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Brook farm Association.

The Brook Farm project originated with George Ripley, a prominent humanitarian of Boston, and Dr. William H. Channing. The original plan was to make of it a religious and literary community, supported by joint labor of its members on a farm which was the common property of all. All were to live simply, and, as the hours of labor were brief, abundant leisure was to be secured for social and intellectual intercourse. All the members of the community were to be stockholders in the community's property, some giving money and others contributing labor as an equivalent. Many persons of note in the literary world were members of the association, including Theodore Parker, George William Curtis. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles A. Dana. Elizabeth P. Peabody, Margaret Fuller, and others. The association was organized in 1841, the farm purchased. and by the following spring its plan was fairly in working order. It was then known simply as the West Roxbury Community, Brook Farm being the name of the place owned by the society. A quarterly journal called the Dial was carried on by the members of the society. In December, 1843. a convention of reformers of various grades was held in Boston. to discuss the ideas of Fourier, which had just become known in this country. The result was the conversion of all the Brook Farmers to Fourierism, and the transformation of their simple community into a Fourierist “phalanx,” under the name of the Brook Farm Association. The leaders of this movement were George Ripley. Minot Pratt, and Charles A. Dana. The land owned by the association at this time aggregated 208 acres, situated at West Roxbury, 8 miles from Boston, and their property, real and personal. was estimated at $30,000. In tie summer of 1844 the Dial suspended publication. The new organ of the association was the Phalanx, then published in New York, afterwards removed to Boston, where its name was changed to the Harbinger. The Brook Farm Association was incorporated by the Massachusetts legislature in the winter of 1844-45, under the name of “The Brook farm phalanx.” From this time the main function of Brook Farm was propagandism. It continued the management of the communal affairs at West Roxbury, and made many improvements there, and put up large workshops and other buildings. But outside of this work its members conducted the Harbinger, which was published weekly and was given up almost wholly to advocacy of Fourierism. It also instituted a missionary society and a lecturing system. Its members, with some outside sympathizers, formed an organization, the American Union of Associationists, the two foremost workers in which were William H. Channing and Charles A. Dana, and eloquent appeals in the form of circulars were sent out, urging the formation of similar societies all over the country. A number of these were formed, but, unfortunately, nearly all were failures. March 3, 1846, the large “phalanstery,” in process of erection at Brook Farm, was burned. This was a terrible blow to the society, and one from which it never recovered. The organization lingered and continued the publication of the Harbinger till October, 1847, but the hope of becoming a model “phalanx” died out long before that time. The associate life was broken up in 1847, and the Brook Farmers sought other fields of labor. The end of Brook Farm was virtually the end of Fourierism in the United States, for though other organizations of a similar character had been formed after its example, their lives were of short duration, when the inspiration of the Roxbury apostles was gone.

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