A Practical Movement for Transition

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Joshua King Ingalls

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  • Joshua King Ingalls, “A Practical Movement for Transition,” The Spirit of the Age 2, no. 13 (March 30, 1850): 202-204.


For the Spirit of the Age.


A meeting was called in New York, by the writer, on the 26th of February, to arrange preliminaries for a practical effort to change existing conditions. But a small number of those who have communicated their desire to unite, were present, the rest having signified their entire satisfaction in the principles already set forth. Those who were present, but did not propose to join personally, declined taking any formal action, although we had the benefit of their advice, and the expression (in some instances in quite a substantial form,) of their sympathies. The result has been the adoption of the accompanying Constitution, presented with a good deal of diffidence, and rather to invite criticism with a view to its improvement than as a perfected instrument. But this seemed the only way to proceed, as the persons to be practically associated with the movement are scattered over some ten states, and can never be brought together until they meet upon their common inheritance. An unassuming name has been adopted A more imposing title can be adopted when it is earned in regard to location, Western Virginia seems to present the most favorable inducements. Health, a sufficiently fertile soil, good water-power, proximity to immense, universal wealth, and steam navigation, a ready market, mild climate, &c., are secured here. Considering how important health must be to an infant Colony, this location has been thought preferable to one farther west or south, where the increased fertility of the soil is compensated by great distance from market, long winters, or liability to sickness. Several tracts, on the waters of the llenhawas, may be purchased very cheap: and if answering at all the descriptions given, will be very suitable for our enterprise. It is not proposed to purchase, however, without personal inspection. And to enable me to do this, it is necessary that I be furnished the means. About one-half the computed expense of the tour was secured in New York. A few dollars from each individual who has communicated with the writer will furnish enough to meet that expense and some others, which must be met by somebody ere we can proceed. I would request each individual so communicating to state for what sum they can be depended upon towards the purchase of the lands, between this and the coming Autumn. It is desirable that I should be enabled to go as soon as May or June. In this way, and in this way alone, can it be told who are to be depended upon, and who are not; since we are so widely separated.

With regard to qualifications of associates, it is hoped that each one will consider himself a specially-appointed committee for self-examination. Let the question be put and seriously pondered—" Am I prepared for co-operation and self-sacrifice—to be governed by a deep regard for the good of all, and not by personal interest or caprice?" Every individual is better qualified to answer this question for himself than another is for him. Let the answer in every case be frankly given, and the future action made to correspond.

There has been one difficulty of some moment in the details of our plan: the manner in which our real estate is to be held. The joint-stock principle has already been proved defective by trial. Individual property in land is open to a still greater objection, as all experience has proved, by the monopoly in the hands of wealth of man's natural inheritance. The plan proposed in the following form seems to be the only just one, securing to all an equal right of access to the soil. With regard to its validity, legal counsel will be obtained. The measure of productiveness, from the cultivation of the soil, has been made the measure by which all other labor done for the Association shall be remunerated. This at first, perhaps, may not appear favorable to persons with trades and professions, but it seems right to us; and when it is remembered that agriculture is to be the basis of our movement, and that all, of whatever calling, must look to that ultimately for compensation, and will have to take more or less active interest in it; all objections, we think, will vanish. Every individual can be a cultivator of the soil who chooses; and if he prefers some other employment, it should be in consequence of a natural attraction for it, and not for love of gain.

The expression of interest from friends, and from persons entirely unknown to the writer, except by a spontaneous correspondence, is highly encouraging. An opportunity is now given which may test, in some respect, the foundation on which my hopes are built. Every token of encouragement will be duly acknowledged.

J. K. I.

Southington, Conn., March 6.

We, whose names are hereunto annexed, in order to establish a better system of society, ensure to labor its full award, promote the recognition of man's rights, and the principles of reciprocal and distributive justice, and to secure the blessings of independence to ourselves and posterity, do associate and severally agree and pledge ourselves to conform to the provisions of the following:


ARTICLE 1. This Association shall be known as the MUTUAL TOWNSHIP (state and county hereafter to be inserted).

ART. 2. The object of the organization shall be the elevation of labor to a condition of independence, by the redemption, reception and improvement of lands, and the of establishment of the various branches of industry upon a basis which shall give to labor its entire products a system of practical education, and a fraternal cooperation with all movements calculated to elevate the social and if civil conditions of the industrious classes.

ART. 3. Any individual may become a member of this aft Association by signing the Constitution and contributing the SUM of FIVE DOLLARS. But to become a Resident in Member it shall be necessary to pay in the sum of TWENTY DOLLARS, towards the redemption of land, for every member of a family brought in by such member. But at the option of the Association single females and minors may be admitted without such payment.

ART. 4. All lands and property owned by the township, shall be held by a Trustee or Trustees, for the resident members as tenants in common. But individual members, as r with the general consent, may appropriate a portion of the and land not exceeding ten acres for each member of the family, and at his or her option buildings may be erected thereon and the land cultivated, for personal benefit, without rent; provided that no such premises shall be loaned be loaned or rented by such person for an income, nor be cultivated then by others for wages differing from an equitable share of the products.

ART. 5. The amount of capital which any individual (whether a resident member or not) shall invest to be controlled by the voice of the Township, shall be guaranteed or be to him or her without diminution of value, to be repaid in each stipulated installments, not to exceed the proportion of one-tenth of the whole in any one year. But no premium or such interest, or dividend to capital, shall ever, in any shape or for any pretext, be allowed; and no guarantee to capital shall be binding for a longer period than twenty years.

ART. 6. Every child belonging to the Township shall be entitled to equal opportunities of education; and if destitute, shall be supported and clothed at the public expense, without being subject to any other labor than what is required of all. And every individual who has been a resident member for one year shall be entitled to support in case of sickness and destitution. Attendance and care in sickness shall be provided for all, by a reciprocal exchange of services, without charge. But individuals cultivating the land, or engaging in any other business on individual interest, shall only be entitled to these guarantees by an equitable contribution to the funds set apart full for such object. And persons entering the Township when sickly or superannuated shall only be entitled to them by a special agreement with the association.

ART. 7. To secure these guarantees and an ultimate equalization of the capital employed by the organization, and likewise to provide for incidental expenses, authorized by the majority of resident members, a proportion of the yearly products, not exceeding one quarter of the whole, the shall be set apart from year to year to meet, as nearly as possible, the expense of these several guarantees.

ART. 8. That individuals may be secure in the event of a closing up of the business of the Association, a strict the and regular account shall be kept of all funds paid in, and the of all labor performed under the general direction, for purposes of improvement, creation of machinery, &c. An account shall be also kept of all labor, productive and remunerative, within each year. And annually, or oftener if convenient, the distribution of the annual products shall be made in a ratio determined by this latter kind of labor, his after the yearly provision is made for guarantees. The individuals performing the first kind of labor shall be paid in the same proportion, out of the division set apart for guarantees, or let their dues remain to their credit as capital to be subsequently equalized, as provided for in Article Fifth. No office or employment shall have attached to it a higher compensation than another.

ART. 9. There shall be kept a storehouse, supplied with the necessaries of life, and each resident member shall be entitled to trade at an advance, on the cost of purchase, as nearly as possible covering the expense of transportation and delivery. And to obviate the necessity for credits, and to prevent over-trading by any, the authorized agent shall award to all labor performed under the general direction weekly or monthly certificates of the amount. These shall d be received at the store, and an amount advanced upon them safely within their probable value. At the periodical settlement, the amount advanced on such certificates shall be deducted, but no charge shall be made for interest or exchange.

ART. 10. In case of disputes arising between members, or between a member and the agents of the Association, each party shall chose a person, and these two a third. These three shall decide the matter of difference; but if such arbitration is appealed from, then it shall be determined in a meeting of the members, whose decision shall be final. For grave misdemeanor members may be suspended or excluded the benefits and privileges of the Association; and any person refusing to abide the decision of the majority shall be regarded as resigning their membership. But no such action of the association shall invalidate any claim for labor or capital, which any individual may equitably possess, nor require a precipitate evacuation of premises to the inconvenience or pecuniary injury of the person.

ART. 11. After ten families shall have moved upon any tract held by the Association, and regularly associated themselves together, it shall be competent for them to elect their own Trustees, establish their offices and groups, manage their own affairs, and enact bye-laws for their own government; also to determine who shall thereafter be admitted into their organization. But in the reception of new members, preference shall be given to such as have contributed to its funds, and those who shall be recommended by organizations which sympathize with our views and objects, and cooperate in their realization. Nor shall such persons be debarred the privilege, at least, of coming upon the lands as individuals (except there are moral objections) while the domain shall exceed the proportion of forty acres to each male resident. Such organization shall be made to represent, as nearly as possible, the town, district, or other corporation in the state where located.

ART. 12. Until such actual settlement has been made and such organization formed, J. K. Ingalls shall be Trustee of this Association, and authorized to receive moneys, purchase lands, for the objects and within the limits specified, and make such arrangements as are necessary to carry the designs of this instrument into practical operation. All investments and contributions shall be receipted by him, with the express understanding and condition that he shall surrender to the first Trustees or Agents duly appointed by the resident members, all property, deeds and titles held by him in trust.

ART 13. All persons born in the Township, or who may have come in with a parent or parents, and continuing therein, shall, on attaining the age of twenty-one years, have equal right and inheritance with the rest, and all rights, privileges, guarantees and obligations, expressed or implied, shall be understood to apply equally to persons of both sexes.

ART. 14. Amendments may be made to this Constitution by a vote of two-thirds of the resident members, present at any regular meeting of the Association, such amendment having been duly notified at a previous meeting, and provided that no such amendment shall propose to give a premium or vote to capital, or infringe on the rights and guarantees secured herein.