Josiah Warren and Cosmopolite, “To the Public” (1828)

Cincinnati, April 20, 1828.

Dear S—

The perusal of your letter which I received about three weeks since, gave me great satisfaction. It affords me pleasure to find that you still feel such interest in the subject to which I am devoted. You inquire what progress has been made since you left here; to this I could reply more than the limits of a letter will permit, but I will endeavour to enable you to form some idea. I think you left before the cold weather commenced, and therefore have not witnessed the most important of our operations. As soon as the season became cool, there were great demands for cloths of various kinds, which I found no difficulty in procuring. I bought at the public sales on a credit of 60 and 90 days, and very often sold the goods in 6 days, and some in less time. The place now became crowded, although you know that it stands remote from the bustle of business; so much was this the case that I became so exhausted with buying and selling goods, and in talking and explaining that I was obliged to shut up the magazine, half of each day in order to rest from the fatigue and confusion occasioned by the business of the other half. But this produced so much disappointment to the country people & others, that I was induced to open again during the day-time. John Ramsdale, who was with us at Harmony, and who was much opposed to the system at the commencement, has turned his store into a place of the kind, and now fully adopts it. He is the only one who has actually commenced, but many have had it in contemplation. One very important fact, that Messrs. Folger, Nye, Saunders, Pickering, Burgen, Rider, and all those who were so much delighted at first, have not changed their views in the least, except by an increase of zeal in its favour; and many more who knew nothing of it nor had any correct views of the nature of justice between man and man, when you was here have become really enlightened on the all-important subject, and in their intercourse with others are now spreading the honest principle far and wide. The magazine has been enlarged to about double its former dimensions; the work was performed by seven Carpenters, all upon the time system, and by putting my labour against theirs, they have gained at the rates of from ~ to 50 dollars per hour. This would not be believed by any one who had not realized it by some experience, but you have seen something of its results.

I have had Rice at 1 1/4 cents per pound, Codfish at 2 1/2 cents, while the standing prices are 6 1/2 and 8 cents for the former, and 8 for the latter. Medicines as usual. [1] Cloths at about 33 per cent. below the current prices; remarks will be rendered unnecessary by your own reflections upon these facts.

We have commenced shoemaking, and several have perceived the practicability of learning a business which they never thought of before. Mr. Ashworth [2] made a pair of shoes at the first attempt, which none but a critic could perceive were not the production of an experienced workman; and many others have acquired a knowledge of this trade with equal facility. When we require instruction in any part with which we are not acquainted, we obtain it from some of our friends and pay them hour for hour in labour notes on the Magazine. I look upon these movements with great interest, for they are of immense importance to those who are now suffering by mystery and speculation. I can say no more now without incurring double postage, therefore for the present-farewell. Your friend,


MR. ROBERT SMITH, Philadelphia.


  1. That is the wholesale prices which varies from one to three hundred per cent. discount on standard retail prices.
  2. Mr. A. is a gentleman of between 40 and 50 years of age, who had never before worked at any mechanical avocation. — R. S.

Josiah Warren and Cosmopolite, “To the Public,” Mechanics Free Press 1 no. 18 (May 10, 1828): 2.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.