Page 5


“GITEXAS JOHN” DLIVA.L Historian of the Fighting Times John Crittenden Duval, Kentucky gentleman and Texas’ first man of letters, was one of three brothers .. a soldier, a jurist and a writer .. all of whom served the Republic and the State of Texas with honor and distinction. In 1835 the 19-year-old John joined his brother, Captain Burr H. Duval and his company of “Kentucky Mustangs” to fight with Texans against Mexico. The brothers were with Fannin’s army when it surrendered to Mexican General Urrea. In the Goliad Massacre on Palm Sunday, 1836, Captain Burr was killed but “Texas John” escaped .. to live in and write about the wilderness places and to become the lifelong friend of Bigfoot Wallace. They were Texas Rangers together, in Jack Hays’ company. Although opposed to secession, Duval joined the Confederate Army as a private, refusing a commission. But it is not as a fighter that Duval rendered his greatest service to Texas. His importance lies in his writings .. “Early Times in Texas,” first published in 1867. “Young Explorers,” for boys. And his greatest work, “The Adventures of Bigfoot Wallace, Texas Ranger and Hunter.”, The cause of freedom in the Southwest was strengthened and recorded for history by “Texas John.” Today Texans still demand and get their right to choose the way they want to live. In this vigorous and freedom-minded homeland .. “Beer Belongs” and this is why the United States Brewers Foundation works constantly, in conjunction with brewers, wholesalers and retailers, to assure the sale of beer and ale under pleasant, orderly conditions. Believing, that strict law enforcement serves the best interest of Texans, the Foundation stresses close cooperation with the Armed Forces, law enforcement and governing officials in its continuing Self-Regulation program. Texas Division, United States Brewers Foundation, 206 VFW Building, Austin, Texas 1.,. 110 r RELIABLE REAL ESTATE SERVICE Arthur, Hajocato METROPOLITAN REALTY CO. 4340 \(Telephone Rood HOUSTON, ‘TEXAS AV European Socialists in a Texas Colony, 1855 LA REUNION, a French Settlement in Texas, by William J. and Margaret F. Hammond, Royal Publishing Co., Dallas, 1958, 152 pp. AUSTIN In some ways the preFreudian Utopian socialist colony three or four miles west of Dallas, on the Trinity River . succeeded ; and in others, and finally, it failed. Hut it is novel to know that many Texans welcomed the Fourierists from France among them in 1855, while others responded, in the press and in the legislature, as’ the Dallas News and Rep. Joe Chapman would today. One can conceive of a venture into the ideal community either as an experiment which may illuminate some of the truths of social life and human nature, much as a scientist hopes merely to find out what is true, or as an attempt to establish a permanent social system. Victor Considerant, the proselytizer for the mannerly, to-each-according-to his merits socialism of Charles Fourier, seemed to intend to establish a permanent colony at La Reunion, but the gave up almost before he started when the agitated Texas legislature refused to grant his colony the lands he had expected. The colonists came anyway, and their efforts to make a lost dream real tell better than a more successful attempt might have what happens when people try to organize society as though they were simple Christians in economics as well as in the pews Sunday mornings. Wrote Considerant of the colony: “… it affords the opportunity of experiment and of practical verification to every other progressive doctrine, at its own cost, risk and responsibility. Let us found in Texas a colony characterized by its progressive social faith, which shall, first of all, improve the fruitful resources of a friendly Nature …” Considerant and the New York abolitionist journalist, A r t h u r Brisbane, ‘scouted the state for a site. Arriving at Preston, on the bluffs of the Red River, Considerant wrote: “Nature has done all. All is prepared, all is arranged: we have only to raise those buildings which the eye is astonished at not finding; and nothing is appropri ated nor separated by the selfish exclusiveness of civilized man; nothing is cramped. What fields of action! What a theater of maneuvers for a great colonization operating in the combined and collective mode! What reserves for the cradle of Harmony, and how powerful and prompt would be its developments, if the living and willing elements of the World of the Future were’transported there!” THE TEXANS were not’ bound together in any such ideal: “the principle of separation was pushed to an extreme degree.” But Considerant also noticed that when a new settler came, his nearest neighbors, living anywhere from six to fifteen miles away, asked him when he wanted to build his house, and at the appointed time they all came to help him r a i s e it. \(The writer’s father’s log homestead at Dugger, Texas, was raised by just Considerant and Brisbane overpromoted the colony ‘in Europe, and although Considerant cautioned the colonists not to come until he gave them the signal that all was ready, they left their Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France, and Sweden and barged across the ocean to the New Utopia, which turned out to be “unprepared fields and barren hills.” The colony was a company financed by capitalists who took the profits, while the colonists worked for their keep and pay, depending on “the value of their labor.” Not much socialism, you say? Considerant wanted to erect buildings and provide clothing and food and workshops at the beginning, and genially interested as his financiers were, evidently they were not philanthropists. There were to be maximum and minimum wage scales, and cooperation in credit, exchange, insurance, sickness care, old age, and infancya welfare state on the frontier. If there were to be rules, they were local self-government, avoidance of extremes in sharing \(that is, no commununiversity and primary school were to be provided for languages, literature, art, and sciences; oh it was all to be grand: “Instead of a life consumed by cruel anxieties, we shall have conquered at last the right of Freedom from Care, which results from the blessed sentiment of solidarity and which gives to each the consciousness that his individual life is integrant of the social life. It is the right to social life, theright to a harmony between the elements of life, and the being who lives.” Well! wrote the Texas State Gazette. “We have had enough discussion of Socialism from … fanatics and abolitionists … When men get tired of the glorious institutions of our republic, there is something wrong with them, themselves, radically …. We would rather see the State a howling desert than witness the spreading waves of Socialism tian Churches and the Slave Institution of Texas.” Considerant’s term, “social relation of humanity,” meant nothing more, said the Gazette in 1855, than “nigger good as white man.” But there were radicals on the papers then, as there are, according to Senator Hardeman, now. The Galveston News \(that estimable daily, which now contemns unions, and was so long content with the social regulations of her might discover or explain social regulations that would bring to humanity “greater happiness and a higher degree of civilization.” But the writer was not a fool. “Discord,” he a d d e d, “which creeps into all human organization, may cause it to riot in infamy.” The moderate position was Sentinel, to wit: “We have room for the oppressed, the enterprising, the industrious, and the patriotic of every clime and country …. We want no abolition pla:ntations. o r colonies here, whether they are foreign or native. We want no European ideas of liberty.” The muscles of the Europeans were welcome, but not their minds. A bill permitting incorporation was all the colonists could obtain ‘from the legislature, ,and that only after a Mr. Dickson of Red River had remarked, “Now I understand that this is a French Colony of Communists, and that those people there work for the leading men at about twenty cents a day, and are charged for their provisions, thus coming in debt at the end of every night.” CAME THE PILGRIMS: Savardan, a leading disciple of Fourier, whose company brought along ten halfbarrels of beer, 1000 pounds of wine, and 300 pounds of whiskey, as well as Swiss cheese \(and other necessoldier, and book-lover; Madame Vigoreaux, author o f several books; Remond, scientific farmer and writer on soils; Bureau, a trained musician; Ureidag and Louchx, architects; Ben Long, who became mayor of Dallas before he died. There were 300 to 550 of them, “high class, well educated and cultured people.” Their land was pretty scenery but poor for farming. They depended on fissure springs for water; they dug some wells in draws and low drainways, which were therefore unsanitary, and there were many cases of fever. Considerant went to San Antonio with a state senator, who introduced him to a land speculator, who borrowed $10,000 of the company’s diminishing funds from him, and we who have followed the recent history of the Texas Senate do not have to be told he never saw the money again. When the legislature rebuffed him, he made secret plans to get put and wrote to France advising that further plans for colonizing the place be suspended. At first the store at La Reunion made a good profit, for the goods and produce were superior in quality, and cheap. The colony had 430 acres under cultivation and 500 head of cattle and other livestock. There was a cooperative kitchen, but since everybody could eat as much as he wanted, and there was only so much, some got nothing. They decided on a cafeteria arrangement to give each person the same portion, but Considerant would not give up his house for the new arrangement for some time. After three months of the new plan, the chief waiter or cashier began to steal the money and serve poorer food. They gave up the cooperative kitchen and broke up into dozens of small ones, but if they could not cooperate in the dining room, what chance had they in the fields and the markets? The Hammonds report an allegation that near riots occurred in an attempt to get higher wages. There was no division of labor, and specialists in one kind of work were expected to do any kind: naturally there was chaos. Savardan prepared a bill of particulars against Considerant’s financial management. Considerant paid a double price for meat which could have been raised at La Reunion; he bought carriage and horses for himself, though he did not need them, and charged the society; instead of living in the commodious cooperative buildings of the society, he built a cottage for himself and his family and charged the society for it; he failed to pay his own passage and transportation as the other colonists had done. The colony broke up, almost before it had formed. People just left. CONSMERANT, writing later, ki assumed all blame, confessing he had seriously lacked confidence in himself. The financial mismanagement and theft among even these “high class, well educated and cultured” New Utopians provided, one must admit, some insight into social relations, but hardly the kind which inspirits one’s hopes for the race. They were dogged by a severe drouth. Never were there more than 20 Americans with them, so, they were always an isolated transplant, trying to take roots and vine out into strange shadows. If these were not reasons enough for the failure, the Hammonds offer one more: 4 there remains the pertinent fact that the colonists could never agree. There were racial divisions, Belgians vs. French, and conflicts arising ‘between individual members.” At the last the Hammonds also thrust forward their free enterprise credential’s: “Finally, no socialistic experiment could have been a success under frontier conditions in Texas … In addition the capitalistic system had greater rewards to offer individual efforts than did the Utopian social dream.” This is not very convincing on page 114 when the same writers said on page 51, “In spite of the Utopian scheme, the plan would probably have succeeded in establishing some sort of colony had not the colonists … been too anxious and rushed in before preparations were made for them.” THE ALTERNATING IMPULSES to separateness and cooperation will always attract passionate adherents and practitioners and the process of social change can be described without too much distortion as the mediation between them. The experiment at La Reunion was not as interesting as some of the other Fourierist communities or New England’s indigenous B r oaks Farm, but in a way it succeeded, for put together so loosely, it let become immediately manifest the greed, theft, jealousy, naivete, dupery, special privilege, and plain weak discouragement which any human society must enclose or perish by. R. D. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 June 6, 1959