Brook Farm

Brook Farm, also known as the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education, was a utopian society formed by George Ripley in Massachusetts. Brook Farm was inspired by Transcendentalism ideas of the inherent goodness of humans and promoted individual freedom. It also advocated working for the benefit of the community. Despite the financial struggles, Brook Farm remained optimistic as everyone fulfilled their duties. The power of a strong community were spreading around the US with the religious reforms. Brook Farm put women on an equal footing with men. Women were autonomous from their husbands and provided an important source of income to the community. Women were very well educated and could even become stockholders. The ideas of the equality in the Brook Farm society was a small representation of the religious reforms that fueled a women's rights movement.

Charles Fourier

Brook Farm adopted the ideals of  Utopian socialism of Charles Fourier. Fourier's theory was based on high ideals that motivated a community towards an ideal society. Brook Farm's society changed towards Fourier's theory during times of financial struggles to encourage workers to keep working towards an "ideal society."

Brook Farm eventually failed due to financial issues. The workers had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to sustain the community. Eventually, Ripley left and many others followed suits. The rest of the citizens left and Brook Farm dissolved.

Letter from George Ripley

Boston, November 9, 1840

My Dear Sir,—Our conversation in Concord was of such a general nature, that I do not feel as if you were in complete possession of the idea of the Association which I wish to see established. As we have now a prospect of carrying it into effect, at an early period, I wish to submit the plan more distinctly to your judgment, that you may decide whether it is one that can have the benefit of your aid and cooperation.

Our objects, as you know, are to insure a more natural union between intellectual and manual labor than now exists; to combine the thinker and the worker, as far as possible, in the same individual; to guarantee the highest mental freedom, by providing all with labor, adapted to their tastes and talents, and securing to them the fruits of their industry; to do away the necessity of menial services, by opening the benefits of education and the profits of labor to all; and thus to prepare a society of liberal, intelligent, and cultivated persons, whose relations with each other would permit a more simple and wholesome life, than can be led amidst the pressure of our competitive institutions....I wish to see a society of educated friends, working, thinking, and living together, with no strife, except that of each to contribute the most to the benefit of all.

This was letter from Geroge Ripley to Ralph Waldo Emerson trying too convice him to join Brook Farm. He speaks of balancing manual labor, intellectual labor, and leisure to obtain the highest mental freedom. He described a community of friends that all work and live together for the benefit of the entire community. Both are ideas of Transcendatilsm and were prominent in the rest of the US during the Second Great Awakening.

Additional Info

Brooke Farm was just one Utopian experiment in the U.S. at the time. It was caused by the ideas of the Second Great Awakening and of Charles Fourier. The idea of individual freedom and equality were prominent in the religious reforms and inspired the women's rights movements and new ideas of abolitionism.

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