Utopias on Puget Sound, 1885-1915
- PUBLISHED: June 1995
- SUBJECT LISTING: History / Western History, Pacific Northwest / History
- ISBN: 9780295974446
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Postmaster General James A Farley’s famous toast “to the forty-seven states and the soviet of Washington” introduces and sets the tone for this study of Washington State radicalism. The state’s colorful reputation for radical movements was established in the 1920s and 1930s by free speech fights, strikes, strong labor organizations, and woman suffrage reforms. Charles LeWarne finds the roots of this radicalism in the communitarian experiments of the late nineteenth century.
Through analyses of several of these experiments, LeWarne demonstrates that the influence of a coterie of liberals and radicals centered on Puget Sound in such communities as Home, Burley, Freeland, Equality, and Port Angeles was felt in the state long after the “utopias” they came to colonize had ceased to exist.
Probably the most famous of the experiments was Home Colony on Joe’s Bay near Tacoma. From a nucleus of three families, Home grew to over two hundred residents and lasted for more than twenty years. Its reputation for anarchism and flamboyance contributed to a jail sentence conviction for one editor of the Home newspaper for publishing an editorial called “The Nude and the Prudes.”
Readers interested in current social movements and lifestyles will find many enlightening parallels with recent communal attempts, particularly the rejection of traditional values and the belief in a perfectible world. Whatever the differences within individual colonies, the communitarian ideal has certain general characteristics that find their way into each of these attempts to form a perfect society.
Historians will welcome this treatment of an important part of the social and cultural history of the area. The book contains a mine of previously scattered information on the subject. It is a delightful footnote to the history of the Puget Sound region.
“In this book Charles Pierce LeWarne analyzes the fortunes and misfortunes of five communitarian settlements: Puget Sound Co-operative Colony, Equality, Freeland, Burley, and Home. Utilizing a variety of sources, many of them obscure and fragmentary, he skillfully weaves them together to describe the origins, philosophies, personnel, achievements, internal stresses, and ultimate causes for the dissolution of each of the colonies. . . . LeWarne has made an important contribution to American social history.”—Pacific Historical Review-