More’s novel Utopia is a conversational narrative. It begins when More was sent by Henry
VIII to Flanders to negotiate matters related to the cloth trade. While there he was
introduced by a friend to Raphael Hythloday, an old Portuguese mariner who had sailed on
many fascinating journeys, often while accompanying the legendary explorer Amerigo
Vespucci. Hythloday proceeded to tell More of one of his journeys to a far off land called
utopia. Utopia was an island located directly opposite England on the globe. The crescent
shaped island had a narrow strait separating the two ends of the crescent. Dangerous reefs
and shallows made it almost impossible for sailors unfamiliar with the area to penetrate
the strait. In addition, the strait was defended by a fortress built into a huge rock at the
entrance to the strait. The key societal feature of Utopia was that there was no personal
property. Hythloday related that the Utopians believed that all evil stemmed from the
ambition of man to accumulate personal wealth and property; “no equal and just
distribution of things can be made, nor that perfect wealth shall ever be among men, unless
this property be exiled and banished.” At this point, More argued with Hythloday, pointing
out that the abolition of private ownership would also result in the end of personal
ambition, and that laziness would be the only logical result if man were allowed to rely on
others’ labor for his swell being. Hythloday’s response was only to describe the happiness
of the Utopians: “no man has anything, yet every man is rich.
The island of utopia was divided into 54 identical city-states of approximately 6,000
citizens each. High defensive walls surrounded the cities
Because of lots of food, utopians were in very good health. However, there were still
hospitals and free healthcare for all. In the case of someone being terminally and
irreversible ill, a priest would stand by with moral help and if the patient wanted, they
would assist in suicide.
It was believed that the dead still had a presence in the community and watched over
everyone. Crime was very low because there was no incentive to steal things. There was no
death penalty except in certain circumstances, like political corruption and repeated
adultery. Everything else was settled by becoming a slave.
Slavery was a very important part of utopian society. Slaves were made slaves by either
being captured or made a prisoner of war or for committing a crime. Slaves were tasked
with hunting (a task of which utopians are forbidden) and worked in the large dining halls.
French Utopians Part 1
The French Revolution wanted liberty, equality and people to work together. This caused
people to wonder what made a perfect society. The tall goals of the revolution turned into
violence and unhappiness. The privileges and life of the rich people were destroyed. The
new government was even harsher than the old one. People were disappointed about the
way the new government turned out. This disappointment made one of the revolutions’
main supporters, Francois-Noel Babeuf, to form the Conspiracy of Equals. The conspiracy
was almost like a mini revolution. Francois-Noel Babeuf believed that “in a real society
there ‘ought to be neither rich nor poor.” He wrote a letter to the government saying that
the main idea of the Revolution was to make all people equal, which didn’t happen. He also
thought that all people should have education, all people should work, all people should
receive privileges, and rich should give some of their money to the poor.
In 1796 Babeuf was arrested. He was carried in an iron cage to Paris, put in trial and then
killed in May of 1797. This happened because his leaders didn’t approve of his idea that the
revolution hadn’t done any good. Francois-Noel Babeuf’s idea later became the origin of
socialist and communist ideology (the study of community ideas).
Ten years after his death, another French man, Charles Fourier, thought of more plans for
an ideal society. He thought the society should be reorganized into a self directed rural
community with 1,620 different people. He thought of the number 1,620 because there are
810 different personalities and 2 different genders. These communities would seek to
operate in harmony with nature therefore eliminating all human fights. In this community
workers would organize themselves into teams and rotate jobs on an hourly basis to
prevent manual labor. Fourier also believed that youngsters ages 9-16 would do all the
dirty work. Including, highway repairs, cleaning the stables, feeding the animals,
slaughtering the animals, maintaining the buildings, ect. Fourier believed in free education
but thought that the labor for young people was more important that school.
Fourier also did not believe in marriage and band people from reproducing because it
harmful to the interests of women, not thinking that the city would soon just die off.
Women and men were allowed to have as many partners as they wanted but he thought
that most would prefer four.
Fourier offended a lot of people with his ideas because they were so precise and foolish. No
one respected or liked him because of the weird things he thought such as oceans turning
into pink lemonade and it caused him to wait all his life for someone to put them into effect.
He never got funded. After he died in 1837, people publicized some of his ideas and over 40
communities in the United States were established based on his ideas, but they didn’t last
Claude Henri de Saint-Simon was a lot like Fourier, but he was more modern. His idea was
to have modern societies ruled by scientists rather than having it be simple things from the
past. He had an idea of what the government would be like that would benefit the people
with a simpler set of laws. He did not believe in women having equal rights to men. Around
and after his death in 1825 many Saint-Simonien societies were established based on his
ideas. Eventually his followers over did it and made jackets that buttoned only in the back
to show how we rely on each other. He had a very complete idea that should have worked ,
but it only attracted people who were unable or unwilling to work. Most societies failed.
In the 19th century, utopian ideas were extremely popular. It was three centuries after Sir
Thomas More published Utopia that a spark was ignited in the minds of American citizens.
After the trend had started, two men made attempts to create Utopian societies on the
banks of the Wabash River in Southern Indiana. The first settlement was founded by a
German named George Rapp, and the other by a British manufacturer, Robert Owen.
In the spring of 1814, well over 500 Germans, who immigrated to America 11 years before,
pulled up in boats on the banks of the Wabash. The Germans came to the settlement
because of the farmer, George Rapp, who separated from his church, and who believed that
Christ could come at any moment. Before this happened, Rapp and his followers came to
Pennsylvania in 1803, and shaped a settlement near Pittsburgh called Harmonie. During its
second year, Harmonie was booming, attracting 600 Germans. Throughout Harmonie’s
high times, the Rappites launched many small industries in their community which
included; a whisky distillery. The Rappites captivity was that they could not grow grapes
due to the harsh climate in Pennsylvania, although they had many skilled winemakers.
Though they had huge economic success it could not deny the settlers of their desire to
pursue their craft in the New World. This motivated Harmonie to move west to Indiana
where they bought 25,000 acres of land from the government for $61,000, and left
$12,000 still in the bank in Pittsburgh.
Rapp and his followers believed that Christ would arrive in their lifetime, and they were
determined to purify themselves in preparation of the great day. Men and Women were
housed in separate places, while some previously married couples chose to live together,
but were prohibited from having children. Nevertheless, a small amount of children were
born in New Harmony despite the regulation. The Rappites gave up all of their possessions
in exchange for the necessities. Food, clothing, housing, etc. Those possessions were
burned in a ceremony in 1818.
Within the ten years from when Harmonie began, New Harmony became a success. Unlike
other communities, it was very organized and well built. Each home was able to house up
to 60 adults, and contained all of the amenities they would need. The Rapp family had their
own lovely house with many more necessities than they would need. $100,000 of goods
flowed from New Harmony to New Orleans. New Harmony did not seek new members or
did not worry much about the future because they believed that the world was to end when
Christ arrived. There was not much more to accomplish in Indiana, so Rapp decided to sell
New Harmony and return to Pennsylvania. The settlement was sold to a man named Robert
Owen for $130,000.
Owen believed that a good man is formed for him, not by him. He paid the workers at New
Lanark, Scotland and that helped them live in a decent home, and shortened the work day
from 13 to 10 ½ hours. He also was kind enough to free the young children from their
labor, and sent them to schools. The workers also scared the profits of the industry.
Although Owen’s accomplishments were great, his organized religion was criticized by
many, and he eagerly purchased New harmony from George Rapp in 1825.
Owen wrote letters to the people in power, explaining his plans for a community. In
response, over 1,000 people joined New Harmony. Owen promised education would be
offered for all, no one would own any property, and all would share one community profit,
but Owen delivered nothing.
People, who had been attracted to Owen’s utopian dreams, could not do anything to help.
Fights were formed, and settlers had to purchase food from other settlements.
Owen eventually handed down New Harmony to his sons, then fled to Mexico. George Rapp
died still believing that Christ would come, by 1905, there were only two Rappites left.
By 1830 both New Harmony utopian societies had ended, but there was a new idea in the
United States that was far more successful. The United Society of Believers in Christ, First
and Second Appearing-otherwise known as the Shakers because of their lively church
services- was the nineteenth century’s largest and best known group of the United States.
The Shakers were founded by Ann Lee in late 1700’s and eventually nineteen communities
in America were established.
Ann Lee was from Manchester, England. She was born in 1736. She was very similar to
other Manchester girls, for that she began to work in textile mills before she was ten years
old. The harsh conditions in the textile mills had a deep effect on Ann Lee as she watched all
of the worst abuses of the still-young industrial revolution. She had a very unhappy
marriage, and all four of her children died in infancy. Ann Lee attempted to spread her
beliefs, but she was arrested in Manchester after disrupting a Church of England worship
ceremony. While Ann Lee was imprisoned she began to put her beliefs into a logical policy.
Ann Lee was known as Mother Ann. In 1774 Ann Lee left Manchester to settle in New York.
She established a small farming community near Albany. Ann Lee died in 1784.
The Shakers created a new settlement named Pleasant Hill. The settlement was a huge
economic success. It grew to over 4,000 acres and housed 500 people at its peak. The
community grew many different crops. The community continued to prosper and grow. *
Shakers disapproved of slaves. Several free African Americans were also members of the
community. Shakers support the rights of newly freed slaves brought from revenge of the
Ku Klux Klan. Eventually the population went down. Now there is only one active Shaker
community still exists in America-Sabbathday, Maine. The Shaker village is now a living
museum, attracting thousands of visitors per year.
*On page 48 look read the second column the second paragraph to the bottom