It’s really too nice a title to tamper with, even if it doesn’t really give a sense of what the piece is about. This is an account from The Present, probably edited by William Henry Channing, of Andreas Bernardus Smolnikar’s “Peace Union,” from the hand of its originator and prophet. Smolnikar, who was also known as “Andrew Bernard” while in America, was a Catholic heretic who came to think of himself as the prophet of a religion of humanity. He had connections to Owenite socialism and, as this account shows, he was one of the more enthusiastic proponents of J. A. Etzler’s “Satellite,” a versatile “engine” for various sorts of heavy lifting, digging, etc. in communities. Etzler was a visionary inventor, and a fascinating character. His 1836 The Paradise Within the Reach of All Men, Without Labour, by Powers of Nature and Machinery gives a taste of his ideas. I’ll return to both Smolnikar and Etzler again soon.
GREAT MOVEMENTS IN LIMESTONE,
WARREN COUNTY, PENN.,
Is the heading of an article sent to me by Rev. A. B. Smolnikar, for publication in The Present, which I am obliged to condense, in order to ensure its appearance in this number. Mr. Smolnikar was born of poor parents, in Illyria, and was, from early years, witness of the miseries caused by civil and ecclesiastical oppression. As a Catholic priest, his attention was strongly directed to the prophecies, in which are foretold the coming of the era of UNIVERSAL PEACE, until his whole heart was filled with the hope of aiding in the advancement of the Reign of Heaven on Earth. Under the impulse of a strong conviction, that Providence is working in this generation to introduce the millennial period of Justice, Liberty and Love, and that he was called to minister in this cause, he came to America in 1837; published several volumes exhibiting his views of true Christianity, in which he taught, that they only are Christians, who, in imitation of their Master, are willing to apply all their energies actively, and if necessary, to sacrifice life for the welfare of the human race; and finally, for the purpose of practically manifesting these principles, assembled a band of fellow-workers, and went to settle with them on a tract of 10,000 acres of land in Limestone, Warren County, Penn., eligibly located upon the Alleghany river. The name of this Association is “Friedens-verein,” or Peace-Union. They have now, it seems, about twenty active laboring men at work, and are expecting large accessions in the Spring. They are engaged in clearing lands, making roads, completing a saw-mill, erecting buildings, &c. They have constructed a machine on Mr. Etzler’s plan, for pulling up trees by the roots, which they intend to apply as soon as the frost is out of the ground, and with highest hopes of success,—though the first experiment with it in October failed, in consequence of using wood in some parts of the machine where iron was needed. This deficiency being supplied, and other improvements added, Mr. Smolnikar seems confident that the “Satellite” will work wonders. They need only a larger investment of capital to ensure their prosperity, and at present are anxious to negotiate a loan, for three months, of $5,000, for which they will give ample security. A writer in the “People’s Monitor,” Warren, Pa., uses the following language in relation to this Association:—”From the highly respectable character of its founder, as well as of the leading members of the Society, we are highly pleased with the promise of this valuable accession to the population and wealth of our county. We are highly gratified to learn, from one who has just visited the Society, that their prospects were never better than at present. They are well satisfied and in good spirits. A gentleman of considerable means had come on to satisfy himself about the prospects of the Society, and to make arrangements for himself and a number of his neighbors to join in the Spring. Of their success we have not a doubt; and their neighbors need entertain no fear of their dispersing and abandoning the rich domain of which they have become possessed.” I wish our noble hearted friends the triumph their heroic efforts deserve, and trust that their means will be at once sufficiently enlarged, to allow them, unperplexed and unincumbered, to carry out their improvements. Peace be with this pioneer band of the great army of Peace.
A B. A. Smolnikar Miscellany: