Timeline of Josiah Warren's Life


George Santayana in Persons and Places describes the "Brighton Warrens" as "a dissentient family." His first American ancestor, John Warren, is said in The History of Watertown to have been arrested for non-attendance at church and harboring Quakers. Bailie says that "The Warrens of Pilgrim lineage from which he sprang have furnished Massachusetts with many distinguished citizens, of whom the most renowned was General Joseph Warren, the Revolutionary hero killed by the British at Bunker Hill" (p. 1), but any direct connection to Joseph Warren appears speculative.


1793: [William Godwin: An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice]


1798: Born, Boston, Mass.


1805: [Birth of Emerson], [Birth of Garrison]


1809: [Birth of Proudhon]


1818, Jan. 3 - April 7: Musical engagements in places in and around Boston; marries Caroline Cutter.


1819: Moves west with his wife and settles in Cincinnati, Ohio


1821 (Reichert) or 1823 (Bailie): Patents lard (as opposed to tallow) burning lamp. "The patent documents for the lard lamp were signed by President John Quincy Adams. The patents on the printing presses invented by my father were issued under the signature of Andrew Jackson, and B. F. Butler, in 1835" (George Warren). That is, he humorously falsified the patent data.


1824: Robert Owen visits Cincinnati; Warren joins the nascent New Harmony experiment, in which Owen purchased the town of New Harmony (or Harmonie) from the Rappites (Harmonists), a German Protestant sect.


1825-27: New Harmony, IN, as music director etc. New Harmony was established in Indiana by the British industrialist and utopian thinker Owen. Owen prescribed community of property, possibly under the influence of the Rappites and Shakers. New Harmony was probably the first secular ideal community in America. Warren lived there from almost start to almost finish, supervising its music program. Fanny Wright is there and gone and back again. The failure of the community has been blamed on the fact that some residents were essentially spongers on Owen's wealth, and that agreement on uses of community property could not be arrived at by the extremely various and eccentric inhabitants. These failures gave rise to Warren's doctrines of individual sovereignty and defense of property. Robert Dale Owen (the founder's son) in The Atlantic described his delight in the musical performances, with "an excellent band leader, Josiah Warren. This was a performance of music, instrumental and vocal, much beyond what I expected in the backwoods."


May 1827-May 18 1829: Time Store, Cincinnati. In downtown Cincinnati, later at Utopia, back at New Harmony (1840s) and at Modern Times (1850s), Warren established Time Stores, which were employed labor notes as the circulating medium. Each Time Store would become the center of a cooperative, equitable economy. In every case, particularly the first, the experiment was a dramatic success. In fact, Kenneth Rexroth asserts that the Time Store was "the most popular retail business in the city."[i] Son George Warren born. "At four years old the boy was taught to use carpenter's tools. At seven he learned type-setting and composed a tiny book with pages one inch square. . . . He was a musician, and at seventeen began to teach for a living. At eighteen he built an organ, fashioning it from the raw material. It was sold at the current price of such instruments. Being a practical wood-worker, he made the best paling fence in the town. He was also skilled in the use of pencil and brush, and, as one of his sources of income, painted some of the most artistic signs in that part of the country. . . . When he was twenty-one he was noted as a composer of band music, and was an expert performer on the Clarinet, French Horn, Cornet, Violin, and 'Cello" (Bailie).


1828: Visited at home in Cincinnati by Frances Wright. [Alexander Bryant Johnson's The Philosophy of Human Knowledge published; read by both Warren and Wright. Later revised and re-published as A Treatise on Language.] The village of Kendal, near the Tuscarawas River in Ohio, originally settled by the Quakers Thomas and Charity Rotch, was a small-scale Owenite community that apparently made a transition to Warren principles, as reported by Warren to the Free Enquirer late in 1830, where he said the experiment had been conducted for two years. Warren, however, was living in Cincinnati. The Producers' Exchange of Labour for Labour Association formed in Philadelphia on Owen/Warren principles; markets patent medicines at cost.


1830: Visits Fanny Wright in New York. Conducts educational experiments at Spring Hill, Ohio, near Massillon and Kendal, with a group of 25 children, whom he resolves to treat as autonomous individuals. System of apprenticeships established on a labor-for-labor basis. Warren perfects the continuous-feed printing press (in a letter dated 1853, he says he 'has had these experiments in hand for twenty-three years'). He was already describing his innovations in printing to the Free Enquirer in a communication dated January 10, 1830, and must have been working on the technology through much of the 1820s.


1831: Establishes the first "equitable village," encompassing four hundred acres and a half-dozen families on the Tuscarawas River. Martin terms this "the first anarchist community in America." Experiment ended by disease among the families by 1837.

[William Lloyd Garrison publishes the first number of The Liberator.]


1832: Cholera epidemic in Cincinnati. Warren was able to provide extremely cheap and fast printing of health information, at cost, through use of his type-casting techniques and continuous-feed press.


1833: Warren operates a steam-powered sawmill on a labor-for-labor basis, presumably in Tuscawaras County, Ohio. This is the first venture in the community known as Equity, to which Warren removes. The Peaceful Revolutionist published, the plates cast on the family stove at the Equity community. Warren writes the following poem about Frances Wright's sister, who died in 1831.


Written on Hearing Unwelcome News


They say tis best to be deceived

When sad realities would break the heart:

O would I could be thus relieved

When moral meteors like thee depart.


Ah! vain the thought - We seldom find

A friend like thee in all mankind

And when thou'rt gone can we caress thee

And think thee here when most we miss thee?


Ah no - Then let the poor, the weak,

The injured, talented and meek

Prepare to hear what I most dread

To tell - Their friend Camilla's dead.


O would that death could be controlled

By tears, by reason or by gold

These in excess thy friends would give -

E'en die for thee, couldst thou but live.


Thy doting sister too, when oft reclined

Fatigued and worn, will call to mind

Thy gentle, soothing, watchful care -

Will call "Camilla" but thou wilt not hear.


She has thee not; but now alone

Feels every moment, thou art gone!

Kind friends around us strive in vain

To place her as she was, again.


She lives now but to haste the day

(and knows her aid can speed its coming)

When, if sweet flowers too soon decay

They'll leave as sweet, around us blooming.


1834: Warren returns to New Harmony.


1835: Warren community re-established in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. "The first village was attempted in Tuscarawas Co., Ohio, in 1835. Six families were on the ground - 24 persons in all. 23 of them had the ague or some other bileous complaint some portion of the first year! We became alarmed and dared not invite any friends to join us. We thought we would try one more year; but these complaints prevailed as before, and in addition to them, the influenza carried off twelve, mostly young, vigorous, healthy people within a circle of thirty families of the neighborhood, within two weeks. We now resolved to get away from the locality as soon as possible, and we did so, at the almost total sacrifice of buildings, furniture, and land, but with the view of concentrating again when our shattered finances had been recruited" (Practical Applications).


1836: [Emerson, Nature]


1840: [Proudhon: What is Property?]


1841: [Emerson's Essays: First Series.] One-off periodical Herald of Equity published at Cincinnati.


1842: New Harmony Time Store. "In March 1842 another store (just like that in Cincinnati in 1827) was set in operation in New Harmony, the old seat of Mr. Owen's communistic experiments. This store worked with an immense power in revolutionizing the retail trade in that region. It consumed about three years" (Practical Applications). Publishes the one-off periodical Gazette of Equitable Commerce at New Harmony


1844: New, "mathematical" musical notation published; Peaceful Revolutionist (vol 2. no 1) published as pamphlet. Publicly exhibits a new printing press in New York; prototype of the later high-speed presses. The principle was so simple that "there was no equitable ground for a patent, and it was given to the public" (Bailie quoting Warren, 84). Invents "universal typography," apparently a cheap way of casting type. Publishes The Letter on Equitable Commerce at New Harmony, perhaps the best example of the charms and drawbacks of Warrenian printing processes; it's all in italics, with resort to multiple whole alphabet styles and families, some of them or even all of them no doubt of Warren's design.


1846: First edition of Equitable Commerce, New Harmony. According to Martin, the second edition was published in 1849 at Utopia, Ohio. No doubt these were tiny self-printed editions. Wunderlich: "On 25 April 1846. . . . the 'first American patent on rubber stereotyping plates' was granted to Warren. This stereotyping device, mixing shellac, tar, and sand, combined with gum arabic, beeswax, stearine, tallow, and oil as a substitute for type metal, was used by the Smithsonian Institution for its first book catalog in 1851" (p. 20).


1847: Establishment of Utopia, Ohio (Claremont County) With some resources derived from printing, Warren bought a village that had previously been a small Fourierist phalanx on the Ohio River. Houses were built - again with perhaps 6 families, who began destitute. Utopia was a small-scale success.  Martin says that in 1852 the population was around 100. "Mr. E.G, Cubberly, one of the first settlers, in October 1872, while still residing at Utopia, wrote: "The labor notes put us into a reciprocating society - the result was, in two years, twelve families found themselves with homes who never owned them before. . . . Labor capital did it. I built a brick cottage one and a half stories high, and all the money I paid was $9.81 - all the rest was effected by exchanging labor for labor" (Practical Applications). This village apparently persisted long after Warren had gone east, and eventually removed to Minnesota, displaced, like many an ideal community, by land speculation. A village called Utopia still exists at this location.


1848: [Thoreau: "Civil Disobedience."] Visits (moves to?) Boston.  Meets William B. Greene and signs his petition to establish a mutual bank (Martin). Probably in this year becomes acquainted with Andrews and several other prominent reformers, including George Henry Evans, Joshua K. Ingalls, and Lewis Masquerier.


1849: [Thoreau: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.] Lectures at Hancock Hall, Boston on Sundays throughout January, February, and March. It is here that Andrews hears him and is converted to his principles, beginning an extended collaboration to which we really owe the fact that we know Warren at all.


1850: Moves to New York City and conducts "parlor conversations" on his principles (Bailie, p. 58). Letters in the collection of the Indiana Historical Society indicate that Warren set up a press operation, including manufacturing type, for John P. Jewett, a Boston publisher. In 1852, Jewett issued the first edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, which of course raises the possibility that this epochal novel was first printed using Warren's apparatus.


1851: Foundation of Modern Times on Long Island. Equitable commerce/self-sovereign community established by Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews (who owned a house there but never lived in it). Lots were sold on the cost principle. Again, destitute families were able to build homes. Eventually, it started attracting anyone whose lifestyle was not conventional, including people living with partners other than their spouses, as well as advocates of free love - Victoria Woodhull was about, for example - and a variety of fads, such as spiritualism, nudism, the all-bean diet, the water cure, and the amazing philosophy of Pearl Andrews. Warren writes: "Whoever tries what is vulgarly known as 'free love' . . . will find it more troublesome than a crown of thorns: and there is not much danger of its becoming contagious where the results of the experiment are made known" (Periodical Letter). It was eventually torn apart under the weight of Horace Greeley's publicity in the New York Tribune. Thomas and Mary Gove Nichols made it notorious by mailing sex education guides and advocating promiscuity. Then they moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, and tried celibacy. First they were spiritualists, then conservative Catholics. In short (like (I hate to say it) Victoria and her sister Tennessee Claflin), they were not serious people, rather post-apocalyptic faddists. But within reason Modern Times was a success, despite the occasional nudist or visitation by malevolent spirits, for some ten years for a hundred people or more. Community more or less seamlessly became the town of Brentwood during the 1860s. Caroline Warren stays behind in New Harmony, and perhaps Josiah is co-resident with another woman (Wunderlich).


1851: Stephen Pearl Andrews publishes The Science of Society, expounding Warren's ideas with eclectic bits of Comte and Fourier thrown in.


1852: 3rd (canonical) edition of Equitable Commerce published by Fowler and Wells, edited by Andrews. Also its "how-to companion" (Wunderlich) Practical Details in Equitable Commerce, which describes equity experiments from the Time Store to the foundation of Modern Times  Debate commences in the New York Tribune among Horace Greeley, Henry James Sr., and Pearl Andrews on marriage and free love, focusing prurient attention on Modern Times.  [Lysander Spooner: An Essay on Trial By Jury.]


1854-58: Periodical Letter published at Modern Times.


1855, &c.: House of Equity (Boston) Established by Warren follower [?] Keith, who conceived it as an urban community center, with equitable stores, lectures, recreational areas, printing facilities etc. Warren helped conceive and execute the plan, which eventually collapsed when Keith's finances did.


1858: It seems likely that Warren was resident in the Boston area by this date. The Dual Commerce Association formed on Warren principles (though the extent of Warren's involvement is imperfectly clear; the proprietor is listed as T.J. Lewis). It was essentially an equitable food store. The wage of the "distributors or merchants" was set at two dollars a day, based on a labor calculation. The project, which was described in a proposal dated July 1, 1858 and then reported on in a tract dated January 1, 1859, is striking for its size, and should make us re-think the scale of Warrenian equitable experiments. The Jan 1 tract is not Warren's writing, but quotes an earlier advertisement that certainly is. The central store was located in the basement of the Pelham Hotel, with other "stations" in different poor neighborhoods in the city, six in all, each staffed by a man and a woman, 20 employees altogether. The basic system was consignment: farmers still owned their produce until sold, and price did not vary by quantity. The Jan 1 report says that "several thousands of individuals have already begun to experience the benefits growing out of the movement." Milk was priced at "five cents per quart in winter, four in summer." The distribution is described as 500 quarts of milk per day; 50 barrels of flour per week (at 50 cents); 6000 pounds of soap per month; 5000 bushels of Nova Scotia potatoes per month (five cents a bushel "if taken from the boat, or ten cents when delivered at the homes of consumers"), and so on. From the earlier advertisement by Warren: "'Dual commerce' expresses those commercial relations which result and develope between producer and consumer, instead of being the absorbent of both." Unknown how or when the DCA was dissolved.


1863: Lives in Boston area; association with Ezra Heywood and the nascent labor movement. True Civilization published. An equitable commerce store established (contact "Nath'l G. Simonds, No. 189 Main St., Charlestown"), apparently on a pretty small scale. (This project identified by Shawn Wilbur in the form of an advertisement, in the Boston Investigator, Vol. XXXII, No. 50, April 15, 1863, p. 393.)


1866: Resident at Cliftondale, Mass. According to Martin (p. 98), Warren "made preliminary preparations for the setting up of [communities] in Jamaica and Central America."


1872: Princeton, Mass. At the Spring meeting of the New England Labor Reform League, Warren, Ezra Heywood, William B. Greene, and a young and impressionable Benjamin Tucker are all present: possibly the greatest summit meeting of American anarchists. Publication of Warren's last book(let): Practical Applications.


1874: Death claims Josiah Warren, individually. According to Bailie, services were held at the Bulfinch Place Unitarian Church, and Warren buried at the Mount Auburn Cemetery.



[i] Rexroth, Communalism. p.

josiah warren project