John Adolphus Etzler and Andreas Bernardus Smolnikar

Related links:

  • The Paradise within the Reach of All Men, without Labour, by Powers of Nature and Machinery (1836) []
  • The New World or Mechanical System (1841) []


[A collection of short articles and links relating to the socialist inventor John Adolphus Etzler and Andreas Bernardus Smolnikar, an enthusiastic supporter of his project.]


The wise man examines before he judges,
The fool judges before he examines.

New York, November 9, 1843.

To The Editors Of The Phalanx:

Gentlemen—On the point of my departure for England, upon invitation to carry my inventions into practice there, the second number of The Phalanx, containing a paragraph highly complimentary to me and my inventions, has been handed to me, and as I think it claims some reply illustrative of the subject to the readers of your paper, I request the publication of the following brief remarks.

It is very usual to denote any person who ventures to publish to the world anything out of the customary way, either as a fool or an extraordinary genius, or both at once by different parties, which may be all very well when no mischief is done by it; but if I may be permitted to speak for myself, I lay claim to neither one nor the other of these titles, conceiving myself to be a common sense, matter-of-fact man, and neither more nor less. If any person is able to show that any assertion of mine is not proved by facts known to the world, he can do more than any person has done, or in my opinion, will ever be able to do. My whole System rests upon facts already well known.

I will state the nature of my inventions, explained in my publications entitled: “The Paradise by powers of Nature and Machinery,” “The New World or Mechanical System,” and “Description of the Naval Automaton,” which may be obtained upon application to my agent, Mr. S. S. Rex, No. 5 South Third-street, Philadelphia—if by letter, postpaid.

In these works I have proved:

1st. That there is a superabundance of Wind Power:

2d. That this power can be converted into Water Power to any extent, working without intermission, or at intervals as may be required:

3d. That consequently all stationary machinery may be driven by a power that costs nothing:

4th. That a locomotive (simple) machine may be driven by those stationary powers and applied to agriculture or any other useful purpose:

5th. That canals and roads (without rails) and any excavation or elevation of earth can be effected by the same means, and the boats and wagons respectively be propelled by stationary powers so obtained, in a similar way to that now done by stationary engines on inclined planes:

6th. That the Wind power at sea can be so applied that one man at the helm may manage the sails with quickness and safety in all cases:

7th. That the Waves may be used to propel ships with much greater power than any steam engine yet applied, and under all circumstances, and with vessels of any size:

8th. That steam power may be generated by solar heat concentrated by fiat Mirrors or reflectors of cheap materials and simple construction for various great purposes on sea and land:

9th. That instead of hollow ships, as fragile almost as a bottle of glass, to the great loss and peril of human lives and property, floats of a peculiar shape and construction may be used to serve all purposes and avoid all danger:

10th. That the three powers of wind, waves and steam can be applied simultaneously for the propulsion of floats or ships, and cause a proportionate greater speed than any hitherto known on sea:

11th. That by the great heat of said burning mirrors, clay and sand may be vitrified for great useful purposes, such as buildings, &c.:

12th. That the globe could produce more than a thousand times sufficient to supply the wants of the present population on the earth:

13th. That the physical, moral and intellectual wants of every human being, to the full extent of its capacity, could be supplied and secured for ever without the necessity of compulsive labor:

14th. That consequently, the Earth might be made a real Paradise—and if it is not, it is to be ascribed merely to brutish dullness and absence of reason.

Now, one of the first results of these facts, which may startle vulgar, uninquiring, unreasoning minds, is, that, for instance, a rectangular frame, one rod broad, ploughing one rod at once by a number of ploughs or other tools, and moving at the rate of two miles per hour, will plough an area six hundred and forty rods long and one rod broad, equal to four acres—consequently, in twenty-four hours, twenty-four times four acres, or nearly one hundred acres—consequently, in one hundred days—the average number of ploughing days in a year—one hundred times one hundred acres,—that is, ten thousand acres; and as one hundred thousand men could do no more at such a frame, for governing it, than one man can do, and as this is all that is required to superintend the operation, it follows that three men, releasing each other at every eight hours, could plough ten thousand acres. But as it requires no more trouble to perform all the other work of pulverizing the ground, &c, the same number may cultivate ten thousand acres then as the finest garden. But as breadth of the locomotive and speed of action can be doubled and tripled in proportion to the power employed, (of which there is abundance costing nothing,) that quantity often thousand acres might be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, &c. Consequently, three men can produce by those means enough for the physical wants of ten, twenty, or thirty thousand men or more. Consequently, ultimately food and other necessary commodities for man may, and will become, as cheap as water. There are a great many other consequences to follow from the same facts—but what are mathematical consequences to a clown, or to a parrot, who talks but does not reason? However, they will imitate what they will see done by others, the opportunity to do which may soon be afforded them.

Patents are taken out by me, and licenses, accompanied by all the instructions required, are sold by my agent, Mr. S. S. Rex, Philadelphia.

I am, very respectfully, yours, etc.,


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.

A B. A. Smolnikar Miscellany:


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.

[The Present, March 1, 1844 (1:9), p. 353.]

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2277 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.