Letter from Samuel Underhill to Robert Owen

Scope and Content

Manuscript letter, in which Underhill recounts the events in his life which led him to become involved with a community and also provides insight into some of the circumstances which effect his community.

Underhill explains that he was previously a Quaker, but left seven years previous due to growing doubts regarding the "original immortality and the existence of the devil"; he became a "sceptic". Having learnt from his father the skills of farming and those of a blacksmith he then, at the age of 26, began to study medicine. Underhill explains that such a wide range of skills has proved "very advantageous" for life in a community, and thus "no department of industry" with which he was acquainted escaped his attention allowing him to embrace community life to the full.

The letter continues with Underhill providing insight into life in the community at Kendal, Stark County, Ohio in which he lives. He writes that currently the community is to be found in a "prosperous state" with income far exceeding expenditure and a "handsome balance" being maintained. However, Underhill provides evidence of issues which threaten the community, noting a number of factors which he considers to be a "curse" on community living. Amongst these are inequality between the members - "privileged men are bad timber in a community" and short term capital investment.

An invitation is made to Owen to visit the Kendal community, which Underhill believes is "the best established of any one of the New System".

Note

Stamped number: 126