Brook Farm

Context for the Reform Movement: The formation of Brook Farm was an experiment in community living from the ideas of transcendentalism. Brook farm was located in West Roxbury, Massachusetts and was established by George Ripley in 1841.

Problems the reform addresses and hopes to correct: The unbalance of leisure and lecture in normal communities.

Goals: The idea behind the formation of Brook Farm was an ideal community that would allow everyone living their to reach self-realization. Most time was spent on the farm, but it was required that everyday time would be set aside for leisure. They were attempting to "apply the principles of justice and love to our society organization in accordance with the laws of the Divine Providence, to substitute a system of brotherly cooperation for one of selfish competition to secure to our children and those who may be entrusted to our care the benefits of the highest physical, intellectual, and moral education." There was also no religious tests and no member is expected to have religious beliefs.

Tactics: Everyone in the community would share the labor and the leisure. This community was one of the first to recognize the benefits of relaxation. The society was based on the balance of leisure and labor. Members could choose what job they wanted and everyone was paid equally. It was founded as a joint stock company where everyone would receive an equal part of the profits from the farm. Citizens were either guaranteed a free education or 5% of the profits. People were guaranteed house-rent, fuel, food, and clothing without any charge. Instead of actual coercion, they used moral suasion and set themselves as a model for other societies to come.

Leaders and Followers: The society was founded by George and Sophia Ripley.Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the residents of Brook Farm. He joined the community hoping to make money so he could settle down with his wife, Sophia Hawthorne. He wrote many scathing books based on Brook Farm. Women were allowed a greater role at Brook Farm, and in addition to their normal household activities were allowed to work in the fields during harvest time. Ralph Waldo Emerson was extended numerous invitations to join the community, but rejected all of them.

Outcomes: There was also a lot of tension in the society between the responsibilities of living there and an individuals freedom, which eventually turned the society into a socialist community. When this began happening, many people started leaving, but eventually the community dissolved after a costly fire to the main building (The Phalanstery) in 1841. Brook Farm was one of the first transcendentalist societies and inspired the creation of many others.

Your assessment: I believe that it is a moderate reform because it is staying with many of the current beliefs of society, but is introducing a few new ideas about the balance of leisure and labor. Though the society does have a few radical beliefs, including the idea that women were able to work in the fields along with the men.



Primary Sources: The Constitution of the Brook Farm Association (Classroom Source)

Secondary Sources: American History: A Survey- John Brinkley Wikipedia:

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