Tuesday, January 25, 2011
In the mid-nineteenth century, followers of Etienne Cabet traveled to America to establish "Icaria," a republic founded on socialist and democratic principles. With the blessing of the Illinois legislature, the Icarians embarked upon a bold experiment in self-governance. Although they saw themselves as part of an international community, citizens of Icaria also organized themselves into colonies ruled by Icarian law. In 1850, the people approved a constitution that regulated nearly every facet of economic and social life. Strife between rival factions within the community, a painful transition from charismatic leadership to democratic governance, and sharp disagreements over property and sex equality eventually led to the dissolution of Icaria in America.