I was born in Lowell, Mass., the ninth day of April, 1842, my father at that time being an overseer of
    weaving for the Massachusetts Corporation in that city, and an occupant of one of the factory houses.
    My first recollection is of the firing of cannon, which I have since been told was during my father's
    residence in Woonsocket, R.I., the occasion for the firing, (which was close to the house occupied by
    him), being the release of Governor Dorr from prison. In Ware, Mass., at the age of seven, I began to
    attend the public schools, and made such progress that the fall after I was nine years of age I entered
    the High School. I suppose the qualifications for such entry were not as high as at the present day, but
    I immediately began the study of Latin and algebra, and before leaving Ware, at the age of eleven, I
    had made considerable progress in both mathematics and languages. There is nothing special to
    note in this part of my boyhood, except that as my father was superintendent of the large mills of the
    Otis Company, I had ample opportunity to visit these mills and to obtain a general idea of the process
    of the manufacture of cotton goods, as then carried on.

     In 1853 my father resigned his position with the Otis Company, and went into partnership with my
    uncle, Ebenezer D. Draper, in the business of making and selling temples, [Ebenezer and George's
    grandfather, Ira, had invented and patented an improved temple, a loom part, which became the most
    successful product of the Hopedale Community and the basis of the Draper business in Hopedale..]
    My uncle had carried on this business for several years, having inherited it from his older brother,
    James Draper; and the mechanical work was done at the shop of the Hopedale Community at
    Hopedale, of which Community Mr. Ebenezer D. Draper was president. The business was small,
    employing only a few men, but it indirectly furnished the financial backbone of the Hopedale
    Community, through the royalties that it yielded, though their amount would not seem large at the
    present day. In removing to Hopedale, my father became a member of the Community, with whose
    ideas he was in sympathy, and so remained until its financial failure a few years later.

     A little account of the Hopedale Community and its ideas will not be out of place, as my boyish
    experiences in connection therewith have affected my views on many important questions during the
    rest of my life.

     During the year 1841, a company of men and women, who believed that the organization of society,
    as it was then and is now, was on the wrong basis, associated themselves together under the name
    of "Fraternal Community No. 1," at Mendon, Mass. The number of original members was thirty-two,
    among whom were my uncle and aunt, Ebenezer D. and Anna T. Draper. The founder and leader of
    the enterprise through all its subsequent vicissitudes was the Rev. Adin Ballou, at that time pastor of
    the First Church and Parish of the town of Mendon. He was a man of commanding presence, great
    intellectual ability, and a character above reproach. Count Tolstoi, in a recent interview, named him as
    the best writer that America has produced, and though that may be a partial estimate, I here state my
    belief that she has produced no better man. He is to me the highest embodiment of Christian
    character and unselfish devotion to duty, as he saw it, that I have ever come in contact with. In my brief
    account I shall quote from his history of the Hopedale Community such facts and statements as may
    seem pertinent, this being the only authority accessible, outside of my personal recollections.

     The decade beginning with the year 1840, saw in the United States a large number of these efforts to
    establish a better order of things by voluntary co-operation. As Emerson wrote to Carlyle in the autumn
    of that year, "We are all a little wild here with numerous projects of social reform. Not a reading man
    but has a draft of a new community in his waistcoat pocket." Within a few years of that time no less
    than sixty of these communities were established in different parts of the country, and of that sixty not
    one now remains. Hopedale was one of the first to be organized, and one of the last to be finally
    abandoned. The believers in communistic theories now advocate their enforcement by government
    power, upon populations at least partially unwilling. If the voluntary associations failed, what may be
    expected of the unselfishness maintained at the point of a bayonet?  Equality [in the Community] was
    established by the following section of the original constitution:

     "Sec. 7. All members of every Community shall stand on a footing of personal equality, irrespective of
    sex, color, occupation, wealth, rank, or any other natural or adventitious peculiarity."

     In June, 1841, the Community purchased the so-called Jones Farm, of 258 acres, in Milford, (now
    Hopedale), and their holdings were afterwards increased to about 600 acres. The first settlement was
    made in October, 1841, and community life began the following spring. At the start the joint stock
    subscribed was $4,000, and the individual property was estimated by Mr. Ballou at $10,000. The
    general plan adopted was that the Community should own the farms and shops as they should be
    established, --the instruments of production, -- and that individuals might personally  own their
    houses and furniture. An exception to this was that my uncle, E.D. Draper, retained the patent
    business inherited from his father and elder brother, as a personal asset. This was of great pecuniary
    advantage to the Community, as my uncle invested in their joint stock all or substantially all his
    business profits; but it was doubtless the occasion for jealousy, and may have had to do with the final
    breakup of the organization. It is, however, fair to say that if this business had been put in as a general
    asset under the general control, the end would probably have come much sooner.

     The Community undertook to furnish employment for all connected with it who were able to work,
    and at the beginning the uniform rate of wages for adults was fixed at fifty cents for each day of eight
    hours. The same price was paid for intellectual work as for manual labor.

     At the close of 1842 the above general arrangement was found impracticable, and a provision was
    adopted by which members were to be paid according to the productiveness of their services, but not
    exceeding a dollar per day, or three hundred dollars per year. It was also provided that profits up to
    four per cent, should be divided pro rata among the holders of the joint stock, but that any excess
    should be devoted to such religious, educational, or charitable purposes as the Community might
    determine. (I may say that the excess never came, and that the four per cent was frequently, if not
    generally, lacking.) These provisions were considered too individualistic by about a dozen members,
    who seceded.

      General Draper continues for several more pages with some of the details of the operation of the
    Community. I'm going to skip over a few pages (leaving off on page 12 and picking it up at page 22) at
    this point. Anyone interested in these details can find the book, Recollections of a Varied Career, at
    the Bancroft Library in Hopedale.

     Into this village and community of Hopedale I came with my father's family, as a boy of eleven. The
    change from the ordinary village life to which I was accustomed was marked enough to give me
    impressions which I remember clearly. The children were under certain community regulations,
    outside of the usual parental control, among which I remember especially the designation of certain
    hours for play, and the restriction of amusement to those hours, anywhere outside the domicile of the
    child's parents. [ This policy seems to have continued long after the failure of the Community. Playing
    in the town park was not allowed on Sundays through the 1930s.] Going to the neighboring town of
    Milford was discouraged, except in case of emergency, and when we did go we were glad to get back,
    as the boys there did not sympathize with the Community, and greeted us with opprobrious epithets, if
    nothing worse. We were sometimes assailed, and if the number were not too great on the other side,
    the Hopedale boys were inclined to depart from the non-resistant principles of their fathers.

     In my first year I attended the Community school, -- ungraded, -- of which Miss Abbie Ballou, (later
    Mrs. Heywood), was the teacher, and a most excellent one. After this, it being one of the tenets of the
    Community that boys should be taught to work, I spent three years in manual labor between April 1st
    and Thanksgiving Day, and attended school only during the winter terms. Two years I was employed
    by the "garden" branch, in raising vegetables for the Milford market, being expected to hoe my row with
    the men employed and succeeding fairly well. The year that I was fourteen I went into the machine
    shop, then under the charge of my uncle, Mr. J.B. Bancroft [his mother, Ebenezer's wife, and Bancroft's
    wife were sisters], and he gave me as good a chance as he could to learn the use of tools, consistent
    with my doing a fair amount of work. I remember surprising him by doing in a day a certain job which
    had usually occupied a man of slower motions and less interest an entire week. My performance was
    later taken as a standard of what ought to be accomplished in a given time.

     After leaving the shop I attended the Home School [a school for boarding and day students that
    operated in Hopedale for several years] a little more than a year, and concluded my schooling just
    before I was sixteen years old. At this time I was supposed to be fitted to enter Harvard College, and I
    was further advanced in mathematics and languages, to which I had given special attention. My father
    thought I was too young to enter college at this time, and he also believed in the gospel of work; so,
    after a month or two spent in Worcester in the study of mechanical drawing, I was sent to a cotton mill
    in North Uxbridge, (the same one whee my father first worked), with a double object, -- to learn as
    much of the cotton manufacture as I could while doing an operative's work and to keep me employed.

     Before continuing I will relate a few personal recollections of the Community regime, which
    continued in force nearly up to this time. A lyceum was held every Tuesday evening, in which the boys
    were all interested, and in which, later, some of us took a part. Here were discussed the details of
    living, as well as general subjects. The question of vegetarianism, as against the use of animal food,
    was discussed at great length, and the boys were all advocates of meat. One orator stated that not
    only should animal food be dispensed with by the truly refined, but that the use of vegetables should
    be determined by the distance from the ground at which the ripened product was gathered. Potatoes
    and turnips were of the earth, earthy; cucumbers and squashes were not much better; and he
    recommended the use of grains which grew several feet from the ground, adding that no doubt as the
    human race progressed, it would subsist entirely on fruit. The meat-eating advocate responded, amid
    the applause of the boys, that nuts, growing still higher, would be a proper food for the gentleman who
    had last spoken, but he had learned on inquiry that he was one of the greatest meat-eaters of the
    village. This conviction of inconsistency floored him.

     Discussions also covered the use of tea and coffee, and of eggs, which are animal in origin, and
    some even objected to milk, on the same ground. Dress and the private relations of life were also
    discussed to our delectation, and there was an evident desire on the part of leading members to
    regulate living down to the minutest detail. In an annual report of my uncle, as president of the
    Community, in 1855, he said:

    "I think the meetings held of late to discuss matters relating to expenditures and modes of living...
    have been and will be productive of much good. When we can come together and talk plainly
    concerning what we shall eat, drink and wear, -- talk of economizing in a way that shall be understood
    by those at fault, -- and all preserve a loving disposition and maintain a proper self-control, I think it
    speaks for our good."

     The Sunday meetings were unusual, and sometimes very interesting. There were, I think, five regular
    preachers, taking turns; and the pulpit was also frequently occupied by eminent men from abroad,
    including unordained reformers. Among them I distinctly remember William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell
    Phillips, Stephen S. Foster, Henry C. Wright, and Prof. William Denton. I have been told that Anna
    Dickinson made her first speech in public in the Hopedale pulpit. After the address, whether from
    home or outside talent, any listener was allowed to speak or ask questions, and meetings often
    lasted several hours.

     I remember a case in which my father took part. An advocate of Free Love had the pulpit and
    delivered an address. My father questioned him, and made an opposing argument, and a vote was
    taken in which he (my father), was nearly unanimously sustained. About a month later the same man
    came again with a similar sermon. My father rose an said we were told to "prove all things and hold
    fast that which is good," but that if the task of proving the same thing to the same man was to be
    repeated every month, the labor would become monotonous and little progress would be made. He
    finished by saying that he thought some foundation principles should be considered as settled, long
    enough to remember what they were, -- and once more he was rewarded by a unanimous assent,
    and the free lover never appeared there again.

     Another incident of another kind, that my mother told me, may be interesting. When we moved to
    Hopedale, among our household goods were some old-fashioned stuffed parlor chairs, covered with
    horsehair, such as were in most New England parlors half a century ago. A short time after our arrival
    my mother received a call from a committee, who lectured her for having such extravagant furniture,
    when there were so many poor people in the world. Wooden bottomed chairs were pronounced good
    enough, and I agree that they are more comfortable than the kind criticized. My mother replied that the
    extravagance of buying them was committed before coming to Hopedale, and the occasion passed
    with a warning to do so no more. A few years later, after the financial change in the organization, my
    mother, calling upon one of the former committee, found some modern upholstered chairs and asked
    why "such extravagant furniture was in use when there were so many poor people in the world." The
    reply was, "Mrs. Draper, I have changed my mind." It may be fair to say that the party's circumstances
    had also changed.  My aunt, the wife of the president of the Community, made the mistake of buying
    an easy chair, which caused a great excitement, until it was agreed that it should be used as a sick
    chair and sent from house to house for use by invalids, in case of illness, -- and that when not so
    needed, my aunt should be its custodian.

     One excellent institution was a Christmas Festival, which was then a much less common
    observance than it is now. There were addresses by some of the clergy, songs by the musical, pieces
    spoken by the children, and short plays by the young people, -- all being crowned by a Christmas
    Tree. Those who desired to give presents to members of their families or others brought them to the
    tree for distribution, and a committee, of whom my mother was one, saw that no man, woman or child
    for the village went without some remembrance. To those not otherwise provided an handkerchief
    was given, and at my first Christmas a handkerchief was all that I received. Stocking hanging at home
    was replaced by the tree, and I remember feeling that communism was a disadvantage as far as I
    was concerned; especially since most of the other children, and even my younger sisters, had little
    presents on the tree from their parents. The next year I determined to make a better showing, so I
    bought a pocket book with some of my farm wages, hung it on the tree for myself, -- and received the
    pocket book and a handkerchief. After this my recollection on this point is not clear. I was either better
    treated or had less feeling about it.

     One more anecdote, and I will pass on. In the fifties there was a movement for reform on women's
    dress, which consisted the adoption of a costume designed and first worn by Mrs. Amelia Bloomer.
    Corsets were abandoned, skirts were shortened to the knee, and supported from the shoulder, while
    trousers similar to those worn by men, (if I remember aright), completed the costume. As Hopedale
    was in the front rank in the adoption of real or alleged reforms, several of the ladies temporarily
    adopted this dress and were regarded as great curiosities when they went outside the "Dale." My
    mother's mother paid us a visit before she had seen or heard of this innovation, and one day in
    looking out of the window she saw a dress reformer coming down the street. She called my mother,
    and pointing in the direction of the apparition, said, "Hannah, what is that?" My mother replied, "That is
    what we call a Bloomer." "Is that all?" said my good grandmother; "I thought it might be the Devil."

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Recollections of a Varied Career

General William F. Draper