« Plitt, Gustav Leopold Plockhoy, Pieter Cornelisz Plotinus »

Plockhoy, Pieter Cornelisz

PLOCKHOY, PIETER CORNELISZ: "The father of modern socialism"; born at Zierikzee (35 m. n.w. of Antwerp) about 1600; d. in Germantown, Pa., about 1674. Becoming interested in plans for the realization of the Christian ideal through the best social and industrial methods, he crossed to England and had two interviews with Cromwell, who was greatly interested in his project. On the decease of the protector, Sept. 3, 1658, Plockhoy discussed his scheme with parliament, but owing to the breakdown of government in England was not able to secure cooperation. He printed in English at London in 1659 a pamphlet of fourteen pages, with an advertisement or an invitation of the same bulk, setting forth A Way Propounded to make the Poor in these and other Nations happy by bringing together a fit, suitable and well qualified People into one Household Government or little Commonwealth, wherein Everyone may keep his own Property and be employed in some Work or other, as he shall see fit, without being oppressed."

He proposed to assemble in a common lot and housing four sorts of people: husbandmen, handicraftsmen, mariners, and masters of arts and sciences, who were to be industrial, yet cultivated and of good character, that is, "only rational and impartial persons." "All intractable persons, such as those in communion with the Roman see, usurious Jews, English stiff-necked Quakers; Puritans; fool-hardy believers in the Millennium; and obstinate modern pretenders to revelation," were to be excluded. Those not of the elect or limited number could join the community as servants or assistants. Two houses were deemed necessary, one for the living occupants and one for a warehouse, factory, and shops. Rents were to be cheap and there was to be no overcharging. In the living-house, the sexes were to sit on opposite aides of the table, and dwell in mutual courtesy, using no titles. They were to acknowledge none but Christ as head and master. A president was to be elected annually to be the executive, but he was to have no salary or remuneration. In the large hall at the religious and devotional exercises, which included singing and Bible-reading, each was to take turns in speaking, and each was to make his discourses short. Then the business of the court began. No clergyman or capitalist was allowed. One hundred families were to be associated, so that, for example, instead of the work of one hundred women toiling as in separate families, only twenty-five could do the housework, while seventy-five were set free for other productive labors. In like manner, instead of 100 fires, four or five furnaces could heat the whole habitation. Each was to work six hours a day for the benefit of the colony, the rest of the time could be devoted to private interests. The profits were to be divided equally among all over twenty years and to others in proportion.

After the fall of the Netherlands West India Company the city of Amsterdam financed Plockhoy's project after a contract of 117 articles had been made, giving 100 guilders to each colonist twenty four years old and free from debt. Colonists were to be ready by Sept. 15, 1662. The settlement was made on Hoorn Kill on the Delaware River, near Swannendaal (New Castle). It seems to have flourished until 1664, at the conquest of New Netherland by the English. Then Sir Robert Carr seized and plundered the Delaware settlements, sold the Dutch soldiers as slaves in Virginia, stripped the colonists bare, and took "what belonged to the Quaking Society of Plockhoy, to a very naile." It is not known what became of his colonists, but ten years later Plockhoy, now blind and his wife leading him, came into Germantown, Pa., where the couple were given a house during the ten years of his remaining life. Some of Plockhoy's ideas, once novel, are now commonplace. His pamphlet in Dutch, Kort ere klaer ontwerp . . . door een Volckplanting . . . aan de Zuytrevier in Nieuw Nederland (16 pages, Amsterdam, 1662), is described and discussed by E. B. O'Callaghan, History of New Netherland; or, New York under the Dutch, ii. 461–469, New York, 1848; J. R. Brodhead, Hist. of the State of New York, i. 697–699, ib. 1853; G. M. Asher, Bibliographical and Historical Essay on the Dutch Books and Pamphlets Relating to New Netherlands, pp. 205–208, 2 parts, Amsterdam, 1854–67; W. E. Griffis, The Story of New Netherland, pp. 131, 138, Boston, 1909.

W. E. Griffis.

« Plitt, Gustav Leopold Plockhoy, Pieter Cornelisz Plotinus »
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