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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/271

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SKETCH OF DAVID DALE OWEN.

SKETCH OF DAVID DALE OWEN.

DAVID DALE OWEN was born at Braxfield House, near New Lanark, Scotland, June 24, 1807. He was the fourth son and sixth child in a family of eight children. All but the first born, a son, lived to adult age. His father, Robert Owen, the celebrated philanthropist, was a native of North Wales.

Robert Owen, after working in the drapery business in London and elsewhere, entered into partnership with a mechanic, at eighteen years of age, in the manufacture of cotton-spinning machines. A year later he took a position as superintendent of a mill employing five hundred hands, and at twenty-two years of age he became a partner in an old-established spinning concern of Manchester. Having become attached to Miss Anne Caroline, the eldest daughter of David Dale, proprietor of large mills at New Lanark, near Glasgow, he arranged with his partners to buy the works of the father, and soon after obtained for himself the hand of the daughter. They were married in 1797. Undertaking the management of the works ("government" he called it), he steadily improved the condition of the factory hands, which had been there as elsewhere bad to a degree now almost incredible. Some of his measures were opposed by his partners, and led to several dissolutions of partnership through which he retained the management, but he was forced to retire in 1829 when fifty-eight years of age. In spite of what he spent for the workers, Owen always made the business pay well. For several years beginning with 1815, he worked for the passage of Acts of Parliament beneficial to factory operatives. Becoming convinced that social reform could be best secured through communism, he bought from the Harmony Society a tract of thirty thousand acres, and the buildings of their settlement at New Harmony, Ind. The Harmony Society was prosperous but wished to change its location. Coming to America in the spring of 1825, he organized a community of about nine hundred persons on a provisional plan. He returned to Scotland to look after his business, leaving his two oldest sons at New Harmony.

William Maclure, of Philadelphia, a man of means and devoted to philanthropy and the advancement of science, took part in founding the community. He heard of Owen's scheme on returning to the United States after an attempt to found an agricultural labor school in Spain, and believed that it would afford favorable conditions for carrying out his cherished idea of an educational institute founded on rational principles. He accordingly bought a large tract of land in New Harmony and vicinity, and removed thither his library and collection of minerals, which