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The Communistic Societies of the United States, by Charles Nordhoff, [1875], at

p. 350 p. 351


p. 352 p. 353


AT Cedar Vale, in Howard County, Kansas, a communistic society has been founded, which, though its small numbers might make it insignificant, is remarkable by reason of the nationality of some of its members.

It was begun three years ago, and the purpose of its projectors was "to achieve both communism and individual freedom, or to lead persons of all kinds of opinions to labor together for their common welfare. If there was to be any law, it should be only for the regulation of industry or hours of work." I quote this from the letter of a gentleman who is familiar with this society, and who has been kind enough to send me its constitution, and to give me the following particulars: "It is now three years since the founders of the society settled in this domain, coming here entirely destitute, and building first as a residence a covered burrow in a hillside. Two of them had left affluence and position in Russia, and subjected themselves to this poverty for the sake of their principles. Of course they suffered here from fever, from insufficient food, and cold, and were not able to make much improvement on the place. The practical condition now, though insignificant from the common point of view, compared with what has been, is very satisfactory. There are at least comfortable shelter and enough to eat, and this year sufficient land will be fenced and planted to leave a surplus.

"The propaganda has been made among two essentially differing classes of socialists—the Russian Materialists and the

p. 354

[paragraph continues] American Spiritualists. Both these classes are represented in the community, and thus far seem to live in harmony. There are here a 'hygienic doctor' and a 'reformed clergyman,' both Spiritualists, and a Russian sculptor of considerable fame, a Russian astronomer, and a very pretty and devoted and wonderfully industrious Russian woman."

The printed statement made by the community I copy here, as a sufficient account of its numbers and possessions in April, 1874:

"The PROGRESSIVE COMMUNITY is located near Cedar Vale, Howard County, Kansas, has three hundred and twenty acres of choice prairie land, with abundance of stock, water, and with all advantages for successful farming, stock and fruit raising.

"The nearest railroad station is Independence, Montgomery County, Kansas, fifty miles east from the place.

"The community was established in January, 1871. It is out of debt now, and has a fair prospect for success in the future.

"The business of the community consists chiefly in farming.

"Number of members: four males; three females; one child. Persons on probation: two males; one female; one child.

"Improvements: frame house; stable; forty acres under fence; four acres of orchard and vines.

"Live stock and implements: four horses; four oxen; three cows and calves.

"The co-operation of earnest communists is wanted for the better realization of a true home based on Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

"No fee is required from those who visit the community, but their work for the community is regarded as equivalent to their current expenses.

"The principles and organization of the community can be seen from the following constitution.


"Whereas, we believe that man is not only an individual having rights as such, but also owing social duties to others, and that strict justice requires us to help each other, and that our highest happiness and development can only be attained by a union and co-operation of interests and efforts; Therefore, we pledge ourselves to live

p. 355

  'For the cause that lacks assistance,
  For the wrong that needs resistance,
  For the future in the distance,
  And the good that we can do.'

"And we, whose names are annexed, hereby organize ourselves under the name of the PROGRESSIVE COMMUNITY, and agree to devote our labor and means, to the full extent of our ability, to carry out the following:



"SEC. 1.—The community shall be considered as a family. The members shall unite in their labor and business, hold their property in common for the use of all, and dwell together in a unitary home.

"SEC. 2.—Each member shall be free to hold whatever opinions his conscience may dictate; and the community shall make no restriction or regulation interfering with the freedom of any, except when his actions conflict with the rights of others.

"SEC. 3.—All shall be alike responsible for the strict observance of this constitution. Equal rights and privileges shall be accorded to all members; but the community may temporarily withhold from a member the right to vote by the unanimous consent of the rest.


"SEC. 1.—All matters concerning the welfare of the community shall be decided by the members at their meetings, which shall be of the following kinds: (1) Daily business meetings for the decision of daily work; (2) Weekly meetings for the discussion of business questions, and for remarks on the general interests and welfare of the community.

"SEC. 2.—All decisions, except as herein otherwise provided for, shall be by a majority of three fourths of all the members.

"SEC. 3.—Debts may be contracted, or credit given, only by the unanimous vote of the community.

"SEC. 4.—The officers of the community shall consist of a president, secretary, treasurer, and managers. They shall be elected at the end of each year, and enter on the duties of their offices on the first of January following, being subject to removal at any time.

"SEC. 5.—The president shall preside at all meetings, shall see that the decisions of the community are carried out, and make temporary arrangements for the business of the day when necessary.

"SEC. 6.—The secretary shall record the proceedings of all the meetings

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of the community, attend to all its correspondence, and preserve all the valuable documents thereof.

"SEC. 7.—The treasurer shall hold the fund of the community, and keep an accurate account of all money received or expended; but no money shall be paid out except as appropriated by the community. He shall make a report at each business meeting.

"SEC. 8.—The managers shall control the different departments to which they are elected, decide all details of business, if not previously acted upon by the community, and make reports at each business meeting.


"SEC. 1.—Any person, after having lived in the community, and having become thoroughly acquainted with its members and the community life, may become a member by subscribing to this constitution; provided he is accepted by the unanimous vote of the community.

"SEC. 2.—All property which members may have, or may receive from any source or at any time, shall be given to the community without reservation or return.

"SEC. 3.—The members shall be furnished with food, clothing, and lodging, care and attention in sickness, misfortune, infancy, or old age, and the means and opportunity for a complete integral education, and for such other necessary requirements as the community can afford; and these benefits shall be guaranteed by the whole resources of the community.

"SEC. 4.—A withdrawing member shall not bring any claim against the community on account of any labor, services, or property given thereto; but his current expenses and the advantages of the community life shall be considered as an equivalent therefore. He shall be allowed to take from the common property only what may be decided upon by the community at the time of withdrawal.

"SEC. 5.—Children of the members, or those which may be adopted by the community, shall be considered as members thereof; they shall have equal rights as herein specified, except voting, to which privilege they shall be admitted when the community by unanimous consent shall think best, and after signing their names to this constitution.


"Any amendments, additions to, or interpretations of this constitution may be made at any time by unanimous vote of the community."

Next: The Social Freedom Community.