Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Thomas Andrews

Second Advisor

Fred Anderson

Third Advisor

Richelle Munkhoff


The recent revelation of 324 letters written in December 1869 by applicants to the Union Colony at Greeley offers vital demographic information about the pioneers who settled territorial Colorado in the early 1870s. These letters provide insight into how pioneers in the Reconstruction era understood their own participation in westward expansion. This thesis explains the Union Colony as a physical intersection of nineteenth-century ideologies including utopianism, communitarianism, temperance, westward expansionism, and Manifest Destiny. It presents the widely-circulated New York Tribune as a vehicle of utopian socialism in the mid-nineteenth century, through which Union Colony founder Nathan Meeker both developed and disseminated his communitarian ideals. Finally, this thesis articulates why the term “frontier utopianism” offers an illuminating description of the unique marriage of communitarian ideology and expansionist conceptions of agrarian settlement which gave rise to the Union Colony.