Brook Farm

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Brook Farm,

1841–47, an experimental farm at West Roxbury, Mass., based on cooperative living. Founded by George RipleyRipley, George,
1802–80, American literary critic and author, b. Greenfield, Mass. After graduating from Harvard Divinity School in 1826, he entered the Unitarian ministry. He was one of the leaders of the transcendentalists and a contributor to their magazine, the Dial.
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, a Unitarian minister, the farm was initially financed by a joint-stock company with 24 shares of stock at $500 per share. Each member was to take part in the manual labor in an attempt to make the group self-sufficient. Intellectual life was stimulating, with such members as Nathaniel HawthorneHawthorne, Nathaniel,
1804–64, American novelist and short-story writer, b. Salem, Mass., one of the great masters of American fiction. His novels and tales are penetrating explorations of moral and spiritual conflicts.
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, John S. Dwight, Charles A. DanaDana, Charles Anderson
, 1819–97, American newspaper editor, b. Hinsdale, N.H. He was a member of the Brook Farm community for five years. In 1847 he began 15 years on the New York Tribune, most of that time as managing editor.
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, and Isaac HeckerHecker, Isaac Thomas,
1819–88, American Roman Catholic priest, founder of the Paulist Fathers; son of Prussian immigrants. Feeling the general discontent of his day in the dying Puritanism of New England, he associated with the transcendentalists, stayed for a short time
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, and such visitors as Ralph Waldo EmersonEmerson, Ralph Waldo
, 1803–82, American poet and essayist, b. Boston. Through his essays, poems, and lectures, the "Sage of Concord" established himself as a leading spokesman of transcendentalism and as a major figure in American literature.
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, W. E. ChanningChanning, William Ellery,
1780–1842, American Unitarian minister and author, b. Newport, R.I. At 23 he was ordained minister of the Federal St. Congregational Church in Boston, where he served until his death.
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, Margaret FullerFuller, Margaret,
1810–50, American writer, lecturer, and public intellectual, b. Cambridgeport (now part of Cambridge), Mass. She was one of the most influential personalities in the American literary circles of her day.
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, 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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, and Orestes BrownsonBrownson, Orestes Augustus
, 1803–76, American author and clergyman, b. Stockbridge, Vt. Largely self-taught, he became a vigorous and influential writer on social and religious questions.
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. Brook Farm was mainly an outgrowth of UnitarianismUnitarianism,
in general, the form of Christianity that denies the doctrine of the Trinity, believing that God exists only in one person. While there were previous antitrinitarian movements in the early Christian Church, like Arianism and Monarchianism, modern Unitarianism
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, although most of the members had left that church and were advocates of the literary and philosophical movement known as transcendentalismtranscendentalism
[Lat.,=overpassing], in literature, philosophical and literary movement that flourished in New England from about 1836 to 1860. It originated among a small group of intellectuals who were reacting against the orthodoxy of Calvinism and the rationalism of the
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. Economically, the community's excellent school was the most successful part of the venture (anticipating John Dewey's progressive-education ideas of learning from experience); agriculture showed little profit because of the sandy soil and the inexperience of the farmers. The popularity of the doctrines of 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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 led, especially through the efforts of Albert Brisbane, to Brook Farm's conversion to a phalanx in 1844. The group, however, did not long survive the financial disaster of the burning (1846) of the uncompleted central building. The Harbinger (1845–49), printed at Brook Farm and edited by Ripley, was rather a Fourierist weekly newspaper than the organ of Brook Farm and was continued in New York City with Parke Godwin as editor after 1847.


See E. R. Curtis, A Season in Utopia (1961, repr. 1971).

Brook Farm

literary, socialist commune intended to be small utopia (1841–1846). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 63]
See: Utopia
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