Original Document
Original Document
Harmony Society Articles of Association, 1805

The Agreement or Articles of Association under which the "Harmony Society" was formed in 1805, and which was signed by all the members thenceforward, read as follows: ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION.

"Whereas, by the favor of divine Providence, an association or community has been formed by George Rapp and many others upon the basis of Christian fellowship, the principles of which, being faithfully derived from the sacred Scriptures, include the government of the patriarchal age, united to the community of property adopted in the days of the apostles, and wherein the simple object sought is to approximate, so far as human imperfections may allow, to the fulfillment of the will of God, by the exercise of those affections and the practice of those virtues which are essential to the happiness of man in time and throughout eternity:

" An whereas it is necessary to the good order and well-being of the said association that the conditions of membership should be clearly understood, and that the rights, privileges, and duties of every individual therein should be so defined as to prevent mistake or disappointment, on the one hand, and contention or disagreement on the other;

" Therefore be it known to all whom it may concern that we, the undersigned, citizens of the County of Beaver, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do severally and distinctly, each for himself, covenant grant, and agree, to and with the said George Rapp and his associates, as follows, viz.:

"ARTICLE I. We, the undersigned, for ourselves, our heirs, executors' and administrators, do hereby give, grant, and forever convey to the said George Rapp and his associates, and to their heirs and assigns, all our property, real, personal, and mixed, whether it be lands and tenements, goods and chattels, money or debts due to us, Jointly or severally, in possession, in remainder, or in reversion or expectancy, whatsoever and wheresoever, without evasion, qualification, or reserve, as a free gift or donation, for the benefit and use of the said association or community; and we do hereby bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, and administrators, to do all such other acts as may be necessary to vest a perfect title to the same in the said association, and to place the said property at the full disposal of the superintendent of the said community without delay.

"ARTICLE II. We do further covenant and agree to and with the said George Rapp and his associates, that we will severally submit faithfully to the laws and regulations of said community, and will at all times manifest a ready and cheerful obedience toward those who are or may be appointed as superintendents thereof, holding ourselves bound to promote the interest and welfare of the said community, not only by the labor of our own hands, but also by that of our children, our families, and all others who now are or hereafter may be under our control.

" ARTICLE III. If contrary to our expectation it should so happen that we could not render the faithful obedience aforesaid, and should be induced from that or any other cause to withdraw from the said association, then and in such case we do expressly covenant and agree to and with the said George Rapp and his associates that we never will claim or demand, either for ourselves, our children, or for any one belonging to us, directly or indirectly, any compensation, wages, or reward whatever for our or their labor or services rendered to the said community, or to any member thereof; but whatever we or our families jointly or severally shall or may do, all shall be held and considered as a voluntary service for our brethren.

"ARTICLE IV. In consideration of the premises, the said George Rapp and his associates do, by these presents, adopt the undersigned jointly and severally as members of the said community, whereby each of them obtains the privilege of being present at every religious meeting, and of receiving not only for themselves, but also for their children and families, all such instructions in church and school as may be reasonably required, both for their temporal good and for their eternal felicity.

"ARTICLE V. The said George Rapp and his associates further agree to supply the undersigned severally with all the necessaries of life, as clothing, meat, drink, lodging, etc., for themselves and their families. And this provision is not limited to their days of health and strength; but when any of them shall become sick, infirm, or otherwise unfit for labor, the same support and maintenance shall be allowed as before, together with such medicine, care, attendance, and consolation as their situation may reasonably demand. And if at any time after they have become members of the association, the father or mother of a family should die or be otherwise separated from the community, and should leave their family behind, such family shall not be left orphans or destitute, but shall partake of the same rights and maintenance as before, so long as they remain in the association, as well in sickness as in health, and to such extent as their circumstances may require.

"ARTICLE VI. And if it should so happen as above mentioned that any of the undersigned should violate his or their agreement, and would or could not submit to the laws and regulations of the church or the community, and for that or any other cause should withdraw from the association, then the said George Rapp and his associates agree to refund to him or them the value of all such property as he or they may have brought into the community, in compliance with the first article of this agreement, the said value to be refunded without interest, in one, two, or three annual installments, as the said George Rapp and his associates shall determine. And if the person or persons so withdrawing themselves were poor, and brought nothing into the community, notwithstanding they depart openly and regularly, they shall receive a donation in money, according to the length of their stay and to their conduct, and to such amount as their necessities may require, in the judgment of the superintendents of the association."

Credit: Charles Nordhoff, The Communistic Societies of the United States, from Personal Visit and Observation  (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1875), 81-83.
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