Robert Owen

Robert Owen
Robert Owen
  • Born: May 14, 1771
  • Died: November 17, 1858
  • Nationality: Welsh
  • Profession: Co-operator; Social Reformer, Textile Mill Co-owner; Philanthropic Capitalist









Robert Owen was a Welsh textile manufacturer, philanthropic social reformer, and one of the founders of utopian socialism and the cooperative movement. Owen is best known for his efforts to improve the working conditions of his factory workers and his promotion of experimental socialistic communities. In the early 1800s Owen became wealthy as an investor and eventual manager of a large textile mill at New Lanark, Scotland. (He initially trained as a draper in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and worked in London before relocating at the age of 18 to Manchester and going into business as a textile manufacturer.) In 1824 Owen travelled to America, where he invested the bulk of his fortune in an experimental socialistic community at New Harmony, Indiana, the preliminary model for Owen's utopian society. The experiment was short-lived, lasting about two years. Other Owenite utopian communities met a similar fate. In 1828 Owen returned to the United Kingdom and settled in London, where he continued to be an advocate for the working class. In addition to his leadership in the development of cooperatives and the trade union movement, he also supported passage of child labour laws and free, co-educational schools.

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all should attend to the essence of religion, and not act as the world was now taught and trained to do; that is, to overlook the substance and essence of religion, and devote their talents, time, and money, to that which is far worse than its shadow, sectarianism; Religion & God
Although these children were well fed, their limbs were very generally deformed, their growth was stunted, and although one of the best schoolmasters was engaged to instruct these children regularly every night, in general they made very slow progress, even in learning the common alphabet. I came to the conclusion that the children were injured by being taken into the mills at this early age, and employed for so many hours; therefore, as soon as I had it in my power, I adopted regulations to put an end to a system which appeared to me to be so injurious. Families, Children & Parenting
As there are a very great variety of religious sects in the world, it is particularly recommended, as a means of uniting the inhabitants of the village into one family, that while each faithfully adheres to the principles which he most approves, at the same time all shall think charitably of their neighbors respecting their religious opinions, and not presumptuously suppose that theirs alone are right. Religion & God
Association of All Classes of All Nations Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Drunkenness was attacked in the same manner; it was discountenanced on every occasion by those who had charge of any department: its destructive and pernicious effects were frequently stated by his own more prudent comrades, at the proper moment when the individual was soberly suffering from the effects of his previous excess; pot- and public-houses were gradually removed from the immediate vicinity of their dwellings; the health and comfort of temperance were made familiar to them; by degrees drunkenness disappeared, and many who were habitual bacchanalians are now conspicuous for undeviating sobriety. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
Eight hours daily labor is enough for any human being Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I was forced, through seeing the error of their foundation, to abandon all belief in every religion which had been taught to man. But my religious feelings were immediately replaced by the spirit of universal charity — not for a sect, or a party, or for a country or a colour — but for the human race, and with a real and ardent desire to do good. Religion & God
In advanced age, and in cases of disability from accident, natural infirmity or any other cause, the individual shall be supported by the colony, and receive every comfort which kindness can administer Elderly, Aging. Old Age, Social Security & Pensions
It is … interest of all, that every one, from birth, should be well educated. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
It is not to be supposed that children so young could remain, with the intervals of meals only, from six in the morning until seven in the evening, in constant employment, on their feet, within cotton mills, and afterwards acquire much proficiency in education. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
My life was not useless; I gave important truths to the world, and it was only for want of understanding that they were disregarded. I have been ahead of my time. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
The Institution has been devised to afford the means of receiving your children at an early age, almost as soon as they can walk. By this means many of you, mothers and families, will be able to earn a better maintenance or support for your children; you will have less care and anxiety about them, while the children will be prevented from acquiring any bad habits. and gradually prepared to learn the best. Families, Children & Parenting
The past has prepared all the materials and means of superabundance to well-feed, clothe, lodge, train, educate, employ, amuse, and govern the human race in perpetual progressive prosperity- without war, conflict, or competition between nations or individuals. Miscellaneous
The working classes may be injuriously degraded and oppressed in three ways: 1st — When they are neglected in infancy. 2nd — When they are overworked by their employer, and are thus rendered incompetent from ignorance to make a good use of high wages when they can procure them. 3rd — When they are paid low wages for their labor Work, Workers & The Labor Force
To preserve permanent good health, the state of mind must be taken into consideration. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
To train and educate the rising generation will at all times be the first object of society, to which every other will be subordinate. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Train any population rationally, and they will be rational. Furnish honest and useful employments to those so trained, and such employments they will greatly prefer to dishonest or injurious occupations. It is beyond all calculation the interest of every government to provide that training and that employment; and to provide both is easily practicable. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Women will be no longer made the slaves of, or dependent upon men ... They will be equal in education, rights, privileges and personal liberty. Equality & Equal Opportunity
All the world old is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Courts of law, and all the paraphernalia and folly of law cannot be found in a rational state of society. Society
Finding that no religion is based on facts and cannot be true, I began to reflect what must be the condition of mankind trained from infancy to believe in error. Religion & God
Man is the creature of circumstances.
Never argue; repeat your assertion.
You may depend upon it that they are as good hearts to serve men in palaces as in cottages.

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