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Etienne Cabet

Cabet, Etienne (ātyĕnˈ käbāˈ) [key], 1788–1856, French utopian socialist. He was elected to the chamber of deputies in 1831, but his bitter attacks on the government resulted in his conviction for treason. He escaped prison by exiling himself to Great Britain (1834–39), where he developed a theory of communism influenced by Robert Owen. Cabet's Voyage en Icarie (1840) depicted an ideal society in which an elected government controlled all economic activity and supervised social affairs, the family remaining the only other independent unit. The book was extremely popular, and Cabet gained many followers. A group of them attempted unsuccessfully (1848) to found an Icarian community on the Red River in Texas. The next year Cabet established a temporary colony at the old Mormon town of Nauvoo, Ill., but serious dissension arose in 1856, and he was not reelected president. He died soon after in St. Louis. Most of the Icarians moved to lands they had purchased near Corning, Iowa, where branch communities survived until 1898. Other works by Cabet include Histoire populaire de la Révolution française (4 vol., 1839–40), Colonie icarienne aux États-Unis d'Amérique (1856), and Le vrai Christianisme suivant Jésus Christ (1846).

See C. H. Johnson, Utopian Communism in France: Cabet and the Icarians, 1839–1851 (1974)

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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