Owen, Robert Dale (1801–1877)
Son of the British socialist Robert Owen. He was born November
9, 1801 in Glasgow, Scotland, and educated in Switzerland.
Owen eventually emigrated to America. He lived for several
years in his father’s socialistic community, New Harmony,
in Indiana. He served in the Indiana legislature and in Congress.
He introduced the bill organizing the Smithsonian Institution
and in 1846 became one of its regents and chairman of
its Building Committee. Owen was a member of the Indiana
Constitutional Convention in 1850. In 1853, Owen was appointed
Chargé d’Affaires at Naples and Minister in 1855. He
remained there until 1858.
Owen was disappointed to learn of his father’s attachment
to Spiritualism. But experiences with the famous medium D.
D. Home during his stay in Naples started his career of psychic
investigation. Owen worked to prove whether survival was a
certainty or delusion. He published two books, Footfalls on the
Boundaries of Another World (1860) and The Debatable Land Between
this World and the Next (1871), in support of the Spiritualist
movement. In spite of scandals, such as cheating on the part of
the mediums Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Holmes in 1874, Owen
continued to advocate his new faith until his death. He died
June 17, 1877.
Sources
Harrison, John F. C. Quest for the New World. New York
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969.
Oved, Yaacov. Two Hundred Years of American Communes.
New Brunswick, N.J. Transaction Publications, 1993.
Owen, Robert Dale. The Debatable Land Between this World
and the Next. London Trubner, 1871.
———. Footfalls on the Boundaries of Another World. Philadelphia
Lippencott, 1860.
———. Threading My Way; Twenty-Seven Years of Autobiography.
1874. Reprint, New York A. M. Kelley, 1967.

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