Bronson Alcott

Amos Bronson Alcott was born into a poor farming family in Wolcott, Connecticut on Nov 29, 1799. He educated himself, and soon after began thinking about how to revolutionize the practice of education.

He began as a teacher, and raised several children with his wife Abigail. He began meeting regularly with fellow New England progressives such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, who would support his endeavors. In 1834 he founded his first experimental institution of education, the Temple School of Boston.

The Temple School would eventually run into financial trouble, a pattern that Alcott would repeat with several later experiments. His most ambitious attempt was a utopian vegan commune called Fruitlands, which he co-founded with mystic Charles Lane.

Alcott was also a political activist. Thoreau famously went to prison for protesting slavery by refusing to pay taxes, but it is a little known fact that Alcott had done the same thing three years before.

Despite his hard work, Bronson Alcott’s most successful creation was fashioned of her own design. His daughter was the famous writer Louisa May Alcott, whose classic novel “Little Women” describes her experience as one of several sisters in an unconventional Massachusetts family.

Bronson Alcott died in Concord on March 4, 1888. There are several websites devoted to his life and work, including the A. Bronson Alcott Society and the museum that stands at the site of the Fruitlands project.

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