Josiah Warren : Early American Individualist Anarchist Publisher and Writer

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(1798 - 1874)


Equally notable as an inventive genius, a social philosopher, and a peaceful revolutionist, Josiah Warren stands forth, by descent, by his practical, all-round talents, by the force of an earnest life's work, as an American of the sturdy pioneer type whose brawn and brains have formed the true foundation of the republic.

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From : William Bailie Bio


"It is not till after long and painful experience and study that we discover that the precedents, traditions, authorities, and fictions upon which society has been allowed to grow up, do not coincide with each other, nor with the great unconquerable primitive or divine laws."

From : "True Civilization," by Josiah Warren

"It is worse than useless, it is calamitous, to legislate as if it were possible to divest ourselves of this involuntary instinct of self- preservation or self-sovereignty, and those who accept or act on such pledge commit as great an error as those who give it, and all contracts to this effect being impossible of fulfillment are null and void."

From : "True Civilization," by Josiah Warren

"Primitive nature insists on an Individuality in a personal lead, and it is in vain for us to contend against it."

From : "True Civilization," by Josiah Warren


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About Josiah Warren

 Josiah Warren 1

Josiah Warren 1

Equally notable as an inventive genius, a social philosopher, and a peaceful revolutionist, Josiah Warren stands forth, by descent, by his practical, all-round talents, by the force of an earnest life's work, as an American of the sturdy pioneer type whose brawn and brains have formed the true foundation of the republic. But it is as a representative of ideas and aspirations born amid the widespread movements for social regeneration which arose and flourished at various times during the first half of the nineteenth century, that this singular personality claims our interest. He was born in Boston in 1798, of historically famous Puritan stock. The Warrens of Pilgrim lineage from which he sprang have furnished Massachusetts with many distinguished citizens, of whom the most renowned was General Joseph Warren, the Revolutionary hero killed by the British at Bunker Hill.

Of Josiah's parents and early life but little is known. He had a taste for music, and at an early age played with his brother George in local bands as a professional. At the age of twenty he married and soon after set out from his native place to improve his fortunes in the West. In those days the city of Cincinnati was quite on the verge of civilization, with the vast unknown beyond; and when Warren reached it he decided to settle there and pursue his vocation as an orchestra leader and teacher of music. His talents soon gained him an honorable professional repute which extended beyond the city; but he had other interests. He devoted his leisure time to mechanical pursuits, of which the earliest fruit was a lamp for burning lard that would furnish a cheaper and better light than tallow, which was then selling at a high price. So successful was this invention, which Warren patented in 1823, that he was soon running a lamp manufactory in Cincinnati.

There were, however, more pressing problems than those of illumination shortly to arise and occupy the active mind and generous heart of the ingenious young New Englander.

From : "Josiah Warren: The First American Anarchist," A Sociological Study by William Bailie, Boston, Small, Maynard & Company, 1906


This person has authored 16 documents, with 103,593 words or 655,917 characters.

Mr. Editor: —Believing that the suggestions contained in the following article will be of service to those persons who interest themselves in the subject of Social Reform, and whose desire is to find a method of securing to the laborer the full amount of his product, I submit it to you if you think it worthy of an insertion in your paper. P. I. B. Boston, April 24 1852 From the Peaceful Revolutionist. A Brief Outline of Equitable Commerce By Josiah Warren, (Its Discoverer) The first corner stone of Equitable Commerce is precisely that which "the builders have hitherto rejected:” it is Individuality, —exactly the opposite of Combination, United Interests, Partnerships, &c. It is the dis... (From :
Equitable Commerce A New Development of Principles, As Substitutes For Laws And Governments, For The Harmonious Adjustment and Regulation Of The Pecuniary, Intellectual, And Moral Intercourse Of Mankind. Proposed As Elements Of New Society.       It led to new principles! to new views, and new modes of action. So new and so startling were these principles, and the natural conclusion from them, that the discoverer (if we must so call him) dare not attempt to communicate them to his most intimate friends, for fear of being accounted “insane;” nor would he trust his own reasonings for their accuracy, but resolved to work them... (From :
As our readers have been already informed, Mr. Josiah Warren, the author of True Civilization and other unpretentious little works on social reform, died In Charlestown, Massachusetts, on the fourteenth of April, at the age of seventy-five years. Although he was confined to his chamber during most of the winter, his mind was as vigorous as ever; and he took great interest in the articles on his “cost principle” which have been published from time to time in The Index. On the eleventh of April, he wrote the first of the following papers; but, not being satisfied with it, he essayed without entire success to re-write it on the thirteenth, the very day before he died, even calling upon an attendant to steady his hand while writing.... (From :
An impression has gone abroad that I am engaged in forming societies. This is a very great mistake, which I feel bound to correct. Those who have heard or read anything from me on the subject, know that one of the principal points insisted on is, the forming of societies or any other artificial combinations IS the first, greatest, and most fatal mistake ever committed by legislators and by reformers. That all these combinations require the surrender of the natural sovereignty of the INDIVIDUAL over her or his person, time, property and responsibilities, to the government of the combination. That this tends to prostrate the individual–To reduce him to a mere piece of a machine; involving others in responsibility for his acts, an... (From :
The “United States” are no longer united —“The union” is broken — The great “American experiment” is checked and we have silently drifted under military despotism! and, instead of being a “self governing” people, every one’s person and property are at the mercy or discretion of five or six military commanders—no two of whom can reasonably be expected to have the same settled policy or any policy founded on any principle or generally understood and accepted basis; and “security of person and property” (the professed object of all governments) is annihilated, and confusion and violence already reign supreme in the land proclaimed to be the lead of the politica... (From :
COMMUNISM Mesdames Editors: How often have I said to myself, “Oh, for a paper of world-wide circulation, through which we could pour into the public lap the most important results of our lives’ experience! That others who come after us may avoid the thorny paths that have lacerated our feet—may profit by our errors and successes. I hope and believe that your is, or will be, such a paper: and in it I propose to furnish a series of articles, showing the practical workings of Communism and other reform experiments running through the forty-six years devoted to peaceful social revolution; and it will be seen that some facts are more strange than fiction, more philosophical than philosophy, more romantic than romance and m... (From :
An impression is abroad, to some extent, that the “Equity movement” is necessarily characterized by an unusual latitude in the Marriage relations—I as one, protest against this idea. “The Sovereignty of every Individual” is as valid a warrant for retaining the present relations, as for changing them; and it is equally good for refusing to be drawn into any controversies or even conversations on the subject. I find no warrant in my “sovereignty” for invading, disturbing, or offending other people, whatever may be their sentiments or modes of life, while they act only at their own Cost: and would again and again reiterate in the most impressive possible manner that the greatest characteristic of this ... (From :
I have never inserted a Communication in this paper, which I believe will be perused with more interest by many of its readers, than the following. As the facts came under our friend’s observation, not mine, I shall add no opinion or deductions of my own, for each reader can make these for himself. I content myself with saying; that our friends may implicitly depend on the accuracy of Josiah Warren’s information; for he is a strictly attentive observer and an honest man. I need not tell him, that his letters will always be welcome. R. D. O. *** Spring Hill, Dec. 19, 1830. My Dear Friend, In accordance with our understanding when we parted, I sit down to give you, for the information of our fri... (From :


1798 :
Birth Day.

April 14, 1874 :
Death Day.

November 16, 2016 ; 4:53:32 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to

April 21, 2019 ; 5:07:32 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Last Updated on


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