The New International Encyclopædia/Icarians

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The New International Encyclopædia
Icarians
Edition of 1905. See also Icarians on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

ICARIANS. Members of a communistic society, founded by Cabet (q.v.) to realize the ideals set forth in his romance Voyage en Icarie. During the years preceding the Revolution of 1848 communistic dortrines had a wide following in France; and when, in 1847, Cabet announced the acquisition of land in Texas, a large number of persons agreed to emigrate with him to found a settlement there. In 1848 sixty-nine persons set out for the colony, but were unable to endure the climate, and returned after a few months to New Orleans, where they were joined by Cabet with 400 more. Early the following year Cabet, with about 300 followers, emigrated to Nauvoo, Ill., then recently deserted by the Mormons, where the colony was moderately prosperous for a few years, undertaking agriculture as well as trades and manufactures. Dissensions arose, and in 1856 Cabet was expelled together with those members of the community who supported him. In 1860 financial difficulties rendered it necessary for the remaining Icarians to abandon Nauvoo, and thirty-five of them founded a new settlement in western Iowa. For twenty years they grew in wealth and numbers; but in 1880 the community split into two factions, the Young and the Old Party. The former soon broke up; the latter existed until 1895, when it, too, was dissolved. In 1881 a few members of the Iowa community went to California, where they established Icaria Speranza, a society, however, more like a business corporation than a communistic settlement.

The organization of the Icarian communities was democratic. Directors were elected, but they could only execute the orders of the whole body. The members lived in little houses around a central hall where they took their meals in common. They were sociable in their habits, took great pains to educate their children, and were remarkable for their thrift, industry, and the good order they maintained. Excluding the purely religious communists, the Icarian settlements were by far the most successful of the communistic experiments of which the early nineteenth century was so prolific. Consult: Lux, Etienne Cabet und der Ikarische Kommunismus (Stuttgart, 1894); Shaw, Icaria (New York, 1884).