Albert Brisbane, a socialist and founder of La Réunion, a utopian community in Dallas County, was born on August 22, 1809, in Batavia, New York, the only son of James and Mary (Stevens) Brisbane. His father was a wealthy businessman and landowner and provided him with a life free of financial concerns. At eighteen Brisbane moved to Europe, where he studied philosophy under Victor Cousin in Paris and G. W. F. Hegel in Berlin. During this youthful sojourn he discovered Charles Fourier's Traité de l'Association Domestique-Agricole and became interested in the Fourierist search to discover "a just and wise organization of human society." After two years of study with Fourier, Brisbane returned to the United States in 1834 to popularize his mentor's ideas. The publication of Social Destiny of Man; or, Association and Reorganization of Industry (1840) and Association; or, A Concise Exposition of the Practical Part of Fourier's Social Science (1843) established Brisbane as one of the leading proponents of communal socialism. He also maintained close contact with the leading French Fourierist of the period, Victor P. Considérant.
By the early 1850s domestic problems in France had persuaded Considérant to adopt Brisbane's idea of founding a utopian model community in the United States with European and American participants. Throughout the spring of 1853 the two men toured southwestern America and, impressed by the climate, soil, and inexpensive land of the area around the site of present-day Dallas, determined that north central Texas would be the ideal location for the community. La Réunion was financed by a joint-stock company, the European Society for the Colonization of Texas, with an operating budget of 5.4 million francs. Once the site was selected, however, Brisbane was not actually involved in the colony, which did not succeed and ended by 1859.
Afterward, Brisbane's interest in a utopian community declined. He spent most of the remainder of his life in Europe, devoting his time to scholarly and artistic pursuits. He was married first to Sarah White, with whom he had three children, and then to Redelia Bates. He died in Richmond, Virginia, on May 1, 1890.