israelites without finding his heart fill with rage and despair. Nor is
this surprising; for in the commune there must be absolute equality;
there can be no special privileges; and when the great Leader, resting
his spirit on the mountain, and enjoying the luxury of solitude and
retirement from the hateful sight and sounds of human kind, "delayed to
come down," his fellow-communists began at once to murmur, "As for this
Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not
what is become of him."
Fortunately--else there would be no communes--to the greater part of
mankind the faces and voices of their kind are necessary.
A company of fifty, or even of twenty-five families, well known to each
other, belonging to the same Christian Church, or at least united upon
some one form of religious faith, composed of farmers or mechanics, or
both, and strongly desirous to better their circumstances, and to live a
life of greater independence and of greater social advantages than is
attainable to the majority of farmers and mechanics, could, I believe,
if they were so fortunate as to possess a leader of sufficient wisdom
and unselfishness, in whom all would implicitly trust, make an attempt
at communistic living with strong hopes of success; and they would
undoubtedly, if they maintained their experiment only ten years,
materially improve their condition; and, what to me seems more
important, the life would affect their characters and those of their
children in many ways beneficially.
I think it would be a mistake in such a company of people to live in a
"unitary home." They should be numerous enough to form a village; they
should begin with means sufficient to own a considerable tract of land,
sufficient to supply themselves with food, and to keep as much stock as
they required for their own use. They should so locate their village as
to make it central to their agricultural land. They should determine, as
the Rappists did, upon a uniform and simple dress and house, and upon
absolute equality of living. They should place _all_ the power in
the hands of their leader, and solemnly promise him unhesitating trust
and obedience; specifying only that he should contract no debts, should
attempt no new enterprise without unanimous consent, and should at all
times open his purposes and his acts to the whole society. Finally, they
should expect in the beginning to live economically--_very_
economically, perhaps; and in every case within their income.
They would, of course, adopt rules as to hours of labor and of meals;
but if they had the spirit which alone can give success, these matters
would be easily settled--for in a community men are more apt to
over-work than to be idle. The lazy men, who are the bugbears of
speculative communists, are not, so far as I have heard, to be found in
the existing communes, and I have often and in different places been
told, especially of the early days: "We worked late and early, each
trying how much he could accomplish, and singing at our work."
In a commune, which is only a large family, I think it a great point
gained for success to give the women equal rights in every respect with
the men. They should take part in the business discussions, and their
consent should be as essential as that of the men in all the affairs of
the society. This gives them, I have noticed, contentment of mind, as
well as enlarged views and pleasure in self-denial. Moreover, women have
a conservative spirit, which is of great value in a communistic society,
as in a family; and their influence is always toward a higher life.
Servants are inadmissible in a commune; but it may and ought to possess
conveniences which make servants, with plain living, needless. For
instance, a common laundry, a common butcher's shop, a general barn and
dairy, are contrivances which almost every commune possesses, but which
hardly any village in the country has. A clean, hard road within the
communal village limits, and dry side-walks, would be attainable with
ease. A church and a school-house ought to be the first buildings
erected; and both being centrally placed, either could be used for such
evening meetings as are essential to happy and successful community
Finally, there should be some way to bring to the light the
dissatisfaction which must exist where a number of people attempt to
live together, either in a commune or in the usual life, but which in a
commune needs to be wisely managed. For this purpose I know of no better
means than that which the Perfectionists call "criticism"--telling a
member to his face, in regular and formal meeting, what is the opinion
of his fellows about him--which he or she, of course, ought to receive
in silence. Those who cannot bear this ordeal are unfit for community
life, and ought not to attempt it. But, in fact, this "criticism,"
kindly and conscientiously used, would be an excellent means of
discipline in most families, and would in almost all cases abolish
scolding and grumbling.
A commune is but a larger family, and its members ought to meet each
other as frequently as possible. The only advantage of a unitary home
lies in this, that the members may easily assemble in a common room
every evening for an hour, not with any set or foreordained purpose, but
for that interchange of thought and experience which makes up, or
should, a large and important part of family life. Hence every commune
ought to have a pleasantly arranged and conveniently accessible
meeting-room, to which books and newspapers, music, and cheap, harmless
amusements should draw the people-women and children as well as
men--two or three times a week. Nor is such meeting a hardship in a
commune, where plain living, early hours, and good order and system make
the work light, and leave both time and strength for amusement.
Tobacco, spirituous liquors, and cards ought to be prohibited in every
commune, as wasteful of money, strength, and time.
The training of children in strict obedience and in good habits would be
insisted on by a wise leader as absolutely necessary to concord in the
society; and the school-teacher ought to have great authority. Moreover,
the training of even little children, during some hours of every day, in
some manual occupation, like knitting--as is done at Amana--is useful
in several ways. Regular and patient industry, not exhausting toil, is
the way to wealth in a commune; and children--who are indeed in general
but too proud to be usefully employed, and to have the sense of
accomplishing something--cannot be brought into this habit of industry
What now might the members of such a community expect to gain by their
experiment? Would they, to answer the second question above, improve
their lives and condition?
Pecuniarily, they would begin at once a vast economy and saving of
waste, which could hardly help but make them prosperous, and in time
wealthy. A commune pays no wages; its members "work for their board and
clothes," as the phrase is; and these supplies are either cheaply
produced or bought at wholesale. A commune has no blue Mondays, or idle
periods whatever; every thing is systematized, and there is useful
employment for all in all kinds of weather and at all seasons of the
year. A commune wastes no time in "going to town," for it has its own
shops of all kinds. It totally abolishes the middleman of every kind,
and saves all the large percentage of gain on which the "store-keepers"
live and grow rich elsewhere. It spends neither time nor money in
dram-shops or other places of common resort. It secures, by plain living
and freedom from low cares, good health in all, and thus saves "doctors'
bills." It does not heed the changes in fashion, and thus saves time and
strength to its women. Finally, the communal life is so systematized
that every thing is done well, at the right time, and thus comes another
important saving of time and material. The communal wood-house is always
full of well-seasoned firewood: here is a saving of time and temper
which almost every Western farmer's wife will appreciate.
If you consider well these different economies, it will cease to be
surprising that communistic societies become wealthy; and this without
severe or exhausting toil. The Zoarites acknowledge that they could not
have paid for their land had they not formed themselves into a commune;
the Amana Inspirationists confess that they could not have maintained
themselves near Buffalo had they not adopted the communal system.
I have said nothing about the gain of the commune by the thorough
culture it is able and likely to give to land; its ability to command at
any moment a large laboring force for an emergency, and its advantage in
producing the best, and selling its surplus consequently at the highest
market price. But these are not slight advantages. I should say that the
reputation for honesty and for always selling a good article is worth to
the Shakers, the Amana and other communes, at least ten per cent. over
On the moral side the gain is evidently great. In a society so
intimately bound together, if there are slight tendencies to evil in any
member, they are checked and controlled by the prevailing public
sentiment. The possibility of providing with ease and without the
expenditure of money good training and education for children, is an
immense advantage for the commune over the individualist who is a farmer
or mechanic in a new country. The social advantages are very great and
evident. Finally, the effect of the communal life upon the character of
the individual is good. Diversity of employments, as I have noticed in
another chapter, broadens the men's faculties. Ingenuity and mechanical
dexterity are developed to a surprising degree in a commune, as well as
business skill. The constant necessity of living in intimate association
with others, and taking into consideration their prejudices and
weaknesses, makes the communist somewhat a man of the world; teaches him
self-restraint; gives him a liberal and tolerant spirit; makes him an
amiable being. Why are _all_ communists remarkably cleanly? I
imagine largely because filth or carelessness would be unendurable in so
large a family, and because system and method are absolutely necessary to
But, to come to my third question, the communes I have visited do not
appear to me to make nearly as much of their lives as they might. Most
of them are ascetics, who avoid the beautiful as tending to sin; and
most of them, moreover, out of the force of old habits, and a
conservative spirit which dreads change, rigidly maintain the old ways.
In the beginning, a commune must live with great economy, and deny
itself many things desirable and proper. It is an advantage that it
should have to do this, just as it is undoubtedly an advantage to a
young couple just starting out in life to be compelled by narrow
circumstances to frugal living and self-denial. It gives unselfishness
and a wholesome development of character. But I cannot see why a
prosperous commune should not own the best books; why it should not have
music; why it should not hear the most eloquent lecturers; why it should
not have pleasant pleasure-grounds, and devote some means to the highest
form of material art--fine architecture. It seems to me that in these
respects the communes I have visited have failed of their proper and
just development; and I believe this inattention to the higher and
intellectual wants of men to be the main reason of their generally
failing numbers. They keep their lives on the plane of the common
farmer's life out of which most of the older members were gathered--and
their young people leave them, just as the farmers of our country
complain that their boys run off to the cities. The individual farmer or
country mechanic cannot control this; he cannot greatly beautify his
life, or make it intellectually richer. But to the commune, once well
established and prosperous, all needful things are possible, so far as
money cost is concerned; and it is my belief that neither books nor
music, nor eloquence nor flowers, nor finely kept pleasure-grounds nor
good architecture would be dangerous to the success of a commune.
In another respect, the communistic societies fall short of what they
ought to be and do. The permanence of their establishments gives them
extraordinary advantages for observing the phenomena of climate and
nature; and it would add greatly to the interest of their lives did they
busy and interest themselves with observations of temperature, and of
the various natural phenomena which depend upon or denote climate: the
arrival and departure of birds; the first and last frosts; the
blossoming of flowers and trees. A Shaker family ought to produce
records of this kind of great value and interest; and I wonder that such
a book as White's "Selborne" has not empted some communist to such
observations. But I nowhere, except at Oneida, found more than a very
superficial interest in natural phenomena.
It is easy to see that here is a field of innocent and healthful
amusement which, with the abundant leisure the members of a prosperous
commune enjoy, could be worked so as to give a new and ever-fresh
interest to the lives of young and old.
I find fault also with the isolation in which communal societies live.
They would be the better if they communicated fully and frequently among
each other, and interchanged thoughts and experiences. Not only do the
different societies hold aloof from each other, but among the Shakers
even families do not communicate or advise with others living at a
distance. But I believe this is to be remedied.
Finally, I repeat that one cannot play at communism. It is earnest work,
and requires perseverance, patience, and all other manly qualities. But
if I compare the life in a contented and prosperous, that is to say a
successful commune, with the life of an ordinary farmer or mechanic even
in our prosperous country, and more especially with the lives of the
working-men and their families in our great cities, I must confess that
the communist life is so much freer from care and risk, so much easier,
so much better in many ways, and in all material aspects, that I
sincerely wish it might have a farther development in the United States.
With this wish I conclude a work which has interested me extremely--the
record of an investigation which was certainly the strangest and most
remarkable I ever made, and which forced me to take some views of the
nature and capacities of the average man which I had not before.
That communistic societies will rapidly increase in this or any other
country, I do not believe. The chances are always great against the
success of any newly formed society of this kind. But that men and women
can, if they _will_, live pleasantly and prosperously in a communal
society is, I think, proved beyond a doubt; and thus we have a right to
count this another way by which the dissatisfied laborer may, if he
chooses, better his condition. This seems to me a matter of some
importance, and justifies, to myself at least, the trouble I have taken
in this investigation.
[Relocated Footnote: Here is a list of titles, which I take from Noyes:
The Alphadelphia Phalanx, Hopedale Community, Leroysville Phalanx,
Bloomfield Association, Blue Springs Community, North American Phalanx,
Ohio Phalanx, Brook Farm, Bureau County Phalanx, Raritan Bay Union,
Wisconsin Phalanx; the Clarkson, Clermont, Columbian, Coxsackie,
Skaneateles, Integral, Iowa Pioneer, Jefferson County, La Grange,
Turnbull, Sodus Bay, and Washtenaw Phalanxes; the Forrestville,
Franklin, Garden Grove, Goose Pond, Haverstraw, Kendall, One Mentian,
and Yellow Springs Communities; the Marlborough, McKean County,
Mixville, Northampton, Spring Farm, and Sylvania Associations; the
Moorehouse and the Ontario Unions; the Prairie Home; New Harmony,
Nashoba, New Lanark, the Social Reform Unity, and the Peace Union
The following list does not pretend to be a complete bibliography of
Socialism or Communism. It contains the titles of all the works which
have fallen under my own observation relating to the Communistic
Societies now existing in the United States, and referred to in this
book. Most of these are in my own collection; a few I found in the
Congressional Library or in the hands of friends. To a few of the titles
I have appended remarks explanatory of their contents.
1. A Brief Account of a Religious Scheme taught and propagated by a
number of Europeans who lately lived in a place called Nisqueunia, in
the State of New York, but now residing in Harvard, Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, commonly called Shaking Quakers. By Valentine Rathbone,
Minister of the Gospel. To which is added a Dialogue between George the
Third of Great Britain and his Minister, giving an account of the late
London mob, and the original of the Sect called Shakers. The whole being
a discovery of the wicked machinations of the principal enemies of
America. Worcester, 1788.
[This is the earliest printed mention I have found of the Shakers. The
pamphlet is in the Congressional Library, and came from the Force
Collection. Its intention was to make the Shakers odious as British
spies; and in the "Dialogue" between the king and his minister, "Lord
Germain" is made to comfort the king with an account of "the persons who
were sent to propagate a new religious scheme in America," whose
accounts, he says, are "very flattering," and upon whom he depends to
mislead the ignorant Americans into opposition to the "rebels." The
"Dialogue" pretends to have been "printed London; reprinted Worcester,
2. Testimony of Christ's Second Appearing, exemplified by the Principles
and Practice of the Church of Christ. History of the Progressive Work of
God, extending from the Creation of Man to the Harvest, comprising the
Four Great Dispensations now consummating in the Millennial Church.
Antichrist's Kingdom or Churches, contrasted with the Church of Christ's
First and Second Appearing, the Kingdom of the God of Heaven. Published
by the United Society called Shakers. No date. (The Preface to the first
edition is dated "Lebanon, O., 1808." Of the fourth, "Watervliet, N. Y.,
1854;" pp. 632.)
3. Autobiography, of a Shaker, and Revelation of the Apocalypse, with an
Appendix. By Frederick W. Evans. New York, American News Company, 1869,
4. _The Same._ London, J. Burns, 1871, with a photographic portrait
of the author.
5. Shaker's Compendium of the Origin, History, Principles, Rules and
Regulations, Government and Doctrines of the United Society of Christ's
Second Appearing, with Biographies of Ann Lee, William Lee, James
Whittaker, J. Hocknell, J. Meacham, and Lucy Wright. By F. W. Evans. New
York, D. Appleton & Co., 1859, pp. 189.
6. The Nature and Character of the True Church of Christ proved by Plain
Evidences, and showing whereby it may be known and distinguished from
all others. Being Extracts from the Writings of John Dunlavy. New York,
printed by George W. Wood, 1850, pp. 93.
7. The Kentucky Revival; or a Short History of the late Extraordinary
Outpouring of the Spirit of God in the Western States of America,
agreeably to Scripture Promises and Prophecies concerning the Latter
Day, with a Brief Account of the Entrance and Purposes of what the World
call Shakerism, among the Subjects of the late Revival in Ohio and
Kentucky. Presented to the _True Zion Traveler_ as a Memorial of the
Wilderness Journey. By Richard McNemar. New York. Reprinted by Edward O.
Jenkins, 1846. pp. 156. (The Preface is dated "Turtle Creek, 1807.")
8. _The Same._ Press of John W. Brown, Liberty Hall, Cincinnati,
9. _The Same._ Albany, 1808.
10. A Short Treatise on the Second Appearing of Christ in and through
the Order of the Female. By F. W. Evans, New Lebanon, N. Y. Boston,
1853, pp. 24.
11. A Brief Exposition of the Established Principles and Regulations of
the United Society of Believers called Shakers. New York, 1851, pp. 30.
12. _The Same._ Watervliet, Ohio, 1832.
13. _The Same._ Canterbury, N. H., 1843.
14. Shaker Communism; or Tests of Divine Inspiration. The Second
Christian or Gentile Pentecostal Church, as exemplified by Seventy
Communities of Shakers in America. By F. W. Evans. London, James Burns,
1871, pp. 120.
15. Religious Communism. A Lecture by F. W. Evans (Shaker), of Mount
Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, U.S.A., delivered in St. George's Hall,
London, Sunday evening, August 6th, 1871; with Introductory Remarks by
the Chairman of the Meeting, Mr. Hepworth Dixon. Also some Account of
the Extent of the Shaker Communities, and a Narrative of the Visit of
Elder Evans to England. An abstract of a Lecture by Rev. J. M. Peebles,
and his Testimony in regard to the Shakers.
16. Plain Talks upon Practical Religion. Being Candid Answers to Earnest
Inquirers. By Geo. Albert Lomas, Shaker. (Watervliet), N. Y., 1873, pp.
17. Ann Lee, the Founder of the Shakers. A Biography, with Memoirs of
her Companions. Also a Compendium of the Origin, History, Principles,
Rules and Regulations, Government and Doctrines of the United Society of
Believers in Christ's Second Appearing. By F. W. Evans. London, J.
Burns. (The same as No. 5.)
18. The Shaker and Shakeress. A monthly paper. Published by the United
Society, Mount Lebanon, N. Y. F. W. Evans, Editor.
19. Social Gathering Dialogue between Six Sisters of the North Family of
Shakers, Mount Lebanon, N. Y. Albany, 1873, pp. 18.
20. Shakerism, the Possibility of the Race. Being Letters of A. B. B.
and Elder F. W. Evans. Office of the _Shaker_, 1872, pp. 14.
21. The Universal Church. By F. W. Evans. Office of the _Shaker_,
1872, pp. 16.
22. Catalogue of Medicinal Plants, Barks, Roots, Seeds, Flowers, and
Select Powders, with their Therapeutic Qualities and Botanical Names;
also Pure Vegetable Extracts, prepared in vacuo; Ointments, Inspissated
Juices, Essential Oils, Double-distilled and Fragrant Waters, etc.,
raised, prepared, and put up in the most careful manner by the United
Society of Shakers at Mount Lebanon, N.Y. First established in 1800,
being the oldest of the kind in the country. Albany, N. Y., 1873, pp.
23. Plain Evidences by which the Nature and Character of the True Church
of Christ may be known and distinguished from all others. Taken from a
work entitled, "The Manifesto, or a Declaration of the Doctrines and
Practice of the Church of Christ." Published at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky,
1818. By John Dunlavy. Printed by Hoffman & White, Albany, 1834, pp. 120.
24. A Collection of Millennial Hymns, adapted to the present Order of
the Church. Printed in the United Society, Canterbury, N. H., 1847, pp.
25. A Sacred Repository of Anthems and Hymns, for devotional Worship and
Praise. Canterbury, N.H., 1852, pp. 222.
26. Testimonies concerning the Character and Ministry of Mother Ann Lee
and the First Witnesses of the Gospel of Christ's Second Appearing,
given by some of the aged Brethren and Sisters of the United Society;
including a few Sketches of their own Religious Experiences. Approved by
the Church. Albany, printed by Packard & Van Benthuysen, 1827, pp. 178.
27. Familiar Dialogues on Shakerism; in which the Principles of the
United Society are illustrated and defended. By Fayette Mace. Portland,
Charles Day & Co., Printers, 1838, pp. 120.
28. _The Same_. Concord, 1838.
29. A Discourse of the Order and Propriety of Divine Inspiration and
Revelation, showing the Necessity thereof in all Ages to know the Will
of God. Also, a Discourse on the Second Appearing of Christ in and
through the Order of the Female. And a Discourse on the Propriety and
Necessity of a United Inheritance in all Things in order to Support a
true Christian Community. By William Leonard. Harvard (Mass.), published
by the United Society, 1853, pp. 88.
30. A Brief Illustration of the Principles of War and Peace, showing the
ruinous Policy of the former, and the superior Efficacy of the latter,
for National Protection and Defense; clearly manifested by their
practical Operations and opposite Effects upon Nations, Kingdoms, and
People. By Philanthropos. Albany, printed by Packard & Van Benthuysen,
1831, pp. 112.
31. Some Lines in Verse about Shakers, not Published by Authority of the
Society so called. New York, William Taylor & Co., No. 2 Astor House,
1846, pp. 56.
32. A Concise Answer to the General Inquiry who or what are the Shakers.
First printed at Union Village, Ohio, 1823. Reprinted at Enfield, N.H.,
1825. Albion Chase, Printer, pp. 14.
33. The Life of Christ is the End of the World. By George Albert Lomas.
Watervliet, 1869, pp. 16.
34. The Higher Law of Spiritual Progression. Albany, 1868, pp. 32.
35. The Social Evil. By James J. Prescott. North Union (Ohio), 1870, pp.
36. A Shaker's Answer to the oft-repeated Question "What would become of
the World if all should become Shakers?" Orders supplied by John
Whiteley, Shirley Village, Massachusetts. Boston, 1874, pp. 32.
37. _The Same_. By R. W. Pelham. Cincinnati, 1868, pp. 32.
38. Shakers: A Correspondence between Mary F. C., of Mount Holly City,
and a Shaker Sister, Sarah L., of Union Village. Edited by R. W. Pelham.
Union Village, Ohio, 1868, pp. 24.
39. Respect and Veneration due from Youth to Age. New Bedford, 1870, pp.
40. The Universal Church. By F. W. Evans. Office of the _Shaker_.
Shakers, N. Y., 1872, pp. 10.
41. Improved Shaker Washing-machine, etc. Manufactured and for sale by
the United Society of Shakers, at Shaker Village, N. H., pp. 12.
42. The Divine Book of Holy and Eternal Wisdom, revealing the Word of
God, out of whose Mouth goeth a sharp Sword. Written by Paulina Bates,
at Watervliet, New York, United States of North America; including other
Illustrations and Testimonies. Arranged and prepared for the Press at
New Lebanon, N. Y. Published by the United Society called Shakers.
Printed at Canterbury, N. H., 1849, pp. 718.
43. A Holy, Sacred, and Divine Roll and Book, from the Lord God of
Heaven to the Inhabitants of Earth. Revealed in the United Society at
New Lebanon, County of Columbia, State of New York, United States of
America. Received by the Church of this Communion, and published in
Union with the same. Printed in the United Society, Canterbury, N.H.,
1843, pp. 412.
44. A Summary View of the Millennial Church, or United Society of
Believers, comprising the Rise, Progress, and Practical Order of the
Society, together with the general Principles of their Faith and
Testimony, 1823. (3d edition, revised and improved) republished by the
United Society with the approbation of the Ministry. Albany, printed by
C. Van Benthuysen, 1848, pp. 384.
45. The Testimony of Christ's Second Appearing; containing a general
Statement of all Things pertaining to the Faith and Practice of the
Church of God in this Latter Day. Published in Union by Order of the
Ministry. Lebanon, Ohio, from the Press of John M'Clean, office of the
_Western Star_, 1808, pp. 618.
46. _The Same_. 2d edition, corrected and improved. Albany, 1810,
47. _The Same_. 3d edition, corrected and improved. Union Village,
Ohio. B. Fisher & A. Burnett, Printers, 1823, pp. 621.
48. Account of some of the Proceedings of the Legislatures of the States
of Kentucky and New Hampshire, 1828, etc., in Relation to the People
called Shakers. Reprinted, New York, 1846, pp. 103.
49. A Selection of Hymns and Poems for the Use of Believers; collected
from sundry Authors. By Philos-Harmoniae. Watervliet, Ohio, 1833, pp.
50. The Constitution of the United Society of Believers called Shakers;
containing sundry Covenants and Articles of Agreement definitive of the
Legal Grounds of the Institution. Watervliet, Ohio, 1833, pp. 16.
[Contains several forms of the Church Covenant, from 1810 down to 1833.]
51. Condition of Society and its only Hope in obeying the Everlasting
Gospel, as now developing among Believers in Christ's Second Appearing.
Printed and published at the _Day Star_ Office, Union Village, Ohio,
1847, pp. 121.
52. A Juvenile Guide, or Manual of Good Manners, consisting of Counsels,
Instructions, and Rules of Deportment for the Young, by Lovers of Youth.
In Two Parts. Printed in the United Society, Canterbury, N. H., 1844,
53. Shakerism Detected, a Pamphlet published by Col. James Smith, of
Kentucky, Examined and Confuted in Five Propositions. Published at
Lebanon, Ohio, and Lexington, Kentucky, 1811, by Richard McNemar.
Reprinted by Request. Watervliet, Ohio, May 2,1833, pp. 12.
54. General Rules of the United Society, and Summary Articles of Mutual
Agreement and Release, Ratified and Confirmed by the Society at
Watervliet, Montgomery County, Ohio, January, 1833. Union Office, 1833,
[Contains the signatures of members.]
55. The Shakers: Speech of Robert Wickliffe in the Senate of Kentucky,
January, 1831, on a Bill to Repeal an Act of the General Assembly of the
State of Kentucky, entitled an Act to Regulate Civil Proceedings against
certain Communities having Property in Common. Frankfort, Ky., 1832. pp.
56. A Memorial Remonstrating against a certain Act of the Legislature of
Kentucky entitled an Act to Regulate Civil Proceedings against certain
Communities having Property in Common, and declaring that it shall and
may be lawful to commence and prosecute suits, obtain decrees, and have
execution against any of the Communities of People called Shakers,
without naming or designating the individuals, or serving process on
them otherwise than by fixing a Subpoena on the door of their
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