Friday, April 6, 2007

J. K. Ingalls, The Co-operative Brotherhood

Joshua King Ingalls, "The Co-operative Brotherhood," Spirit of the Age, II, 4 (January 26, 1850), 56-7.


THE above title is appropriated, until a better is determined on, to signify a movement in accordance with the principles set forth in my late article, Method of Transition. Since the appearance of that article, I have received communications from a number of individuals, from as many as six different States, signifying their approval of the plan, and willingness to cooperate. All, or nearly all, have signified their ability and readiness to join and contribute their proportion, and a little more. For the benefit of those whom I have not written to personally, I will now say, that there is a Tract of 3 or 4,000 acres in Texas, about forty miles from Austin, the Capital of the State. It is very healthy, but somewhat wild. There is immense water power, and considerable wood; the little is more suitable to grazing purposes than agriculture. The climate there is so mild that neither food nor shelter would be required for sheep or cattle, other than what is spontaneous. This Tract will be given.

There is another Tract on a branch of the little Kenhawa, in western Virginia, containing 8,000 acres, or more, where there is water-power, timber that can he rafted down to the Ohio, and other facilities. Some of it is already cultivated. It is in the hands of friends to the movement, who are understood to be willing to put it into the organization at a dollar an acre, to be paid as fast as the Association are able, without interest, they holding, as guarantee, such land as is not paid for and improved. Another Tract in Indiana will be given, but about the particulars, I cannot now speak, but shall be fully prepared at the coming meeting. Another in Wisconsin, of 2,000 acres, will be partly given, and the rest put in at the Government price.

Thus far the proposition has been met with a response quite unanticipated, and what was but faintly suggested to my mind a few months ago as possible, seems now to promise a speedy realization. But it is not best to act precipitately, in so stupendous a movement as this will become, even from the smallest beginnings, if it is carried out in the spirit in which it has been conceived. Location, means, and position, are of secondary consequence, compared with the character of the elements, and their harmonious action with each other. As we shall proceed on principles which all who join will acknowledge to be just, if there is at first a perfect understanding between us, no essential discord can possibly arise. To promote this understanding, a meeting, of al] who can make it convenient to attend, is called in New York, Tuesday, February 26th. Notice of the place and hour of meeting will be given in the Tribune of that morning.

As but a part, however, will be able to attend that meeting, the business will be confined chiefly to an arrangement of the general plan, matters of detail being left, as far as possible, for the actual Association to dispose of, as the collective wisdom and practical experience shall suggest. The question of location will properly come up for action, and perhaps an agent be appointed to visit some of the localities. Any persons having suggestions or propositions to make, will please address the writer before the time specified.

When the plan is fully matured, it will be published, so that all can have an opportunity to see how well it accords with their views. A year, or at least till next Fall will probably be needed to perfect the arrangements.

A word to those who correspond. If they propose to join, let them state their ages, occupations, families, and means. If the location is in the more northern States, it will be at least a year after emigrating before much can be realized; and with the economies which the Organization will furnish, it will be necessary that each head of a family have enough to provide the necessaries of life, during the first season, for as many as it is proposed to bring in. If any are not able to do this, they must make arrangements with such as are, that the action of the body be not embarrassed. There are also some friends of the movement who do not propose to join at present, but who will furnish means to some worthy persons who do. If any propositions are made of land, let them be distinctly stated. It must be understood that the Organization will pay no interest, nor give any security which shall cover land that is paid for, or any improvements. Of course, no speculator, and no person who has not an interest in the movement, and in human progress generally, will have any proposition to make.

It is probably due to the public to make another statement. It is known that the Religious Views of the writer are radically Liberal. It is also true that most, if not all, who have proposed joining, sympathize, more or less, with the spiritual philosophy which he receives. It is not proposed to have any test, nor is it desirable to have any persons join who do not feel and exercise the true spirit of toleration. Contention and wrangling on matters of mere theoretical speculation would e anything but favorable to general harmony and cooperation.

Southington, Conn. J. K. INGALLS.

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