New Harmony, IN

The basis

Ideals of improving humanity through cooperation and leadership paved the way for utopian societies. Robert Owen founded one of the first societies before the Civil War, New Harmony, IN. It was supposed to create a "superior social, intellectual and physical environment" based on his vision of social reform. The society began to crumble when members groused about inequality between workers and non-workers. Even though New Harmony didn't prevail, it paved the way for other communities.

Why it was founded

New Harmony was founded on the principles of economic and political equity. Robert Owen, a British socialist, founded New Harmony to provide a model town based on the principle of common ownership. All people wee to be equal, meaning that boys and girls got the exact same education. Him and his associate, William MaClure, believed that educating all members of the society would eliminate social classes. It's goal was to improve the lives of the working classes through education.

New Harmony, although it wasn't bound together by religion, was very similar to the Puritan society created by John Winthrop. Both strived to be model towns that emphasized one idea. Instead of reviving Christianity, Owen aimed to educate all of his followers and create and equal society.

Although New Harmony failed to prosper as a "harmonious" community, it aroused public interest in education as a means to elevate and equalize social reforms.

Drawn and engraved by F. Bate. Published by "The Association of all Classes of all Nations" Shows a perfect, family friendly community.

Long-range effect

New Harmony didn't prosper because of disagreements between workers and nonworkers about inequality and economic systems that were in place.

This plaque proves that even to this day, the efforts at New Harmony are remembered.

Exerpt from a New Harmony Then and Now, a book by Donald E. Pitzer

Robert Owen, the founder of New Harmony, said it was supposed to be a place of beauty and peace. It was to be a cliché town in which dreams come true and all worked towards the common goal of a better destiny.

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Picture one:
Drawn and engraved by F. Bate. Published by "The Association of all Classes of all Nations", at their institution, 69, Great Queen Street. Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, 1838.

Picture two:
Historic marker in New Harmony, taken by Ruth Reichmann