Frances Wright

Anonymous, in National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (1892-1906) 2:319-20.

FANNY WRIGHT, reformer, was born in Dundee, Scotland, Sept. 6, 1795. At an early age she became an orphan, was a ward in chancery, and adopted the philosophy of the French materialists. She came to the United States in 1818 and traveled for about two years; was introduced in the first of the Croaker papers by Joseph Rodman Drake, and on her return to England published Views of Society and Manners in America (London, 1821; Paris, 1822). Lafayette invited her to Paris, and in 1825 she returned to this country. She purchased a large tract of land at Neshoba, now Memphis, Tenn., where she established a colony of emancipated slaves, and endeavored to educate them. This property was held in trust for her by Gen. Lafayette, who restored it when he learned that her plans could not be carried out without transgressing the laws of the state. From 1833 to 1836 her lectures could not be carried out without transgressing the laws of the state. From 1833 to 1836 her lectures in the Eastern states, attacking slavery and other existing social conditions, attracted great attention, and "Fanny Wright Societies" were organized. Subsequently her freedom of speech drew upon her the enmity of the church and press. She removed to New Harmony, Ind., where she edited The Gazette, and lectured on behalf of Robert Dale Owen's colony, meeting with but little success. She went to France in 1838 where she married M. D'Arnsmont, whose ideas were in sympathy with her own, but they did not long live together; she resumed her maiden name, and lived in retirement in Cincinnati O., with her daughter. Her published works are: Altdorf, a tragedy, which is founded on the story of William Tell (London, 1817); A Few Days in Athens, being a translation of a Greek manuscript discovered in Herculaneum (London, 1822), and a Course of Popular Lectures on Free Inquiry, Religion, Morals, Opinions, etc., delivered in the United States (New York, 1829), and a sixth edition published in 1836. She died Dec. 15, 1852.