Escape to Utopia: The Communal Movement in America

By Everett Webber | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
FATHER RAPP'S CHILDREN

THEY DIDN'T CARE FOR WHAT NATURE MOST NATURALLY ENCOURAGES

Think how your fathers left their native land--
Dear German-land! O sacred hearths and homes!--
And, where the wild beast roams
In patience planned
New forest-homes beyond the mighty sea,
There undisturbed and free
To live as brothers of one family.

-- J. G. WHITTIER: from the Latin of Pastorius

ACCORDING to whether detractor or apologist was talking, George Rapp, whose followers called him "Father," was variously a saint and a holder of serfs; a godly man and a dabbler in magic and Satanism; a celibate and a man who kept a young woman in his alchemical laboratory altogether too much; a loving father, and a patriarch who ordered the death of his son for rebellious behavior.

Whatever else he may have been later, in Germany, before coming to America, he was a peasant, an educated one, a big man of commanding presence. And with his followers he was to be taken--in some accounts by conventional means, in others, miraculously through the air--to Palestine with his followers to greet the returning Jesus.

-100-

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