Term: Chase, Warren 1813 - 1891
spiritualist, social reformer, politician, b. Pittsfield, N.H. His parents died when he was a child and he became a ward of the village. Although "bound out" for his keep, he managed to secure some education. He moved west to Monroe, Mich., in 1834, and in 1838 moved to Wisconsin, settling in Southport (Kenosha) where he became interested in the study of spiritualism. Throughout his life he opposed organized Christianity, and in Southport became interested in the theories of Fourier. In 1843 and 1844 he was a leader of the Southport discussion group that formed the Wisconsin Phalanx. In 1844 he moved with the Phalanx to the chosen site of its new community, Ceresco (now part of Ripon), where he was one of the leaders of this financially successful Fourierist experiment until its dissolution in 1850. He carried his reformist theories actively into politics, serving as a member of the constitutional conventions of 1846 and 1847-1848, a Democratic member of the state senate (1848-1849), and the unsuccessful Free Soil candidate for governor (1849). In politics, he opposed political inequalities based on discrimination due to race, sex, or religion, and argued against capital punishment and the transfer of public lands to private ownership. For the rest of his life he was active in the abolitionist, feminist, and temperance movements, and earned his living chiefly by lecturing on spiritualism. Continuing his residence in Ceresco after dissolution of the Phalanx, he was instrumental in establishing the lyceum of Ripon (1850) and Brockway College (1851), which became the basis of Ripon College. In 1853 he left Wisconsin and lived successively in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, and California. He was presidential elector for Horace Greeley (1872) and served in the California senate (1879-1882). He was the author of two autobiographies, as well as a book on slavery and several pamphlets. Wis. Mag. Hist., 19; Proc. State Hist. Soc. Wis., 1902 (1903); WPA MS; [W. Chase], Life-Line (Boston, 1886).
The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Warren Chase Papers for details.
View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]