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By Delaney Slade and Sarah Davidson The Dream of a Free Thinker: Nashoba Commune.

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Presentation on theme: "By Delaney Slade and Sarah Davidson The Dream of a Free Thinker: Nashoba Commune."— Presentation transcript:

1 By Delaney Slade and Sarah Davidson The Dream of a Free Thinker: Nashoba Commune

2 SUMMARY OF NASHOBA Created as an utopian community by Frances Wright, the Nashoba Commune was an experimental plantation for emancipated slaves, conceived as a way to prepare them for their eventual freedom. It was located on a 2,000 acre farm in Tennessee. Slaves were intended to work for a certain amount of time to “earn” their freedom and then be transferred to independent settlements. The idea behind this was that no slaveholders would lose money for emancipating their slaves while simultaneously ridding the country of what Wright believed to be America’s only issue, slavery.

3 Background of Frances “Fanny” Wright Born in Dundee, Scotland to wealthy political radicals. Her father helped print and distribute Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man inherited a substantial wealth when orphaned at the age of 2 Wright is “classified” as a lecturer, writer, freethinker, feminist, abolitionist and social reformer Came to America in 1818 (and became a citizen in 1825), where her play about the struggle in Switzerland for republicanism was performed in NYC Influenced by social reformer Robert Owen and his son Robert Dale Owen Along with her radical ideas on slavery, Wright also had strong beliefs on sex, religion and education She advocated for “free love” and believed that marriage was a limiting and discriminatory institution Demanded free public education for all US citizens above age of 2 in state supported boarding schools

4 Background of Frances “Fanny” Wright cont. Wright was the author of Views of Society and Manners in America (1821) whose publication was the biggest turning point in Fanny Wright’s life. The book brought her back to the United States and established her as a social reformer. Wright’s passionate lifestyle ultimately cost her her reputation, credibility, fortune and family. Wright Family Photo Views of Society and Manners

5 Quick Look at Fanny and the Nashoba Commune Painting of Nashoba Commune Frances “Fanny” Wright Location of Nashoba Commune

6 The Fall of Nashoba Founded in 1825, the Nashoba Commune was made to educated and prepare slaves for their eventual freedom. Wright hoped to build a self sustaining interracial community and while she had good intentions, her goal was never achieved. Like most communal experiments, it was poorly run and under financed. After a few years, Wright caught malaria and moved back to Europe to recover. The people managing Nashoba in her absence where appalled by Wright’s approach to the slaves living at the commune. Rumors spread about interracial marriages (which did happen) and the commune experienced financial issues which led to its ultimate demise in 1830.

7 Fall of Nashoba cont. After the demise of the commune, Frances Wright freed the commune’s 30 or so slaves. With the help of Robert Dale Owen, Wright accompanied the slaves to the newly liberated nation of Haiti where they could live their lives as free women and men. The modern-day city of Germantown, Tennessee (a suburb of Memphis) is situated on the land where the Nashoba Commune used to be.

8 Nashoba vs. New Harmony It is often thought that the Nashoba Commune was modeled after New Harmony, due to the close relationship of the founder’s families (Robert Owen’s son was a lifelong friend of Wright’s) and the fact that the idea of Nashoba was sparked in Wright’s mind after visiting New Harmony. The correlation between the two communities ends there. It was not imagined as a utopian society as the communities New Harmony, Indiana & Brook Farm were. As Gail Bederman wrote in Revisiting Nashoba, “..Nashoba was simply a means to perfect Wright’s true utopia- the United States,” whose only true taint she believed to be slavery. The only true connection between the two communities is that they both died out due to financial ruin and poor management.

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