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Nashoba Overview | Images


Francis Wright
Frances Wright, from Frances Wright: Free Enquirer, 1939

Frances Wright
Tall and vivacious, Englishwoman Frances Wright established the experimental colony at Nashoba when she was 32 years old.  The colony was begun in 1826 with the support of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and the Marquis de Lafayette. 

Wright's idealistic mission was to buy slaves and to prepare them for freedom and self-sufficiency.


Francis Wright 2
Frances Wright, from Frances Wright: Free
, 1939

Along with promoting such radical ideas as equality for women and the working class, Wright abhorred the slave-based Southern economy. Her belief in equality for all people drove her to found her experimental colony in the forests and swampland of West Tennessee.

Nashoba Settlement
Sketch of Nashoba, from Domestic Manners of the Americans, 1832

Sketch of Nashoba
This drawing of the colony depicts a dreary place in decline.  “Short and stormy” is the way historian John Egerton describes the Nashoba experience. Wright’s vision of Utopia in West Tennessee began to materialize in 1826 with several whites and about a dozen former slaves. Disease and infighting among the pioneers doomed the community to failure.  When Wright returned from fund raising in Europe she found thirty-one black colonists barely hanging on. 

Wolf River

Wolf River
“Nashoba” is the Chickasaw word for “wolf.”  Miss Wright founded the community on the banks of the Wolf River just east of Memphis on the current site of Germantown. 

Plenty Ambulance Service
Tintype of unidentified woman and child, TSLA Carte de Visite Photograph Collection

Unidentified woman and child
This tintype, though taken in the mid-nineteenth century, illustrates an aspect of Nashoba that set it apart from many other communities—blacks and whites living and working together. 

Farm Barn
Live Stock, original caption from an illustration on the 1832 edition of Trollope's Domestic Manners

White people and emancipated slaves built the cabins that comprised the town.  During their years of slavery, blacks were considered by most masters as no more than livestock.