Portfolio > Utopia Remains

The Society of United Germans at Teutonia
The Society of United Germans at Teutonia
Ultrachrome print, text panel
20.75 x 28.5 inches

Location: Columbiana County, Springfield Township, Ohio

Duration: 1827-1831

Affiliation: Harmonists, Secessionist

Size: 20 members

“We feel great gratification in the possession of the immovable conviction, that we have neither lived, suffered, nor labored in vain, but have at last, in their fullness, found the foundation, elements, and skeleton theory of a system of absolute and unassailable TRUTH, requiring now only for its extraneous actualization the noble spirited action, of clear heads and strong hearts.”
– Peter Kaufmann, The Temple of Truth

The Society of United Germans at Teutonia was a splinter group from George Rapp’s Economy village. It was led by printer, educator, and Hegelian philosopher Peter Kaufmann. Kaufmann believed in the Harmony Society’s ideals, such as communal living, sharing, and the alleviation of human suffering. He drew the line, however, at the Society’s millennialism, the abolishment of marriage, and the practice of celibacy in preparation for the second coming of Christ. Kaufman was not alone, and in November of 1827, he along with 18 other dissidents formed the Society of United Germans at Teutonia. The group’s aim was no less than the “the welfare and salvation of all humanity.” They practiced communalism and sought a more democratic approach to governance than George Rapp’s somewhat despotic governance of Economy. The members of Teutonia agreed to share everything for ten years but reserved the right for members to leave with their share of the profits at anytime. They decided to establish a school and use as much of their earnings as possible to help free slaves, evangelize the Native Americans, and to spread the Gospel on the frontier. The group also published a newspaper, A Herald of a Better Time.

Reason for Demise: By 1831, the group realized that with hard work and frugality they could be completely self-sufficient. Peter Kaufmann left Teutonia for Canton, Ohio and the group disbanded shortly thereafter. Many of the original members and their families remained in the area for generations.