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CONSIDERANT, VICTOR PROSPER

CONSIDÉRANT, VICTOR PROSPER (1808–1893). Victor Considérant, founder of La Réunion, a colony near Dallas, was born in Salins, France, on October 12, 1808. After a short service in the French army he resigned to devote his energies to popularizing and applying the utopian ideas of Charles Fourier. Considérant was one of the leading democratic socialist figures in France during the volatile revolutionary period of 1830 to 1850 and functioned as the international leader of the Fourierist movement. Because of his participation in the abortive insurrection of June 13, 1849, against Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Considérant was forced to flee to Brussels. There he was contacted by Albert Brisbane, an American Fourierist, who interested him in colonization efforts in Texas. Considérant visited the United States in 1852–53 and accompanied Brisbane on a trek that eventually took him through North and Central Texas. His enthusiasm for the land, climate, and people of Texas induced him to establish the European Society for the Colonization of Texas upon his return to Belgium. He set forth elaborate plans for a Texas colony in Au Texas, published in Paris in 1854, and in The Great West, published the same year in New York. In these two books he called for a joint European-American venture at La Réunion and proposed the ultimate establishment of a network of colonies throughout the Southwest connected by commercial, cultural, and educational ties to the original commune. Early in 1855 agents sent by Considérant bought about 2,500 acres of land on the banks of the Trinity River near Dallas. Before adequate provision had been made for them, however, nearly 200 colonists made their way to La Réunion; when Considérant and his wife, Julie, and mother-in-law, Clarisse Vigoureux, arrived with more colonists in June 1855, the settlement was completely disorganized. It never fully recovered from that state.

Fourier had advocated societal reform through communal societies that he called phalansteries. During his politically active period, from 1843 to 1849, however, Considérant deviated from pure Fourierism and came to advocate republican political activism, direct democracy, and the voluntary association of capital and labor in various types of cooperatives, rather than rigid communalism. He thus planned for La Réunion to be a loosely structured experimental commune administered by a system of direct democracy. The participants would share in the profits according to a formula based on the amount of capital investment and the quantity and quality of labor performed. When La Réunion collapsed in 1859 due to financial insolvency, Considérant, discouraged but not disillusioned, moved to San Antonio, where he unsuccessfully attempted to raise funds for another commune. Unable to fulfill his dreams in Texas and still under a ban of deportation from France, he became an American citizen and farmed in Bexar County until 1869, when he and his wife returned to Paris. There he lived as a teacher and socialist sage of the Latin Quarter and died on December 27, 1893.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Jonathan Beecher, Charles Fourier: The Visionary and His World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). Clarisse Coignet, Victor Considérant: sa vie, son oeuvre (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1895). Victor Prosper Considérant, Au Texas (Paris: Librairie Phalanstérienne, 1854; ed., with additions, by Rondel V. Davidson, Philadelphia: Porcupine, 1975). Victor Prosper Considérant, Du Texas: Premier Rapport à mes amis (Paris: Librarie Sociétaire, 1857). Rondel V. Davidson, Did We Think Victory Great? The Life and Ideas of Victor Considérant (New York: University Press of America, 1988). Rondel V. Davidson, "Victor Considérant and the Failure of La Réunion," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 76 (January 1973). Betje Black Klier, "Des Fouriéristes au Texas: la famille Considérant à San Antonio," French Review 68 (May 1995).

Rondel V. Davidson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Rondel V. Davidson, "CONSIDERANT, VICTOR PROSPER," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fco45), accessed October 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.