Ohio History Journal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13



No Harmony in Kendal: The Rise And

Fall of an Owenite Community, 1825-





In a widely publicized discourse in the Hall of Representatives at the United

States Capitol, Robert Owen announced to an 1825 audience, which included

the nation's president, president-elect, and congress, that the implementation

of his new social system would bring about a virtual state of millennium

within the nation and, ultimately, the world. By establishing his plans at

New Harmony, Indiana, he told his listeners, he was commencing "a new

empire of peace and good will to man," that "will lead to that state of virtue,

intelligence, enjoyment, and happiness,...which has been foretold by the

sages of past times," as the destined "lot of the human race!"1 With the de-

velopment of his "societies of union, co-operation, and common property,"

Owen explained, "the individual or old system of society, would break up, and

soon terminate," and people would hasten to join his communities "because it

is scarcely to be supposed that anyone would continue to live under the mis-

erable, anxious, individual system of opposition and counteraction, when they

could with ease form themselves into, or become members of, one of these

associations of union, intelligence, and kind feelings."2

Owen's ideas about social improvement, though drawn from a number of

sources and experiences, became lifelong convictions as a result of his man-

agement of the New Lanark textile mills in Scotland. The foundational belief

of his views, "that the character of man is, without a single exception, always

formed for him,"3 congealed in his thought as he saw how the inhabitants of

the rural mill town of New Lanark were caught in circumstances beyond their

control. With a desire to improve the lives of his workers, Owen experi-

mented with factory and social reforms, and, in 1813, published his thoughts

about these reforms in A New View of Society. The implicit suggestions of

Owen's publication was that society could be perfected by instituting the edu-



Richard J. Cherok is Assistant Professor of Church History at Cincinnati Bible College and

Seminary. He would like to thank Professor Robert P. Swierenga for his assistance in guiding

him to complete the article.


1. Oakley C. Johnson, ed., Robert Owen in the United States (New York, 1970), 51.

2. Ibid., 52.

3. Robert Owen, A New View of Society: or, Essays on the Principle of the Formation of the

Human Character, and the Application of the Principle to Practice (Glencoe, Illinois, 1817), 91.