Robert Dale Owen

Robert Dale Owen

Robert Dale Owen, the son of Robert Owen, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 9th November, 1801. His father, a successful industrialist in Britain, decided in 1825 to establish a new community in America based on the socialist ideas that he had developed over the years. Owen purchased an area of Indiana for £30,000 and called the community New Harmony.

Robert Owen left his son in charge while he carried on his business in Britain. Owen taught at the school and published the journal, New Harmony Gazette and worked closely with the feminist, Fanny Wright.

The couple also worked together on the Free Enquirer. In the journal Owen and Wright advocated socialism, the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, free secular education, birth control, changes in the marriage and divorce laws. Wright and Owen also became involved in the radical Workingmen's Party.

Owen moved to Indiana in 1832 and was elected to the Indiana Legislature (1836-38) and the House of Representatives (1845-47). In Congress he advocated the allocation of government funds for public schools.

In 1853 Owen was appointed as charge d'affaires at Naples and two years later became the minister to Italy. On his return to the United States in 1858 he became an outspoken opponent of slavery. During the American Civil War Owen urged Abraham Lincoln to force the South to emancipate the slaves. He wrote two books on the subject, The Policy of Emancipation (1863) and The Wrong of Slavery (1864).

Robert Dale Owen, who also wrote a novel, Beyond the Breakers (1870) and an autobiography, Threading My Way (1874), died at Lake George, New York, on 24th June, 1877.