Robert Owen

Topics: Robert Owen, New Lanark, New Harmony, Indiana Pages: 7 (2889 words) Published: February 28, 2011
Robert Owen was born on May 14, 1771 in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales. He was the sixth of seven children. Robert Owen was a unique person because he focused heavily on helping out the poor, and earning profit in a way that was highly unusual. He felt that keeping his employees in a safe working environment was essential to the success and quality of the product. Robert Owen insisted on decent working conditions, livable wages, and education for the children. Owen believed that if human beings were treated humanely, both productivity and profits would increase. The outcome of the New Lanark community, which quickly gained international fame, demonstrated Owen’s idea that people are influenced by their environment or surroundings. In the New Lanark community, Owen enhanced his workers environment; he also managed to obtain an increase in profit and productivity. In 1824, Owen and his family moved to the United States in order to pursue his Utopian ideas. He did so by purchasing 20,000 acres of land in New Harmony, Indiana. Unfortunately, the two year experiment of the New Harmony society was a total failure for Owen. The community failed due to the lack of individual sovereignty and private property (Gorb 131). Owen’s life was filled with both success and failure in his plans and ideas. This paper will explain how Robert Owen managed to be successful in Scotland with the creation of the New Lanark community, and contrast this success with his experiment that failed in New Harmony, Indiana. This paper will cover three areas of Robert Owen’s economic excellence and as well as his failures. The first topic I will cover, will be the early years of Owens business career, and how he became a successful manager at New Lanark. Following this topic, I will discuss and explain Owen’s experiment with the mill at New Lanark. To follow that topic will be another experiment with the community at New Harmony. Lastly I want to discuss his followers, the Owenites of Yellow Springs. II. Business Career

Owen first started experiencing success when he entered a partnership with a machine-maker constructing ‘mules’ for making thread. Soon the quality of his thread was recognized as the best in the country, and he quickly found a management position in another mill of Drinkwater’s in Cheshire employing several hundred workers. By this point, the quality of Owen’s product was top of the line, and his name, which was stamped on his shipped produce, became a password in the industry (Gorb 134). Owen’s capacity to handle the administrative techniques of the factory system at a young age is one of the reasons why he became so successful in this industry. He used techniques that were, at the time, completely outside the experience of most men who were pioneering in this new, formal organization (Gorb 134). At the time, it was commonly believed that only religious conviction and draconian laws could restrain the natural anarchy and sloth of the poor (Pickering XVI). Owen had a natural style for dealing with all sorts of people, especially his devoted employees. Owen was a vital figure during this time because he put his employees over everything else, including profit. He understood that the idea of having healthy work environments. Doing this would have employees working harder, and in the end your product will also become top of the line. In 1799, Robert Owen purchased half of the Dale factory property in New Lanark, Scotland. During this same time, he married Anne Caroline, the daughter of David Dale. David Dale was the founder and owner of the mill at New Lanark until his death in 1806. Owen made many innovations to improve the physical and social conditions of the community. The community of New Lanark was a very successful experiment, also known as “Happy Valley.” (Pickering XIV) In the earlier part his of life, Owen, with hard work and creativity, worked his way up from small fortune and obscure origins. Owen...

Cited: Page
Brown, Paul. Twelve Months in New Harmony. Philadelphia: Porcupine Press Inc, 1972.
Cole, Margaret. Robert Owen of New Lanark. New York: Oxford University Press, 1953.
Gorb, Peter. “Robert Owen as a Business Man.” Harvard University, 1951.
Pickering, William. Owen Vol. 1 Early Writings. London, 1993.
Pickering, William. The development of Socialism. London, 1993.
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