History of Utopian Founder Josiah Warren Part 2

About utopian founder Josiah Warren, history and biography of the creator of the utopia Modern Times.

JOSIAH WARREN (1798-1874)

In 1833 Warren started the first anarchist newspaper in the U.S., The Peaceful Revolutionist, a four-page weekly, which he wrote and printed on his own press (parts of which he had invented). Warren also was the author of several books, including Practical Details in Equitable Commerce and Practical Applications of the Elementary Principles of "True Civilization" to the Minute Details of Every Day Life.


Modern Times was an embodiment of Warren's statement "Institutions will be made for man, not man for institutions." Sightseers came in large numbers on the Long Island Railroad just to look at the strange inhabitants of this place where eccentrics abounded--a man who strolled naked down the street, women in men's suits, religious fanatics, health food fanatics like the woman who died of malnutrition as the result of a diet of beans. (One May Day, to tease the sightseers, the children of Modern Times went down to the railroad station and formed a tableau under a banner that read, "We Are Individuals.")

Individuals they were: Stephen Pearl Andrews, one of the founders, who introduced the Pitman shorthand system to the U.S., wrote books about Chinese, invented a universal language (Alwato), and explained everything with an umbrella theory called Universology; Dr. Edward Newberry, one of 37 children of believers in eugenics, who wanted to carry on his parents' ideas; and Dr. Thomas Low Nichols, who ran the American Hydrotherapy Institute (a water cure) as well as a kind of interstate dating service, just to name three.

Modern Times was located on a 750-acre piece of land on Long Island, with green and white cottages, strawberry fields, and flowers, which Moncure D. Conway, a disciple, said could be reached either "by railroad or rainbow."

Though it was often criticized as a "free love" colony, Modern Times could list among its members celibates as well as polygamists. A red string instead of a ring was the symbol of marriage; to get a divorce, one merely untied the string. Women, considered the equals of men, stated their freedom in their clothes--pantaloons, bloomers, and peasant dresses.

Modern Times went bankrupt in the crash of 1857. Its people dispersed. One of them, doing a complete about-face from his anarchist beliefs, became a member of the New York City Police Force.

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