Welcome to MAIWelcome to MAI

"Hello, I'm William McKinley."
partial cover image from "American Boys' Life of William McKinley"                                              
About MAI
Help MAI

Who I Am
Contact Me


Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Free Society
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The Island Scheme”
Author(s): H., W.
Date of publication: 5 January 1902
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 1
Pagination: 3

H., W. “The Island Scheme.” Free Society 5 Jan. 1902 v9n1: p. 3.
full text
penal colonies (anarchists); anarchism (dealing with).
Named persons
Edward Carpenter; William Ellery Channing; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Julian Hawthorne; George F. Hoar; Elbert Hubbard; Henrik Ibsen; Peter Kropotkin; William Morris; Thomas Paine; Jean Jacques Élisée Reclus; Herbert Spencer; Leo Tolstoy.

As seen here, the copy of the magazine used for the transcription below has a small portion of a page corner torn away, thereby eliminating some text at the bottom of the article’s first column.



The Island Scheme

     Senator Hoar’s proposition to purchase an uninhabited island to which all Anarchists are to be deported is causing a good deal of comment, favorable and otherwise, in the capitalistic newspapers. Some of them think the scheme would afford an excellent opportunity for the Anarchists to put their theories into practice; others aver that before the end of the first year the inhabitants would be divided into warring factions, that the weakest would soon succumb, and those most “fitted to survive” would inaugurate a despotism the like of which has never been seen on earth; others again declare that the Anarchists would starve to death, or become mere savages, subsisting on roots, nuts, and berries (for want of capitalists to give them employment, no doubt,) while a few editors mildly criticize the proposition, mainly on the ground that it would cost too much money to try the experiment. All seem to admit that the plan would be attended with considerable difficulty, and unite in declaring that the Anarchist problem is a hard one to solve.
     As the Anarchists themselves are to be the persons principally interested in the scheme, it struck me that they als[o] should be given an opportunity to make a few comments, and that perhaps they might be able to offer some practical suggestions, and give our Wise Men at Washington a few valuable hints in the way of [h]elping them out of the difficulties which the problem suggests. I therefore submit the opinions of a few of them for what they are worth, leaving it to the judgment of readers of FREE SOCIETY and the aforesaid Wise Men to decide whether they have suggested anything really worth while [sic].
     Said one who thoroly [sic] knows the ways [?] [p]oliticians: “The scheme is all right [?] [provided] it could be based upon con- [?] that the [?] carry out tbe [sic] terms of the contract. If the authorities would agree to furnish us supplies until such time as we could be self-supporting, rigidly exclude politicians and all persons officially connected with any government, to let us absolutely alone no matter what may develope [sic], I think we might manage to scratch along pretty comfortably; but Lord bless you I know these politicians. No sooner would we have the thing nicely going than [sic] under one pretence [sic] or another some of them would invade our little island and rob us as bad or worse than they do here, as they did they did [sic] the Mormons in Utah. Suppose we should find precious metals or stones on our island, how long do you suppose we would be left in peaceful possession after the governments learned of our discovery?”
     “As this measure is calculated to include all Anarchists,” said one who is quite well off in worldly goods, “and many comrades are fairly well to do if not rich, while thousands own their little homes, I suppose the governments would make some restitution to those who would be compelled to sacrifice what they have honestly and laboriously earned. To confiscate our wealth would brand them in the eyes of all honest people as robbers indeed, and the bad opinion we already have of them would be widely confirmed. This would add thousands to our ranks, and the difficulties of the problem already confronting our wise legislators would be increased hundred fold.”
     Said a bold Anarchist who is no respector [sic] of persons: “If this deportation scheme is to include all Anarchists, I fancy the authorities will not find the task easy. Of course the poor devils who havn’t [sic] a cent or influential friends will be gathered in without much difficulty; but how about those who are well off, those who have become famous on account of their great talents, those who have multitudes of friends, and friends in high places? Men, for instance, like Reclus, Kropotkin, Carpenter, Ibsen, Tolstoy, and our own Elbert Hubbard. The last mentioned has declared over his own signature that he is an Anarchist, and I presume wouldn’t deny the soft impeachment now. Then there is Julian Hawthorne, who about a year ago wrote an article in which he actually stated that all the best men and women everywhere are Anarchists. How will the politicians deal with these? And if they propose to discriminate, where will they draw the line? If it is true, as some one has said, that the Anarchist with a book is far more dangerous than the Anarchist with a bomb, those I have already mentioned should be the first victims.”
     A somewhat facetious but long-headed Anarchist had this to say: “If the authorities are to provide us with an island I propose that we ask to have some choice in the matter of location, etc. They might send us to some little barren fever infected spot under the equator where we would die off as fast as they planted us, and as we are a pretty numerous body, some of the good people who had been left behind might revolt at such cruelty on the p[a]rt of their rulers. If they wish to colonize us, let them do it in handsome style—purchase for us the island of New Zealand, which would be something like [sic]; or we might take the Sandwich Island group as a second choice, or Cuba or Porto Rica [sic]; but these last two would, I fear, be too close to the United States for our comfort. We are the salt of the earth, and the best that is going is none too good for us. Anarchists will multiply from now on so rapidly that we shall need a big island. In a few years the Wise Men will have to legislate to keep Anarchist [sic] at home to save their nations from stagnation and death.”
     “There is one thing that can be said in favor of this island scheme,” said a bookworm Anarchist. “It would bring together all the really progressive people in the world; most of the men and women of genius, learning and goodness in the field of literature, art, science and the various handicrafts. We might even have a sort of monopoly of the brains of the world (excepting, of course, the Wise Men at Washington), since the difficulty would be to keep the best people out of the island. And then,” continued this bad Anarchist, gleefully, “the people that would be left would of course have no use for such Anarchist breeding literature as the works of Spencer, Channing, Paine, Emerson, Tolstoy, Carpenter, Morris, and dozens of others that I might name, and what was not ordered destroyed we might possibly take along with us or have sent to us. Such reading would have the effect of making us worse Anarchists than ever, but as we would be practically out of the world that could do none of the good people who were left behind any harm.”
     One Anarchist ironically proposed that the ships which are to be used to deport his comrades might be ordered scuttled and sunk in mid ocean as one of the most effectual means o[f] getting rid of the present brood of radicals; another suggested th[at] we petition the government to send the Wi[se] Men at Washington, including the chief [ex]ecutive, with us to the island, that [?] might learn some lessons in true civilizati[on;] still another, a bright little woman Anarchist, thought it would be a good thing to petition our government to organize a few economic kindergardens [sic], where these Wise Men would have an opportunity of learning the rudiments of economic science, and said she would gladly of[f]er herself as one of the teachers.
     I am not at all certain that any of the above suggestions will be adopted by the Wise Men at Washington, but they are offered in perfect good faith, and with sentiments of profound pity and charity for their absurd predicament.



top of page