This essay examines the relationship between communitarian and cooperative labor reform and antislavery and argues that the reformist projects of radical labor activists overlapped with those of abolitionists in significant and overlooked ways. From Frances Wright's Nashoba experiment in the 1820s to the Fourierist communities of the 1840s, communitarian reformers shared important assumptions with abolitionists about the superiority of free labor, the illegitimacy of property in man, and the role of market forces in the commodification of wage labor and human beings. In the 1840s, labor activists associated with Fourierist reform engaged in a critical but ultimately constructive dialogue with abolitionists over these same issues. As the goals of communitarian reformers intersected with free soil antislavery in the 1840s and 1850s, a handful of key figures associated with labor reform helped to broker a political alliance that contributed to the development of the brand of antislavery politics represented by the Republican Party.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 243-268
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.