Social Reform: Communities

Transcendentalists called for the moral reform of the individual. While the major transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau, strongly believed in individuality, some of the less known transcendentalists came together in groups that varied from eight to over a hundred members and formed communities in which they tried to live and work cooperatively. It is interesting that the most well known transcendentalists never showed interest in the communities. Thoreau did not speak of Brook Farm, and Emerson wished the Brook Farmers well but declined membership. The communities linked to transcendentalism are Brook Farm, which succumbed to Fourierism, and Alcott's Fruitlands. Nathaniel Hawthorne, a famous writer and friend to transcendentalists, wrote The Blithedale Romance, a novel based partially on his experience at Brook Farm--and one which was quite skeptical about the possible success of such experiments. In a letter to his sister, Louisa, on May 3, 1841, Hawthorne described Brook Farm as "one of the most beautiful places I ever saw in my life, and as secluded as if it were a hundred miles from any city or village." Many other communities were formed during this era, including the earlier Nashoba, a socialistic model for Brook Farm and Fruitlands.

Ideas & thought: