Revisiting Nashoba: Slavery, Utopia, and Frances Wright in America, 1818–1826

From American Literary History
  • Gail Bederman


In 1825, Frances Wright, British author and protégée of the aging Marquis de Lafayette, proposed an antislavery experiment that became known as Nashoba. Although Nashoba soon failed, it has made its way into the broad narrative of U.S. history (and many U.S. history textbooks) as an inspiring interracial Utopia—a noble, if transient, step on the road to abolitionism and racial equality. As one recent textbook puts it, “Influenced by Robert Owen and New Harmony, Frances Wright established an interracial Utopian community, Nashoba, near Memphis, Tennessee” (Clark et al. 459). Another characterizes Nashoba as “a bold plan to set up a Utopian community of whites and freed slaves who would live together in full equality” (Henretta et al. 336).1


United States Unite Labor Slave Owner Slave Labor Free Black 
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Works Cited

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Copyright information

© Organization of American Historians 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail Bederman

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