Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

Jose Torre

First Reader

Jose Torre

Second Reader

Paul Moyer

Abstract

The Skaneateles Community was a utopian socialist commune that existed from 1843 to 1846 in Mottville, New York. Abolitionist lecturer John Anderson Collins founded the community on the non-resistance and no-government principles of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Collins and his Skaneateles followers, so-called communitists, sought to live in a godless, harmonious, communist utopia, free of both chattel and wage slavery. They eschewed private property, declared the virtues of communitism and shared everything.

The Panic of 1837, the first major depression of the Market Revolution made the 1840s a period of unprecedented socialist agitation and utopian practice. People sought a system that promised security and safety from the perils of speculation and market fluctuation. The Panic of 1837 aligned the material interests of the laboring class and the business class. Upstate New York became the "Volcanic District" of the socialist movement inspired by French thinker Charles Fourier. Fourierism’s doctrine of harmony between capital and labor made it attractive to both workers and businessmen affected by the depression.

The Skaneateles Community found favorable conditions in Upstate New York because of their comradeship with Fourierists. Unlike the Fourierists, the Skaneateles Community advocated the abolition of all private property. Though the Fourierists thought them too radical, but they encouraged the Skaneateles communitists and wanted them to succeed.

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History Commons

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