The New International Encyclopædia/Fourier, François Marie Charles
FOURIER, fōō'ryắ', François Marie Charles (1772-1837). A French socialist. He was born at Besançon, April 7, 1772, the son of a merchant, and educated in the college there. At the age of eighteen he entered a cloth business, although from his childhood he had shown an antipathy toward commerce on account of the deception and injustice he saw in it. He visited all the large cities, not only in France, but in Holland and Germany, as a mercantile agent, thus gaining an opportunity for careful observation of social conditions. At his father's death he inherited 80,000 francs, and invested it at Lyons in colonial products. During the siege of Lyons, in 1793, all his property was destroyed; his bales of cotton were used as breastworks, his provisions were taken to feed the soldiers; and he was himself thrown into prison. Later he entered the army, but he was forced to resign on account of ill health. The rest of his life was spent in mercantile pursuits. In 1799, as agent for a great provision merchant, he had to destroy a large quantity of rice which had been held for higher prices so long that it had become unfit for consumption. The destruction of food needed by the poor made a lasting impression on his mind, and is said to have first turned his attention to social problems. His business enterprises did not prosper, and for the greater part of his life he was in straitened circumstances. His chief works were the Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinées générales, published in 1808; the Traité d'association domestique agricole (1822), which contains his whole system, and was later republished under the title, Théorie de l'unité universelle; and Le nouveau monde industriel ou invention du procédé d'industrie attrayante et combinée, distribuée en séries passionées (1829). Before his death he had a few followers, the most important one of whom was M. Just Muiron, who was converted to Fourierism in 1814. Fourier died October 10, 1837. After his death his party gained many adherents, among whom were some of the Saint-Simonians. A newspaper was published, and the ‘Society for the Propagation and Realization of the Theory of Fourier’ was established. See Fourierism.