The New International Encyclopædia/Brook Farm

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BROOK FARM. A socialistic community, founded in 1841, by the Brook Farm Association of Education and Agriculture at West Roxbury, Mass., which in its later history partially adopted the views of Fourier. The organizer and guiding spirit of the association was George Ripley. He gathered around him a number of persons of exceptional intellectual powers, chief among them being Hawthorne, Alcott, George W. Curtis, W. B. Channing, Charles A. Dana, and Margaret Fuller. The aim of this association, as explained by Ripley, was “more effectually to promote the great purposes of human culture, to establish the external relations of life on a basis of wisdom and purity,” and, especially, “to substitute a system of brotherly coöperation for one of selfish competition.” All members, without distinction of sex, had to labor an allotted period each day for the common good, either on the farm or in the workshop attached to the main institution. In pursuance of the attempt toward a more just recompense for labor, all employments were paid substantially alike. All shared the same food at the same table, all owned a like portion of the property belonging to the establishment, all had equal access to its educational and literary advantages. The society trafficked with the outside world, selling its surplus produce, and educating children at a low rate of compensation. But it was soon found that enough could not be earned for the needs of the establishment. Moreover, many of its brightest ornaments grew weary and left it. The remainder were disheartened. On March 3, 1846, a fire destroyed one of the most important and costly buildings. The association never recovered from this blow. It lingered on for a while and finally dissolved in October, 1847. Much of the celebrity attached to this organization is due to Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance, in which, under the guise of fiction, he has evidently utilized many of his experiences at Brook Farm. Consult: Codman, Brook Farm Memories (Boston, 1849); Russell, Home Life of the Brook Farm Association (Boston, 1900); Swift, Brook Farm: Its Members, Scholars, and Visitors (New York, 1900). See Communism; Fourier.