Brisbane, Albert

Brisbane, Albert

(brĭz`bān), 1809–90, American social theorist, b. Batavia, N.Y. After studying with Charles FourierFourier, Charles
, 1772–1837, French social philosopher. From a bourgeois family, he condemned existing institutions and evolved a kind of utopian socialism. In Théorie des quatre mouvements
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 in Paris, he returned to the United States as an enthusiastic advocate of Fourierism. His Social Destiny of Man (1840) aroused widespread interest, especially that of Horace GreeleyGreeley, Horace,
1811–72, American newspaper editor, founder of the New York Tribune, b. Amherst, N.H. Early Life

His irregular schooling, ending at 15, was followed by a four-year apprenticeship (1826–30) on a country weekly at East Poultney, Vt.
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, who gave him a column in the Tribune. Brisbane was instrumental in the founding of the phalanxes at Brook FarmBrook Farm,
1841–47, an experimental farm at West Roxbury, Mass., based on cooperative living. Founded by George Ripley, a Unitarian minister, the farm was initially financed by a joint-stock company with 24 shares of stock at $500 per share.
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 and Red Bank, N.J. The failure of most of the other communal experiments was disastrous for the Fourierist cause, but Brisbane reaffirmed his convictions in his General Introduction to Social Science (1876). His wife, Redelia Brisbane, edited and wrote an introduction to his autobiography, published posthumously as Albert Brisbane: A Mental Biography (1893, repr. 1969). His son, Arthur Brisbane (1864–1936), was editor of the New York Evening Journal and other Hearst papers.

Bibliography

See biography by O. Carlson (1937).

Brisbane, Albert

(1809–90) social reformer; born in Batavia, N.Y. Son of a wealthy landowner, he had little formal schooling but in 1828 went off to Europe "to solve the mystery of man's destiny." For six years he studied at various universities and met or studied with several great thinkers—Goethe, Hegel, Jules Michelet, and Charles Fourier. It was Fourier's social philosophy, essentially a socialism that called for establishing small cooperative communities, that Brisbane adopted, and after his return to the U.S.A. (1834) he embarked on a phase of writing about and promoting "Fourierism" (which he tended to rename "associationism") through books, articles, and journals that he edited (such as The Phalanx, 1843–45). When it came to operating actual utopian communities based on Fourierism, however, Brisbane took little action, and by 1851—after two other trips to Europe—he had effectively withdrawn from social activism. He concentrated on managing his family's business and on publishing his various ideas on everything from psychology to Fourier's theories (including his major work, the General Introduction to Social Theory, 1876); he even suggested new systems for transportation and burials and became an advocate of drinking wine. Although admired in his day, he was generally described as a propagandist, not as an effective leader.
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