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Utopian Societies In America Essay

2350 words - 10 pages

Utopian Societies in America
Utopian societies while not abundant were far from rare in the nineteenth century. One such version of utopianism, Fourierism, attracted at some point numbers in the range of 100,000 members during the 1840’s alone. Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Letter from Brook Farm is just one of many primary documents preserving firsthand accounts of life in these communities. There are enough primary sources in enough detail such that Sterling F. Delano was able to create a secondary source, providing some evaluation and analysis in what has been referred to as a standard for a starting point when researching these societies in the book Brook Farm: The Dark Side of Utopia. ...view middle of the document...

Enough primary sources from participants regarding daily live, management and daily operations allow for a more in-depth analysis of the situation by secondary sources. While the location of the farm seemed an idealistic location based on the vistas and seclusions and protection afforded from incidental passers due to the surrounding countryside and its distance from a main road it remained less than ideal; It was inconvenient for industrious endeavors, the soil was not even marginal for farming, in fact it was of a poor grade. The efforts of Ripley to address soil quality issues appear well documented. While farmers are listed in the manifest of onsite personnel it could be questioned as to Ripley’s qualifications or the presence and participation of qualified personnel to determine effective soil remediation even if the necessary technology did exist at the time. The poor quality of the soil was a contributing factor in the decline and failure of the experiment as it caused the participant to seek other industrious efforts to maintain the community. The residents at Brook Farm still managed to maintain a somewhat festive jovial atmosphere regardless of hardship. Although they still purchased milk from local sources while located on a dairy farm; even though their meals were scaled back during times of financial difficulty to include little to no meat, coffee and or tea they only balked mildly and still enjoyed simpler pleasures. The seemingly well documented pillow fight between Hawthorne and other residents supports their continued ability to find happiness in rough times. There were other key events that lead to the eventual failing of the farm. The community was striving to find means of employment for its members through industry that eventual failed, pewter ware, foot wear among others. These efforts failed partly due to remoteness of the site being ill suited for production efforts of this type and possibly also inadequate management. Mounting expenses and debt from failed efforts continued to grow. The accounting practices appear well documented, however well documented failures are not self correcting problems and did nothing to improve the finances of the community. There are also others events that contributed to the failure. An outbreak of smallpox in the community in 1845 followed by the fire that destroyed the nearly completed Phalanstery in 1846 were heavy blows to the community and are seen as some of the larger and last events leading to the failure of Brook Farm. The number of visitors in a year at times nearing 1000 must have been an additional burden on the farms inhabitants on top of what were already less than ideal conditions. Eventually even Nathaniel Hawthorne became dissatisfied with the community, suing for five hundred and twenty four dollars and five cents to recover his investment in the experiment. The farms eventual failure from poor management, un rectified poor soil conditions, failed...

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