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Table of Contents [Hide/Show]

   Digitization plan
   Essay Draft
      Essay Notes


  • Ayer Annual1 not included
    • Content: collectivist (The Equality Colony of Skagit County)
    • Established: 1898
    • Pages: 4
    • Size: 15 x 22 in.
    • Editor: none listed
    • Publisher: The Brotherhood of the Cooperative Commonwealth
  • Frequency: Weekly
  • Coverage
    • Region: Northwest
    • County: Skagit
  • Unique ids
    • LCCN: sn88085617
    • OCLC: ocm18032509

Digitization plan

2008-2009 grant
  • 1898-1901 (1 reel)


  • Continues: na
  • Related titles: na

Essay Draft

The Brotherhood of the Cooperative Commonwealth (BCC) emerged from the ruins of William Jennings Bryan's 1896 presidential campaign. Leaders Norman Wallace Lermond and Ed Pelton of Maine decided that the best way to convert the United States to a Socialist system would be to start a network of communes in a sparsely populated state and peacefully gain control of the state government through elections. One the nation observed the general prosperity possibly under a Socialist system the entire country would soon follow their example. The plan was endorsed my leaders in the radical community. Because the state had ample natural resources, a fair climate, and a population generally sympathetic to liberal causes, Washington was chosen as the site for this experiment. The Equality Colony was founded in September 1897 near the town of Edison. The national headquarters of the BCC opened offices in Edison in 1898.

Though some local papers had been courteous toward the colonists, other reports had been less favorable. In order to better communicate with the outside world and with members of the BCC who did not live in Washington the group decided to publish Industrial freedom. Lermond purchased a double cylinder press in late April of 1898. George E. Boomer, a former staff member of the Socialist weekly Appeal to Reason soon arrived in Edison work as pressman. 7,000 copies of the first issue were printed on May 7, 1898. William McDevitt served as editor-in-chief. Boomer contributed columns under the pseudonym "Uncle Sam," and Bige Eddy of Olympia, Washington contributed "Musing of a Mossback." Subscription were sold by traveling agitator Louis Klamoth and official correspondent W. C. B. Randolph.

The content of Industrial freedom included "Colony Notes," news of events at Equality, but the true aim of the paper was to educate Socialists and advance the interests of the BCC. The editors borrowed some content from other Socialist papers. In June 1899 the post office changed the rate of postage for Industrial Freedom from second to third class. At this time the paper changed its name to Freedomuntil the problem was resolved in April 1900. On March 1, 1901 the paper became a monthly, rather than weekly, publication.

The Equality colony started strong it did not prove to be viable and the state of Washington did not become a Socialist utopia. Economic conditions in the United States improved and skilled were lured away from the colony by the promise of higher wages. By 1903 Industrial freedom had ceased publication, and the colony officially disbanded in 1907.

Essay Notes


  1. N.W. Ayer & Son's American newspaper annual - not included
  2. NDNP Candidate Title List (Appendix A1.2)
  3. Chronicling America record (LOC) - Industrial Freedom
  4. WorldCat record - Industrial Freedom
  5. UW Catalog Record - Industrial Freedom
  6. WSL record - Industrial Freedom
  7. Article about Equality Colony
  8. History Link article on Equity Colony
  9. LeWarne, C. P. (1975). Utopias on Puget Sound, 1885-1915. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  10. Smith, F. E., & Lowe, F. M. (1988). Equality Colony. Sacramento CA?: F.M. Lowe?. ]


  • Filmed by: UW
  • Positives held by: UW
  • Negatives held by: UW
    • Call Number: A6841
    • 1 reel: 1898-1901


See Industrial Freedom eval spreadsheets (Google)



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