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Harmony Society
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/18/20

The Harmony Society church in Old Economy Village, Pennsylvania
The Harmony Society was a Christian theosophy and pietist society founded in Iptingen, Germany, in 1785. Due to religious persecution by the Lutheran Church and the government in Württemberg, the group moved to the United States,[1] where representatives initially purchased land in Butler County, Pennsylvania. On February 15, 1805, the group of approximately 400 followers formally organized the Harmony Society, placing all their goods in common.

Under its founder and spiritual leader, Johann Georg Rapp (1757–1847); Frederick (Reichert) Rapp (1775–1834), his adopted son who managed its business affairs; and their associates, the Society existed for one hundred years, roughly from 1805 until 1905. Members were known as Harmonists, Harmonites, or Rappites. The Society is best known for its worldly successes, most notably the establishment of three model communities, the first at Harmony, Pennsylvania; the second, also called Harmony, in the Indiana Territory, now New Harmony, Indiana; and the third and final town at Economy, now Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

Origins in Germany

Johann Georg Rapp (George Rapp) 1757–1847.

Johann Georg Rapp (1757–1847), also known as George Rapp, was the founder of the religious sect called Harmonists, Harmonites, Rappites, or the Harmony Society. Born in Iptingen, Duchy of Württemberg, Germany, Rapp was a "bright but stubborn boy" who was also deeply religious. His "strong personality" and religious convictions began to concern local church authorities when he refused to attend church services or take communion.[2] Rapp and his group of believers began meeting in Iptengen and eventually emigrated to the United States, where they established three communities: Harmony, Butler County, Pennsylvania; Harmony (later named New Harmony), Posey County, Indiana; and Economy, Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

Rapp became inspired by the philosophies of Jakob Böhme, Philipp Jakob Spener, Johann Heinrich Jung, and Emanuel Swedenborg, among others, and later wrote Thoughts on the Destiny of Man, published in German in 1824 and in English a year later, in which he outlined his ideas and philosophy.[3] Rapp lived out his remaining days in Economy, where he died on August 7, 1847, at the age of 89.[4]

By the mid-1780s, Rapp had begun preaching to the Separatists, his followers in Iptengen, who met privately and refused to attend church services or take communion.[5] As their numbers increased, Rapp's group officially split with the Lutheran Church in 1785 and was banned from meeting. Despite warnings from local authorities, the group continued to meet privately and attract even more followers.[6]

By 1798 Rapp and his group of followers had already begun to distance themselves from mainstream society and intended to establish a new religious congregation of fellow believers. In the Lomersheimer declaration, written in 1798, these religious Separatists presented their statement of faith, based on Christian principles, to the Wurttemberg legislature.[7] Rapp's followers declared their desire to form a separate congregation who would meet in members' homes, free from Lutheran Church doctrines. The group supported the belief that baptism was not necessary until children could decide for themselves whether they wanted to become a Christian. They also believed that confirmation for youth was not necessary and communion and confession would only be held a few times a year. Although the Separatists supported civil government, the group refused to make a physical oath in its support, "for according to the Gospel not oath is allowed him who gives evidence of a righteous life as an upright man."[8] They also refused to serve in the military or attend Lutheran schools, choosing instead to teach their children at home.[9] This declaration of faith, along with some later additions, guided the Harmony Society's religious beliefs even after they had emigrated from Germany to the United States.[10]

In the 1790s, Rapp's followers continued to increase, reaching as many as 10,000 to 12, 000 members.[11] The increasing numbers, which included followers outside of Rapp's village, continued to concern the government, who feared they might become rebellious and dangerous to the state.[12] Although no severe actions were initially taken to repress the Separatists, the group began to consider emigration to France or the United States. In 1803, when the government began to persecute Rapp's followers, he decided to move the entire group to the United States. Rapp and a small group of men left Iptingen in 1803 and traveled to America to find a new home.[13] On May 1, 1804, the first group of emigrants departed for the United States. The initial move scattered the followers and reduced Rapp's original group of 12,000 to just a few followers. Johan Frederich Reichert, who later agreed to become Rapp's adopted son and took the name of Frederick Reichert Rapp, reported in a letter dated February 25, 1804, that there were "at least 100 families or 500 persons actually ready to go" even if they had to sacrifice their property.[14]

Settlements in the United States

In 1804, while Rapp and his associates remained in the United States looking for a place to settle, his followers sailed to America aboard several vessels and made their way to western Pennsylvania, where they waited until land had been selected for their new settlement.[15] Rapp was able to secure a large tract of land in Pennsylvania and started his first commune, known as Harmonie or Harmony, in Butler County, Pennsylvania,[16] where the Society existed from 1804 to 1815.[17] It soon grew to a population of about 800, and was highly profitable. Ten years later, the town was sold and the Harmonists moved westward to the Indiana Territory, where they established the town of Harmony, now called New Harmony, Indiana, and remained there from 1815 to 1825.[17] The Indiana settlement was sold to Robert Owen and was renamed New Harmony. Ten years after the move to Indiana the commune moved again, this time returning to western Pennsylvania, and named their third and final town Economy ('Ökonomie' in German).[18] The Harmonists lived in Economy until the Society was dissolved in 1905.[17]

Articles of association

On February 15, 1805, the settlers at Harmony, Pennsylvania, signed articles of association to formally establish the Harmony Society in the United States. In this document, Society members agreed to hold all property in a common fund, including working capital of $23,000 to purchase land, livestock, tools, and other goods needed to establish their town.[19] The agreement gave the Society legal status in the United States and protected it from dissolution. Members contributed all of their possessions, pledged cooperation in promoting the interests of the group, and agreed to accept no pay for their services. In return, the members would receive care as long as they lived with the group. Under this agreement, if a member left the Society, their funds would be returned without interest or, if they had not contributed to the Society's treasury, they would receive a small monetary gift.[20]

The Society was a religious congregation who submitted to spiritual and material leadership under Rapp and his associates and worked together for the common good of all its members.[21] Believing that the Second Coming of Christ would occur during their lifetimes, the Harmonists contented to live simply under a strict religious doctrine, gave up tobacco, and advocated celibacy.[18]

First settlement: Harmony, Pennsylvania

Harmony Society building in Harmony, Pennsylvania, built in 1809.

Main article: Harmony, Pennsylvania

In December 1804 Rapp and a party of two others initially contracted to purchase 4,500 acres (18 km2) of land for $11,250 in Butler County, Pennsylvania,[22] and later acquired additional land to increase their holdings to approximately 9,000 acres (36 km2) by the time they advertised their property for sale in 1814.[23] Here they built the town of Harmony, a small community that had, in 1805, nearly 50 log houses, a large barn, a gristmill, and more than 150 acres of cleared land to grow crops.[24]

Because the climate was not well suited for growing grapes and nearby property was not available to expand their landholdings, the Harmonists submitted a petition to the U.S. government for assistance in purchasing land elsewhere. In January 1806 Rapp traveled to Washington, D.C. to hear discussions in Congress regarding the Harmonists' petition for a grant that would allow them to purchase approximately 30,000 acres (120 km2) acre of land in the Indiana Territory. While the Senate passed the petition on January 29, it was defeated in the House of Representatives on February 18. The Harmonists had to find other financial means to support their plans for future expansion.[25] By 1810 the town's population reached approximately 700, with about 130 houses. The Society landholdings also increased to 7,000 acres (28 km2).[26] In the years that followed, the Society survived disagreements among its members, while shortages of cash and lack of credit threatened its finances. Still, the young community had a good reputation for its industry and agricultural production.[27]

At Harmony, George Rapp, also known as Father Rapp, was recognized as the spiritual head of the Society, the one that they went to for discussions, confessions, and other matters.[28] Rapp's adopted son, Frederick, managed the Society's business and commercial affairs.[29]

Rapp let newcomers into the Society and, after a trial period, usually about a year, they were accepted as permanent members.[20] While new members continued to arrive, including immigrants from Germany, others found the Harmonists' religious life too difficult and left the group.[30] In addition, during a period of religious zeal in 1807 and 1808, most, but not all, of the Harmonists adopted the practice of celibacy and there were also few marriages among the members. Rapp's son, Johannes, was married in 1807; and it was the last marriage on record until 1817.[31] Although Rapp did not entirely bar sex initially, it gradually became a custom and there were few births in later years.[32]

In 1811 Harmony's population rose to around 800 persons involved in farming and various trades.[33] Although profit was not a primary goal, their finances improved and the enterprise was profitable, but not sufficient to carry out their planned expansions.[34] Within a few years of their arrival, the Harmonist community included an inn, a tannery, warehouses, a brewery, several mills, stables, and barns, a church/meetinghouse, a school, additional dwellings for members, a labyrinth, and workshops for different trades. In addition, more land was cleared for vineyards and crops. The Harmonists also produced yarn and cloth.[35]

Several factors led to the Harmonists' decision to leave Butler County. Because the area's climate was not suitable, they had difficulties growing grapes for wine.[36] In addition, as westward migration brought new settlers to the county, making it less isolated, the Harmonists began having troubles with neighbors who were not part of the Society.[37] By 1814 Butler County's growing population and rising land prices made it difficult for the Society to expand, causing the group's leaders to look for more land elsewhere.[38] Once land had been located that offered a better climate and room to expand, the group began plans to move.[39] In 1814 the Harmonites sold their first settlement to Abraham Ziegler, a Mennonite, for $100,000 and moved west to make a new life for themselves in the Indiana Territory.[40]

Second settlement: Harmony, Indiana

Harmony Society buildings in New Harmony, Indiana.

Main article: New Harmony, Indiana

In 1814 the Harmony Society moved to the Indiana Territory, where it initially acquired approximately 3,500 acres (14 km2) of land along the Wabash River in Posey County and later acquired more.[41] Over the next ten years the Society built a thriving new community they called Harmonie or Harmony on the Wabash in the Indiana wilderness. (The town's name was changed to New Harmony after the Harmonists left in 1824.) The Harmonists entered into agriculture and manufacture on a larger scale than they had done in Pennsylvania. When the Harmonists advertised their Indiana property for sale in 1824, they had acquired 20,000 acres (81 km2) of land, 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of which was under cultivation.[42]

During the summer and fall of 1814, many Harmonists fell sick from fever (malaria) and work on the new town nearly ceased.[43] During this time the Society lost about 120 people and others fell ill until conditions were improved and the swamps around the area were drained.[28] Despite these illnesses, construction of the new town continued. By 1819 the Harmonites had built 150 log homes, a church, a community storehouse, barns, stables, and a tavern, along with thriving shops and mills, and cleared land for farming.[44] As the new settlement in Indiana grew, it also began to attract new arrivals, including emigrants from Germany, who expected the Harmonists to pay for their passage to America.[45]

Visitors to the new town commented on its growing commercial and industrial work. In 1819 the town had a steam-operated wool carding and spinning factory, a brewery, distillery, vineyards, and a winery,[46] but not all visitors were impressed with the growing communist town on the frontier.[47] The Society also had visitors from another communal religious society, the Shakers. In 1816 meetings between the Shakers and Harmonists considered a possible union of the two societies, but religious differences between the two groups halted the union.[48] Members of the groups remained, however, in contact over the years. George Rapp's daughter and others lived for a time at the Shaker settlement in West Union, Indiana, where the Shakers helped a number of Harmonites learn the English language.[49]

The Harmonist community continued to thrive during the 1820s. The Society shipped its surplus agricultural produce and manufactured goods throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys or sold them through their stores at Harmony and Shawneetown and their agents in Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, Louisville, and elsewhere.[50] Under Frederick Rapp's financial management the Society prospered, but he soon wished for a location better suited to manufacturing and commercial purposes.[51] They had initially selected the land near the Wabash River for its isolation and opportunity for expansion, but the Harmonites were now a great distance from the eastern markets and trade in this location wasn't to their liking. They also had to deal with unfriendly neighbors.[28] As abolitionists, the Harmonites faced disagreeable elements from slavery supporters in Kentucky, only 15 miles (24 km) away, which caused them much annoyance.[citation needed] By 1824 the decision had been made to sell their property in Indiana and search for land to the east.[52]

On January 3, 1825, the Harmonists and Robert Owen, a Welsh-born industrialist and social reformer, came to a final agreement for the sale of the Society's land and buildings in Indiana for $150,000. Owen named the town New Harmony, and by May, the last of the Harmony Society's remaining members returned to Pennsylvania.[53]

Third settlement: Economy, Pennsylvania

Main article: Old Economy Village

The Rapp house in Old Economy Village, Pennsylvania.

Grotto (far left) and statue of Harmonia in the Harmony Society gardens in Old Economy Village, Pennsylvania.

In 1824 Frederick Rapp initially purchased 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) along the Ohio River, 18 miles (29 km) northwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for $10,000, and later bought an additional 2,186 acres (8.85 km2) for $33,445, giving the Society more than 3,000 acres (12 km2) to develop into a new community.[54] The Harmonites named their third and last town Economy, after the spiritual notion of the Divine Economy, "a city in which God would dwell among men" and where perfection would be attained.[55]

At Economy the Harmonists intended to become more involved in manufacturing and their new town on the Ohio River provided better access to eastern markets and water access to the south and west than they had in Indiana.[51] By 1826 the Harmonists had woolen and cotton mills in operation as well as a steam-operated grain mill.[56] The Harmonist society also ran a wine press, a hotel, post office, saw mills, stores, and a variety of farms.[57] Here, under the business acumen and efficient management of Frederick Rapp, they enjoyed such prosperity that by 1829 they dominated trade and the markets of Pittsburgh and down the Ohio River. The Harmonists' competitors accused them of creating a monopoly and called on state government to dissolve the group.[18] Despite the attacks, the Harmonists developed Economy into a prosperous factory town, engaged in farming on a large scale, and maintained a brewery, distillery, and wine-making operation.[58] They also pioneered the manufacturing of silk in the United States.[59]

The community was not neglectful of matters pertaining to art and culture. Frederick Rapp purchased artifacts and installed a museum containing fine paintings and many curiosities and antiques, but it proved to be unprofitable and was sold at a loss.[60] In addition, the Harmonists maintained a deer park, a floral park, and a maze, or labyrinth. The Harmonists were fond of music and many of the members were accomplished musicians. They sang, had a band/orchestra, composed songs, and gave much attention to its cultivation.[61] By 1830 they had amassed a 360-volume library.[60]

In 1832 the Society suffered a serious division. Of 750 members, 250 became alienated through the influence of Bernhard Müller (self-styled Count de Leon), who, with 40 followers (also at variance with the authorities in the old country), had come to Economy to affiliate with the Society. Rapp and Leon could not agree; a separation and apportionment of the property were therefore agreed upon. This secession of one-third of the Society, which consisted mostly of the flower of young manhood and young womanhood who did not want to maintain the custom of celibacy, broke Frederick's heart. He died within two years. It resulted in a considerable fracturing of the community. Nevertheless, the Society remained prosperous in business investments for many more years to come.

After Frederick Rapp's death in 1834, George Rapp appointed Romelius Baker and Jacob Henrici as trustees to manage the Society's business affairs.[62] After George Rapp's death in 1847, the Society reorganized. While a board of elders was elected for the enforcement of the Society's rules and regulations, business management passed to its trustees: Baker and Henrici, 1847–68; Henrici and Jonathan Lenz, 1869–90; Henrici and Wolfel, 1890; Henrici and John S. Duss, 1890–1892; Duss and Seiber, 1892–1893; Duss and Reithmuller, 1893–1897;Duss, 1897–1903; and finally to Suzanna (Susie) C. Duss in 1903.[63][64] By 1905 membership had dwindled to just three members and the Society was dissolved.[65]

The settlements at Economy remained economically successful until the late 19th century, producing many goods in their cotton and woolen factories, sawmill, tannery, and from their vineyards and distillery.[66] They also produced high quality silk for garments. Rapp's granddaughter, Gertrude, began the silk production in Economy on a small scale from 1826 to 1828, and later expanded.[67] This was planned in New Harmony, but fulfilled when they arrived at Economy.[28] The Harmonists were industrious and utilized the latest technologies of the day in their factories. Because the group chose to adopt celibacy and their members grew older, more work gradually had to be hired out. As their membership declined, they stopped manufacturing operations, other than what they needed for themselves, and began to invest in other ventures such as the oil business, coal mining, timber, railroads, land development, and banking.[65] The group invested in the construction of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, established the Economy Savings Institution and the Economy Brick Works, and operated the Economy Oil Company,[68] as well as the Economy Planing Mill, Economy Lumber Company, and eventually donated some land in Beaver Falls for the construction of Geneva College. The Society exerted a major influence on the economic development of Western Pennsylvania.[69]

Oil production in the mid-1860s brought the high-water mark of the Society's prosperity.[70] By the close of Baker's administration in 1868, The Society's wealth was probably $2 million.[citation needed] By 1890, however, the Society was in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy with a depleted and aged membership. In addition, the Society faced litigation from previous members and would-be heirs. The Society's trustee, John S. Duss, settled the lawsuits, liquidated its business ventures, and paid the Society's indebtedness.[65] The great strain which he had undergone at this time undermined his health and he resigned his trusteeship in 1903.[71] With only a few members left, the remaining land and assets were sold under the leadership of Duss's wife, Susanna (Susie), and the Society was formally dissolved in 1905.[65] At the time of the Society's dissolution, its net worth was $1.2 million.[72]

In 1916 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquired 6 acres (0.024 km2) and 17 buildings of Economy, which became the Old Economy Village historic site. The American Bridge Company had already acquired other parts of the Society's land in 1902 to build the town of Ambridge.[65]


Religious views

In 1791 George Rapp said, "I am a prophet, and I am called to be one" in front of the civil affairs official in Maulbronn, Germany, who promptly had him imprisoned for two days and threatened with exile if he did not cease preaching.[73][74] To the great consternation of church and state authorities, this mere peasant from Iptingen had become the outspoken leader of several thousand Separatists in the southern German duchy of Württemberg.[1][73][74] By 1802 the Separatists had grown in number to about 12,000 and the Württemberg government decided that they were a dangerous threat to social order.[1] Rapp was summoned to Maulbronn for an interrogation, and the government confiscated Separatist books.[1] When released in 1803, from a brief time in prison, Rapp told his followers to pool their assets and follow him on a journey for safety to the "land of Israel" in the United States, and soon over 800 people were living with him there.[1]

The Harmonites were Christian pietist Separatists who split from the Lutheran Church in the late 18th century. Under the leadership of George Rapp, the group left Württemberg, Germany, and came to the United States in 1803. Due to the troubles they had in Europe, the group sought to establish a more perfect society in the American wilderness. They were nonviolent pacifists who refused to serve in the military and tried to live by George Rapp's philosophy and literal interpretations of the New Testament. They first settled and built the town of Harmony, Pennsylvania, in 1804, and established the Harmony Society in 1805 as a religious commune. In 1807, celibacy was advocated as the preferred custom of the community in an attempt to purify themselves for the coming Millennium. Rapp believed that the events and wars going on in the world at the time were a confirmation of his views regarding the imminent Second Coming of Christ, and he also viewed Napoleon as the Antichrist.[75] In 1814, the Society sold their first town in Pennsylvania and moved to the Indiana Territory, where they built their second town. In 1824, they decided it was time to leave Indiana, sold their land and town in Indiana, and moved to their final settlement in Western Pennsylvania.

Virgin Sophia design on doorway in Harmony, Pennsylvania, carved by Frederick Reichert Rapp (1775–1834).

The Harmonites were Millennialists, in that they believed Jesus Christ was coming to earth in their lifetime to help usher in a thousand-year kingdom of peace on earth. This is perhaps why they believed that people should try to make themselves "pure" and "perfect", and share things with others while willingly living in communal "harmony" (Acts 4:32-35) and practicing celibacy. They believed that the old ways of life on earth were coming to an end, and that a new perfect kingdom on earth was about to be realized.

They also practiced forms of Esoteric Christianity, Mysticism (Christian mysticism), and Rapp often spoke of the virgin spirit or Goddess named Sophia in his writings.[76] Rapp was very influenced by the writings of Jakob Böhme,[76] Philipp Jakob Spener, and Emanuel Swedenborg, among others. Also, at Economy, there are glass bottles and literature that seem to indicate that the group was interested in (and practiced) alchemy.[76] Other books found in the Harmony Society's library in Economy, include those by the following authors: Christoph Schütz, Gottfried Arnold, Justinus Kerner, Thomas Bromley,[77] Jane Leade, Johann Scheible (Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses),[78] Paracelsus, and Georg von Welling,[79] among others.[76]

The Harmonites tended to view unmarried celibate life as morally superior to marriage, based on Rapp's belief that God had originally created Adam as a dual being, having male and female sexual organs.[80] According to this view, when the female portion of Adam separated to form Eve, disharmony followed, but one could attempt to regain harmony through celibacy.

George Rapp predicted that on September 15, 1829, the three and one half years of the Sun Woman would end and Christ would begin his reign on earth.[75] Dissension grew when Rapp's predictions did not come to pass. In March 1832, one third of the group left the Society and some began following Bernhard Müller, who claimed to be the Lion of Judah. Nevertheless, most of the group stayed and Rapp continued to lead them until he died on August 7, 1847. His last words to his followers were, "If I did not so fully believe, that the Lord has designated me to place our society before His presence in the land of Canaan, I would consider this my last".[81]

The Harmonites did not mark their graves with headstones or grave markers, because they thought it was unnecessary to do so; however, one exception is George Rapp's son Johannes' stone marker in Harmony, Pennsylvania, which was installed by non-Harmonites many years after the Harmonites left that town.[82] Today, Harmonist graveyards are fenced in grassy areas with signs posted nearby explaining this practice.


The Harmony Society's architecture reflected their Swabian German traditions, as well as the styles that were being developed in America during the 19th century. In the early days of the Society, many of the homes were initially log cabins and later, Harmonist craftsmen built timber-frame homes. At Economy, their homes were mostly two-story brick houses "that showed the influence of their American neighbors."[83] In general, Harmonist buildings, in addition to being sturdy and functional, were centrally heated, economical to maintain, and resistant to fire, weather, and termites.[84]

Once established at Harmony, Pennsylvania, the Society planned to replace the log dwellings with brick structures, but the group moved to the Indiana Territory before the plan was completed.[85] In Indiana, log homes were soon replaced with one- or two-story houses of timber frame or brick construction in addition to four large rooming houses (dormitories) for its growing membership. The new town also included shops, schools, mills, a granary, a hotel, library, distilleries, breweries, a brick kiln, pottery ovens, barn, stables, storehouses, and two churches, one of which was brick.[86]

In 1822 William Herbert, a visitor to Harmony, Indiana, described the new brick church and the Harmonists' craftsmanship:

"These people exhibit considerable taste as well as boldness of design in some of their works. They are erecting a noble church, the roof of which is supported in the interior by a great number of stately columns, which have been turned from trees in their own forests. The kinds of wood made use of for this purpose are, I am informed, black walnut, cherry and sassafras. Nothing I think can exceed the grandeur of the joinery and the masonry and brickwork seem to be of the first order. The form of this church is that of a cross, the limbs being short and equal; and as the doors, which there are four, are placed at the end of the limbs, the interior of the building as seen from the entrance, has a most ample and spacious effect.... I could scarcely imagine myself to be in the woods of Indiana, on the borders of the Wabash, while pacing the long resounding aisles, and surveying the stately colonnades of this church."[28]

Frame structures were built on piers to keep the air circulating across the area's damp soil, while brick structures had a root cellar with a drainage tunnel. Inside, Harmonists built fireplaces to the left or right of center to allow for a long center beam, adding strength to support the structure and its heavy, shingled roof. "Dutch biscuits" (wood laths wrapped in straw and mud) provided insulation and soundproofing between the ceiling and floors. The exterior was insulated with bricks between the exterior's unpainted weatherboards and the interior's lath and plaster walls.[87] Structures had standard parts and pre-cut, pre-measured timbers, which were assembled on the ground, adjusted to fit on site, raised in place, and locked into place with pegs and mortise and tenon joints.[88] Two-story floor plans for homes included a large living room, kitchen, and entrance hall, with stairs to the second floor and attic. In Indiana, Harmonists did their baking in communal ovens, so stoves could be substituted for fireplaces.[89]

Living styles

At Harmony, Pennsylvania, four to six members were assigned to a home, where they lived as families, although not all those living in the household were related.[85] Even when the house contained those that were married, they would live together as brother and sister, since there was a suggestion and custom of practicing celibacy. In Indiana, Harmonists continued to live in homes, but they also built dormitories to house single men and women.[28]

Society members woke between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. They ate breakfast between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., lunch at 9 a.m., dinner at noon, afternoon lunch at 3 p.m., and supper between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.[90] They did their chores and work during the day. At the end of the day, members met for meetings and had a curfew of 9 p.m. On Sundays, the members respected the "Holy day" and did no unnecessary work, but attended church services, singing groups, and other social activities.[28]


Their style of dress reflected their Swabian German roots and traditions and was adapted to their life in America.[91] Although the Harmonites typically wore plain clothing, made with their own materials by their own tailors, they would wear their fine garments on Sundays and on other special occasions. At Economy, on special occasions and Sundays, women wore silk dresses using fabric of their own manufacture.[91] Clothing varied in color, but often carried the same design. On a typical day, women wore ankle-length dresses, while men wore pants with vests or coats and a hat.[28]


The Harmonites were a prosperous agricultural and industrial people. They had many machines that helped them be successful in their trades. They even had steam-powered engines that ran the machines at some of their factories in Economy. They kept their machines up to date, and had many factories and mills, for example Beaver Falls Cutlery Company which they purchased in 1867.[92]


Each member of the Society had a job in a certain craft or trade. Most of the work done by men consisted of manual labor, while the women dealt more with textiles or agriculture.

As Economy became more technologically developed, Harmonites began to hire others from outside the Society, especially when their numbers decreased because of the custom of celibacy and as they eventually let fewer new members join. Although the Harmonites did seek work-oriented help from the outside, they were known as a community that supported themselves, kept their ways of living in their community, mainly exported goods, and tried to import as little as possible.

Rise and fall of Harmony Society

George Rapp had an eloquent style, which matched his commanding presence, and he was the personality that led the group through all the different settlements. After Rapp's death in 1847, a number of members left the group because of disappointment and disillusionment over the fact that his prophecies regarding the return of Jesus Christ in his lifetime were not fulfilled. However, many stayed in the group, and the Harmony Society went on to become an even more profitable business community that had many worldly financial successes under the leadership of Romelius L. Baker and Jacob Henrici.

Over time the group became more protective of itself, did not allow many new members, moved further from its religious foundation to a more business-oriented and pragmatic approach, and the custom of celibacy eventually drained it of its membership. The land and financial assets of the Harmony Society were sold off by the few remaining members under the leadership of John Duss and his wife, Susanna, by the year 1906.

Today, many of the Society's remaining buildings are preserved; all three of their settlements in the United States have been declared National Historic Landmark Districts by the National Park Service.

See also

• Ambridge, Pennsylvania
• Economy, Pennsylvania
• Freedom, Pennsylvania
• Geneva College
• Harmonie State Park
• Harmony, Pennsylvania
• Harmony Historic District
• Harmony Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania
• New Harmony Historic District
• New Harmony, Indiana
• New International Encyclopedia
• Old Economy Village
• Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad
• Zoar, Ohio


1. Robert Paul Sutton, Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Religious Communities (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004) p. 38.
2. Karl J. R. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, 1785–1847 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1965), p. 17–18.
3. John Archibald Bole, The Harmony Society: A Chapter in German American Culture History (Philadelphia: Americana Germanica Press, 1904) p. 45, 65.
4. Karl J. R. Arndt, George Rapp's Successors and Material Heirs, 1847–1916 (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityPress, 1971), p. 17.
5. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 20.
6. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 30.
7. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 35.
8. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 39.
9. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 38–39.
10. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 40.
11. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 46.
12. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 49.
13. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 49–50.
14. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 54.
15. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 65–69.
16. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 72.
17. Karl J. R. Arndt, The Harmony Society from its beginnings in Germany in 1785 to its Liquidation in the United States in 1905 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1953), p. 189.
18. David Schwab, comp. (2010-05-20). "The Harmony Society". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers–Pittsburg District. Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
19. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 71.
20. Bole, p. 33–34.
21. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 75.
22. William E. Wilson, The Angel and the Serpent: The Story of New Harmony (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964), p. 13.
23. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 135, 137.
24. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 76.
25. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 84, 86–90.
26. Christiana F. Knoedler, The Harmony Society: A 19th-Century American Utopia (New York: Vantage Press, 1954), p. 10–11.
27. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 92.
28. Historic New Harmony (2008). "The Harmonie Society" (PDF). University of Southern Indiana. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
29. Wilson, p. 15–16.
30. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 100.
31. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 97–99.
32. Wilson, p. 24–25.
33. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 121.
34. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 123–127.
35. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 105–107, 112.
36. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 84.
37. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 130–131.
38. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 133.
39. Ray E. Boomhower, "New Harmony: Home to Indiana's Communal Societies," Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, 14(4):36.
40. Wilson, p. 37–38.
41. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 145.
42. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 295.
43. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 147.
44. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 206–207.
45. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 182–198.
46. Karl J. R. Arndt, A Documentary History of the Indiana Decade of the Harmony Society 1814–1824 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1975), 1:744–745.
47. Arndt, A Documentary History of the Indiana Decade of the Harmony Society, 1:784.
48. Arndt, A Documentary History of the Indiana Decade of the Harmony Society, 1:225–229.
49. Arndt, A Documentary History of the Indiana Decade of the Harmony Society, 1:230.
50. Bole, p. 79.
51. Bole, p. 91.
52. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 287.
53. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 298.
54. Knoedler, p. 19, 22.
55. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 306.
56. Knoedler, p. 23.
57. John M. Tate, Jr. Collection of Notes, Pictures and Documents relating to the Harmony Society, 1806-1930, DAR.1946.02, Darlington Library, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh
58. Bole, p. 107.
59. Arndt, The Harmony Society from its beginnings in Germany in 1785 to its Liquidation in the United States in 1905, p. 190.
60. Bole, p. 148.
61. Knoedler, p. 79–83.
62. Daniel B. Reibel, A Guide to Old Economy (Old Economy, PA: Harmonie Associates, 1969), p. 8–9.
63. Bole, p. 141–142, 229.
64. Arndt, George Rapp's Successors and Material Heirs, p. 99.
65. Reibel, p. 9.
66. Bole, p. 97, 107, 113.
67. Knoedler, p. 58–60.
68. Bole, p. 133, 135.
69. Knoedler, p. 148.
70. Bole, p. 133.
71. J. S. Duss, The Harmonists: A Personal History (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Book Service, 1943), p. 359–360.
72. Arndt, George Rapp's Successors and Material Heirs, p. 328.
73. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, 1785–1847, p. 30.
74. Donald E. Pitzer, America's Communal Utopias (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1997) p. 57.
75. Frederic J. Baumgartner, Longing for the End: A History of Millennialism in Western Civilization (1999) p. 166.
76. Arthur Versluis, "Western Esotericism and The Harmony Society", Esoterica I (1999) p. 20–47. Michigan State University
77. PasstheWORD (2005-10-13). "Thomas Bromley On-Line Manuscripts". PasstheWORD. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
78. Joseph H. Peterson (2005). "The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses". Retrieved 2012-06-15.
79. Georg von Welling (1784, third ed., edited and translated by Arthur Versluis). "Opus Mago-Cabalisticum". Frankfurt and Leipzig: The Fleischer Bookstore. Retrieved 2012-06-15. Check date values in: |date= (help)
80. Arndt, George Rapp's Successors and Material Heirs, p. 147.
81. Wilson, p. 11.
82. Arndt, George Rapp's Successors and Material Heirs, p. 157.
83. Don Blair, "Harmonist Construction. Principally as found in the two-story houses built in Harmonie, Indiana, 1814–1824," Indiana Historical Society Publications 23, no. (1964): 81.
84. Blair, p. 82.
85. Arndt, George Rapp's Harmony Society, p. 109.
86. Blair, p. 49–50.
87. Blair, p. 52–54, 76.
88. Blair, p. 57.
89. Blair, p. 66, 71, 73.
90. Bole, p. 145.
91. Bole, p. 146.
92. Anon (1993). "Gone but not forgotten: the Beaver Falls Cutlery Company". Industrious Beaver Falls. Darlington, Pennsylvania: Beaver County Industrial Museum. This is based on Anon (1992). "The history and lore of Beaver Co.: the Chinese in Beaver Falls 1872". The Beaver Countian Vol III no.1. Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. pp. 1–3.


• Arndt, Karl J. R. A Documentary History of the Indiana Decade of the Harmony Society 1814–1824. 2 vols. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1975–78.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. Economy on the Ohio, 1826–1834: The Harmony Society During the Period of its Greatest Power and Influence and its Messianic Crisis; George Rapp's Third Harmony: A Documentary History. Worcester, Mass.: Harmony Society Press, 1984.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. George Rapp's Harmony Society, 1785–1847. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1965.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. George Rapp's Re-Established Harmony Society: Letters and Documents of the Baker-Henrici Trusteeship, 1848–1868. New York: P. Lang, 1993.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. George Rapp's Separatists, 1700–1803: The German Prelude to Rapp's American Harmony Society; A Documentary History. Worcester, Mass.: Harmonie Society Press, 1980.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. George Rapp's Successors and Material Heirs, 1847–1916. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1971.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. George Rapp's Years of Glory: Economy on the Ohio, 1834–1847. New York: P. Lang, 1987.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. Harmony on the Connoquenessing 1803–1815: George Rapp's First American Harmony. Worcester, Mass.: Harmonie Society Press, 1980.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. Harmony on the Wabash in Transition to Rapp's Divine Economy on the Ohio and Owen's New Moral World at New Harmony on the Wabash 1824–1826. Worcester, Mass.: Harmonie Society Press, 1984.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. The Harmony Society from its Beginnings in Germany in 1785 to its Liquidation in the United States in 1905. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1953.
• Arndt, Karl J. R. The Indiana Decade of George Rapp's Harmony Society: 1814–1824. Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1971.
• Arndt, Karl J. R., Donald Pitzer and Leigh Ann Chamness (eds.) George Rapp's Disciples, Pioneers, and Heirs: A Register of the Harmonists in America. Evansville: University of Southern Indiana, 1992.
• Baumgartner, Frederic J. Longing for the End: A History of Millennialism in Western Civilization. New York: Saint Martin's Press, 1999.
• Berry, Brian J. L. America's Utopian Experiments: Communal Havens from Long-Wave Crises. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College and University Press of New England, 1992.
• Bestor, Arthur. Backwoods Utopias. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1950.
• Blair, Don. Harmonist Construction. Principally as found in the two-story houses built in Harmonie, Indiana, 1814–1824. Indiana Historical Society Publications 23, no. 2. (1964): 45–82.
• Bole, John Archibald. The Harmony Society: A Chapter in German American Culture History. Philadelphia: Americana Germanica Press, 1904.
• Boomhower, Ray E. "New Harmony: Home to Indiana's Communal Societies." Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History 14, no. 4 (2002): 36–37.
• Bowden, Henry W. Dictionary of American Religious Biography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977.
• Brooks, Joshua Thwing. Jacob Henrici. Sewickley, PA: Gilbert Adams Hays, 1922.
• Byrd, Cecil K. The Harmony Society and Thoughts on the Destiny of Man. Bloomington, IN, 1956.
• Cross, Frank L. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.
• Dare, Philip N. American Communes to 1860: A Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1990.
• Douglas, Paul S. The Material Culture of the Harmony Society. Pennsylvania Folklife 24, no. 3 (Spring, 1975).
• Dructor, Robert M. Guide to the Microfilmed Harmony Society Records, 1786–1951 in the Pennsylvania State Archives. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1983.
• Dructor, Robert M. The Harmonists: A Personal History. Pittsburgh: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1970.
• Dudley, Lavinia P., John H. Archer, Tucker Abbot, et al. The Encyclopedia Americana: The International Reference Work New York: Americana Corp., 1963.
• Durnbaugh, Donald F. Radical Pietism as the Foundation of German-American Communitarian Settlements." In Emigration and Settlement Patterns of German Communities in North America, p. 31–54. Eberhard Reichmann, LaVern J. Rippley and Joerg Nagler, eds. Indianapolis: Max Kade German-American Center, Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis, 1995.
• Duss, J. S. George Rapp and His Associates. Indianapolis, IN: Hollenbeck Press, 1914.
• Duss, J. S. The Harmonists: A Personal History. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Book Service, 1943.
• English, Eileen A. "A Brief Interlude of Peace for George Rapp's Harmony Society." Communal Societies 26.1 (2006): 37–45.
• Federal Writers' Project (Beaver County, PA). The Harmony Society in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA: William Penn Association, 1937.
• Feurige Kohlen, der aufsteigenden Liebesflammen im Lustspiel der Weisheit; einer nachdenkenden Gesellschaft gewidmet. Harmony Society in Oekonomie, Pennsylvania, 1826.
• Fogarty, Robert S. All Things New: American Communes and Utopian Movements, 1860–1914. University of Chicago Press, 1990.
• Fogarty, Robert S. Dictionary of American Communal and Utopian History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980.
• Fritz, Eberhard. Johann Georg Rapp (1757–1847) und die Separatisten in Iptingen. Mit einer Edition der relevanten Iptinger Kirchenkonventsprotokolle. Blätter für Wuerttembergische Kirchengeschichte 95/1995. S. 129–203.
• Fritz, Eberhard. Radikaler Pietismus in Württemberg. Religioese Ideale im Konflikt mit gesellschaftlichen Realitaeten. Quellen und Forschungen zur wuerttembergischen Kirchengeschichte Band 18. Epfendorf 2003.
• Fritz, Eberhard. Separatistinnen und Separatisten in Wuerttemberg und in angrenzenden Territorien. Ein biografisches Verzeichnis. Arbeitsbücher des Vereins für Familien- und Wappenkunde. Stuttgart 2005. (Register of Separatists in Wuerttemberg, including most of Rapp's followers.)
• Gormly, Agnes M. Hays. Economy: A Unique Community. Sewickley, PA: Gilbert Adams Hays, 1910.
• Gormly, Agnes M. Hays. Old Economy: The Harmony Society. Sewickley, PA: Gilbert Adams Hays, 1904.
• Hays, George A. The Churches of the Harmony Society. Ambridge, PA: Old Economy, 1964.
• Hays, George A. Founders of the Harmony Society. Ambridge, PA: Old Economy, 1961.
• Henderson, Lois T. The Holy Experiment: A Novel About the Harmonist Society. [Fiction]. Hicksville, NY: Exposition Press, 1974.
• Hinds, Alfred. American Communities. rev. ed. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Co., 1902.
• Historic New Harmony. (2008). "The Harmonie Society". University of Southern Indiana. Retrieved 2012-6-15.
• Holloway, Mark. Heavens on Earth: Utopian Communities in America, 1680–1880. New York: Dover Publications, 1966.
• Karl Bernhard of Saxe Weimar Eisenach, Travels through North America, during the Years 1825 and 1826 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1828.
• Knoedler, Christiana F. The Harmony Society: A 19th-Century American Utopia. New York: Vantage Press, 1954.
• Kring, Hilda. The Harmonists: A Folk-Cultural Approach. Metuchen, NY: The Scarecrow Press and The American Theological Library Association, 1973.
• Krueger, Nancy. "The Woolen and Cotton Manufactory of the Harmony Society with Emphasis on the Indiana Years 1814–1825." M.A. thesis, State University of New York College at Oneonta, 1983.
• Larner Jr., John W. "Nails and Sundrie Medicines: Town Planning and Public Health in the Harmony Society, 1805–1840." The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 45, no. 2 (June 1962): 115–138.
• Lockridge Jr., Ross. The Labyrinth. Westport, Conn. Hyperion, 1975.
• Lockwood, George Browning. The New Harmony Communities. Marion, IN: Chronicle Company, 1902.
• Mason, Harrison Denning. Old Economy as I knew it: Impressions of the Harmonites, their village and its surroundings, as seen almost a half-century ago. Crafton, PA: Cramer Printing and Publishing Company, 1926.
• Matter, Evelyn P. The Great House [George Rapp House] Constructed 1826 and Frederick Rapp House Constructed about 1828 at Old Economy. Old Economy, PA: Harmonie Associates, 1970.
• Miller, Melvin R. "Education in the Harmony Society, 1805–1905." Ph.D. diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1972.
• Morris, James Matthew, and Andrea L. Kross. Historical Dictionary of Utopianism. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2004.
• Nordhoff, Charles. Communistic Societies of the United States. New York, 1874.
• Oved, Yaacov. Two Hundred Years of American Communes. Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1988.
• Passavant, William A., "A Visit to Economy in the Spring of 1840." Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 4 (July 1921): 144–149.
• Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Bibliography of the Harmony Society: With Special Reference to Old Economy. Ambridge: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1968.
• Pitzer, Donald E. America's Communal Utopias. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
• Pitzer, Donald E., and Josephine M. Elliott. New Harmony's first Utopians, 1814–1824. Indiana Magazine of History 75, no. 3 (1979): 225–300.
• Rapp, George. Thoughts on the Destiny of Man Particularly with Reference to the Present Times. Harmony Society in Indiana, 1824.
• Rauscher, Julian. "Des Separatisten G. Rapp Leben und Treiben" Theologische Studien aus Württemberg 6 (1885): 253–313.
• Reibel, Daniel B. Bibliography of items related to the Harmony Society with special reference to Old Economy. Ambridge: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1969, rev. 1977.
• Reibel, Daniel B. A Guide to Old Economy. Old Economy, PA: Harmonie Associates, 1969.
• Reibel, Daniel B. Walking tour of the historic area of Ambridge, Pennsylvania: Being the former village of Economy, 1824–1902. Ambridge, PA: Harmonie Associates, 1978.
• Reibel, Daniel B., and Art Becker. Old Economy Village: Pennsylvania Trail of History Guide. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.
• Reibel, Daniel B., and Mary Lou Golembeski. Selected Reprints from the Harmonie Herald, 1966–1979. Ambridge: Old Economy Village, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1980.
• Reibel, Daniel B., and Patricia B. Reibel. A manual for guides, docents, hostesses, and volunteers of Old Economy. Ambridge, PA: Harmonie Associates, 1974.
• Reibel, Harold B. Readings concerning the Harmony Society in Pennsylvania: Drawn from the accounts of travelers and articles in the Harmonie Herald. Harrisburg, PA, 1978.
• Reichmann, Eberhard, and Ruth Reichmann. The Harmonists: Two Points of View." In Emigration and Settlement Patterns of German Communities in North America, p. 371–380. Eberhard Reichmann, LaVern J. Rippley, and Joerg Nagler, eds. Indianapolis: Max Kade German-American Center, Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis, 1995.
• Ritter, Christine C. "Life in early America, Father Rapp and the Harmony Society." Early American Life 9 (1978): 40–43, 71–72.
• Sasse, Angela. "The Religious Celibate Community in Indiana: Yesterday and Today". In German Influence on Religion in Indiana. Studies in Indiana German Americana Series, Vol. 2, 1995, p. 38–52.
• Schema, Hermann. Gemeinschaftssiedlungen auf religiöser und weltanschaulicher Grundlage. Tübingen, 1969.
• Schneck, J., and Richard Owen. The Rappites: Interesting Notes about Early New Harmony; George Rapp's reform society based on the New Testament. Evansville, IN: Courier Company, 1890.
• Schwab, David, comp. (2010-5-20). "The Harmony Society". U.S. Army Corps of Engineers–Pittsburgh District. 2004-12-3. Retrieved 2012-6-3.
• Slater, Larry R. Ambridge (Pennsylvania). In Images of America. Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia, 2008.
• Stewart, Arthur I., and J. O. Gilbert. Harmony; commemorating the centennial of the Borough of Harmony, Pennsylvania, 1838–1938. Harmony, PA: Stewart, 1938.
• Stewart, Arthur I., and Loran W. Veith. Harmony : commemorating the sesquicentennial of Harmony, Pennsylvania, 1805–1955. Harmony, PA: Stewart, 1955.
• Stockwell, Foster. Encyclopedia of American Communes, 1663–1963. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 1998.
• Straube, Carl Frederick. Rise and Fall of Harmony Society, Economy, PA and Other Poems. Pittsburgh, PA: Press of National Printing Co., 1911.
• Sutton, Robert Paul. Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Religious Communities, 1732–2000. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003.
• Sutton, Robert Paul. Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Secular Communities, 1824–2000. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2004.
• Tate, John Matthew. Some notes, pictures and documents relating to the Harmony Society and its homes at Harmony, Pennsylvania, New Harmony, Indiana and Economy, Pennsylvania. Sewickley, PA, 1925.
• Taylor, Anne. Visions of Harmony: A Study of Nineteenth-Century Millenarianism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
• Thies, Clifford F. "The Success of American Communes." Southern Economic Journal 67, no. 1 (July 2000): 186–199.
• Trahair, Richard C. S. Utopias and Utopians: An Historical Dictionary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999.
• Versluis, Arthur. "Western Esotericism and The Harmony Society", Esoterica I, Michigan State University, 1999, pp. 20–47. Retrieved 2012-6-15.
• Wetzel, Richard D. Frontier Musicians on the Connoquenessing, Wabash, and Ohio: A History of the Music and Musicians of George Rapp's Harmony Society (1805–1906). Athens: Ohio University Press, 1976.
• Wetzel, Richard D. "The Music of George Rapp's Harmony Society: 1805–1906." Thesis/diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1970.
• Williams, Aaron. The Harmony Society at Economy, Pennsylvania, Founded by George Rapp, A.D. 1805. Pittsburgh: W.S. Haven, 1866.
• Wilson, William E. The Angel and the Serpent: The Story of New Harmony. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964.
• Young, Marguerite. Angel in the Forest: A Fairy Tale of Two Utopias. [Fiction]. New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1945.
• Young, Norman C. Old Economy-Ambridge sesqui-centennial historical booklet. Ambridge, PA: The Committee, 1974.

External links

• Old Economy Village museum in Old Economy, Pennsylvania, administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, interpreting the history of the Harmony Society.
• The Harmony Museum of Harmony, Pennsylvania, operated by Historic Harmony, Inc.
• Historic New Harmony of New Harmony, Indiana, administered by the University of Southern Indiana and the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.
• Harmony Society Papers, PA State Archives
• Account of the Harmony Society and its beliefs
• The Harmonist Labyrinths
• "Harmonists" . New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
• John M. Tate, Jr. Collection of Notes, Pictures and Documents relating to the Harmony Society, 1806-1930, DAR.1946.02, Darlington Library, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh
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Poor Law Amendment Act 1834
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Accessed: 5/19/20

Poor Law Amendment Act 1834
Long title: An Act for the Amendment and better Administration of the Laws relating to the Poor in England and Wales.
Citation: 4 & 5 Will. 4 c. 76
Territorial extent: England and Wales
Royal assent: 14 August 1834
Status: Repealed

The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 (PLAA) known widely as the New Poor Law, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed by the Whig government of Earl Grey. It completely replaced earlier legislation based on the Poor Law of 1601 and attempted to fundamentally change the poverty relief system in England and Wales (similar changes were made to the poor law for Scotland in 1845). It resulted from the 1832 Royal Commission into the Operation of the Poor Laws, which included Edwin Chadwick, John Bird Sumner and Nassau William Senior. Chadwick was dissatisfied with the law that resulted from his report. The Act was passed two years after the 1832 Reform Act extended the franchise to middle class men. Some historians have argued that this was a major factor in the PLAA being passed.

The Act has been described as "the classic example of the fundamental Whig-Benthamite reforming legislation of the period".[1] Its theoretical basis was Thomas Malthus's principle that population increased faster than resources unless checked, the "iron law of wages" and Jeremy Bentham's doctrine that people did what was pleasant and would tend to claim relief rather than working.[2]

Many viewed Malthus’ ideas as cold-hearted and viewed the Malthusian Population Theory as justification for the exploitation of the working-class people in the Industrial Revolution. For example, in Charles Dickens' famous story ‘A Christmas Carol’ the character of Ebenezer Scrooge expressed Malthus' ideas in an early scene. For instance, when approached by two men collecting donations for the poor, Scrooge responded by suggesting that the poor should die and “decrease the surplus population”. ‘A Christmas Carol’ was first published by Dickens in 1843, and is generally viewed as a critique of the social system present in England at the time. As such, Dickens’ portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge is viewed as a criticism of Malthus’ ideas.

-- Thomas Malthus, by History Crunch

The Act was intended to curb the cost of poor relief and address abuses of the old system, prevalent in southern agricultural counties, by enabling a new system to be brought in under which relief would only be given in workhouses, and conditions in workhouses would be such as to deter any but the truly destitute from applying for relief. The Act was passed by large majorities in Parliament, with only a few Radicals (such as William Cobbett) voting against. The act was implemented, but the full rigours of the intended system were never applied in Northern industrial areas; however, the apprehension that they would be was a contributor to the social unrest of the period.

The importance of the Poor Law declined with the rise of the welfare state in the 20th century. In 1948, the PLAA was repealed by the National Assistance Act 1948, which created the National Assistance Board to act as a residual relief agency.[3]

1832 Royal Commission's findings

Main article: Royal Commission into the Operation of the Poor Laws 1832

Alarmed at the cost of poor relief in the southern agricultural districts of England (where, in many areas, it had become a semi-permanent top-up of labourers' wages – the Allowance System, Roundsman System, or Speenhamland System), Parliament had set up a Royal Commission into the operation of the Poor Laws. The Commission's findings, which had probably been predetermined, were that the old system was badly and expensively run. The Commission's recommendations were based on two principles. The first was less eligibility: conditions within workhouses should be made worse than the worst conditions outside of them so that workhouses served as a deterrent, and only the neediest would consider entering them. The other was the "workhouse test": relief should only be available in the workhouse. Migration of rural poor to the city to find work was a problem for urban ratepayers under this system, since it raised their poor rates. The Commission's report recommended sweeping changes:[4]

Out-door relief: Poor people coming to a workhouse for food, c. 1840

• Out-relief should cease; relief should be given only in workhouses, and upon such terms that only the truly indigent would accept it. "Into such a house none will enter voluntarily; work, confinement, and discipline, will deter the indolent and vicious; and nothing but extreme necessity will induce any to accept the comfort which must be obtained by the surrender of their free agency, and the sacrifice of their accustomed habits and gratifications."[4]

Whilst this recommendation was a solution to existing problems consistent with "political economy", there was little consideration in the report of what new problems it might give rise to. There was little practical experience to support it; only four of the parishes reporting had entirely abolished out-relief, and their problem cases could well have simply been displaced to neighbouring parishes.[5]

• Different classes of paupers should be segregated; to this end, parishes should pool together in unions, with each of their poorhouses dedicated to a single class of paupers and serving the whole of the union. "[T]he separation of man and wife was necessary, in order to ensure the proper regulation of workhouses".[6]
In practice, most existing workhouses were ill-suited to the new system (characterised by opponents as locking up the poor in "Poor Law bastilles"), and many poor law unions soon found that they needed a new purpose-built union workhouse. Their purpose being to securely confine large numbers of the lower classes at low cost, they not unnaturally looked much like prisons.

• The new system would be undermined if different unions treated their paupers differently; there should therefore be a central board with powers to specify standards and to enforce those standards; this could not be done directly by Parliament because of the legislative workload that would ensue.
This arrangement was simultaneously justified as required to give absolute uniformity country-wide and as allowing regulations to be tailored to local circumstances without taking up Parliament's time.
• Mothers of illegitimate children should receive much less support; poor-law authorities should
no longer attempt to identify the fathers of illegitimate children and recover the costs of child support from them.

It was argued that penalising fathers of illegitimate children reinforced pressures for the parents of children conceived out of wedlock to marry, and generous payments for illegitimate children indemnified the mother against failure to marry. "The effect has been to promote bastardy; to make want of chastity on the woman's part the shortest road to obtaining either a husband or a competent maintenance; and to encourage extortion and perjury".[7]



Malthus' An Essay on the Principle of Population set out the influential doctrine that population growth was geometric, and that, unless checked, population increased faster than the ability of a country to feed it. This pressure explained the existence of poverty, which he justified theologically as a force for self-improvement and abstention. He saw any assistance to the poor—such as given by the old poor laws—as self-defeating, temporarily removing the pressure of want from the poor while leaving them free to increase their families, thus leading to greater number of people in want and an apparently greater need for relief. His views were influential and hotly debated without always being understood, and opposition to the old Poor Law which peaked between 1815 and 1820 was described by both sides as "Malthusian".[8]

Of those serving on the Commission, the economist Nassau William Senior identified his ideas with Malthus while adding more variables, and Bishop John Bird Sumner as a leading Evangelical was more persuasive than Malthus himself in incorporating the Malthusian principle of population into the Divine Plan, taking a less pessimistic view and describing it as producing benefits such as the division of property, industry, trade and European civilisation.

Iron law of wages

David Ricardo's "iron law of wages" held that aid given to poor workers under the old Poor Law to supplement their wages had the effect of undermining the wages of other workers, so that the Roundsman System and Speenhamland system led employers to reduce wages, and needed reform to help workers who were not getting such aid and rate-payers whose poor-rates were going to subsidise low-wage employers.[2]


Edwin Chadwick, a major contributor to the Commission's report, developed Jeremy Bentham's theory of utilitarianism, the idea that the success of something could be measured by whether it secured the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. This idea of utilitarianism underpinned the Poor Law Amendment Act. Bentham believed that "the greatest good for the greatest number" could only be achieved when wages found their true levels in a free-market system. Chadwick believed that the poor rate would reach its "correct" level when the workhouse was seen as a deterrent and fewer people claimed relief. A central authority was needed to ensure a uniform poor law regime for all parishes and to ensure that that regime deterred applications for relief; that is, to ensure a free market for labour required greater state intervention in poor relief.

Bentham's argument that people chose pleasant options and would not do what was unpleasant provided a rationale for making relief unpleasant so that people would not claim it, "stigmatising" relief so that it became "an object of wholesome horror".[2]

Terms of the Poor Law Amendment Act

A "Poor Law Bastille": 1835 model design of a workhouse to hold 300 paupers...

... 'classified' (men, women, girls, boys) and segregated accordingly

When the Act was introduced, it did not legislate for a detailed Poor Law regime. Instead, it set up a three-man Poor Law Commission, an "at arms' length" quango to which Parliament delegated the power to make appropriate regulations, without making any provision for effective oversight of the Commission's doings. Local poor-rates payers still elected their local Board of Poor Law Guardians and still paid for local poor law provisions, but those provisions could be specified to the Board of Guardians by the Poor Law Commission; where they were, the views of the local rate-payers were irrelevant. The principles upon which the Commission was to base its regulations were not specified. The workhouse test and the idea of "less eligibility" were therefore never mentioned. "Classification of paupers" was neither specified nor prohibited (during passage of the Act, an amendment by William Cobbett forbidding the separation of man and wife had been defeated), and the recommendation of the Royal Commission that "outdoor relief" (relief given outside of a workhouse) should be abolished was reflected only in a clause that any outdoor relief should only be given under a scheme submitted to and approved by the Commissioners.

The Poor Law Commission was independent of Parliament, but conversely, since none of its members sat in Parliament,[9]:clause 8 it had no easy way of defending itself against criticism in Parliament. It was recognised that individual parishes would not have the means to erect or maintain workhouses suitable for implementing the policies of "no outdoor relief" and segregation and confinement of paupers; consequently, the Commission was given powers to order the formation of Poor Law Unions (confederations of parishes) large enough to support a workhouse.[9]:clause 26 The Commission was empowered to overturn any Unions previously established under Gilbert's Act, but only if at least two-thirds of the Union's Guardians supported this.[9]:clause 32 Each Union was to have a Board of Guardians elected by rate-payers and property owners;[9]:clause 38 those with higher rateable-value property were to have multiple votes, as for the Select Vestries set up under Sturges-Bourne's Acts.[9]:clause 40 The Commission had no powers to insist that Unions built new workhouses (except where a majority of Guardians or rate-payers had given written consent),[9]:clause 23 but they could order improvements to be made to existing ones.[9]:clause 25 The Commission was explicitly given powers to specify the number and salaries of Poor Law Board employees and to order their dismissal.[9]:clause 46 It could order the "classification" of workhouse inmates[9]:clause 26 and specify the extent to which (and conditions under which) out-door relief could be given.[9]:clause 52
Clause 15 of the Act gave the Commission sweeping powers:

That from and after the passing of this Act the Administration of Relief to the Poor throughout England and Wales, according to the existing Laws, or such Laws as shall be in force at the Time being, shall be subject to the Direction and Control of the said Commissioners; and for executing the Powers given to them by this Act the said Commissioners shall and are hereby authorized and required, from Time to Time as they shall see Occasion, to make and Issue all such Rules, Orders, and Regulations for the Management of the Poor, for the Government of Workhouses and the Education of the Children therein, ... and for the apprenticing the Children of poor Persons, and for the Guidance and Control of all Guardians, Vestries, and Parish Officers, so far as relates to the Management or Relief of the Poor, and the keeping, examining, auditing, and allowing of Accounts, and making and entering into Contracts in all Matters relating to such Management or Relief, or to any Expenditure for the Relief of the Poor, and for carrying this Act into execution in all other respects, as they shall think proper; and the said Commissioners may, at their Discretion, from Time to Time suspend, alter, or rescind such Rules, Orders, and Regulations, or any of them: Provided always, that nothing in this Act contained shall be construed as enabling the said Commissioners or any of them to interfere in any individual Case for the Purpose of ordering Relief.[9]:clause 15

General Rules could only be made by the Commissioners themselves[9]:clause 12 and had to be notified to a Secretary of State.[9]:clause 16 Any new General Rules had to be laid before Parliament at the start of the next session.[9]:clause 17 General Rules were those issued to the Guardians of more than one Union. Therefore, there was no provision for Parliamentary scrutiny of policy changes (e.g., on the extent to which out-door relief would be permitted) affecting a number of Poor Law Unions, provided these were implemented by separate directives to each Union involved.[10]

The Act specified penalties which could be imposed upon persons failing to comply with the directives of the Poor Law Commission (£5 on first offence; £20 for second offence, fine and imprisonment on the third offence).[9]:clause 98 However, it did not identify any means of penalising parishes or Unions which had not formed a legally constituted Board of Guardians. Poor Law Unions were to be the necessary administrative unit for the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths introduced in 1837.

The Act did give paupers some rights. Lunatics could not be held in a workhouse for more than a fortnight;[9]:clause 45 workhouse inmates could not be forced to attend religious services of a denomination other than theirs (nor could children be instructed in a religious creed objected to by their parent(s)); they were to be allowed to be visited by a minister of their religion.[9]:clause 19


One of the "Somerset House Despots": Sir Thomas Frankland Lewis, Chairman of Poor Law Commission 1834–39

The central body set up to administer the new system was the Poor Law Commission. The Commission worked in Somerset House (hence epithets such as The Bashaws of Somerset House[11]) and was initially made up of:

• Thomas Frankland Lewis – former Tory MP
• George Nicholls – Overseer of the old system
• John George Shaw Lefevre – A lawyer

Chadwick—an author of the Royal Commission's report—was Secretary.

The Commission's powers allowed it to specify policies for each Poor Law Union, and policy did not have to be uniform. Implementation of the New Poor Law administrative arrangements was phased in, starting with the Southern counties whose problems the Act had been designed to address. There was a gratifying reduction in poor-rates, but also horror tales of paupers ill-treated or relief refused. Some paupers were induced to migrate from the Southern to Northern towns, leading to a suspicion in the North that the New Poor Law was intended to drive wages down. By 1837, when roll-out of the new arrangements reached the textile districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, trade was in recession. The usual response to this was for hours of work to be reduced, with pay reducing correspondingly and out-door relief being given to those who could not make ends meet on short-time earnings. This was clearly incompatible with a policy of "no out-door relief", and, despite assurances from the Poor Law Commission that there was no intention to apply that policy in the textile districts, they were not believed and a number of textile towns resisted (or rioted in response to) efforts to introduce the new arrangements. This resistance was eventually overcome, but outdoor relief was never abolished in many Northern districts, although the possibility existed. Policy officially changed after the passing of the Outdoor Labour Test Order, which "allowed" outdoor relief.

Problems with the Poor Law Amendment Act

After 1834, Poor Law policy aimed to transfer unemployed rural workers to urban areas where there was work, and protect urban ratepayers from paying too much.

It was impossible to achieve both these aims, as the principle of less eligibility made people search for work in towns and cities. Workhouses were built and paupers transferred to these urban areas. However, the Settlement Laws were used to protect ratepayers from paying too much. Workhouse construction and the amalgamation of unions was slow. Outdoor relief did continue after the PLAA was introduced.

The board issued further edicts on outdoor relief:

• Outdoor Labour Test Order
• Outdoor Relief Prohibitory Order

The implementation of the Act proved impossible, particularly in the industrial north which suffered from cyclical unemployment. The cost of implementing the Settlement Laws in operation since the 17th century was also high and so these were not implemented fully: it often proved too costly to enforce the removal of paupers. The Commission could issue directives, but these were often not implemented fully and in some cases ignored in order to save on expenses (Darwin Leadbitter 1782–1840 was in charge of the commission's finances).

The PLAA was implemented differently and unevenly across England and Wales. One of the criticisms of the 1601 Poor Law was its varied implementation. The law was also interpreted differently in different parishes, as these areas varied widely in their economic prosperity, and the levels of unemployment experienced within them, leading to an uneven system. Local Boards of Guardians also interpreted the law to suit the interests of their own parishes, resulting in an even greater degree of local variation.

The poor working-class including the agricultural laborers and factory workers also opposed the New Poor Law Act because the diet in workhouses was inadequate to sustain workers' health and nutrition. The Times even named this act as "the starvation act." Even more, the act forced workers to relocate to the locations of workhouses which separated families.[12]

Opposition to the Poor Law

Main article: Opposition to the Poor Law

Fierce hostility and organised opposition from workers, politicians and religious leaders eventually led to the Amendment Act being amended, removing the very harsh measures of the workhouses to a certain degree. The Andover workhouse scandal, in which conditions in the Andover Union Workhouse were found to be inhumane and dangerous, prompted investigation by a Commons select committee, whose report commented scathingly on the dysfunctionality of the Poor Law Commission. As a consequence Government legislation replaced the Poor Law Commission with a Poor Law Board under much closer government supervision and parliamentary scrutiny.

Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist harshly criticises the Poor Law. In 1835 sample dietary tables were issued by the Poor law Commissioners for use in union workhouses.[13] Dickens details the meagre diet of Oliver’s workhouse and points it up in the famous scene of the boy asking for more. Dickens also comments sarcastically on the notorious measure which consisted in separating married couples on admission to the workhouse: "instead of compelling a man to support his family [they] took his family from him, and made him a bachelor! " Like the other children, Oliver was "denied the benefit of exercise" and compelled to carry out the meaningless task of untwisting and picking old ropes although he had been assured that he would be "educated and taught a useful trade.[14]"

In the North of England particularly, there was fierce resistance; the local people considered that the existing system there was running smoothly. They argued that the nature of cyclical unemployment meant that any new workhouse built would be empty for most of the year and thus a waste of money. However, the unlikely union between property owners and paupers did not last, and opposition, though fierce, eventually petered out. In some cases, this was further accelerated as the protests very successfully undermined parts of the Amendment Act and became obsolete.[clarification needed]


According to a 2019 study, the 1834 welfare reform had no impact on rural wages, labor mobility or the fertility rate of the poor. The study concludes, "this deliberately induced suffering gained little for the land and property owners who funded poor relief. Nor did it raise wages for the poor, or free up migration to better opportunities in the cities. One of the first great triumphs of the new discipline of Political Economy, the reform of the Poor Laws, consequently had no effects on economic growth and economic performance in Industrial Revolution England."[15]

See also

• English Poor Laws


1. The Poor Law Amendment Act: 14 August 1834
2. Spicker, Paul, British social policy 1601–1948, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen: Centre for Public Policy and Management, archived from the original on 24 July 2007, retrieved 13 December 2008
3. Boyer, George. "English Poor Laws". Economic History Association.
4. Senior, Nassau; Chadwick, Edwin (1834), Poor Law Commissioners' Report of 1834, London: H.M. Stationery Office
5. Speech of Mr Paulett Scrope (c1321)in "Poor-Laws Amendment—Committee". Hansard House of Commons Debates. 23: cc1320-49. 26 May 1834. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
6. Speech of Lord Althorp (c 339) in "Poor Laws' Amendment—Committee". Hansard House of Commons Debates. 24: cc324-40. 9 June 1834. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
7. "Mr Cowell's report" quoted in "The Amendment of the Poor Laws". The Examiner. 20 April 1834. (J W Cowell was one of the Assistant Commissioners of the Royal Commission)
8. Poynter, John (1998), "Malthus and his critics", Malthus Bicentenary Conference, National Library of Australia, Canberra: National Academies Forum, archived from the original on 20 October 2008, retrieved 13 December 2008
9. "4&5 William IV c LXXVI. : An Act for the Amendment and better Administration of the Laws relating to the Poor in England and Wales". The Workhouse. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
10. "Leicester Journal: Friday, August 10, 1838". Leicester Journal. 10 August 1838.
11. "Workhouse – a fact of life in the Industrial Revolution". Cotton Times. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007.
12. Hamlin, Christopher (June 1995). "Could You Starve to Death in England in 1839? The Chadwick-Farr Controversy and the Loss of the "Social" in Public Healh". American Journal of Public Health. 85 (6): 856–866. doi:10.2105/ajph.85.6.856. PMC 1615507. PMID 7762726.
13. "The Workhouse – The Story of an institution". Retrieved 16 April 2019.
14. Dickens, Charles (1966). Oliver Twist. London: Penguin Books. pp. 54 and seq. ISBN 0140430172.
15. Clark, Gregory; Page, Marianne E. (2019). "Welfare reform, 1834: Did the New Poor Law in England produce significant economic gains?". Cliometrica. 13 (2): 221–244. doi:10.1007/s11698-018-0174-4. ISSN 1863-2505.

Further reading

• Blaug, Mark. "The Myth of the Old Poor Law and the Making of the New". Journal of Economic History 23 (1963): 151–84. online
• Boyer, James, et al. "English Poor Laws." EHnet; summary and historiography
• Brundage, Anthony. The making of the new Poor law: the politics of inquiry, enactment, and implementation, 1832–1839 (1978).
• Durbach, Najda. "Roast Beef, the New Poor Law, and the British Nation, 1834–1863". Journal of British Studies 52.4 (2013): 963–89.
• Englander, David. Poverty and Poor Law Reform in Nineteenth-Century Britain, 1834–1914: From Chadwick to Booth (1998) excerpt
• Filtness, David. "Poverty's Policeman" History Today (Feb 2014) 64#2 pp. 32–39.
• Finer, Samuel Edward. The life and times of Sir Edwin Chadwick (1952) excerpt pp. 39–114.
• Lees, Lynn Hollen, The Solidarities of Strangers: The English Poor Laws and the People, 1700–1948 (Cambridge UP, 1998).
• Rose, M.E. ed. The English Poor Law, 1780–1930 (1971)
• Thane, Pat. "Women and the Poor Law in Victorian and Edwardian England," History Workshop Journal 6#1 (1978), pp 29–51,

External links

• Text of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act
• Spartacus article on the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Charity Organization Society
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/19/20

The Charity Organization Societies were founded in England in 1869 following the 'Goschen Minute' (Poor Law Board; 22nd Annual Report (1869–70), Appendix A No.4. Relief to the Poor in the Metropolis. PP XXXI, 1871) that sought to severely restrict outdoor relief distributed by the Poor Law Guardians. In the early 1870s a handful of local societies were formed with the intention of restricting the distribution of outdoor relief to the elderly.

Also called the Associated Charities was a private charity that existed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a clearing house for information on the poor.[1] The society was mainly concerned with distinction between the deserving poor and undeserving poor.[2] The society believed that giving out charity without investigating the problems behind poverty created a class of citizens that would always be dependent on alms giving.[3]

The society originated in Elberfeld, Germany and spread to Buffalo, New York around 1877.[4] The conviction that relief promoted dependency was the basis for forming the Societies. Instead of offering direct relief, the societies addressed the cycle of poverty. Neighborhood charity visitors taught the values of hard work and thrift to individuals and families. The COS set up centralized records and administrative services and emphasized objective investigations and professional training. There was a strong scientific emphasis as the charity visitors organized their activities and learned principles of practice and techniques of intervention from one another. The result led to the origin of social casework. Gradually, over the ensuing years, volunteer visitors began to be supplanted by paid staff.


Charity Organization Societies were made up of charitable groups that used scientific philanthropy to help poor, distressed or deviant persons. The Societies considered themselves more than just alms givers. Their ultimate goal was to restore as much self-sufficiency and responsibility as an individual could manage. Through their activities, the Societies tended to be aware of the range of social services available in their communities. They thus became the primary source of information and referral for all services. Through these referrals, a Society often became the central agency in the social services of its community. For instance, the Charity Organization Society of Denver, Colorado, the forerunner of the modern United Way of America, coordinated the charitable activities of local Jewish, Congregational and Catholic groups. Its work under the leadership of Frances Wisebart Jacobs ranged from work with tuberculosis patients[5] to the care and education of young children[6] and was funded in part by direct assistance from the city itself.[7]

Settlement House movement

The Charity Organization Society can be compared to the settlement house movement which emphasized social reform rather than personal problems as the proper focus of charity.

Efficacy and criticism

Despite its claims that private charity would be superior to public welfare because it improved the moral character of the recipients, records from the COS' Indianapolis branch show that only a minority of its relief recipients managed to become self-reliant, with the exit rate declining sharply the longer people were on relief. The exit rates are similar to those in late-20th-century public welfare programs, despite the fact that COS only granted relief only to recipients it deemed worthy and improvable. Furthermore, journals kept by the COS case workers and "friendly visitors" indicate that they were not on friendly terms with the relief recipients but described them in disparaging terms and interacted with them in an intrusive and presumptuous way.[8]

The COS was resented by the poor for its harshness, and its acronym was rendered by critics as "Cringe or Starve".[8]

Britain's Charity Organisation Society

In Britain, the Charity Organisation Society led by Helen Bosanquet and Octavia Hill was founded in London in 1869[9] and supported the concept of self-help and limited government intervention to deal with the effects of poverty. Alsager Hay Hill was prominent from its foundation, acting as honorary secretary of the council until July 1870, and as an active member of the council until 1880:[10]

Mr. Alsager Hay Hill joined the Society in its first year. He was one of its first Hon. Secretaries, and the life and soul of Council meetings in the early days of struggle. A man of rare natural wit, something of a poet, and the brightest of companions, he threw himself eagerly into the Society's work, and more particularly devoted his time and energy to an attempt to deal with the problems of unemployment. His 'Labour News' of thirty years ago anticipated the Labour Exchanges of today.[11]

The organisation claimed to use "scientific principles to root out scroungers and target relief where it was most needed".[12] Annie Barnes joined the organisation and used her own background that people objected to accepting "Charity".[13] The Charity Organisation Society was renamed Family Welfare Association in 1946 and still operates today as Family Action, a registered family support charity.

See also

• Scientific Charity Movement


1. (1895). "Charity's Clearing House." The Washington Post. December 15.
2. (1900) "Commissioners of the District of Columbia." Washington Government Printing Office.
3. (1887). "Lots of Chronic Paupers." The Washington Post. October 21.
4. Welfare, National Conference on Social (1 January 2005). Official proceedings of the annual meeting: 1880.
5. (1903) Albert Shaw, The American Review of Reviews. Radcliffe Library, 1903: 701.
6. (1903) Benjamin Lindsey Collection, Box 85, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress; letters from Izetta George dated February 11 and February 14, 1903.
7. (1900) Isabel C. Barrows, ed. The Social Welfare Forum. The Proceedings of the National Conference of Charities and Correction at the Twenty-Sixth Annual Session Held in the City of Cincinnati, Ohio, May 17–23, 1899. Boston: George H. Ellis, 1900, page 376.
8. Ziliak, Stephen (2004), Self-Reliance before the Welfare State: Evidence from the Charity Organization Movement in the United States. Journal of Economic History, Vol. 64, No. 2, pp. 433-461
9. "1800s". Family Action: About Us. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
10. "Hill, Alsager Hay" . Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1912.
11. Bosanquet, Helen (1914), Social work in London, 1869 to 1912: A History of the Charity Organisation Society. New York, E P Button & Co.
12. Rees, Rosemary (2001). Poverty and Public Health 1815-1949. London: Heinemann.
13. Elizabeth Crawford, ‘Barnes , Annie (c.1887–1982)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 28 July 2017
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed May 20, 2020 3:30 am

Helen Bosanquet
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/19/20

Helen Bosanquet
Helen Bosanquet, c. 1900
Born: Helen Dendy, 10 February 1860, Manchester, England
Died: 7 April 1925 (aged 65)
Alma mater: Newnham College, Cambridge (1889)
Occupation: Social theorist and reformer
Spouse(s): Bernard Bosanquet (m. 1895; died 1923)
Parent(s): Revd. John Dendy; Sarah Beard
Relatives: Mary Dendy (sister); Arthur Dendy (brother)

Helen Bosanquet (née Dendy; 10 February 1860 – 7 April 1925)[1] was an English social theorist and social reformer. Helen was the wife of English philosopher Bernard Bosanquet.


Early Life

Helen Dendy was born in Manchester in 1860 to the Reverend John Dendy and his wife, Sarah Beard (1831–1922), eldest daughter of John Relly Beard. She was one of nine children. Mary Dendy was an elder sister and her brother was biologist Arthur Dendy (1865–1925).


Helen and her sisters were educated at home by a governess. In 1886, at the age of twenty-six, she went to Newnham College, Cambridge, to study moral sciences. She obtained a first-class degree in 1889 and appears to have had academic ambitions. However, she failed to get any academic position.[2]


Having moved to London, she joined the Charity Organisation Society (COS), a body committed to rationalizing London's huge collection of private charities. She became organizer and district secretary of the society's Shoreditch branch. She was also active in the London Ethical Society, where she met the philosopher Bernard Bosanquet (1848–1923), whom she married on 13 December 1895.[3] In addition to an active public career as a theorist and publicist for the COS, she worked as a translator of German philosophy and sociology, and as a collaborator with her husband.


In 1902 Bosanquet had a much publicised exchange of views with Seebohm Rowntree, in which she questioned his findings about the extent and the causes of poverty in York. One of these works included the article "A Study in Women’s Wages" which was published as part of "The Economic Journal". This article lobbied for an in increase in the training of women for skilled jobs which would thus result in better working conditions and wages for them.[4] In her article "The Lines of Industrial Profit", Bosanquet offers the idea that business-men of the same trade must agree on fixed prices to reap larger profits and provide their workers with better wages.[5]In her piece, "The Divorce Laws of England and Wales", she offers the idea that young people should not be forced to take a permanent vow as the longevity of a marriage depends on several conditions.[6]She was appointed a member of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws in 1905, where she defended the role of private charities over public welfare programs. She was a major influence on the Majority report (Poor Law), which was published in 1909, which arose out of the Commission.[7] Another member of the Commission was social reformer, Beatrice Webb and the two were often in disagreement. Webb wanted to abolish the Poor Laws and have state-run social services, while Bosanquest wanted to keep some aspects of the Poor Laws.[8]


Bosanquet also played a key role in the development of social work in Britain, through her suggestion that social workers needed formal education as well as professional skills. She influenced the syllabus of the COS School of Sociology (founded 1903), which in 1912 became the Social Science Department of the London School of Economics.

Her influential English translation of Christoph von Sigwart's Logic appeared in 1895.

Following the death of Bernard Bosanquet in 1923, Helen arranged for the manuscript of Three Chapters on the Nature of Mind to be published. Her biography of her husband was published in 1924. She died in Golders Green, London in 1925, having suffered from ill health for some years.


“I have always held that poverty and pain, disease and health are evils of greatly less importance than they appear except in so far as they lead to weakness of life and character; and that true philanthropy aims at increasing strength more than at the correct and immediate relief of poverty…”[9]

"The working-women of England are indeed in a very sorry plight, and that if knights-errant were still to the fore they would find work enough for lance and sword in freeing their sisters from the tyranny by which they are oppressed"[10]


• Helen Bosanquet, "The Name and the House,” The Family. London: MacMillan, 1906.
• Aspects of the Social Problem (1895)
• Rich and Poor (1896)
• The Standard of Life and Other Studies (1898)
• The Strength of the People (1902)
• The Poor Law Report of 1909 : A Summary Explaining the Defects of the Present System and the Principal Recommendations of the Commission, so far as Relates to England and Wales (1909)
• Bernard Bosanquet : A Short Account of His Life (1924)


1. Women of History
2. Harris, Jose. "Bosanquet , Helen (1860–1925)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
3. Archives Hub: Bosanquet Papers Archived 22 July 2012 at
4. Bosanquet, Helen (1902). A Study in Women’s Wages. The Economic Journal. pp. 42–49.
5. Bosanquet, Helen (1897). The Lines of Industrial Profit. The Economic Journal. pp. 503–510.
6. Bosanquet, Helen (1914). The Divorce Laws of England and Wales. The University of Chicago Press. p. 451.
7. Scott, John, ed. (2007). Fifty Key Sociologists: The Formative Theorists. Routledge. p. 20. ISBN 9781134262199.
8. Lewis, Jane (1991). Women and Social Action in Victorian and Edwardian England. Stanford University Press. pp. 146–192.
9. Charity begins at home: Helen Bosanquet, the pioneer behind the Charity Organisation Society
10. Charity begins at home: Helen Bosanquet, the pioneer behind the Charity Organisation Society

External links

• Works by or about Helen Bosanquet at Internet Archive
• Charity Begins at Home:Helen Bosanquet, The Pioneer Behind the Charity Organisation Society
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed May 20, 2020 3:48 am

London Ethical Society [Ethical Society]
by UCL Bloomsbury Project
Accessed: 5/19/20


It was founded by James Bonar and J. H. Muirhead as a Society of like-minded rational thinkers at a meeting on 20 November 1886 at University Hall in Gordon Square

Bonar and Muirhead had been prompted to found the Society by a meeting at Toynbee Hall with Stanton Coit, an American enthusiast of the ideals of Felix Adler, who became the founder of many ethical societies in England (Susannah Wright, ‘“There Is Something Universal in Our Movement Which Appeals Not Only to One Country, But to All”: International Communication and Moral Education 1892–1914,’ History of Education, vol. 37, no. 6, 2008)

Some of its members had previously belonged to the Fellowship of the New Life

The Society later held lectures at Toynbee Hall, and concentrated on “systematic ethical instruction in connexion with working mens colleges, clubs, and co-operative societies. It was also concerned with university extension and the education of the young” (Peter Gordon and John White, Philosophers as Educational Reformers: The Influence of Idealism on British Educational Thought and Practice, 1979)

Its members were also responsible for the formation of the independent London School of Ethics and Social Philosophy in 1897

It apparently no longer exists, having become increasingly fragmented in the late 19th century (Peter Gordon and John White, Philosophers as Educational Reformers: The Influence of Idealism on British Educational Thought and Practice, 1979)

However, it was one of the many ethical societies which prompted the foundation of the Union of Ethical Societies in 1896; this subsequently became the British Humanist Association in 1967

It also led more directly to the formation of the independent London School of Ethics and Social Philosophy in 1897, which was based at the Passmore Edwards Settlement in Tavistock Place until it was absorbed into the London School of Economics in the twentieth century

What was reforming about it?

Its aim was to take a rational approach to morality and social progress

It was apparently the first English ethical society (M. McCallum, ‘Ethical and Kindred Societies in Great Britain,’ International Journal of Ethics, vol. 1, no. 2, January 1891)

Where in Bloomsbury

Its first meeting was at University Hall in Gordon Square in 1886, although it was subsequently based outside Bloomsbury (Peter Gordon and John White, Philosophers as Educational Reformers: The Influence of Idealism on British Educational Thought and Practice, 1979)

Its successor institution, the London School of Ethics and Social Philosophy, was based at the Passmore Edwards Settlement in Tavistock Place until it was absorbed into the London School of Economics in the twentieth century

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

Books about it

M. McCallum, ‘Ethical and Kindred Societies in Great Britain,’ International Journal of Ethics, vol. 1, no. 2 (January 1891)

There is also a brief account in Peter Gordon and John White, Philosophers as Educational Reformers: The Influence of Idealism on British Educational Thought and Practice (1979)


None found, although there may be relevant material in the records of the British Humanist Association at Bishopsgate Institute, ref. GB 0372 BHA; details of this collection are available online via (opens in new window)
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed May 20, 2020 3:52 am

London School of Ethics and Social Responsibility
by UCL Bloomsbury Project
Accessed: 5/19/20


It was founded in 1897 by members of the London Ethical Society to provide university-level education in philosophy to those unable to attend a university (Peter Gordon and John White, Philosophers as Educational Reformers: The Influence of Idealism on British Educational Thought and Practice, 1979)

It was supported by some of the distinguished philosophers of the day (Bertrand Russell, ‘Was the World Good before the Sixth Day?’ (lecture, 11 February 1899, in Kenneth Blackwell ed, Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, vol. 1: Cambridge Essays 1888–1899, 1983)

However, although well-meaning it was short-lived, mainly because it was not succeeding in attracting the working classes to its lectures, as it had hoped; it finally failed in its last-ditch bid to become a Public Educational Institution and was forced to close in 1900 (G. E. Moore, The Elements of Ethics, ed Tom Regan, 1991)

Many of its members later became part of the new London School of Economics when the University of London was restructured at the beginning of the twentieth century

What was reforming about it?

It provided university-level philosophical instruction to local people

Where in Bloomsbury

It was based at the Passmore Edwards Settlement in Tavistock Place from its foundation in 1897 until its closure in 1900

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

The successor institution, the London School of Economics, is at (opens in new window)

Books about it

There is a brief but authoritative account in Tom Regan’s Introduction to his edition of G. E. Moore’s The Elements of Ethics (1991)


None found
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed May 20, 2020 3:54 am

‘A Christmas Carol’: Sending the Poor to Prison
by Matthew Caruchet
Economic Opportunity Institute {EOI]
December 22, 2017

Illustration of the Ghost of Christmas Present by John Leech from the 1800s.

When he was 12 years old in 1824, Charles Dickens worked 10-hour days in a rat-infested shoe-polish factory for six shillings a week. That’s the equivalent of £30.68 or $41.06 in 2017 currency.

It was all the money he had to get by. His father, mother, and five siblings aged 2-11 were in prison because the family was in debt. This is what Western society did with the poor in the mid-1800s. If you fell behind on your bills or couldn’t pay legal fines, you and your family went to flea-ridden government workhouses where you would labor to earn your keep.

Your work did not, however, pay off your debts – you could spend the rest of your life there. If you died in a debtor’s prison, your body was given to anatomists to dissect in the name of science.

Needless to say, Charles Dickens grew to hate the system and rail against it in his works. In his seminal novella “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by two portly men raising money for the poor.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the [one of the gentlemen], taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Interpretations of “A Christmas Carol” have often tried to turn it into an assault on the wealthy, critiquing capitalism’s effect on society. It is not. There is nothing wrong with being very wealthy in Dickens’ book. The two good men raising money for the poor are capitalists and entrepreneurs. They are “portly” in a time when food was scarce and people starved on the streets.

The evil in society comes from indifference towards fellow people and a reliance on a governmental system that does more harm than good.

Take for instance the “Treadmill” and “Poor Law” mentioned above.

A treadmill at Brixton Prison in London in the 1800s.

The treadmill was a feature in prisons where inmates would walk endlessly, pushing a huge wheel while holding bars at chest height. With every step, the wheel would turn, grinding corn. Prisoners were allowed 12 minutes of break every hour. It was meant to be a form of “preventive punishment” so difficult that that nobody exposed to it would ever risk reoffending.

The Poor Law is a reference to the popular economic theories of Thomas Malthus. Malthus argued that ruinous poverty and starvation were necessary ills, as society could not possibly provide for everyone and death would remove the undesirables from the population. He supported the Poor Law to create workhouses for the poor, as people who were unable to sustain themselves did not have the right to live.

In the fevered haunting of the second night, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present visit the holiday celebration of Bob Cratchit, with its tiny pudding to serve a family of seven. Bob works 60 hours a week and earns 15 shillings – £89.78 or $120.19 in 2017 dollars.

His son, Tiny Tim, would have died under the Poor Law system. That’s why, of all the Christmas spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Present has the most disdain for Scrooge, mockingly spitting his words back at him.

“God bless us every one!” said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

He sat very close to his father’s side upon his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

“I see a vacant seat,” replied the Ghost, “in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”

“No, no,” said Scrooge. “Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared.”

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.

It’s easy for Scrooge to feel sorry for Tiny Tim. It’s someone he knows – a single instance with a face and a personality. But it’s harder to feel compassion for large swathes of people, faceless segments of the population hidden away in debtor’s prisons and workhouses. That’s why the Ghost of Christmas Present has more words to throw back as he dies.

“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw!”

“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

“Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!” exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

“Spirit! are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!”

“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.

“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”

Note that Ignorance is worse than Want. Want is an immediate need – food to eat, a bed to sleep in. But Ignorance keeps you from ever improving your situation. Without education, children are condemned to a lifetime of poverty, creating a permanent underclass that dooms society as a whole.

As we all know, Scrooge awakes from his last ghostly visit a new man. He buys Bob Cratchit a turkey and pays the two portly men hefty sums to help the poor. Then he goes to celebrate Christmas at a sumptuous party thrown by his wealthy nephew Fred.

Again, “A Christmas Carol” is not an attack on wealth. Scrooge remains wealthy in the end, and the ideal Christmas is a celebration filled with excesses of food, drink and gifts. But it condemns the violence of looking away, ignoring the evils foisted on people who cannot afford to survive in society, and the political structure that keeps mortifying poverty in place.

It’s easy to believe we don’t live in a society with the sheer injustice of Victorian England. But there are many similarities.

A debtor’s prison in London.

Two hundred years ago, the United States banned debtors’ prisons, but they still exist today. State and local courts raise money by charging fees to people convicted of crimes. In Washington State, people who are unable to pay parking tickets and fines for low-level offenses are jailed, without options for alternatives or community service.

In prison, people often have to pay for their own incarceration, a debt that follows them when they are freed. Prisons have also become workhouses, paying inmates paltry wages for work while incarcerated. In Washington, inmates earn $0.36 an hour working for private industry, and up to $2.70 an hour working for state-owned industries.

We have a tax system in Washington reliant on property and sales taxes, which affect the poor more than the rich. While the poorest in our state pay 16.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the rich pay only 2.4 percent.

Our education system is chronically underfunded, with one of the highest student-teacher ratios in the country. Increasing amounts of money are being funneled out of public schools and into charter schools – cementing Ignorance in the children of families who can’t afford a private education.

In Seattle, we have the third-highest homeless population in the country, even though Seattle is the nation’s 18th-largest city. Black people are being priced out of the city. Seattle is now at a level of income inequality rivaling San Francisco.

Dickens wasn’t against wealth; he was against greed. He was against income inequality so stark that the people at the bottom could barely survive, and that people who could not work were better off dead.

Dickens also believed it’s never too late for redemption. “A Christmas Carol” teaches that people who turn a blind eye to suffering are still inherently good in their deepest heart. They are just unable to put themselves in the shoes of the less fortunate. Or, as I would like to believe happens to many of us, they are so overcome with the enormity of society’s problems that they are stricken with paralysis.

To that, the story provides an elegant solution – enjoy your life, help those around you that you can have an immediate effect on, and work to change a system that propagates destitution.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed May 20, 2020 4:16 am

Part 1 of 2

Jeremy Bentham
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/19/20

Jeremy Bentham
Portrait by Henry William Pickersgill
Born: 15 February 1748, London, England, Kingdom of Great Britain
Died: 6 June 1832 (aged 84), London, England, United Kingdom
Education: The Queen's College, Oxford (BA 1763; MA 1766)
Era: 18th-century philosophy; 19th-century philosophy
School: Utilitarianism; Legal positivism; Liberalism; Epicureanism
Main interests: Political philosophy, philosophy of law, ethics, economics
Notable ideas: Greatest happiness principle, Radical Consequentialism[1]
Influences: Protagoras Epicurus John Locke David Hume Montesquieu Helvétius Hobbes Beccaria Adam Smith
Influenced: John Stuart Mill Thomas Hodgskin William Thompson Henry Sidgwick Michel Foucault Peter Singer John Austin Robert Owen H. L. A. Hart Francis Y. Edgeworth A. V. Dicey[2] Étienne Dumont

Jeremy Bentham (/ˈbɛnθəm/; 15 February 1748 [O.S. 4 February 1747][3] – 6 June 1832) was an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.[4][5]

Bentham defined as the "fundamental axiom" of his philosophy the principle that "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong."[6][7] He became a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law, and a political radical whose ideas influenced the development of welfarism. He advocated individual and economic freedoms, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and (in an unpublished essay) the decriminalising of homosexual acts.[8][9] He called for the abolition of slavery, capital punishment and physical punishment, including that of children.[10] He has also become known as an early advocate of animal rights.[11][12][13][14] Though strongly in favour of the extension of individual legal rights, he opposed the idea of natural law and natural rights (both of which are considered "divine" or "God-given" in origin), calling them "nonsense upon stilts".[4][15] Bentham was also a sharp critic of legal fictions.

Bentham's students included his secretary and collaborator James Mill, the latter's son, John Stuart Mill, the legal philosopher John Austin, as well as Robert Owen, one of the founders of utopian socialism. He "had considerable influence on the reform of prisons, schools, poor laws, law courts, and Parliament itself."[16]

On his death in 1832, Bentham left instructions for his body to be first dissected, and then to be permanently preserved as an "auto-icon" (or self-image), which would be his memorial. This was done, and the auto-icon is now on public display in the entrance of the Student Centre at University College London (UCL). Because of his arguments in favour of the general availability of education, he has been described as the "spiritual founder" of UCL. However, he played only a limited direct part in its foundation.[17]


Early life

Portrait of Bentham by the studio of Thomas Frye, 1760–1762

Bentham was born on 15 February 1748 in Houndsditch, London,[18] to a wealthy family that supported the Tory party. He was reportedly a child prodigy: he was found as a toddler sitting at his father's desk reading a multi-volume history of England, and he began to study Latin at the age of three.[19] He learnt to play the violin, and at the age of seven Bentham would perform sonatas by Handel during dinner parties.[20] He had one surviving sibling, Samuel Bentham (1757–1831), with whom he was close.

He attended Westminster School; in 1760, at age 12, his father sent him to The Queen's College, Oxford, where he completed his bachelor's degree in 1763 and his master's degree in 1766. He trained as a lawyer and, though he never practised, was called to the bar in 1769. He became deeply frustrated with the complexity of English law, which he termed the "Demon of Chicane".[21] When the American colonies published their Declaration of Independence in July 1776, the British government did not issue any official response but instead secretly commissioned London lawyer and pamphleteer John Lind to publish a rebuttal.[22] His 130-page tract was distributed in the colonies and contained an essay titled "Short Review of the Declaration" written by Bentham, a friend of Lind, which attacked and mocked the Americans' political philosophy.[23][24]

In examining this singular Declaration, I have hitherto confined myself to what are given as facts, and alleged against his Majesty and his Parliament, in support of the charge of tyranny and usurpation. Of the preamble I have taken little or no notice. The truth is, little or none does it deserve. The opinions of the modern Americans on Government, like those of their good ancestors on witchcraft, would be too ridiculous to deserve any notice, if like them too, contemptible and extravagant as they be, they had not led to the most serious evils.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

-- Preamble, The Declaration of Independence: The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, In Congress

In this preamble however it is, that they attempt to establish a theory of Government; a theory, as absurd and visionary, as the system of conduct in defence of which it is established is nefarious. Here it is, that maxims are advanced in justification of their enterprises against the British Government. To these maxims, adduced for this purpose, it would be sufficient to say, that they are repugnant to the British Constitution.

To possess ourselves of a clear idea of what government is, or ought to be, we must trace it to its origin. In doing this we shall easily discover that governments must have arisen either out of the people or over the people. Mr. Burke has made no distinction. He investigates nothing to its source, and therefore he confounds everything; but he has signified his intention of undertaking, at some future opportunity, a comparison between the constitution of England and France. As he thus renders it a subject of controversy by throwing the gauntlet, I take him upon his own ground. It is in high challenges that high truths have the right of appearing; and I accept it with the more readiness because it affords me, at the same time, an opportunity of pursuing the subject with respect to governments arising out of society.

But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a Constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word; we must fix also a standard signification to it.

A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established, the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organisation of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.

Can, then, Mr. Burke produce the English Constitution? If he cannot, we may fairly conclude that though it has been so much talked about, no such thing as a constitution exists, or ever did exist, and consequently that the people have yet a constitution to form.

Mr. Burke will not, I presume, deny the position I have already advanced- namely, that governments arise either out of the people or over the people. The English Government is one of those which arose out of a conquest, and not out of society, and consequently it arose over the people; and though it has been much modified from the opportunity of circumstances since the time of William the Conqueror, the country has never yet regenerated itself, and is therefore without a constitution.

I readily perceive the reason why Mr. Burke declined going into the comparison between the English and French constitutions, because he could not but perceive, when he sat down to the task, that no such a thing as a constitution existed on his side the question. His book is certainly bulky enough to have contained all he could say on this subject, and it would have been the best manner in which people could have judged of their separate merits. Why then has he declined the only thing that was worth while to write upon? It was the strongest ground he could take, if the advantages were on his side, but the weakest if they were not; and his declining to take it is either a sign that he could not possess it or could not maintain it.

-- Rights of Man, by Thomas Paine

But beyond this they are subversive of every actual or imaginable kind of Government.

They are about “to assume,” as they tell us, “among the powers of the earth, that equal and separate station to which” — they have lately discovered — “the laws of Nature, and of Nature’s God entitle them.” What difference these acute legislators suppose between the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, is more than I can take upon me to determine, or even to guess. If to what they now demand they were entitled by any law of God, they had only to produce that law, and all controversy was at an end. Instead of this, what do they produce? What they call sell-evident truths. “All men,” they tell us, “are created equal.” This rarity is a new discovery; now, for the first time, we learn, that a child, at the moment of his birth, has the same quantity of natural power as the parent, the same quantity of political power as the magistrate.

The rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — by which, if they mean any thing, they must mean the right to enjoy life, to enjoy liberty, and to pursue happiness — they "hold to be unalienable.” This they “hold to be among truths self-evident.” At the same time, to secure these rights, they are content that Governments should be instituted. They perceive not, or will not seem to perceive, that nothing which can be called Government ever was, or ever could be, in any instance, exercised, but at the expence of one or other of those rights. — That, consequently, in as many instances as Government is ever exercised, some one or other of these rights, pretended to be unalienable, is actually alienated.

That men who are engaged in the design of subverting a lawful Government, should endeavour by a cloud of words, to throw a veil over their design; that they should endeavour to beat down the criteria between tyranny and lawful government, is not at all surprising. But rather surprising it must certainly appear, that they should advance maxims so incompatible with their own present conduct. If the right of enjoying life be unalienable, whence came their invasion of his Majesty’s province of Canada? Whence the unprovoked destruction of so many lives of the inhabitants of that province? If the right of enjoying liberty be unalienable, whence came so many of his Majesty’s peaceable subjects among them, without any offence, without so much as a pretended offence, merely for being suspected not to wish well to their enormities, to be held by them in durance? If the right of pursuing happiness be unalienable, how is it that so many others of their fellow-citizens are by the same injustice and violence made miserable, their fortunes ruined, their persons banished and driven from their friends and families? Or would they have it believed, that there is in their selves some superior sanctity, some peculiar privilege, by which those things are lawful to them, which are unlawful to all the world besides? Or is it, that among acts of coercion, acts by which life or liberty are taken away, and the pursuit of happiness restrained, those only are unlawful, which their delinquency has brought upon them, and which are exercised by regular, long established, accustomed governments?

In these tenets they have outdone the utmost extravagance of all former fanatics.The German Anabaptists indeed went so far as to speak of the right of enjoying life as a right unalienable. To take away life, even in the Magistrate, they held to be unlawful. But they went no farther, it was reserved for an American Congress, to add to the number of unalienable rights, that of enjoying liberty, and pursuing happiness; — that is,— if they mean any thing, —pursuing it wherever a man thinks he can see it, and by whatever means he thinks he can attain it: — That is, that all penal laws — those made by their selves among others—which affect life or liberty, are contrary to the law of God, and the unalienable rights of mankind: — That is, that thieves are not to be restrained from theft, murderers from murder, rebels from rebellion.

Here then they have put the axe to the root of all Government; and yet, in the same breath, they talk of “Governments,” of Governments “long established.”
To these last, they attribute same kind of respect; they vouchsafe even to go so far as to admit, that “Governments, long established, should not be “changed for light or transient reasons.”

Yet they are about to change a Government, a Government whose establishment is coeval with their own existence as a Community. What causes do they assign? Circumstances which have always subsisted, which must continue to subsist, wherever Government has subsisted, or can subsist.

For what, according to their own shewing, what was their original their only original grievance? That they were actually taxed more than they could bear? No; but that they were liable to be so taxed. What is the amount of all the subsequent grievances they alledge? That they were actually oppressed by Government? That Government has actually misused its power? No; but that it was possible that they might be oppressed; possible that Government might misuse its powers. Is there any where, can there be imagined any where, that Government, where subjects are not liable to taxed more than they can bear? where it is not possible that subjects may be oppressed, not possible that Government may misuse its powers?

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

-- Preamble, The Declaration of Independence: The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, In Congress

This I say, is the amount, the whole sum and substance of all their grievances. For in taking a general review of the charges brought against his Majesty, and his Parliament, we may observe that there is a studied confusion in the arrangement of them. It may therefore be worth while to reduce them to the several distinct heads, under which I should have classed them at the first, had not the order of the Answer been necessarily prescribed by the order — or rather the disorder, of the Declaration.

The first head consists of Acts of Government, charged as so many acts of incroachment, so many usurpations upon the present King and his Parliaments exclusively, which had been constantly exercised by his Predecessors and their Parliaments.1

In all the articles comprised in this head, is there a single power alleged to have been exercised during the present reign, which had not been constantly exercised by preceding Kings, and preceding Parliaments? Read only the commission and instruction for the Council of Trade, drawn up in the 9th of King William III addressed to Mr. Locke, and others.2 See there what powers were exercised by the King and Parliament over the Colonies. Certainly the Commissioners were directed to inquire into, and make their reports concerning those matters only, in which the King and Parliament had a power of controlling the Colonies. Now the Commissioners are instructed to inquire — into the condition of the Plantations, “as well with regard to the administration of Government and Justice, as in relation to the commerce thereof;”–into the means of making “them most beneficial and useful to England; — “into the staples and manufactures, which may be encouraged there;” — “into the trades that are taken up and exercised there, which may prove prejudicial to England;” — “into the means of diverting them from such trades.” Farther, they are instructed “to examine into, and weigh the Acts of the Assemblies of the Plantations;” — “to set down the usefulness or mischief to the Crown, to the Kingdom, or to the Plantations their selves.” — And farther still, they are instructed “to require an account of all the monies given for public uses by the assemblies of the Plantations, and how the same are, or have been expended, or laid out.” Is there now a single Act of the present reign which does not fall under one or other of these instructions?

The powers then, of which the several articles now before us complain, are supported by usage; were conceived to be so supported then, just after the Revolution, at the time these instructions were given; and were they to be supported only upon this foot of usage, still that usage being coeval with the Colonies, their tacit consent and approbation, through all the successive periods in which that usage has prevailed, would be implied; — even then the legality of those powers would stand upon the same foot as most of the prerogatives of the Crown, most of the rights of the people, — even then the exercise of those powers could in no wise be deemed usurpations or encroachments.

But the truth is, to the exercise of these powers, on many occasions the Colonies have not tacitly, but expressly, consented; as expressly as any subject of Great Britain ever consented to Acts of the British Parliament. Consult the Journals of either House of Parliament; consult the proceedings of their own Assemblies; and innumerable will be the occasions, on which the legality of these powers will be found to be expressly recognised by Acts of the Colonial Assemblies. For in preceding reigns, the petitions from these Assemblies were couched in a language, very different from that which they have assumed under the present reign. In praying for the non-exercise of these powers, in particular instances, they acknowledged their legality; the right in general was recognised; the exercise of it, in particular instances, was prayed to be suspended on the sole ground of inexpedience.

The less reason can the Americans have to complain against the exercise of these powers, as it was under the constant exercise of the self-same powers, that they have grown up with a vigour and rapidity unexampled: That within a period, in which other communities have scarcely had time to take root, they have shot forth exuberant branches. So flourishing is their agriculture, that — we are told — “besides feeding plentifully their own growing multitudes, their annual exports have exceeded a million;” So flourishing is their trade, that — we are told — “it has increased far beyond the speculations of the most sanguine imagination.”3 So powerful are they in arms, that we see them defy the united force of that nation, which, but a little century ago, called them into being; which, but a few years ago, in their defence, encountered and subdued almost the united force of Europe.

If the exercise of powers, thus established by usage, thus recognised by express declarations, thus sanctified by their beneficial effects, can justify rebellion, there is not that subject in the world, but who has, ever has had, and ever must have, reason sufficient to rebel: There never was, never can be, established, any government upon earth.

The second head consists of Acts, whose professed object was either the maintenance, or the amendment of their Constitution. These Acts were passed with the view either of freeing from impediments the course of their commercial transactions,4 or of facilitating the administration of justice,5 or of poising more equally the different powers in their Constitution;6 or of preventing the establishing of Courts, inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution.7

To state the object of these Acts, is to justify them. Acts of tyranny they cannot be: Acts of usurpation they are not; because no new power is assumed. By former Parliaments, in former reigns, officers of customs had been sent to America: Courts of Admiralty had been established there. The increase of trade and population induced the Parliaments, under the present reign, for the convenience of the Colonists, and to obviate their own objections of delays arising from appeals to England, to establish a Board of Customs, and an Admiralty Court of Appeal. Strange indeed is it to hear the establishment of this Board, and these Courts, alleged as proofs of usurpation; and in the same paper, in the same breath, to hear it urged as a head of complaint, that his Majesty refused his assent to a much greater exertion of power: —to an exertion of power, which might be dangerous; the establishment of new Courts of Judicature. What in one instance he might have done, to have done in another, cannot be unconstitutional. In former reigns, charters had been altered; in the present reign, the constitution of one charter, having been found inconsistent with the ends of good order and government, was amended.

The third head consists of temporary Acts, passed pro re notá, the object of each of which was to remedy some temporary evil, and the duration of which was restrained to the duration of the evil itself.8

Neither in these Acts was any new power affirmed; in some instances only, the objects upon which that power was exercised, were new. Nothing was done but what former Kings and former Parliaments have shewn their selves ready to do, had the same circumstances subsisted. The same circumstances never did subsist before, because, till the present reign, the Colonies never dared to call in question the supreme authority of Parliament.

No charge, classed under this head, can be called a grievance. Then only is the subject aggrieved, when, paying due obedience to the established Laws of his country, he is not protected in his established rights. From the moment he withholds obedience, he forfeits his right to protection. Nor can the means, employed to bring him back to obedience, however severe, be called grievances; especially if those means be to cease the very moment that the end is obtained.

The last head consists of Acts of self-defence, exercised in consequence of resistance already shewn but represented in the Declaration as Acts of oppression, tending to provoke resistance.9 Has his Majesty cut off their trade with all parts of the world? They first attempted to cut off the trade of Great Britain. Has his Majesty ordered their vessels to be seized? They first burnt the vessels of the King. Has his Majesty sent troops to chastise them? They first took up arms against the authority of the King. Has his Majesty engaged the Indians against them? They first engaged Indians against the troops of the King. Has his Majesty commanded their captives to serve on board his fleet? He has only saved them from the gallows.

By some, these acts have been improperly called “Acts of punishment.” And we are then asked, with an air of insult, “What! will you punish without a trial, without a hearing?” And no doubt punishment, whether ordinary or extraordinary; whether by indictment, impeachment, or bill of attainder, should be preceded by judicial examination. But, the acts comprised under this head are not acts of punishment; they are, as we have called them, this of self-defence. And these are not, cannot be, preceded by any judicial examination. An example or two will serve to place the difference between acts of punishment and acts of self-defence in a stronger light, than any definition we can give. It has happened, that bodies of manufacturers have risen, and armed, in order to compel their masters to increase their wages: It has happened, that bodies of peasants have risen, and armed, in order to compel the farmer to sell at a lower price. It has happened, that the civil magistrate, unable to reduce the insurgents to their duty, has called the military to his aid. But did ever any man imagine, that the military were sent to punish the insurgents? It has happened, that the insurgents have resisted the military, as they had resisted the civil magistrate: It has happened, that, in consequence of this resistance, some of the insurgents have been killed: — But did ever any man imagine that those who were thus killed, were therefore punished? No more can they be said to be punished, than could the incendiary, who should be buried beneath the ruins of the house, which he had feloniously set on fire. Take an example yet nearer to the present case. When the Duke of Cumberland led the armies of the king, foreign and domestic, against the Rebels in Scotland, did any man conceive that he was sent to punish the Rebels? — Clearly not. — He was sent to protect dutiful and loyal subjects, who remained in the peace of the King, against the outrages of Rebels, who had broken the peace of the King. — Does any man speak of those who fell at the battle of Culloden, as of men that were punished? Would that man have been thought in his senses, who should have urged, that the armies of the King should not have been sent against these Rebels in Scotland, till those very Rebels had been judicially heard, and judicially convicted? Does not every man feel that the fact, the only fact, necessary to be known, in order to justify these acts of self-defence, is simply this: — Are men in arms against the authority of the King? — Who does not feel, that to authenticate this fact, demands no judicial inquiry? If when his Royal Highness had led the army under his command into Scotland, there had been no body of men in arms; if, terrified at his approach, they had either laid down their arms and submitted, or had dispersed and retired quietly, each to his own home, what would have been the consequence? The civil magistrate would have searched for and seized upon those who had been in arms would have brought them to a court of justice. That court would have proceeded to examine, and to condemn or to acquit, as evidence was, or was not, given of the guilt of the respective culprits. The Rebels did not submit, they did not lay down their arms, they did not disperse; they resisted the Duke: a battle ensued: some of the Rebels fled, others were slain, others taken. It is upon those only of the last class, who were brought before and condemned by Courts of justice, that punishment was inflicted. By what kind of logic then are these acts ranked in the class of grievances?

These are the Acts — these are the exertions of constitutional, and hitherto, undisputed powers, for which, in the audacious paper, a patriot King is traduced — as “a Prince, whose character is marked by every Act “which may define a tyrant;” as “unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” These are the Acts, these exertions of constitutional, and, hitherto, undisputed powers, by which the Members of the Congress declare their selves and their constituents to be “absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown” pronounce “all political connection between Great Britain and America to be totally dissolved.” With that hypocrisy which pervades the whole of the Declaration, they pretend indeed, that this event is not of their seeking; that it is forced upon them; that they only “acquiesce in the necessity which denounces their separation from us:” which compels them hereafter to hold us, as they hold the rest of mankind; enemies in war; in peace, friends.”

How this Declaration may strike others, I know not. To me, I own, it appears that it cannot fail — to use the words of a great Orator— “of doing us Knight’s service.”10 The mouth of faction, we may reasonably presume, will be closed; the eyes of those who saw not, or would not see, that the Americans were long since aspiring at independence, will be opened; the nation will unite as one man, and teach this rebellious people, that it is one thing for them to say, the connection, which bound them to us, is dissolved, another to dissolve it; that to accomplish their independence is not quite so easy as to declare it: that there is no peace with them, but the peace of the King: no war with them, but that war, which offended justice wages against criminals. — We too, I hope, shall acquiesce in the necessity of submitting to whatever burdens, of making whatever efforts may be necessary, to bring this ungrateful and rebellious people back to that allegiance they have long had it in contemplation to renounce, and have now at last so daringly renounced.

1. Under this head are comprised articles I. II. so far as they are true, III. VII. IX. so far as the last relates to the tenure of the Judges’ offices. XI. XII. XIII. XIV. XVII. XVIII. so far as the last relates to the Declaration of the power of Parliament to make laws for the Colonies binding in all cases whatsoever.
2. See Com. Journ. vol. xii. , p. 70, 71, 72.
3. See Mr. Burke’s speeches.
4. Article X.
5. Article XVIII, so far as it relates to the multiplication of the Courts of Admiralty.
6. Article XXI
7. Article VIII.
8. Under this head may be classed Articles IV., V. VI. IX. so far as the last relates to the payment of the Judges by the Crown. XV. XXII so far as the latter relates to the suspension of their legislatures.
9. Under this head may be classed Articles XVI.,XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII. Two other Acts there are, not comprised with any of the four heads, the XX and XXVIII. The former of there relates to the government of Quebec., with which the revolted Colonies have no more to do, than with the government of Russia: The latter relates to the humble petitions they pretend to have presented “in every stage,” as they style it, “of the oppressions,” under which they pretend to labour. This we have seen to be false. Not one one humble petition; no one decent representation, have they offered,
10. Mr. Burke’s speech.

-- A Short Review of the Declaration, by Jeremy Bentham, 1776

Abortive prison project

In 1786 and 1787, Bentham travelled to Krichev in White Russia (modern Belarus) to visit his brother, Samuel, who was engaged in managing various industrial and other projects for Prince Potemkin.

His rule in the south is associated with the "Potemkin village", a ruse involving the construction of painted façades to mimic real villages, full of happy, well-fed people, for visiting officials to see.

-- Grigory Potemkin, by Wikipedia

It was Samuel (as Jeremy later repeatedly acknowledged) who conceived the basic idea of a circular building at the hub of a larger compound as a means of allowing a small number of managers to oversee the activities of a large and unskilled workforce.[25][26]

Bentham began to develop this model, particularly as applicable to prisons, and outlined his ideas in a series of letters sent home to his father in England.[27] He supplemented the supervisory principle with the idea of contract management; that is, an administration by contract as opposed to trust, where the director would have a pecuniary interest in lowering the average rate of mortality.[28] The Panopticon was intended to be cheaper than the prisons of his time, as it required fewer staff; "Allow me to construct a prison on this model," Bentham requested to a Committee for the Reform of Criminal Law, "I will be the gaoler. You will see ... that the gaoler will have no salary—will cost nothing to the nation." As the watchmen cannot be seen, they need not be on duty at all times, effectively leaving the watching to the watched. According to Bentham's design, the prisoners would also be used as menial labour, walking on wheels to spin looms or run a water wheel. This would decrease the cost of the prison and give a possible source of income.[29]

The ultimately abortive proposal for a panopticon prison to be built in England was one among his many proposals for legal and social reform.[30] But Bentham spent some sixteen years of his life developing and refining his ideas for the building and hoped that the government would adopt the plan for a National Penitentiary appointing him as contractor-governor. Although the prison was never built, the concept had an important influence on later generations of thinkers. Twentieth-century French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that the panopticon was paradigmatic of several 19th-century "disciplinary" institutions.[31] Bentham remained bitter throughout his later life about the rejection of the panopticon scheme, convinced that it had been thwarted by the King and an aristocratic elite. It was largely because of his sense of injustice and frustration that he developed his ideas of "sinister interest"—that is, of the vested interests of the powerful conspiring against a wider public interest—which underpinned many of his broader arguments for reform.[32]

Elevation, section and plan of Bentham's panopticon prison, drawn by Willey Reveley in 1791.

On his return to England from Russia, Bentham had commissioned drawings from an architect, Willey Reveley.[33] In 1791, he published the material he had written as a book, although he continued to refine his proposals for many years to come. He had by now decided that he wanted to see the prison built: when finished, it would be managed by himself as contractor-governor, with the assistance of Samuel. After unsuccessful attempts to interest the authorities in Ireland and revolutionary France,[34] he started trying to persuade the prime minister, William Pitt, to revive an earlier abandoned scheme for a National Penitentiary in England, this time to be built as a panopticon. He was eventually successful in winning over Pitt and his advisors, and in 1794 was paid £2,000 for preliminary work on the project.[35]

The intended site was one that had been authorised (under an act of 1779) for the earlier Penitentiary, at Battersea Rise; but the new proposals ran into technical legal problems and objections from the local landowner, Earl Spencer.[36] Other sites were considered, including one at Hanging Wood, near Woolwich, but all proved unsatisfactory.[37] Eventually Bentham turned to a site at Tothill Fields, near Westminster. Although this was common land, with no landowner, there were a number of parties with interests in it, including Earl Grosvenor, who owned a house on an adjacent site and objected to the idea of a prison overlooking it. Again, therefore, the scheme ground to a halt.[38] At this point, however, it became clear that a nearby site at Millbank, adjoining the Thames, was available for sale, and this time things ran more smoothly. Using government money, Bentham bought the land on behalf of the Crown for £12,000 in November 1799.[39]

From his point of view, the site was far from ideal, being marshy, unhealthy, and too small. When he asked the government for more land and more money, however, the response was that he should build only a small-scale experimental prison—which he interpreted as meaning that there was little real commitment to the concept of the panopticon as a cornerstone of penal reform.[40] Negotiations continued, but in 1801 Pitt resigned from office, and in 1803 the new Addington administration decided not to proceed with the project.[41] Bentham was devastated: "They have murdered my best days."[42]

Nevertheless, a few years later the government revived the idea of a National Penitentiary, and in 1811 and 1812 returned specifically to the idea of a panopticon.[43] Bentham, now aged 63, was still willing to be governor. However, as it became clear that there was still no real commitment to the proposal, he abandoned hope, and instead turned his attentions to extracting financial compensation for his years of fruitless effort. His initial claim was for the enormous sum of nearly £700,000, but he eventually settled for the more modest (but still considerable) sum of £23,000.[44] An Act of Parliament in 1812 transferred his title in the site to the Crown.[45]

More successful was his cooperation with Patrick Colquhoun in tackling the corruption in the Pool of London. This resulted in the Thames Police Bill of 1798, which was passed in 1800.[a] The bill created the Thames River Police, which was the first preventive police force in the country and was a precedent for Robert Peel's reforms 30 years later.[47]

Correspondence and contemporary influences

Bentham was in correspondence with many influential people. In the 1780s, for example, Bentham maintained a correspondence with the aging Adam Smith, in an unsuccessful attempt to convince Smith that interest rates should be allowed to freely float.[48] As a result of his correspondence with Mirabeau and other leaders of the French Revolution, Bentham was declared an honorary citizen of France.[49] He was an outspoken critic of the revolutionary discourse of natural rights and of the violence that arose after the Jacobins took power (1792). Between 1808 and 1810, he held a personal friendship with Latin American revolutionary Francisco de Miranda and paid visits to Miranda's Grafton Way house in London. He also developed links with José Cecilio del Valle.[50][51]

South Australian colony proposal

Bentham contributed to a plan to found a new colony in South Australia: in 1831 a "Proposal to His Majesty's Government for founding a colony on the Southern Coast of Australia" was prepared under the auspices of Robert Gouger, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, Anthony Bacon and Bentham, but its ideas were considered too radical, and it was unable to attract the required investment.[52]

Westminster Review

In 1823, he co-founded The Westminster Review with James Mill as a journal for the "Philosophical Radicals"—a group of younger disciples through whom Bentham exerted considerable influence in British public life.[53][54] One was John Bowring, to whom Bentham became devoted, describing their relationship as "son and father": he appointed Bowring political editor of The Westminster Review and eventually his literary executor.[55] Another was Edwin Chadwick, who wrote on hygiene, sanitation and policing and was a major contributor to the Poor Law Amendment Act: Bentham employed Chadwick as a secretary and bequeathed him a large legacy.[56]

Chadwick is remembered at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine where his name appears among the names of 23 pioneers of public health and tropical medicine chosen to be honoured when the School was built in 1929.[34]

-- Edwin Chadwick, by Wikipedia

An increasing number of academic and research institutions, in the UK and globally, are responding to calls to decolonise the university. Starting at the University of Cape Town in 2015, the Rhodes must fall movement made its way to the University of Oxford. More recently, in the summer of 2019, the University of Glasgow signed a historic agreement with the University of the West Indies acknowledging the former’s historic links with slavery and setting out to raise and spend £20 million over the next 20 years on research and events highlighting the history of enslavement (University of Glasgow, 2019). In London, University College London (UCL) is currently in the midst of a one-year process to investigate UCL’s links to the British eugenics movement. These processes, crucially, place an emphasis on ‘decolonisation, not diversification’ (RMFO, 2015), that is to say they demand an in-depth engagement with the colonial and racist history that has and continues to shape knowledge production and institutional development at these universities, rather than the mere ‘tokenistic’ hiring of BME staff.

At LSHTM, the Decolonising Global Health group formed in March 2019 with the aim of creating a space to (self-) reflect and discuss how colonial legacies still shape global health internationally and at the school. A particular focus was hereby placed on colonial legacies in research, career progression and learning and teaching. These questions have particular salience in light of LSHTM’s 120th anniversary, which celebrated the school’s founding by Sir Patrick Manson in 1899. Manson, then Chief Medical Officer to the Colonial Office, is one of the most obvious links between the School and Britain’s colonial Empire. The Decolonising Global Health group was consulted in the writing of this protocol....

Individuals, Publications, Race-related issues

This theme builds on recent internal concerns with past expressions of racist or white supremacist attitudes by staff/school representatives, for example in discussion of Cicely Williams’ early writing. Several sources have made reference to a Chair of Racial Hygiene, which used to exist at the School and some research will be directed to investigate this as well as racist writings contained in the LSHTM archives. L.W.G. Malcolm, an Australian anthropologist worked as Lecturer on Racial Hygiene at the School in the early 1930s. Major Greenwood, director of the department of Epidemiology and Vital Statistics studied under Karl Pearson, a known eugenicist at UCL, and seems to have been a member of the Eugenics Education Society (EES), although this still needs to be verified in the EES archives, which are held by the Wellcome Archives. Other alumni or past staff members whose writing may yield valuable case studies include Cecil Cook and Kenneth Mellanby.

-- The LSHTM [London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine] and colonialism: history and legacy – Draft protocol

Meanwhile in Western Europe, especially Britain and Germany, the adaptation of Darwin's ideas by his colleague and half-cousin Francis Galton -- as 'social Darwinism' -- led to the eugenics movement. Eugenics established itself as a powerful dogma at the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and equally prominent University College London in Gower Street. In the second of two papers on 'Hereditary Talent and Character', which is commonly held to mark the start of modern British psychology (Billig 1982, p. 72), Galton (1865), a renowned anthropologist and psychologist, claimed that European 'civilised races' alone possessed the 'instinct of continuous steady labour' while non-European 'savages' showed an innate 'wild untameable restlessness' and being 'incapable of progress ... remain children in mind with passions of grown men' (pp. 325-326). Galton's views were regarded with much respect by the British establishment at the time and were certainly not regarded as eccentric or offensive. He received many awards during his career. He was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1860, and was knighted shortly before he died (Brignell 2010). The main thrust of eugenics (accepted at the time as a scientific endeavour) was to identify 'inferior' races. Protege of Galton and first holder of the Galton Chair of Eugenics at University College, Karl Pearson (1901) saw the extermination of such races as an inevitable part of the evolutionary process. Yet the racist eugenic movement (like most academic discourses) formed links across the Atlantic into the wider English-speaking world. Work carried out on Ellis Island (where immigrants to the USA were held when they first arrived) by H.H. Goddard -- America's leading eugenicist psychologist [at the time] according to Richards (2012, p. 78) -- led to a scale for the estimation of 'mental defect' [sic] (Knox 1914).

-- Institutional Racism in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology: Race Matters in Mental Health, by Suman Fernando
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 2 of 2

Old age

An insight into his character is given in Michael St. John Packe's The Life of John Stuart Mill:

During his youthful visits to Bowood House, the country seat of his patron Lord Lansdowne, he had passed his time at falling unsuccessfully in love with all the ladies of the house, whom he courted with a clumsy jocularity, while playing chess with them or giving them lessons on the harpsichord. Hopeful to the last, at the age of eighty he wrote again to one of them, recalling to her memory the far-off days when she had "presented him, in ceremony, with the flower in the green lane". To the end of his life he could not hear of Bowood without tears swimming in his eyes, and he was forced to exclaim, "Take me forward, I entreat you, to the future—do not let me go back to the past."[57]

A psychobiographical study by Philip Lucas and Anne Sheeran argues that he may have had Asperger's syndrome.[58] Bentham was an atheist.[59]



Bentham's ambition in life was to create a "Pannomion", a complete utilitarian code of law. He not only proposed many legal and social reforms, but also expounded an underlying moral principle on which they should be based. This philosophy of utilitarianism took for its "fundamental axiom", it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong".[60] Bentham claimed to have borrowed this concept from the writings of Joseph Priestley,[61] although the closest that Priestley in fact came to expressing it was in the form "the good and happiness of the members, that is the majority of the members of any state, is the great standard by which every thing relating to that state must finally be determined".[62]

The "greatest happiness principle", or the principle of utility, forms the cornerstone of all Bentham's thought. By "happiness", he understood a predominance of "pleasure" over "pain". He wrote in The Principles of Morals and Legislation:

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think ...[63]

Edwin Chadwick, a major contributor to the Commission's report, developed Jeremy Bentham's theory of utilitarianism, the idea that the success of something could be measured by whether it secured the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. This idea of utilitarianism underpinned the Poor Law Amendment Act. Bentham believed that "the greatest good for the greatest number" could only be achieved when wages found their true levels in a free-market system. Chadwick believed that the poor rate would reach its "correct" level when the workhouse was seen as a deterrent and fewer people claimed relief. A central authority was needed to ensure a uniform poor law regime for all parishes and to ensure that that regime deterred applications for relief; that is, to ensure a free market for labour required greater state intervention in poor relief.

Bentham's argument that people chose pleasant options and would not do what was unpleasant provided a rationale for making relief unpleasant so that people would not claim it, "stigmatising" relief so that it became "an object of wholesome horror".

-- Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, by Wikipedia

Bentham was a rare major figure in the history of philosophy to endorse psychological egoism.[64]

Bentham was a determined opponent of religion. Crimmins observes: "Between 1809 and 1823 Jeremy Bentham carried out an exhaustive examination of religion with the declared aim of extirpating religious beliefs, even the idea of religion itself, from the minds of men."[59]

Bentham suggested a procedure for estimating the moral status of any action, which he called the hedonistic or felicific calculus. Utilitarianism was revised and expanded by Bentham's student John Stuart Mill. Mill sharply criticized Bentham's view of human nature, which failed to recognize conscience as a human motive. Mill considered Bentham's view "to have done and to be doing very serious evil."[65] In Mill's hands, "Benthamism" became a major element in the liberal conception of state policy objectives.

Bentham's critics have claimed that he undermined the foundation of a free society by rejecting natural rights.[66] Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote "The principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number was as inimical to the idea of liberty as to the idea of rights."[67]

In his exposition of the felicific calculus, Bentham proposed a classification of 12 pains and 14 pleasures, by which we might test the "happiness factor" of any action.[68] Nonetheless, it should not be overlooked that Bentham's "hedonistic" theory (a term from J. J. C. Smart), unlike Mill's, is often criticised for lacking a principle of fairness embodied in a conception of justice. In Bentham and the Common Law Tradition, Gerald J. Postema states: "No moral concept suffers more at Bentham's hand than the concept of justice. There is no sustained, mature analysis of the notion..."[69] Thus, some critics[who?] object, it would be acceptable to torture one person if this would produce an amount of happiness in other people outweighing the unhappiness of the tortured individual. However, as P. J. Kelly argued in Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice: Jeremy Bentham and the Civil Law, Bentham had a theory of justice that prevented such consequences. According to Kelly, for Bentham the law "provides the basic framework of social interaction by delimiting spheres of personal inviolability within which individuals can form and pursue their own conceptions of well-being".[70] It provides security, a precondition for the formation of expectations. As the hedonic calculus shows "expectation utilities" to be much higher than natural ones, it follows that Bentham does not favour the sacrifice of a few to the benefit of the many. Law professor Alan Dershowitz has quoted Bentham to argue that torture should sometimes be permitted.[71]

Bentham's An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation[72] focuses on the principle of utility and how this view of morality ties into legislative practices. His principle of utility regards "good" as that which produces the greatest amount of pleasure and the minimum amount of pain and "evil" as that which produces the most pain without the pleasure. This concept of pleasure and pain is defined by Bentham as physical as well as spiritual. Bentham writes about this principle as it manifests itself within the legislation of a society. He lays down a set of criteria for measuring the extent of pain or pleasure that a certain decision will create.

The criteria are divided into the categories of intensity, duration, certainty, proximity, productiveness, purity, and extent. Using these measurements, he reviews the concept of punishment and when it should be used as far as whether a punishment will create more pleasure or more pain for a society. He calls for legislators to determine whether punishment creates an even more evil offence. Instead of suppressing the evil acts, Bentham argues that certain unnecessary laws and punishments could ultimately lead to new and more dangerous vices than those being punished to begin with, and calls upon legislators to measure the pleasures and pains associated with any legislation and to form laws in order to create the greatest good for the greatest number. He argues that the concept of the individual pursuing his or her own happiness cannot be necessarily declared "right", because often these individual pursuits can lead to greater pain and less pleasure for a society as a whole. Therefore, the legislation of a society is vital to maintain the maximum pleasure and the minimum degree of pain for the greatest number of people.


Defence of Usury, 1788

Bentham's opinions about monetary economics were completely different from those of David Ricardo; however, they had some similarities to those of Henry Thornton. He focused on monetary expansion as a means of helping to create full employment. He was also aware of the relevance of forced saving, propensity to consume, the saving-investment relationship, and other matters that form the content of modern income and employment analysis. His monetary view was close to the fundamental concepts employed in his model of utilitarian decision making. His work is considered to be an early precursor of modern welfare economics.

Bentham stated that pleasures and pains can be ranked according to their value or "dimension" such as intensity, duration, certainty of a pleasure or a pain. He was concerned with maxima and minima of pleasures and pains; and they set a precedent for the future employment of the maximisation principle in the economics of the consumer, the firm and the search for an optimum in welfare economics.[73]

Bentham advocated "Pauper Management" which involved the creation of a chain of large workhouses.[74][75]

Law reform

Bentham was the first person to be an aggressive advocate for the codification of all of the common law into a coherent set of statutes; he was actually the person who coined the verb "to codify" to refer to the process of drafting a legal code.[76] He lobbied hard for the formation of codification commissions in both England and the United States, and went so far as to write to President James Madison in 1811 to volunteer to write a complete legal code for the young country. After he learned more about American law and realised that most of it was state-based, he promptly wrote to the governors of every single state with the same offer.

During his lifetime, Bentham's codification efforts were completely unsuccessful. Even today, they have been completely rejected by almost every common law jurisdiction, including England. However, his writings on the subject laid the foundation for the moderately successful codification work of David Dudley Field II in the United States a generation later.[76]

Animal rights

Bentham is widely regarded as one of the earliest proponents of animal rights.[14] He argued and believed that the ability to suffer, not the ability to reason, should be the benchmark, or what he called the "insuperable line". If reason alone were the criterion by which we judge who ought to have rights, human infants and adults with certain forms of disability might fall short, too.[77] In 1789, alluding to the limited degree of legal protection afforded to slaves in the French West Indies by the Code Noir, he wrote:

The day has been, I am sad to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing, as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still. The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognised that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog, is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?[78]

Earlier in that paragraph, Bentham makes clear that he accepted that animals could be killed for food, or in defence of human life, provided that the animal was not made to suffer unnecessarily. Bentham did not object to medical experiments on animals, providing that the experiments had in mind a particular goal of benefit to humanity, and had a reasonable chance of achieving that goal. He wrote that otherwise he had a "decided and insuperable objection" to causing pain to animals, in part because of the harmful effects such practices might have on human beings. In a letter to the editor of the Morning Chronicle in March 1825, he wrote:

I never have seen, nor ever can see, any objection to the putting of dogs and other inferior animals to pain, in the way of medical experiment, when that experiment has a determinate object, beneficial to mankind, accompanied with a fair prospect of the accomplishment of it. But I have a decided and insuperable objection to the putting of them to pain without any such view. To my apprehension, every act by which, without prospect of preponderant good, pain is knowingly and willingly produced in any being whatsoever, is an act of cruelty; and, like other bad habits, the more the correspondent habit is indulged in, the stronger it grows, and the more frequently productive of its bad fruit. I am unable to comprehend how it should be, that to him to whom it is a matter of amusement to see a dog or a horse suffer, it should not be matter of like amusement to see a man suffer; seeing, as I do, how much more morality as well as intelligence, an adult quadruped of those and many other species has in him, than any biped has for some months after he has been brought into existence; nor does it appear to me how it should be, that a person to whom the production of pain, either in the one or in the other instance, is a source of amusement, would scruple to give himself that amusement when he could do so under an assurance of impunity.[79]

Gender and sexuality

Bentham said that it was the placing of women in a legally inferior position that made him choose in 1759, at the age of eleven, the career of a reformist.[80] Bentham spoke for a complete equality between the sexes, arguing in favour of women's suffrage, a woman's right to obtain a divorce, and a woman's right to hold political office. Bentham nevertheless thought women inferior to men regarding such qualities as "strength of intellectual powers" and "firmness of mind".[81]

The essay Paederasty (Offences Against One's Self)[8] (c. 1785) argued for the liberalisation of laws prohibiting homosexual sex.[82] The essay remained unpublished during his lifetime for fear of offending public morality. Some of Bentham's writings on 'sexual non-conformity' were published for the first time in 1931,[9] but Paederasty was not published until 1978.[83] Bentham does not believe homosexual acts to be unnatural, describing them merely as "irregularities of the venereal appetite". The essay chastises the society of the time for making a disproportionate response to what Bentham appears to consider a largely private offence—public displays or forced acts being dealt with rightly by other laws. When the essay was published in the Journal of Homosexuality in 1978, the "Abstract" stated that Bentham's essay was the "first known argument for homosexual law reform in England".[8]

This is the first publication of Jeremy Bentham's essay on "Paederasty," written about 1785. The essay which runs to over 60 manuscript pages, is the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England. Bentham advocates the decriminalization of' sodomy, which in his day was punished by hanging. He argues that homosexual acts do not "weaken" men, or threaten population or marriage, and documents their prevalence in ancient Greece and Rome. Bentham opposes punishment on utilitarian grounds and attacks ascetic sexual morality. In the preceding article (Journal of Homosexuality, 3(4), 1978, p. 383-387) the editor's introduction discussed the essay in the light of 18th-century legal opinion and quoted Bentham's manuscript notes that reveal his anxieties about expressing his views.

-- Offences Against One's Self: Paederasty, by Jeremy Bentham


For Bentham, transparency had moral value. For example, Journalism puts power-holders under moral scrutiny. However, Bentham wanted such transparency to apply to everyone. This he describes by picturing the world as a gymnasium in which each "gesture, every turn of limb or feature, in those whose motions have a visible impact on the general happiness, will be noticed and marked down".[84] He considered both surveillance and transparency to be useful ways of generating understanding and improvements for people's lives.[85]

Fictional entities

Bentham distinguished among fictional entities what he called "fabulous entities" like Prince Hamlet or a centaur, from what he termed "fictitious entities", or necessary objects of discourse, similar to Kant's categories,[86] such as nature, custom, or the social contract.[87]

Bentham and University College London

Bentham is widely associated with the foundation in 1826 of London University (the institution that, in 1836, became University College London), though he was 78 years old when the University opened and played only an indirect role in its establishment. His direct involvement was limited to his buying a single £100 share in the new University, making him just one of over a thousand shareholders.[88]

Henry Tonks' imaginary scene of Bentham approving the building plans of London University

Bentham and his ideas can nonetheless be seen as having inspired several of the actual founders of the University. He strongly believed that education should be more widely available, particularly to those who were not wealthy or who did not belong to the established church; in Bentham's time, membership of the Church of England and the capacity to bear considerable expenses were required of students entering the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. As the University of London was the first in England to admit all, regardless of race, creed or political belief, it was largely consistent with Bentham's vision. There is some evidence that, from the sidelines, he played a "more than passive part" in the planning discussions for the new institution, although it is also apparent that "his interest was greater than his influence".[88] He failed in his efforts to see his disciple John Bowring appointed professor of English or History, but he did oversee the appointment of another pupil, John Austin, as the first professor of Jurisprudence in 1829.

The more direct associations between Bentham and UCL—the College's custody of his Auto-icon (see above) and of the majority of his surviving papers—postdate his death by some years: the papers were donated in 1849, and the Auto-icon in 1850. A large painting by Henry Tonks hanging in UCL's Flaxman Gallery depicts Bentham approving the plans of the new university, but it was executed in 1922 and the scene is entirely imaginary. Since 1959 (when the Bentham Committee was first established) UCL has hosted the Bentham Project, which is progressively publishing a definitive edition of Bentham's writings.

UCL now endeavours to acknowledge Bentham's influence on its foundation, while avoiding any suggestion of direct involvement, by describing him as its "spiritual founder".[17]


The back of No. 19, York Street (1848). In 1651 John Milton moved into a "pretty garden-house" in Petty France. He lived there until the Restoration. Later it became No. 19 York Street, belonged to Jeremy Bentham (who for a time lived next door), was occupied successively by James Mill and William Hazlitt, and finally demolished in 1877.[89][90]

Jeremy Bentham House in Bethnal Green, East London; a modernist apartment block named after the philosopher

Bentham was an obsessive writer and reviser, but was constitutionally incapable, except on rare occasions, of bringing his work to completion and publication.[58] Most of what appeared in print in his lifetime (see list of published works online)[91] was prepared for publication by others. Several of his works first appeared in French translation, prepared for the press by Étienne Dumont, for example, Theory of Legislation, Volume 2 (Principles of the Penal Code) 1840, Weeks, Jordan, & Company. Boston. Some made their first appearance in English in the 1820s as a result of back-translation from Dumont's 1802 collection (and redaction) of Bentham's writing on civil and penal legislation.


• Bentham, Jeremy (1787). Panopticon or the Inspection-House – via Wikisource.
• On the Liberty of the Press, and Public Discussion. Hone. 1821.
• Schofield, Philip; Pease-Watkin, Catherine; Blamires, Cyprian, eds. (2002). Rights, Representation, and Reform: Nonsense upon Stilts and Other Writings on the French Revolution. Oxford: University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-924863-6.
• Bowring, John, ed. (1834). Deontology or, The science of morality. Vol. 1. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman. p. 101.
• "Gulphs in Mankind's Career of Prosperity: A Critique of Adam Smith on Interest Rate Restrictions". Econ Journal Watch. Fairfax. 5 (1): 66. January 2008.
• An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation . 1780 – via Wikisource.
• A fragment on government . 1776 – via Wikisource. This was an unsparing criticism of some introductory passages relating to political theory in William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England. The book, published anonymously, was well received and credited to some of the greatest minds of the time. Bentham disagreed with Blackstone's defence of judge-made law, his defence of legal fictions, his theological formulation of the doctrine of mixed government, his appeal to a social contract and his use of the vocabulary of natural law. Bentham's "Fragment" was only a small part of a Commentary on the Commentaries, which remained unpublished until the twentieth century.
• Crompton, Louis, ed. (2008) [1785]. "Offences Against One's Self". Journal of Homosexuality. 3 (4): 389–406. doi:10.1300/J082v03n04_07. ISSN 0091-8369. PMID 353189.
• Short Review of the Declaration . 1776 – via Wikisource. An attack on the United States Declaration of Independence.
• Bentham, Jeremy (1816). Defence of Usury; shewing the impolicy of the present legal restraints on the terms of pecuniary bargains in a letters to a friend to which is added a letter to Adam Smith, Esq. LL.D. on the discouragement opposed by the above restraints to the progress of inventive industry (3rd ed.). London: Payne & Foss. Bentham wrote a series of thirteen "Letters" addressed to Adam Smith, published in 1787 as Defence of Usury. Bentham's main argument against the restriction is that "projectors" generate positive externalities. G.K. Chesterton identified Bentham's essay on usury as the very beginning of the "modern world". Bentham's arguments were very influential. "Writers of eminence" moved to abolish the restriction, and repeal was achieved in stages and fully achieved in England in 1854. There is little evidence as to Smith's reaction. He did not revise the offending passages in The Wealth of Nations, but Smith made little or no substantial revisions after the third edition of 1784.
• Essay on Political Tactics containing six of the Principal Rules proper to be observed by a Political Assembly In the process of a Forming a Decision: with the Reasons on Which They Are Grounded; and a comparative application of them to British and French Practice: Being a Fragment of a larger Work, a sketch of which is subjoined (First ed.). London: T. Payne. 1791.
• Emancipate Your Colonies! Addressed to the National Convention of France A° 1793, shewing the uselessness and mischievousness of distant dependencies to an European state . London: Robert Heward. 1830 – via Wikisource.
• Anarchical Fallacies; Being an examination of the Declaration of Rights issued during the French Revolution (London ed.). 1796. Retrieved 8 January 2016. An attack on the Declaration of the Rights of Man decreed by the French Revolution, and critique of the natural rights philosophy underlying it.
• Traités de législation civile et pénale (1802, edited by Étienne Dumont. 3 vols)
• Punishments and Rewards (1811)
• Panopticon versus New South Wales: or, the Panopticon Penitentiary System, Compared. Containing, 1. Two Letters to Lord Pelham, Secretary of State, Comparing the two Systems on the Ground of Expediency. 2. Plea for the Constitution: Representing the Illegalities involved in the Penal Colonization System. Anno 1803, printed: now first published (1812)
• A Table of the Springs of Action . London: sold by R. Hunter. 1817.
• "Swear Not At All" (1817)
• Plan of Parliamentary Reform, in the form of Catechism with Reasons for Each Article, with An Introduction shewing the Necessity and the Inadequacy of Moderate Reform. London: R. Hunter, successor to Mr. Johnson. 1817.
• Church-of-Englandism and its Catechism Examined: Preceded by the Structures on the Exclusionary System, as pursued in the National Society of Schools: Interspersed with Parallel Views of the English and Scottish Established and Non-Established Churches: And Concluding with Remedies Proposed for Abuses Indicated: and An Examination of the Parliamentary System of Church Reform Lately Pursued, and Still Pursuing: Including the Proposed New Churches. London: Effingham Wilson. 1818.
• The Elements of the Art of Packing, as applied to special juries particularly in cases of libel law. London: Effingham Wilson. 1821.
• The Influence of Natural Religion upon the Temporal Happiness of Mankind (1822, written with George Grote and published under the pseudonym Philip Beauchamp)
• Not Paul But Jesus (1823, published under the pseudonym Gamaliel Smith)
• The Book of Fallacies from Unfinished Papers of Jeremy Bentham (First ed.). London: John and H.L. Hunt. 1824.
• Dumont, M., ed. (1825). A Treatise on Judicial Evidence Extracted from the Manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham, Esq (1st ed.). London: Baldwin, Cradock, & Joy.
• Rationale of Judicial Evidence, specially applied to English Practice, Extracted from the Manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham, Esq. I (First ed.). London: Hunt & Clarke. 1827.

Posthumous publications

On his death, Bentham left manuscripts amounting to an estimated 30 million words, which are now largely held by UCL's Special Collections (c. 60,000 manuscript folios) and the British Library (c.15,000 folios).

Bowring (1838–1843)

John Bowring, the young radical writer who had been Bentham's intimate friend and disciple, was appointed his literary executor and charged with the task of preparing a collected edition of his works. This appeared in 11 volumes in 1838–1843. Bowring based much of his edition on previously published texts (including those of Dumont) rather than Bentham's own manuscripts, and elected not to publish Bentham's works on religion at all. The edition was described by the Edinburgh Review on first publication as "incomplete, incorrect and ill-arranged", and has since been repeatedly criticised both for its omissions and for errors of detail; while Bowring's memoir of Bentham's life included in volumes 10 and 11 was described by Sir Leslie Stephen as "one of the worst biographies in the language".[92] Nevertheless, Bowring's remained the standard edition of most of Bentham's writings for over a century, and is still only partially superseded: it includes such interesting writings on international[ b] relations as Bentham's A Plan for an Universal and Perpetual Peace written 1786–89, which forms part IV of the Principles of International Law.

Stark (1952–1954)

In 1952–1954, Werner Stark published a three-volume set, Jeremy Bentham's Economic Writings, in which he attempted to bring together all of Bentham's writings on economic matters, including both published and unpublished material. Although a significant achievement, the work is considered by scholars to be flawed in many points of detail,[93] and a new edition of the economic writings is currently in preparation by the Bentham Project.

Bentham Project (1968–present)

Further information: Transcribe Bentham

In 1959, the Bentham Committee was established under the auspices of University College London with the aim of producing a definitive edition of Bentham's writings. It set up the Bentham Project[94] to undertake the task, and the first volume in The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham was published in 1968. The Collected Works are providing many unpublished works, as well as much-improved texts of works already published. To date, 31 volumes have appeared; the complete edition is projected to run to around seventy. The volume Of Laws in General (1970) was found to contain many errors and has been replaced by Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence (2010)[95] In June 2017, Volumes 1–5 were re-published in open access by UCL Press.[citation needed]

To assist in this task, the Bentham papers at UCL are being digitised by crowdsourcing their transcription. Transcribe Bentham is an award-winning crowdsourced manuscript transcription project, run by University College London's Bentham Project,[96] in partnership with UCL's UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, UCL Library Services, UCL Learning and Media Services, the University of London Computer Centre, and the online community. The project was launched in September 2010 and is making freely available, via a specially designed transcription interface, digital images of UCL's vast Bentham Papers collection—which runs to some 60,000 manuscript folios—to engage the public and recruit volunteers to help transcribe the material. Volunteer-produced transcripts will contribute to the Bentham Project's production of the new edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, and will be uploaded to UCL's digital Bentham Papers repository,[97] widening access to the collection for all and ensuring its long-term preservation. Manuscripts can be viewed and transcribed by signing-up for a transcriber account at the Transcription Desk,[98] via the Transcribe Bentham website.[99]

Free, flexible textual search of the full collection of Bentham Papers is now possible through an experimental handwritten text image indexing and search system,[100] developed by the PRHLT research center in the framework of the READ project.

Death and the auto-icon

Bentham's Public dissection

Bentham's auto-icon in a new display case at the Student Centre in 2020.

Bentham's auto-icon in 2003

Jeremy Bentham's severed head, on temporary display at UCL

Bentham died on 6 June 1832 aged 84 at his residence in Queen Square Place in Westminster, London, England. He had continued to write up to a month before his death, and had made careful preparations for the dissection of his body after death and its preservation as an auto-icon. As early as 1769, when Bentham was 21 years old, he made a will leaving his body for dissection to a family friend, the physician and chemist George Fordyce, whose daughter, Maria Sophia (1765–1858), married Jeremy's brother Samuel Bentham.[18] A paper written in 1830, instructing Thomas Southwood Smith to create the auto-icon, was attached to his last will, dated 30 May 1832.[18]

On 8 June 1832, two days after his death, invitations were distributed to a select group of friends, and on the following day at 3 p.m., Southwood Smith delivered a lengthy oration over Bentham's remains in the Webb Street School of Anatomy & Medicine in Southwark, London. The printed oration contains a frontispiece with an engraving of Bentham's body partly covered by a sheet.[18]

Afterward, the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the "Auto-icon", with the skeleton padded out with hay and dressed in Bentham's clothes. Originally kept by Bentham's disciple, Thomas Southwood Smith,[101] it was acquired by University College London in 1850. It is kept on public display at the main entrance of the UCL Student Centre. It was previously displayed at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the college until it was moved in 2020. Upon the retirement of Sir Malcolm Grant as provost of the College in 2013, however, the body was present at Grant's final council meeting. As of 2013, this was the only time that the body of Bentham has been taken to a UCL council meeting.[102][103] (There is a persistent myth that the body of Bentham is present at all council meetings.)[102][104]

Bentham had intended the auto-icon to incorporate his actual head, mummified to resemble its appearance in life. Southwood Smith's experimental efforts at mummification, based on practices of the indigenous people of New Zealand and involving placing the head under an air pump over sulfuric acid and drawing off the fluids, although technically successful, left the head looking distastefully macabre, with dried and darkened skin stretched tautly over the skull.[18] The auto-icon was therefore given a wax head, fitted with some of Bentham's own hair. The real head was displayed in the same case as the auto-icon for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks. It was later locked away.[104] In 2017, plans were announced to re-exhibit the head and at the same time obtain a DNA sample for sequencing with the goal of identifying genetic evidence of autism.[105]

In 2020 the auto-icon was put into a new glass display case and moved to the entrance of UCL's new Student Centre on Gordon Square.[106]


The Faculty of Laws at University College London occupies Bentham House, next to the main UCL campus.[107]

Bentham's name was adopted by the Australian litigation funder IMF Limited to become Bentham IMF Limited on 28 November 2013, in recognition of Bentham being "among the first to support the utility of litigation funding".[108]

See also

• List of civil rights leaders – Wikipedia list article
• List of liberal theorists – Wikipedia list article
• Philosophy of happiness
• Rule according to higher law – Principle that no law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice.
• Rule of law – Political situation where every citizen is subject to the law


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2. a word Bentham himself coined
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9. Campos Boralevi 2012, p. 37.
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16. Roberts, Roberts & Bisson 2016, p. 307.
17. "UCL Academic Figures". Archived from the original on 18 December 2010.
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20. Warren 1969.
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22. Dupont & Onuf 2008, pp. 32–33.
23. Armitage 2007.
24. Anonymous 1776, p. 3.
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26. Roth, Mitchel P (2006), Prisons and prison systems: a global encyclopedia, Greenwood, p. 33, ISBN 9780313328565
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28. Semple 1993, pp. 134–40.
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37. Semple 1993, pp. 194–7.
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40. Semple 1993, pp. 226–31.
41. Semple 1993, pp. 236–9.
42. Semple 1993, p. 244.
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50. Darío, Rubén (1887). "La Literatura en Centro-América". Revista de artes y letras (in Spanish). Biblioteca Nacional de Chile. XI: 591. MC0060418. Retrieved 25 March 2019. In Guatemala there was Valle, a man of vast intellect, friend of Jeremías Bentham, with whom he corresponded frequently. Bentham sent him shortly before dying a lock of his hair and a golden ring, shiny as José Cecilio's style.
51. Laura Geggel (11 September 2018). "Oddball Philosopher Had His Mummified Body Put on Display … and Now His Rings Are Missing". Live Science. Retrieved 26 March 2019. We can safely assume that [Guatemalan philosopher and politician] José del Valle received one, as he is featured wearing it in a portrait," Causer said. "Interestingly, on the bookshelf of that portrait is one of Bentham’s works, as well as a Spanish translation of Say’s 'Traité d’économie politique.' It’s a neat, tangible link between Bentham, Say and del Valle.
52. "Foundation of the Province". SA Memory. State Library of South Australia. 5 February 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
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55. Bartle 1963.
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100. "PRHLT text indexing and search interface for Bentham Papers".
101. Marmoy, C.F.A. (1958). "The 'Auto-Icon' of Jeremy Bentham at University College, London". Medical History. University College London. 2 (2): 77–86. doi:10.1017/s0025727300023486. PMC 1034365. PMID 13526538. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2007. It seems that the case with Bentham's body now rested in New Broad Street; Southwood Smith did not remove to 38 Finsbury Square until several years later. Bentham must have been seen by many visitors, including Charles Dickens.
102. Smallman, Etan (12 July 2013). "Bentham's corpse attends UCL board meeting". Metro. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
103. Das, Subhadra (curator) (19 November 2018). The Boring Talks [#25 Jeremy Bentham's 'Auto-Icon'] (podcast). BBC.
104. "UCL Bentham Project". University College London. Archived from the original on 12 November 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
105. Sarah Knapton (2 October 2017). "Severed head of eccentric Jeremy Bentham to go on display as scientists test DNA to see if he was autistic". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
106. "Jeremy Bentham's Body Gets A Contentious New Box At UCL". Londonist. 24 February 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
107. "About UCL Laws". University College London. 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
108. "About us". Bentham IMF Limited. 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2014.


• Armitage, David (2007). The Declaration of Independence: A Global History. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02282-9.
• Bartle, G. F. (1963). "Jeremy Bentham and John Bowring: a study of the relationship between Bentham and the editor of his Collected Works". Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research. 36 (93): 27–35. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.1963.tb00620.x.
• Bedau, Hugo Adam (1983). "Bentham's Utilitarian Critique of the Death Penalty". The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. 74 (3): 1033–65. doi:10.2307/1143143. JSTOR 1143143.
• Benthall, Jonathan (2007). "Animal liberation and rights". Anthropology Today. 23 (2): 1–3. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8322.2007.00494.x. ISSN 0268-540X.
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• Campos Boralevi, Lea (2012). Bentham and the Oppressed. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-086983-5.
• Crimmins, James E. (1986). "Bentham on Religion: Atheism and the Secular Society". Journal of the History of Ideas. University of Pennsylvania Press. 47 (1): 95–110. doi:10.2307/2709597. JSTOR 2709597.
• Crimmins, James E. (1990). Secular Utilitarianism: Social Science and the Critique of Religion in the Thought of Jeremy Bentham. Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-827741-5.
• Cutrofello, Andrew (2014). All for Nothing: Hamlet's Negativity. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-52634-0.
• Dinwiddy, John (2004). Bentham: selected writings of John Dinwiddy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4520-8.
• Dupont, Christian Y.; Onuf, Peter S., eds. (2008). Declaring Independence: The Origin and Influence of America's Founding Document : Featuring the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Library. ISBN 978-0-9799997-0-3.
• Everett, Charles Warren (1969). Jeremy Bentham. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0297179845. OCLC 157781.
• Follett, R. (2000). Evangelicalism, Penal Theory and the Politics of Criminal Law: Reform in England, 1808-30. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-3276-1.
• Foucault, Michel (1977). Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison. Translated by Alan Sheridan. Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN 9780140137224.
• Francione, Gary (2004). "Animals: Property or Persons". In Sunstein, Cass R.; Nussbaum, Martha C. (eds.). Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 978-0-19-515217-3.
• González, Ana Marta (2012). Contemporary Perspectives on Natural Law: Natural Law as a Limiting Concept. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4094-8566-7.
• Grayling, A. C. (2013). "19 York Street". The Quarrel of the Age: The Life and Times Of William Hazlitt. ISBN 9781780226798.
• Gruen, Lori (1 July 2003). "The Moral Status of Animals". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
• Gunn, J. A. W. (1989). "Jeremy Bentham and the Public Interest". In Lively, J.; Reeve, A. (eds.). Modern Political Theory from Hobbes to Marx: Key Debates. London. pp. 199–219.
• Hamburger, Joseph (1965). Intellectuals in Politics: John Stuart Mill and the Philosophic Radicals. Yale University Press.
• Harris, Jonathan (1998). "Bernardino Rivadavia and Benthamite 'discipleship'". Latin American Research Review. 33: 129–49.
• Harrison, Ross (1983). Bentham. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-9526-0.
• Harrison, Ross (1995). "Jeremy Bentham". In Honderich, Ted (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 85–88.
• Hart, Jenifer (July 1965). "Nineteenth-Century Social Reform: A Tory Interpretation of History". Past & Present. 31 (31): 39–61. doi:10.1093/past/31.1.39. JSTOR 650101.
• Harte, Negley (1998). "The owner of share no. 633: Jeremy Bentham and University College London". In Fuller, Catherine (ed.). The Old Radical: representations of Jeremy Bentham. London: University College London.
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• Rosen, F. (1983). Jeremy Bentham and Representative Democracy: A Study of the "Constitutional Code". Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-822656-X.
• Rosen, Frederick (1990). "The Origins of Liberal Utilitarianism: Jeremy Bentham and Liberty". In Bellamy, R. (ed.). Victorian Liberalism: Nineteenth-century Political Thought and Practice. London. p. 5870.
• Rosen, Frederick (1992). Bentham, Byron, and Greece: constitutionalism, nationalism, and early liberal political thought. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-820078-1.
• Rosen, Frederick, ed. (2007). Jeremy Bentham. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-2566-7.
• Schofield, Philip (2006). Utility and Democracy: The Political Thought of Jeremy Bentham. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-820856-3.
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• Schofield, Philip (2009). "Werner Stark and Jeremy Bentham's Economic Writings". History of European Ideas. 35 (4): 475–94. doi:10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2009.05.003.
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• Semple, Janet (1993). Bentham's Prison: a Study of the Panopticon Penitentiary. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-827387-8.
• Spiegel, Henry William (1991). The Growth of Economic Thought (3rd ed.). Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-0973-4.
• Stephen, Leslie (1894). "Milton, John (1608–1674)" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 38. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 32.
• Stephen, Leslie (2011). The English Utilitarians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108041003.
• Sunstein, Cass R. (2004). "Animal Rights". In Sunstein, Cass R.; Nussbaum, Martha C. (eds.). Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 978-0-19-515217-3.
• Thomas, William (1979). The Philosophic Radicals: Nine Studies in Theory and Practice, 1817-1841. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-822490-7.
• Twining, William (1985). Theories of Evidence: Bentham and Wigmore. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1285-9.
• Vergara, Francisco (1998). "A Critique of Elie Halévy; refutation of an important distortion of British moral philosophy"(PDF). Philosophy. London: Royal Institute of Philosophy. 73 (1): 97–111. doi:10.1017/s0031819197000144.
• Vergara, Francisco (2011). "Bentham and Mill on the "Quality" of Pleasures". Revue d'études benthamiennes. Paris (9). doi:10.4000/etudes-benthamiennes.422. ISSN 1760-7507.
• Williford, Miriam (1975). "Bentham on the Rights of Women". Journal of the History of Ideas. 36 (1): 167–176. doi:10.2307/2709019. ISSN 0022-5037. JSTOR 2709019.

Further reading

• Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Benthamism". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
• Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bentham, Jeremy" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
• Macdonell, John (1885). "Bentham, Jeremy" . In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 4. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
• Jeremy Bentham, "Critique of the Doctrine of Inalienable, Natural Rights", in Anarchical Fallacies, vol. 2 of Bowring (ed.), Works, 1843.
• Jeremy Bentham, "Offences Against One's Self: Paederasty", c. 1785, free audiobook from LibriVox.

External links

• Portraits of Jeremy Bentham at the National Portrait Gallery, London
• Works by Jeremy Bentham at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Jeremy Bentham at Internet Archive
• Works by Jeremy Bentham at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Transcribe Bentham, initiative run by the Bentham Project that has its own website with useful links.
• The curious case of Jeremy Bentham at
• Jeremy Bentham, categorised links
• The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an extensive biographical reference of Bentham.
• "Jeremy Bentham at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007" A play-reading of the life and legacy of Jeremy Bentham.
• Jeremy Bentham at Find a Grave
• Jeremy Bentham, biographical profile, including quotes and further resources, at
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed May 20, 2020 6:54 am

Eugenics: The Academy’s Complicity
by Dr. Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman
University College London [UCL]

“The British invented racism,” said the UK’s first “black female” MP. “Britain…almost invented racism,” said the US’ first “black male” ambassador to the UN. If by “racism” we mean “the science of improving stock”, by “giv[ing] to the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable”, then Diane Abbott in April 1988 and Andrew Young in April 1977 were right: the British invented eugenics. More precisely, the University of London invented national eugenics, in the service of the British Empire.

By the end of the 19th century it was clear, at least to the British, which nation had won the 400-year-long European competition to colonise our planet. Indeed, this self-confidence was very soon vindicated, when, following that colonial competition’s catastrophic climax (which we currently celebrate under the euphemism of “Great War”), the British Empire became the most extensive, populous and influential empire the world had ever known.

Yet uneasy lay the head that wore the crown. Birth rates in free-fall; women and workers wanting rights; a majority of men unfit to fight against Africans – it seemed that Britain, as David Lloyd George put it, was an “A1 Empire with a C3 Population”. Wealthy “white” men of Britain were plagued with anxiety that their kind were degenerating to such an extent that they would soon be toppled from their proper place at the top of the pile.

Enter eugenics. Whereas Charles Darwin’s natural selection described what he saw in nature, his half-cousin Francis Galton’s national selection prescribed what action we should take in society. Crucially, this was a prescription for British society, since, said Galton, “to no nation is a high human breed more necessary than to our own, for we plant our stock all over the world”. Yet, despite Galton’s assertion in 1883 – when he coined the word from the Greek eugenes, meaning “good in stock” – “improving stock” was not yet taken seriously as a “science”.

For this reason, on 10 October 1904 Galton wrote to the principal of the University of London, offering £500 a year over three years towards a new “Research Fellow” in “National Eugenics”, or “Francis Galton Scholar”. Galton “presumed that the University will provide accommodation for the person appointed” and “that the stamped official writing paper of the University may be used”. Only four days later, a committee, including the principal and the chairman of convocation, met to write the job description. Seven days later, the senate signed it off; 16 days later, an advertisement appeared in The Times.

Crucially, Galton’s disciple and protégé, biometrician Karl Pearson, said his “recollection of the meeting is that most of the time was spent in drafting a definition”, which Galton “finally approved”: “The term National Eugenics is here defined as the study of the agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally.”

This institutional act of definition was, in fact, an act of legitimation. Such is the power of the university that not only could it at the stroke of a pen turn the Anthropometric Laboratory (founded in 1884) into the Eugenics Record Office, with rooms provided at 50 Gower Street (now part of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), it could also turn what had for the previous 20 years been nothing more than a gentleman’s obsessive hobby into the academy’s official discipline.

Eugenics is a two-edged sword: as much a concern of the pre-First World War British Fabian Left as of the pre-Second World War German Nazi Right, it intellectually underpinned policies not only of segregation, sterilisation and Shoah, but also of birth control, public hospitals and the welfare state. Furthermore, it is now entrenched in our universities as a foundation of legitimate disciplines such as economics, statistics and genetics. How, then, d’you solve a problem like eugenics?

A frequent response is to rename. Yet putting right this wrong is not as simple as renaming a lecture theatre, an academic building or a prestigious professorship. In the 1960s, the Francis Galton Laboratory for the Study of National Eugenics (founded in 1907) became the Galton Laboratory of the Department of Human Genetics and Biometry, and the Galton Professor of Eugenics (founded in 1911, with Pearson the first to hold the chair) became the Galton Professor of Human Genetics. That did not stop University College London, in 1980, from renaming the Bartlett Building the Pearson Building. Ignorance did not lead to justice. Justice demands a public discussion about why we have (and about why, for so long, we have kept) those names.

At an event this week, 110 years to the day that the university legitimised Galton’s research on eugenics, UCL will face up to its complicity in constructing unjust racial hierarchy. This is virtually without precedent. Only Brown University in the US has been as bold: following an inquiry into its historical relationship with European enslavement of African peoples, Brown established the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and the Ruth J. Simmons Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Slavery and Justice, named in honour of the president who had the courage to launch the inquiry. No British university has ever been so candid. Will any British university show such courage?


History of eugenics at UCL [University College London]: The long-discredited science written into university buildings
by Seren John-Wood

A great deal of scientific progress is represented in the names now immortalised on UCL’s buildings. So are a great deal of racist, classist and ableist ideologies.


1. Galton Lecture Theatre

Widely considered the father of the movement, Francis Galton coined ‘eugenics’ as the science of ‘improving stock’. In 1904, Galton set up the Eugenics Records Office, legitimising the science and establishing UCL as its centre. Eugenics, with the lofty goal of ‘bettering the human race’, sought to ‘weed’ society by imposing racist and classist ideas about superiority. Galton, who advocated for the segregation of ‘elite’ humans from those considered unintelligent or deviant, thought eugenics not just a science but a philosophy.

2. Pearson Building

If Galton was the father of eugenics, Karl Pearson was the dedicated disciple, providing statistical data to corroborate its claims. A mathematician and biostatistician, Pearson was also directed the research of Galton Laboratory and set up a Chair of National Eugenics. Pearson was even more radical than Galton, stating ‘superior and inferior races cannot co-exist; if the former are to make effective use of global resources; the latter must be extirpated.’

3. Darwin Building

The former site of Galton Laboratory of National Eugenics was replaced in 1984 with the Darwin Building, home of biological sciences, due in part to the decline in popularity of eugenics. However, eugenics history still persists in its title. Whilst difficult to dispute Darwin’s commemoration, it is noteworthy that Darwin was not necessarily opposed to the eugenics movement -– Darwin praised Galton’s work, stating ‘I have never read anything so interesting and original.’

4. Petrie Museum

Housing the collection of Egyptologist William Petrie, this building is already problematic for its contribution to Britain’s legacy of appropriating other cultures’ artefacts. However, of present concern is its namesake’s obsession with a superior ‘Dynastic Race.’ Petrie was convinced that the sophisticated culture behind his uncovered artefacts could not have been African in origin. Petrie theorised that a ‘Caucasoid race’ from northern Europe conquered Ancient Egypt and introduced a superior culture, drawing on racist experiments on skull measurements.

5. Medawar Building

If Peter Medawar, while esteemed for his contribution to the development of organ transplants, also advocated that eugenics could eradicate ‘bad genes’. Medawar’s beliefs, then-popular among scientists, were conceptually separate from the goal of a ‘superior’ human, which has been described as ‘positive eugenics.’ Medawar’s interests lie in the field of ‘negative eugenics’ – eliminating traits perceived to be the cause of suffering. He discouraged procreation among those with ‘genetic abnormalities,’ suggesting they shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

6. J.B.S. Haldane Room

Called ‘the cleverest man I ever knew’ by Medawar, Haldane was a geneticist, socialist, and renowned eccentric, whose views also mirrored the contemporary left-wing support of state intervention on family planning. Whilst ostensibly re-moved from the racist and classist features of eugenics, Haldane’s views still attempt to limit the rights of certain groups to pro-create. Haldane believed in the potential to eliminate disease and suffering and held the popular assumption that the upper classes had a ‘superior’ genetic make-up.

7. Francis Crick Institute

The Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research centre founded in 2015, is named for the famous contributor to the discovery of DNA. Crick also supported eugenics, radically proposing the potential of artificial insemination to ‘licenses’ for procreation in order to discourage the poor from having children, and that only babies with certain genetic criteria should be allowed to live.

8. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Initial location of the Eugenics Records Office, set up in 1905 at UCL by Galton and Pearson. In an article for the Times, the establishment of the Eugenics Records Office was described as an act which turned ‘what had for the previous 20 years been nothing more than a gentleman’s obsessive hobby into the academy’s official discipline’.

9. Marie Stopes House

Whilst not UCL-affiliated, Stopes House is named after an alum. [Marie] Stopes, a scientist and women’s advocate, studied and lectured at UCL before resigning in 1920 to set up the ‘Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress,’ and campaign for a birth control clinic. However, racist and ableist beliefs motivated her campaign—she wrote that babies had the right to ‘be given a body untainted by any heritable disease, uncontaminated by any of the racial poisons,’ something achieved with birth control.

10. R.A. Fisher Centre for Computational Biology

R.A. Fisher, an important statistician and geneticist, was also the second Chair of Eugenics and founding member of the Cambridge Eugenics Society. Given his conception of the notion of heritability, Fisher’s role as ‘an ardent eugenicist’ is unsurprising. Fisher believed that human divisions differed in their innate ‘quality,’ writing that civilisations fail because people of ‘low genetic value’ procreate more than people with ‘high genetic value’.
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