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Frances Wright [1795-1852]

Frances Wright (also known as Fanny Wright) was a lecturer, writer, freethinker, feminist, abolitionist & social reformer. She was born in Scotland on September 6, 1795. Her "Views of Society and Manners in America" (1821) brought her the most attention as a critique of the new nation. In 1825 she became a US citizen and founded the Nashoba Commune in Tennessee as a utopian community to prepare slaves for emancipation. Fanny did many things: She visited Monticello with the Marquis de Lafayette, lived in New Harmony, Indiana, lectured in New York City, published a newspaper in Cincinatti, freed slaves in Haiti, bore one child out of wedlock & lived at La Grange, LaFayette's estate near Paris (France). She died in Cincinnati on December 13, 1852.

The following chronology is pieced together from the these on-line sources:
"Frances Wright [1795-1852]" by Wikipedia.
"Frances Wright [1795-1852]" by Wikiquote.
"Frances Wright [1795-1852]" from the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia.
"Frances Wright [1795-1852]" by University of Southern Indiana (USI).
"Frances (Fanny) Wright [1795-1852]" by Council for Secular Humanism.
"Frances Wright (1795-1852)" by Celia Morris for the National Women's History Museum.
"A Courage Untempered by Prudence: The Writings, Reforms, and Lectures of Frances Wright" by Erin Crawley, Illinois Wesleyan University, 2007.
"Communalism: From Its Origins to the Twentieth Century" by Bureau of Public Secrets.
"Nashoba Plantation [1825-1828]" by Andy Pouncey as published in the Germantown News (3 articles).
"Nashoba Commune [1825-1828]" by Wikipedia.
"Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette [1757-1834]" by Wikipedia.
"Visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to the United States [1824-1825]" by Wikipedia.
"Lafayette's Visit to the United States, 1824-1825" by William Jones.
"Interactive Web Biographies of Some Famous Communitarians" by Edward W. Lollis.
"Robert Owen [1771-1858]" by Wikipedia.
"Robert Dale Owen [1801-1877]" by Wikipedia.
"New Harmony, Indiana" by Wikipedia.

Right click image to enlarge.

1763 - William Maclure is born in Ayr (Scotland). He will become a social experimenter on new types of community life together with British social reformer Robert Owen. He is also a geologist, the unpaid maker of the rather accurate first geological map of the USA in 1809, six years before the Geological Map of England by William Smith. In 1812, while in France, Maclure became a member of the newly founded Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP). In 1817 Maclure became president of the ANSP, a post he held for the next 22 years. He died at San Ángel (Mexico) on March 23, 1840.

May 14, 1771 - Robert Owen is born in Newtown (Wales). He died at his native town on 17 November 1858.

1786 - New Lanark, River Clyde, South Lanarkshire (Scotland). "Founded in 1786 by David Dale [1739-1806], who built cotton mills & housing for the mill workers. Under the ownership of a partnership that included Dale's son-in-law, Robert Owen [1771-1858], a Welsh philanthropist & social reformer, New Lanark became a successful business & an epitome of utopian socialism." Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site & tourist attraction.

1792? - Guillaume Sylvan Casimir Phiquepal d'Arusmont is born in Monsant (France). He will marry Frances Wright in Paris in 1831 (several years after their daughter Silva was born) & divorce her in Ohio in 1850.

September 6, 1795 - Frances (Fanny) Wright is born in Dundee (Scotland). "Frances & her sister Camilla were quite young when both parents died, and the sisters inherited a fortune." /// "After her parents died when she was two years old, Frances Wright spent her childhood with a succession of relatives in Scotland. Living with her uncle, a professor of moral philosophy at Glasgow College, she explored the college's libraries & became especially intrigued by books about the newly independent USA." /// "She and her only surviving sibling Camilla lived with various relatives in England until 1816 when they returned to Scotland to live with their great-uncle James Mylne, a professor of moral philosophy at Glasgow College. Frances Wright gained access to the college library and thrived in this new environment. She read everything she could about America, including Carlo Botta's history of the American Revolution (Storia della guerra dell' Independenza degli Stati Uniti d'America, 1809), a work that Jefferson highly valued. Much to her uncle's disappointment, she became determined to travel to America to see how the principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence were working out in practice.

November 7, 1801 - Robert Dale Owen, the eldest of Robert & Caroline Owen's seven surviving children, is born in Glasgow (Scotland). He will become a lover of Frances Wright in the USA.

September 6, 1805 - Fanny's 10th birthday.

September 6, 1815 - Fanny's 20th birthday.

1818-1820 - In 1818 Frances & Camilla Wright left for New York. There Frances Wright anonymously produced and published "Altorf," a play about the struggle for Swiss independence. The two sisters then traveled unchaperoned several thousand miles through many cities and the backwoods frontier. Upon her return to Britain in 1820, she received a letter from Jefferson thanking her for sending him a copy of her play. He praised the play for giving "dignity and usefulness to poetry," and she responded in turn, expressing her reverence for Jefferson's "enlightened, active and disinterested patriotism. "[2] Eager to spread the news about the new social and political ideas established by the American government, she soon published her correspondence with Mrs. Rahbina Craig Millar in book form. "Views of Society and Manners in America" has become one of the most celebrated travel memoirs of the early nineteenth century. Wright is unabashedly enthusiastic about a nation she considers a guarantor of freedom and equality: "The prejudices still to be found in Europe, though now indeed somewhat antiquated, which would confine the female library to romances, poetry, and belles-lettres, and female conversation to the last new publication, new bonnet, and pas seul are entirely unknown here. The women are assuming their place as thinking beings, not in despite of the men, but chiefly in consequence of their enlarged views and exertions as fathers and legislators. "[3]

1818 - "Altorf" (a play about Swiss independence produced in New York City).

1821 - "Views of Society and Manners in America" (widely acclaimed).


1821 - "Views of Society & Manners in America," New York City, New York (USA). "D'Arusmont, Frances Wright. VIEWS OF SOCIETY AND MANNERS IN AMERICA; IN A SERIES OF LETTERS FROM THAT COUNTRY TO A FRIEND IN ENGLAND, DURING THE YEARS 1818, 1819, AND 1820. New-York: Printed for E. Bliss & E. White, 1821. 387 pages. "Second American from the First London Editions, with additions and corrections by the author." "Francis Wright had faithfully recorded her travels in a series of long, self-consciously literary letters to a Glasgow friend... The results was VIEWS OF SOCIETY AND MANNERS IN AMERICA, one of the most celebrated travel memoirs of the early 19th century.... The end of the Napoleonic wars & improvements in sea transport opened the way for the more casual tourist, & Francis Wright was among the first to turn this new accessibility to literary advantage." - NOTABLE AMERICAN WOMEN p. 676."

1821 - Though dismissed by the conservative press in America & England, Wright captured the attention of reformers such as Jeremy Bentham & Mary Shelley. It was in Paris in 1821, on Bentham's business & her own, that Frances Wright met the Marquis de Lafayette [1757-1834]. He too praised her work, and she became a participant in Lafayette's clandestine intrigues in support of various revolutionary movements. At his insistence, she published her fictionalized treatise on the philosophy of Epicurus, 'A Few Days in Athens' (1822). Thomas Jefferson said the work was a "treat to me of the highest order," and he filled seven pages of his commonplace book with excerpts from it. He wrote that "the matter and manner of the dialogue is strictly ancient ... the scenery and portraiture of the interlocutors are of higher finish than anything in that line left us by the ancients; and like Ossian, if not ancient, it is equal to the best morsels of antiqity." /// Image shows LaFayette in 1825 at age 68.
Date? - Château de la Grange-Bléneau, Courpalay, Département de Seine-et-Marne (France). "Le Marquis Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette lived here from 1802 until his death in 1834. The castle has been untouched since the death of La Fayette. Of note are the general's library & archives & historic artefacts relating to the independence of the USA. Today, it is the property of the Josée & René de Chambrun Foundation, a charitable foundation charged with preserving the castle & its historical contents." /// "After an extended stay at Lafayette's family estate La Grange during which Wright worked on a biography of Lafayette, Lafayette persuaded Wright to accompany him on his farewell visit to America in 1824. Lafayette referred to their relationship in father-daughter terms, and she helped him to maintain connections with the European network of liberal activists. She realized the anomaly of her position in the masculine world of politics: "I dare say you marvel sometimes at my independent way of walking through the world just as if nature had made me of your sex instead of poor Eve's," she wrote to Lafayette. "Trust me, my beloved friend, the mind has no sex but what habit and education give it, and I who was thrown in infancy upon the world like a wreck upon the waters have learned, as well to struggle with the elements as any male child of Adam."[5] Wright must have been aware that their friendship had aroused gossip.

1822 - "A Few Days in Athens" (a novelistic sketch of a disciple of Epicurus).

Spring 1824 - There was a growing resentment toward Wright amongst members of Lafayette's family that she had become too involved in his life or too important in his affections, and by the spring of 1824 she left for England. Wright had suggested that he legally adopt her to publicly clarify their relationship, but neither Lafayette nor the family would accept her suggestion. Wright finally agreed to follow Lafayette. Accompanied by her sister, she sailed on a different ship and traveled in a separate carriage. Although this provoked criticisms, Lafayette consistently expressed his desire to have Wright accompany him to political events and to meet his famous friends. On October 1, 1824 Lafayette wrote to Jefferson about this arrangement: "She [Frances] is very happy in your approbation; for, you and I are the two men in the world the esteem of whom she values the most. I wish much, my dear friend, to present these two adopted daughters of mine to Mrs. Randolph and to you; they being orphans from their youth, and preferring American principles to British aristocracy, having an independent, tho not very large fortune, have passed the three last years in most intimate connection with my children and myself, and have readily yielded to our joint entreaties to make a second visit to the U.S." Jefferson answered that they "will nowhere find a welcome more hearty than with Mrs. Randolph, and all the inhabitants of Monticello."[6]

August 15, 1824 — Lafayette arrives from France at Staten Island, New York (USA). He commences his famous tour of 24 states. At many stops on this tour he was received by the populace with a hero's welcome, and many honors and monuments were presented to commemorate and memorialize his visit.


November 4-8, 1824 - LaFayette's Visit to Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia (USA). "By and by, a day or two after the arrival, came the bluestocking Miss Wright & her sister: the elder, Fanny, was in the zenith of her fame as the authoress of a 'Few days in Athens.' Mr. George told me that these ladies had come to his father's notice by Fanny's authorship of a book on America, which had been sent to the General, who in the fullness of his love for the country which she eulogised in a fulsome manner, invited the lady & her sister to La Grange, where they became a fixture for months, perhaps a year. Miss Wright was quiet enough at Monticello: to ladies she never spoke, except to Mrs. Randolph as her hostess, and to the youngest girl of the party, whom she noticed favorably as a mere child. But the Frenchmen told many instances of her masculine proclivities - on occasions she wd. harrangue the men in the public room of a hotel & the like." /// Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. /// "The Wrights arrived at Monticello a day or two after Lafayette. Although they would have missed the initial meeting, they nevertheless managed to observe the reunion of the two veterans who had not seen each other for thirty-five years. Frances Wright remarked that she enjoyed "one of the finest prospects I ever remember to have seen" from a mountain "consecrated by the residence of the greatest of America's surviving veterans." She said of Jefferson that his "tall well-moulded figure remains erect as at the age of 20, and his step is as light and springy as tho it cd. bear him without effort up the steepest sides of his favourite mountains." Struck by his physically weakened state, however, she lamented that "the lamp is evidently on the wane nor is it possible to consider the fading of a light so brilliant and pure without a sentiment of deep melancholy. "[7]

Not all members of the "full to overflowing" household were charmed by this curious visitor. A visiting cousin belittled Wright for being a "bluestocking." Jane Cary was annoyed because "to Ladies she never spoke, except to Mrs. Randolph as her hostess, and to the youngest girl of the party, whom she noticed favorably as a mere child." She could not resist adding that "the Frenchmen told many instances of her masculine proclivites--on occasions she wd. harrangue the men in the public room of a hotel and the like." Jane Cary sympathized with George Washington Lafayette, who resented Wright's influence over his father, and scrutinized her appearance: "In person she was masculine, measuring at least 5 feet 11 inches, and wearing her hair a la Ninon in close curls, her large blue eyes and blonde aspect were thoroughly English, and she always seemed to wear the wrong attire. "[8] Whatever the attitude toward her may have been, Wright later wrote Martha Jefferson Randolph that her days at Monticello had been among the most interesting in her life.[9] Camilla had caught a cold at Monticello, but the Wrights were presumably content to be detained there for a few days after Lafayette's departure for Montpelier. Then perhaps inspired by Jefferson, the Wrights planned their own excursion to the Natural Bridge and Harper's Ferry before rejoining Lafayette in Washington.

1825 - "A Plan for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in the United States Without Danger of Loss to the Citizens of the South."


February 1825 - "Later, when Lafayette headed South in late February 1825, Wright decided to proceed across the Midwest & down the Mississippi River. Before rejoining Lafayette in New Orleans in April 1825, she visited Robert Owen & the community he had established at New Harmony, Indiana. By this time, the personal and political voyages of Lafayette & Wright diverged. Wright became more interested in the cause of emancipation. In Views of Society, Wright noticed slaveholders' humanity to their slaves, in which they took such pride, as being mere "gilding" on the chains of bondage.[10] In fact, Wright grew wary of Lafayette's public acclaim by those who were slaveholders: 'The enthusiasm, triumphs and rejoices exhibited here before the countenance of the great and good Lafayette have no longer charms for me. They who so sin against the liberty of their country, against those great principles for which their honored guest poured on their soil his treasure and his blood, are not worthy to rejoice in his presence. My soul sickens in the midst of gaiety, and turns almost with disgust from the fairest faces or the most amiable discourse.'] Wright must have discussed the topic with Jefferson. She wrote from Monticello that "Mr. Jefferson is very anxious that some steps which he considers as preparatory to the abolition of slavery at least in this state should be adopted this winter. You will find his plan (that which he proposed, in the Virginia legislature at the time of the revolution) /sketched/ in the Notes"; Wright accounts for the prejudice against miscegenation as an incentive for this active measure: "The prejudice whether absurd or the contrary against a mixture of the two colors is so deeply rooted in the American mind that emancipation without expatriation...seems impossible."
Spring 1825 - "It is an interesting sidenote that Robert Owen visited Jefferson in the spring of 1825. Owen had just announced to Congress that he wanted to help Americans in their pursuit of a 'perfect system of liberty & equality,' and he proposed the guiding principles of New Harmony to be 'union, co-operation & common property.' If Jefferson was not impressed by Owen, his granddaughter Virginia Jefferson & her husband Nicholas Trist were captivated enough to almost join the community, & they became lifelong friends of Owen's son Robert Dale Owen. Whereas the Trists seem to have remained secret admirers of the community, Frances Wright actively supported the communitarian principles."
1825-1826 - New Harmony, Indiana (USA). "Robert Owen [1771-1858] tried at New Harmony to create a more perfect society through free education & the abolition of social classes & personal wealth. World-renowned scientists & educators settled in New Harmony. With the help of William Maclure [1763-1840], the Scottish geologist and businessman, they introduced vocation education, kindergarten & other educational reforms. New Harmony is also the site of the early headquarters of the US Geological Survey & provided the earliest geological & natural science collections for the beginnings of the Smithsonian Institution. David Dale Owen [1807-1860] turned to geology under the influence of William Maclure. From 1830 until 1860 New Harmony was one of the most important training & research centers for the study of geology in America. Today, Historic New Harmony is a Unified Program of the University of Southern Indiana & the Division of Indiana State Museums & Historic Sites."

March 19, 1825 - New Harmony, Indiana (USA). In his diary, William Owen [1802-1842] portrays the days leading up to Robert Owen's purchase of Harmonie & his first impression of Fanny Wright & her sister. The entry for March 19, 1825 states "In the evening the Misses Wright, who were on their way to New Orleans, to meet the Marquis De LaFayette, arrived. They brought us news of my Father's proceedings in Washington. Miss Wright is a very learned and a fine woman, and though her manners are free and unusual in a female, yet they are pleasing and graceful and she improves upon acquaintance."

April 10-15, 1825 — Lafayette visits New Orleans, Louisiana (USA). Fanny joins him here.

September 6, 1825 - Fanny's 30th birthday.


September 7, 1825 — LaFayette returns to France from Chesapeake Bay on the frigate USS Brandywine.

1825-1826 - By the time Lafayette left for France in 1825, Wright had decided to stay in America to promote social reforms. Not long after her visit to Monticello, Wright implemented a practical plan to demonstrate to Americans the possibility of eradicating slavery. In some ways her plan resembled Jefferson's own scheme for gradual emancipation. Slaves would be trained for a vocation while working out the cost of their purchase, their keep, and their eventual colonization abroad.

After meeting Robert Owen and observing his utopian community New Harmony, Wright began an experimental community in western Tennessee. She called her 2000 acre farm Nashoba, the Chickasaw word for "wolf," and about thirty slaves were employed. Lafayette and Robert Owen served as a trustees of the venture, and though Jefferson did not offer an endorsement of financial support for the project, his response was supportive: "At the age of eighty-two, with one foot in the grave, and the other uplifted to follow it, I do not permit myself to take part in any new enterprises, even for bettering the condition of man, not even in the great one which ... has been through life that of my greatest anxieties." He continues, "Every plan should be adopted, every experiment tried, which may do something towards the ultimate object. That which you propose is well worthy of trial."[13]

Wright eventually merged the idea of separate colonization of freed slaves with the advocation of a biracial cooperative community as the way toward a solution, but the project never prospered. In addition to crop failure and bad luck, her overseer James Richardson published extracts from the plantation's journal that publicized his relationship with a slave woman, an indiscretion that scandalized the public. Wright eventually responded to attacks of "free love" in the wilds with an article in which she boldly claimed that miscegenation might offer a solution for racial injustices in America; she restated her emancipation plan and attacked racially segregated schools, organized religion, and marriage.[14] Nevertheless, the sexual issue only became more explosive and it frightened away most of her prominent American friends. In 1830 Wright abandoned the plan, a venture that cost her more than half her fortune and drove her to the fringes of American life. The slaves were transported to Haiti, where she made arrangements for their housing and employment. Not easily discouraged, Wright sought refuge in Robert Owen's community New Harmony.

Late October 1825 - "Frances rode horseback to Memphis, Tennessee, arriving late in October 1825, inspecting land along the Wolf River near the site of present-day Germantown. She then rode to Nashville, bought eleven slaves including five men (Willis, Jacob, Gradison, Redick & Henry), three women (Nelly, Peggy & Kitty), for $400 to $500 each, & three of their children. On the return to Memphis she bought 320 acres for $480. She later negotiated for more property, eventually owning 1,940 acres." Click here for Germantown web pages about Wright's Nashoba Plantation. Image shows Nashoba marker (erected in the 1950's?).
1825-1828 - Nashoba Commune, Germantown, Tennessee (USA). "An experimental project of Fanny Wright, initiated in 1825 to educate & emancipate slaves. It was located in a 2,000-acre (8 km²) woodland on the side of present-day Germantown, Tennessee, a Memphis suburb, along the Wolf River. It was a small-scale test of her full-compensation emancipation plan in which no slaveholders would lose money for emancipating slaves. Instead, Wright proposed that, through a system of unified labor, the slaves would buy their freedom & then be transported to the independent settlements of Liberia & Haiti." Right image is a sketch of Nashoba from "Domestic Manners of the Americans" by Frances Trollope (1832).
Decemer 8, 1825-January 23, 1826 - William Maclure's Boatload of Knowledge. Organized by William Maclure & Robert Owen. Descended the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, past Cincinatti, Ohio, then up the Wabash River to New Harmony, Indiana (USA). Robert Dale Owen & many others are on board. /// "French naturalist Charles-Alexandre Lesueur [1778-1846] & the 'American father of geology,' William Maclure [1763-1840], traveled down the Ohio River on their way to the Posey County town of Mount Vernon and then on to New Harmony. In the illustration above, women & children are shown on the keelboat named 'Philanthropist' during its departure from Cincinnati. Indiana University researchers are continuing that 19th-century 'voyage of discovery.'"

December 1826 - "In December of 1826, Wright deeded Nashoba over to ten trustees so that the project could continue in the event of her death. Lafayette, William Maclure & Robert Dale Owen were among the ten. Wright had met Maclure & Owen during her trip to New Harmony in the spring of 1825.
1827-1928 - "Wright left Nashoba in 1827 for Europe to recover from malaria. During her absence, the trustees managed the community, but by Wright’s return in 1828, Nashoba had collapsed. At its largest, Nashoba had only 20 members."

1827-1928 - Fanny visited New Harmony again in 1827 and settled in the town in June 1828 when she became co-owner & co-editor of the New Harmony Gazette (which became the Free Enquirer when taken to New York City). July 4, 1828 - Independence Day speech, New Harmony, Indiana (USA). "Sometimes noted as the first major public address by a woman to occur in the USA." /// "Fanny commenced her career as a public speaker July 4, 1828, when she spoke to the town about equality. She continued to lecture through 1828 in Cincinnati, Louisville, and on through the east to New York City. Her subjects included women's equality, religious reform, prison reform, aid for the poor, the corrupting power of the wealthy & the constraints of marriage."

1828 - "Explanatory Notes Respecting the Nature and Objects of the Institution of Nashoba and of the Principles upon which it is Founded"


1829-1832 - "After the New Harmony community failed [in late 1828?], Robert Dale Owen [1801-1877] returned briefly to Europe, then moved to New York City & became the editor of the Free Enquirer, which he ran from 1828 [sic] to 1832. Owen's Moral Physiology, published in 1830 or 1831, was the first book to advocate birth control in the USA (specifically, coitus interruptus). Along with Fanny Wright, he was an intellectual leader of the Working Men's Party. In contrast to many other Democrats of the era, Owen & Wright were opposed to slavery, though their artisan radicalism distanced them from the leading abolitionists of the time. (Lott, 129) Owen returned in 1833 to New Harmony, Indiana, & served in the Indiana House of Representatives twice (1835–1838; 1851–1853). After two unsuccessful campaigns, he was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1842, and served from 1843 to 1847. While in Washington, he drafted the bill for the founding of the Smithsonian Institution."
1829 - After completing a series of lectures in New York, Wright decided to remain in the city and move the Gazette there. She and Robert Jennings set up the press in January 1829. Robert Dale Owen and Phiquepal d'Arusmont arrived that spring to help with the paper. Wright lectured at the Hall of Science she and Robert Dale Owen established. She ardently argued for the establishment of national boarding schools for all children.

1829 - In support of these principles, Wright became the first woman in America to edit a journal, initially the Harmony Gazette, and after moving to New York City in 1829, The Free Enquirer. She also became the first American woman to give a popular lecture series before an audience of men & women. Little escaped her attention: she condemned capital punishment, cited the dangers of intolerant religion, demanded improvements in the status of women, including equal education, legal rights for married women, liberal divorce laws, and birth control. She traveled to most of the major cities of the East and Midwest, making an impressive appearance as "noble" or "masculine" depending on the observer, and sometimes wielding her sole text, a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Condemned by the press and the clergy as "the great Red Harlot of Infidelity" and the "whore of Babylon," and often in need of a bodyguard, Wright nevertheless captivated large audiences with her commanding presence. Ellen Wayles Coolidge, whom Wright would have met at Monticello in 1824, captures the sense of scandal that accompanied Wright's name. Ellen writes from Boston: "Frances Wright has arrived in Boston to deliver a course of lectures which I hope nobody will go to hear. The report is that she has made a sentimental arrangement with Mr. Owen .... Miss Wright will probably not be noticed by any modest woman"; in another letter she derisively states that Wright is again troubling Boston "where she divides public attention with a rhinoceros, the first ever brought to the United States."

April 26, 1829 - Opening of the Hall of Science, Broome Street, New York City, New York (USA). Image is "'A DownWright Gabbler, or a goose that deserves to be hissed --,' an 1829 caricature which takes a hostile view of Frances Wright's public lectures. Many at the time considered the mere fact of a woman lecturing in public to be a shameless act of brazen impudence and effrontery in itself (regardless of the particular content of her lecture), and the fact that Wright preached radical views of slavery abolition & giving women the right to vote only increased the criticism she received. The caricature depicts her with a goose's beak & eyes, wearing a somewhat unfashionably high-waisted & narrow-sleeved black dress & reading from a book as she lectures. A young man with a somewhat vacant look, & a hand tucked into one side of his vest (à la Napoleon), patiently holds her bonnet. (This was probably intended to be interpreted as going a little bit beyond an ordinary daily act of chivalry into a more or less subserviently deferential role.)"

1829-1830 - "Free Enquirer," Hall of Science, Broome Street, New York City, New York (USA). "The New York Hall of Science, begun by Frances Wright & Robert Dale Owen. Dr. Charles Knowlton spoke here at least twice. The announcements of his lectures suggest that he spoke on medical topics rather than his book on materialism. This suggests that he was already thinking about birth control in 1829 and 1830, and that the Hall of Science lectures were on topics thought beneficial to working people, and not just on the inaccuracy of the Bible or injustice of Christianity. It’s interesting that there was a secular movement in New York, Boston and Philadelphia that shows remarkable parallels to the movement in Britain. Bradlaugh’s main stage in London was at the old Owenite Hall of Science. The communication of ideas (and sometimes even movement of people) back and forth across the Atlantic in the nineteenth century is worth examining further."

June 1830 - "Parting Address," Hall of Science, Broome Street, New York City, New York (USA). PARTING ADDRESS, AS DELIVERED IN THE BOWERY THEATRE, TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW-YORK, IN JUNE, 1830. New-York: The Office of the Free Enquirer, 1830. "Between 1828, when she joined Robert Dale Owen in editing the NEW HARMONY GAZETTE, and 1830, Frances Wright caused a further shock to public sensibilities by appearing on the platform as a lecturer... in 1829 she settled in New York and began, Jan. 28,to publish the FREE ENQUIRER, virtually the NEW HARMONY GAZETTE under a new name...Robert Dale Owen soon relieved her of most of the editorial work, enabling her to extend her lecture tours... she became the leader of the free-thinking movement."

1830 - Wright's educational proposals and her involvement in the working-class movement led to political action. So identified with the Working Men's Party did she become that the candidates of this movement became known as "the Fanny Wright ticket." Apparently believing that this identification would hurt the party in the elections of 1830, the Wrights returned to Europe. Camilla, her lifelong companion, died a few months later. The next year Wright married a French physician William Phiquepal d'Amsmont whom she had first met when he was teaching at New Harmony. Lafayette, who despite their long physical separations and changing political concerns, served as a witness at her marriage.
1830 - Voyages to Haiti, England & France. "In 1830, Wright freed the Nashoba Commune's 30 slaves & arranged for their transport, accompanying them to Haiti, which had achieved independence in 1804." /// "Wright left New York in October 1829 [sic] when she & d'Arusmont took the slaves from Nashoba to Haiti, where they became lovers. After returning to New York, Wright left for England in mid 1830, apparently because she was pregnant with d'Arusmont's child. By January 1831 her daughter Sylva was born. She and d'Arusmont were married the following July & lived in Paris."

1831 - "In New York [sic], she met, had a child with & married French doctor Guillaume D'Arusmont in 1831. The child died shortly, and the couple moved to Paris, where Frances Wright D'Arusmont had a daughter & removed herself somewhat from the public eye. Traveling across the Atlantic several times throughout the 1830's, she lectured occasionally, but her audiences were small & the movements in which she had involved herself had either fallen apart or found other leadership. She & her husband divorced in 1852, and he retained custody of their child."

July 22, 1831 - Fanny Wright married William S. Phiquepal d'Arusmont in Paris. He was one of the Pestalozzian teachers who sailed on Maclure's "Boatload of Knowledge" in 1826 and whom she had met in New Harmony, Indiana. The d'Arusmonts lived in Paris until 1835, when they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio.


1831 - "The couple moved to Paris, where Frances Wright D'Arusmont had a daughter & removed herself somewhat from the public eye. Traveling across the Atlantic several times throughout the 1830's, she lectured occasionally, but her audiences were small & the movements in which she had involved herself had either fallen apart or found other leadership. She & her husband divorced in 1852, and he retained custody of their child." /// "Wright & d'Arusmont were married in Paris in 1831 several years after their daughter Silva was born. Lafayette arranged for d'Arusmont to be appointed director of a model agricultural school, but he could not keep the position because of serious problems with his eyes. He was responsible for the education of their daughter Sylva who was estranged from her mother. He & Wright seldom lived together after 1835 when they both came to the USA. d'Arusmont spent periods in the USA & in Paris, sometimes with Sylva, through the mid 1840's. After an unsuccessful marriage, Wright & d'Arusmont were divorced in 1850; he died five years later."

April 14, 1832 - Birth of Frances Sylvia Phquepal d'Arusmont. She will marry Dr. William Eugene Guthrie (member of an old established Forfarshire family in Scotland), be widowed about 1870, and die July 26, 1902. These dates from the gravestone she shares with her mother in Cincinnati, Ohio (USA).


1835 - Wright & her husband returned to America in 1835 to settle in Cincinnati, and once again, she began to give speeches. She became a convincing supporter of President Jackson and attacked the Second Bank of the U. S. as a public menace that bound the U.S. to the wealth of England. Her suggestions for gradual emancipation and the eventual assimilation of free blacks aroused much opposition, and her public appearances provoked demonstrations, even violence.

September 6, 1835 - Fanny's 40th birthday.

September 6, 1845 - Fanny's 50th birthday.


1848 -Wright traveled back and forth between the USA & Europe several times in a vain effort to untangle personal & financial affairs, and in 1848 she published her final book, 'England, the Civilizer,' a utopian forecast of a global federation justly governed and united in peace. By this time, however, Wright had moved from a largely uncritical view of America to a jaundiced attitude toward all society as a "complicated system of errors."[17] Her views on America had been tempered, enabling her "to see things under the sober light of truth, and to estimate both the excellences that are, and those that are wanting."[18] Wright seems to have spent her remaining years alone. D'Arusmont had objected to her return to public life, and frequent separations eventually led to their divorce. Her divorce was granted by a judge in Shelby County, Tennessee, while she was living on her Nashoba estate, and it actually made legal history. A judge in Cincinnati granted her petition for receiving $800 from her own property while the chancery court suit over control of her property was being decided. Her only child Sylva remained in her father's custody, but by the time of Wright's death in 1852, the chancery suit in Ohio was still unsettled, and therefore became moot, and her daughter was bequeathed the bulk of her estate.[19] Wright's death went largely unnoticed.

December 13, 1852 - Frances Wright dies from complications resulting from a fall on an icy staircase. Her gravestone is in 733-acre Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45232 (USA). On front of gravestone:
"Frances Wright Phquepal d'Arusmont. Born Dundee, Scotland, December 6, 1795. Died Cincinnati Ohio December 13, 1852. ----- "I have wedded the cause of human improvement, staked on it my fortune, my reputation and my life. F.W. 1829.----- ___ is but one fame the education of ___ youth ___ ___ ___ and universal sal ___. F.W D'A." [Can anyone provide the missing letters?]
On rear of gravestone:
"Author of Altorf and other tragedies, A Few Days in Athens, Views on Society and Manners in America, lectures on knowledge morals etc., poems, fables and political works."
1852-1878 - "The heir to Frances' property in Ohio & Tennessee was her daughter, Frances Sylva D’Arusmont [1832-1902]. Sylvia had come to America and, being alone, lived in the family of Dr. Eugene DeLagertrie (or Guthrie) in Cincinnati. For convenience in handling her property, she deeded the Nashoba lands to Dr. Guthrie, who in turn contracted to furnish her a $5,000 annuity from them. To affect this he leased Nashoba to a tenant for a share of the profits. After a time, Dr. Guthrie’s wife went to France to visit her family. When she had been gone some time there came the report of her death. Dr. Guthrie and Sylva were married in 1865 in New Jersey and had three children. Sylva and her husband went to Europe - she to attend to property in Scotland, he to mend his health. While Sylva was in France, the Shelby County [Tennessee] property stood idle, and lawyers raised questions about her title. Eventually, Shelby County Court canceled the unpaid taxes from 1861 to 1883, and the way was cleared for sales. She learned that the tenant at Nashoba had become the owner. Claiming breach of contract and many thousand dollars damage, he had asked the courts to sell the lands, and this had been done. Then he had taken them over from the buyer. Sylva sued to have the court’s decree set aside, and in one of the most interesting and intricate cases on chancery records here, won back her heritage in 1878. While there they also learned that the first Madame Guthrie was still alive. Dr. Guthrie’s health became worse, and he and Sylva went to Italy hoping that the climate would help. He died there. The lands passed to her two sons, William and Kenneth Sylvan, who became ministers in New York City. They sold the property to Thomas Payne, grandfather of Postmaster Frances Hudson. He covered the original logs with weather boarding as well as the dogtrot."

March 4, 1868 - William Norman Guthrie is born in Dundee (Scotland). He is the son of Frances Sylvia Phquepal d'Arusmont & Dr. William Eugene Guthrie (who died about 1870). And grandson of Frances Wright. "At an early age he came with his widowed mother to the United States. In 1889 he graduated from the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee..." Guthrie died December 9, 1944. Click here for his entry in Wikipedia.

January 24, 1877 - Robert Dale Owen dies in in Crosbyside, Warren County, New York (USA). He was born November 7, 1801, in Glasgow (Scotland). "Aided his father in establishing the social community at New Harmony, Indiana, 1825; became a US citizen in 1827; US Representative from Indiana, 1843-1847; US Minister Resident to the Two Sicilies, 1854-1858; originally buried at Village Cemetery, Lake George, New York (USA). Now buried in Maple Hill Cemetery, New Harmony, Posey County, Indiana (USA).

Circa 1900:
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Oblisk on left:
1879 - Robert Owen Memorial, Kensal Green Cemetery, London (England). Erected by committee under Joseph Corfield [1808-1888]. Robert Owen [1771-1858] developed utopian communities both in New Lanark (Scotland) and New Harmony, Indiana (USA). This is not his grave; he is buried in Newtown, Montgomeryshire (Wales).
Oblisk on right:
August 1885 - Reformers Memorial, Kensal Green Cemetery, London (England). Column of light stone inscribed "to the memory of the men and women who have generously given their time and means to improve the conditions and enlarge the happiness of all classes of society." Erected by Joseph William Corfield [1809-1888] of Abney Park, a Unitarian and member the South Place Ethical Society. Displays "the names of 50 well-known reformers. Another 25 were added in 1907 on the instructions of Corfield's daughter Emma." The first two names are Robert Owen [1771-1858] & John Bellers [1654-1725]. "The remaining 72 names include many well known social reformers, Christian Socialists, Co-operators and political activists." "Contested Sites: Commemoration, Memorial and Popular Politics in Nineteenth-Century Britain" (by Paul A. Pickering, Alex Tyrrell et al, May 2004) names 46 of the reformers.

July 26, 1902 - Sylvia d'Arusmont dies. She shares the gravestone of her mother in Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45232 (USA). On side of gravestone:
"Frances Sylvia Phquepal d'Arusmont, born April 14, 1832. Thirty two years the widow of Dr. William Eugene Guthrie. Died July 26, 1902. And now lies beside her mother."

1984 - The definitive biography of Frances Wright is by Celia Morris [Eckhardt]: "Fanny Wright: Rebel in America," University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1992, first published by Harvard University Press, 1984.

1984 - "The Fanny, A Fiction" (2003). Edmund White, the award-winning biographer of French writer/playwright Jean Genet, acclaimed novelist, and cultural critic, undertakes a masterful, yet imaginary portrait of one of America’s earliest feminists, Fanny Wright, in Fanny, A Fiction. A controversial figure in the early decades of the 1800s, Fanny Wright first generated gossip and headlines as mistress to the much older General Lafayette in the 1820s. She was later reviled as a fierce abolitionist during her sensational America lecture series in 1825, one of the first occasions a woman spoke in public about important social issues of the day. A fervent idealist, Wright subsequently became a founder of a utopian community (called Nashoba) in Ohio in 1832. And, as a strong feminist before the term was even coined, Fanny was also the founder and editor of two progressive newspapers, one at Robert Owen’s utopian community in New Harmony, Indiana, in the mid- 1830s, called the “New Harmony Gazette,” the other in New York City, later that decade, entitled “The Free Inquirer,” which promoted both women’s and workers’ rights. Now, in a creative twist, Edmund White tells Wright’s story in an ingenious, mock-biographical approach. Inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, the novelist employs the device of a “discovered” biography of Fanny Wright, which has been penned by Mrs. Frances Trollope, mother of Anthony, the famed British novelist. A noted author herself, Mrs. Trollope’s scorching account of American “primitive” fashions and mores, entitled the Domestic Manners of Americans, triggered a huge national outcry when it was first published in 1832. The two women first met on a transatlantic voyage, and it is their friendship, then rivalry that drives the author’s novel forward.
October 10, 1979 - The Atheneum / Visitors Center, New Harmony, Indiana (USA). Designed by architect Richard Meier who also designed the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Museum has display about Frances Wright in Gallery II.

1983 - "Restless angels: the friendship of six Victorian women: Frances Wright, Camilla Wright, Harriet Garnett, Frances Garnett, Julia Garnett Pertz & Frances Trollope" by Helen Heineman, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio (USA).


August 2004 - National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, Ohio (USA). Interprets the Underground Railroad and "pays tribute to all efforts to abolish human enslavement and secure freedom for all people." Described on pages 348-349 of "A Traveller's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement" by Jim Carrier (2004). One of 27 US museums in "Museums for Peace Worldwide" edited by Kazuyo Yamane (2008). Click here to see Wikipedia article. Museum has display about Frances Wright, but it fails to mention that Wright lived and died in Cincinnati!
Future - Germantown Museum, Germantown, Tennessee (USA). Website of the "virtual museum" contains three articles about Nashoba Plantation by Andy Pouncey as published in the Germantown News.