Icarian Colony

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In 1848 French immigrants established the Icarian colony at a location near the site of present-day Justin and fifteen miles north of Fort Worth. The first cabin and sheds may have been constructed near the confluence of Denton and Oliver creeks. The colonists held claim to 10,240 acres platted in checkerboard fashion. Little information is available on the community itself. Icaria never became a viable, permanent settlement, and no more than seventy inhabitants participated in the communal experiment at any given time. The colony survived less than a year. From beginning to end, the project was characterized by poor planning, opposition within the Icarian movement, inadequate financing, deception at several levels, debilitating physical hardships, and human tragedy.

The French socialist √Čtienne Cabet organized the Icarian experiment in Texas. In 1839 he published a novel, Voyage en Icarie, which set forth his concepts of utopian communalism. A centralized state that provided complete freedom and material wealth characterized Cabet's fictional paradise. In Icaria everyone would share abundant wealth on an equal basis, and all private property and capital would be abolished. Cabet's ideas became so popular that he soon found himself at the head of one of the most influential socialist movements in France in the tumultuous decade of the 1840s. From May 1847 until February 1848, Cabet concentrated his efforts on establishing a communal experiment in Texas. Deviating from his fictional utopia of Icarie, he organized the commune as an investment adventure that required an original contribution of 600 francs for each participant and gave Cabet dictatorial powers. He called for 10,000 to 20,000 immigrants and predicted that the venture would ultimately attract a million participants. Subsequently, he negotiated a contract with the Peters Land Company for what was announced to the public as a million acres of land in Texas.

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Rondel V. Davidson | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Icarian Colony is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists

No

Place type

Icarian Colony is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Justin)

Has Post Office

No

Is Incorporated

No