Backwoods Utopias

The Sectarian Origins and the Owenite Phase of Communitarian Socialism in America, 1663-1829, 2nd Edition

By Arthur Bestor

Introduction by Donald Pitzer

Backwoods Utopias

paperback-logo

  • ISBN: 9781610971447
  • Pages: 342
  • Publication Date: 1/9/2012
  • Retail Price: $40.00
Web Price: $32.00
Web Price: $32.00

Backwoods Utopias

The Sectarian Origins and the Owenite Phase of Communitarian Socialism in America, 1663-1829, 2nd Edition

By Arthur Bestor

Introduction by Donald Pitzer

paperback-logo

PAPERBACK

  • ISBN: 9781610971447
  • Pages: 342
  • Publication Date: 1/9/2012
  • Retail Price: $40.00
Web Price: $32.00

About-

The new society that the world awaited might yet be born in the humble guise of a backwoods village. This was the belief shared by the many groups that moved into the American frontier to create experimental communities--communities that they hoped would model for revolutionary changes in religion, politics, economics, and education in American society. For, as James Madison wrote, the American Republic was "useful in providing things before held impossible."

The communitarian ideal had its roots in the radical Protestant sects of the Reformation. Arthur Bestor shows the connection between the "holy commonwealths" of the colonial period and the nonsectarian experiments of the nineteenth century. He examines in particular detail Robert Owen's ideals and problems in creating New Harmony.

In two essays added for the second edition, Dr. Bestor discusses the effects of the frontier and the migration of European ideas and people on these communities. He holds that the communitarians could believe in the possibility of nonviolent revolution through imitation of a small society only as long as they saw American institutions as flexible.

A newly-added introduction by historian Donald Pitzer celebrates the groundbreaking contributions of Backwoods Utopias to the field of communal utopian studies. It reveals how Bestor's Chautauqua-based youth prepared him to be open-minded and analytical. It tells engaging stories of Bestor's pioneering on-site research in his own words from an unpublished address. It illustrates how current scholars still follow this mentor's methods and build theories on his foundation.

Endorsements & Reviews-

"The best existing study of the reception and application of Robert Owen's ideas in America."
--Daniel Aaron,
New England Quarterly

"A model of historical scholarship."
-- Richard W. Leopold
Saturday Review

"The intelligent citizen of today, challenged by revolutionary movements and programs of a vastly different type... will be grateful for [this] tolerant, sympathetic study of the earlier phases of social radicalism and insurgency on our soil."
--Victor S. Yarros,
Social Service Review

Contributors-

Arthur Bestor
Donald Pitzer

Bio(s)-

Arthur Bestor, one of the nation's leading authorities on constitutional law and a University of Washington history professor from 1962 to 1976, died Dec. 13, 1994, of lung cancer at his Seattle home. He was 86. He was especially known for his research into "communitarian" or Utopian societies, such as the Oneida Community, that flourished in the nineteenth century. Born in Chautauqua, NY, he received his bachelor's and doctorate degrees from Yale. A lifetime member of Yale's Elizabethan Society, he twice received Fulbright Fellowships and a Guggenheim. He taught at Yale, Columbia, Stanford, Queens College of Oxford University, and the University of Washington.

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