1855 La Reunion Considerant’s Dallas Texas Socialist Utopia

Victor Considerant

Victor Considerant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

La Réunion socialist utopia community formed in 1855 by French ,Belgian , and Swiss colonists near the forks of the Trinity River in Texas , USA .The Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas is about three miles east of the colony site. The founders of the community were inspired by the utopia thought of the French philosopher François Marie Charles Fourier . Followers of Fourier established 29 similar colonies in various parts of the United States during the 19th century.In 1860 the declining colony was incorporated into the expanding city of Dallas.[1] Fourier’s ‘Four Movements’ had a pivotal influence of Victor Considerant’s desire to set up this utopia.
Charles Fourier Cambridge University Press "Theory of the Four Movements    pg 24 French 1808 original writing.

Charles Fourier Cambridge University Press “Theory of the Four Movements pg 24 French 1808 original writing.

Brief history
The founders of La Réunion intended it to become a socialist utopian colony; they were inspired by the writings of the French philosopher Charles Fourier , who advocated communal production and distribution for communal profit.Unlike other early communist systems, both men and women could vote and individuals could own private property.

  • Watch the attached video to see a socialist revisionist of this dismal redistribution of wealth and control of and individual’s destiny.  I placed it here because it has the best video of the early history before it veers of into liberal arts.
  • 69 of the Avant Garde of the Icarians , socialist utopians, arrived in Denton, Texas (approx.. 50mi North of Dallas) in 1948.  Icarians have roots leading back to the Marquis de Lafayette
  • Socialists appear to be notorious failures with anything related to farming and choosing farming lands.
Founder of La Réunion

La Réunion was founded in Texas by Victor Prosper Considerant , a member of the Fourier movement in Lyon , France . He had been forced into exile after staging protests against Napoléon III’s military expedition to Rome. After personally inspecting an area near the three forks of the Trinity River in Texas , he returned to Europe where he formed a group of future settlers. (The site of the community was in the present-day Reunion District of Dallas, about three miles west of the Reunion Tower.)

Land purchase
Map of the Trinity River and associated watershed

Map of the Trinity River and associated watershed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Map of the Trinity River and associated watershed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Advance agent François Cantagrel was sent ahead to buy 2 acres (8,100 m2) at $700 per acre to establish the location of colony. As the land was not good for farming, the property was a poor choice for the intended colony, although most of the would-be colonists were not farmers. Approximately 200 colonists arrived by ship near present-day Houston . They walked overland to the site of their new colony approximately 250 miles (400 km) northward, with their possessions hauled by ox carts, and arrived on April 22, 1855.

Original population

The general area surrounding the three forks of the Trinity River had about 400 inhabitants at the time. The addition of the French colonists nearly doubled the population. The new arrivals spoke a different language from the settlers, believed in a different system of government and Catholic faith, and brought with them skills that the existing farmers did not possess. The watchmaking, weaving, brewing and storekeeping skills of the new colonists were ill-suited to the establishment of a colony, because they lacked the ability to produce food for themselves.

Texas weather

Although the colonists cultivated wheat and vegetables, they did not produce enough for their needs or in time; their biggest handicap was the uncooperative weather of Texas. A blizzard in May 1856 destroyed the colony’s crops and turned the Trinity River into a sheet of ice. That summer the Texas heat created drought conditions, and what was left of the crops became a feast for an invasion of grasshoppers.

Decline of La Réunion

Although more than 350 European colonists eventually made La Réunion their home, the experiment was already beginning to fail as the population began to leave. Some returned to Europe while others moved out of the area. In 1860 the nearby emerging town of Dallas incorporated La Réunion into its land area; the remaining skilled colonists were absorbed into its specialized workers.

Few reminders remain

Eventually what had been cultivated as farmland at La Réunion was discovered to be covering large deposits of limestone; it was gradually quarried and transported to build the growing state of Texas .

The cemetery on the old colony site still serves as the final resting place for some of the colonists. It is maintained by the City of Dallas and is located just off Fish Trap Road between Singleton Blvd and the Trinity River in west Dallas.The La Réunion Cemetery received a historic marker in 1974.[2]

La'ReunionSocialistUtopia1855

         La Réunion Cemetery 32°47′0″N 96°51′37″W

The Daughters of the American Revolution placed a small memorial to the colony at a nearby golf course. The La Réunion Dallas historical site received a historic marker on April 10, 1924.[3]

The last La Réunion house collapsed in the 1930s, and its ruins are now obscured by thick vegetation. Reunion Tower , a Dallas landmark , was named after the colony and is located a few miles east of where La Réunion once existed.

Legacy

Shortly before the demise of La Réunion, botanist and pharmacist Jacob Bollarrived and taught Julien Reverchon . The latter man became celebrated in his own right as a professor of botany at Baylor University College of Medicine and Pharmacy in Dallas. The first brewery and butcher shops in Dallas were established by former colonists from La Réunion; Maxime Guillot opened a carriage factory that operated for 50 years, helping to make Dallas the world center of the carriage and harness-making industries by 1900.

References
  1. Davidson, Rondel V. “La Réunion” . TSHA Handbook of Texas Online.Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  2. La Réunion Cemetery: 3300 block of Fish Trap Road; in West Dallas, Housing Park: Texas marker #6756 | [1]
  3. La Réunion – Dallas: Stevens Park Golf Course, Tee #6; on Hampton Road at intersection with Old Orchard: Texas marker #6755 | [2]
  • Santerre, George H. White Cliffs of Dallas. The Book Craft, Dallas, 1955.Dallas Public Library Reference: R.976.428 S234W. The Story of La Reunion, the Old French Colony.
  • Considerant, Victor. Au Texas. New York, 1855. Dallas Public Library Reference: REF R334.683 C755A 1975. In French.
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About SpinHacker

Mastering Life
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