History of Utopian Founder George Ripley Part 1

About utopian founder George Ripley, history and biography of the creator of the utopia Brook Farm.

UTOPIANS--DOERS

GEORGE RIPLEY (1802-1880)

George Ripley, a leading clergyman, writer, and editor of his day, can perhaps best be seen through the eyes of those who knew him at his utopia, Brook Farm, where he was happier than he had ever been before or would be again.

"Someone was in the barn attending to the cattle. He had on a tarpaulin straw hat, and a farmer's frock of blue mixture that hung down below the tops of his cowhide boots. I looked sharply at the man, and found it was Mr. George Ripley...," said John Thomas Codman. And later: "At the farther end of the room was Mr. Ripley. The garments of the husbandman and farmer had all been laid aside, and, neatly dressed, he was smiling and laughing, his gleaming eyes seeming to reflect their brilliancy on the golden bows of his spectacles..."

Arthur Sumner saw still another side of him: "His sunny, gleaming face, cheerful kindness, and elastic step are not to be forgotten. Yet he could look stern. I remember we had some tableaux vivants.... He took a fine, heroic pose, and with a leopardskin thrown over his breast, he and his...daughters looked fully equal to the occasion. It is perfectly certain that he would have faced real danger with equal composure."

Ripley was born in Greenfield, Mass., the ninth of 10 children of a merchant. When he graduated at the head of his class from Harvard, he would have liked to bury himself in books for the rest of his life, but instead he entered Harvard Divinity Schools and was ordained a Unitarian minister.

Like many other New England intellectuals, he became a transcendentalist. In 1836 the Transcendental Club had its first meeting at his house, and in that same year he started editing a 14-volume series of translations of transcendental documents.

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