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Eyewitness to Utopia:

Scientific Conquest and Communal Settlement
in C.-A. Lesueur's Sketches of the Frontier

Utopia is no myth. It was there, at the frontier, the missing link between George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Apollo 17. Three progressive minds made it happen. Two had a vision of the future. One told their story in his sketchbooks: the true story of the scientific conquest of America.

After courageously defending the city of Paris in 1814 and 1815, first to protect Napoleon, next to get rid of him, Charles-Alexandre Lesueur was in need of a better world. A philanthropic businessman provided the opportunity. Enthused by his scientific knowledge, William Maclure brought the French explorer to the United States. There he met the Founding Fathers and all the great minds of his time. Every knowledgeable American agreed to this: no one knew more than Lesueur. He was a living encyclopedia, the most talented student of Georges Cuvier. His contributions to American science were revolutionary. Then, suddenly, history forgot about him when together with a group of intellectuals he created an experimental scientific utopia. Abandoned by most of his friends on the American frontier, he initiated its geological exploration and systematic discovery.

Charles-Alexandre Lesueur was an eyewitness to his era. The drawings he made between 1816 and 1837, and which are reproduced in this 498-page book (160 watercolors, sketches and engravings by Lesueur), illustrate the following topics:

Sketches of the United States of America and early American utopias (1816-1837); Charles Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846), explorer, geologist, zoologist and natural history painter; William Maclure (1763-1840), father of American geology and utopian philosopher; Robert Owen (1771-1858), British social reformer and utopian philosopher; Early history of New Harmony, Indiana (1814-1837); Early history of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (1812-1825); Early history of the United States Geological Survey (1839-1879); Pestalozzian schools of Joseph Neef (1770-1854) and Marie Duclos Fretageot (1783-1833); Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827); History of lithography in the USA (1807-1822); Creation of the Smithsonian Institution (1836-1856); The Lewis and Clark expedition (1803-1806); The Stephen. H. Long expedition (1819-1820); The American Revolution (1775-1783); The Louisiana Purchase (1803); The War of 1812; The United States Boundary Commission (1819); Harmonists in America (1803-1832); Moravians in America (1741-1825); English settlements on Prairie Albion, Illinois (1825-1826); Slave emancipation in Nashoba, Tennessee (1825-1830); The Valley Forge retreat of George Washington (1732-1799); The Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826); The boyhood of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). With additional photographs and maps.

Language: English

Eyewitness to Utopia: Scientific Conquest and Communal Settlement in C.-A. Lesueur’s Sketches of the Frontier. Drawings by Charles-Alexandre Lesueur. Foreword by Edouard Philippe, Donald E. Pitzer and Ralph G. Schwarz. Translated by Leslie J. Roberts. Heuqueville, France: Heiligon, 2019.

Eyewitness to Utopia is available as an eBook and exists in three printed editions (26,7 cm x 21 cm / 498 pages).

Click on the links here to order your edition of the book:

° Economy edition (ISBN 978 2 491405 04 5)
- Soft cover, 498 pages, 49 color illustrations, 277 black-and-white illustrations
- USD 60 / GBP 45 / EUR 49 (*)

° Deluxe edition (ISBN 978 2 491405 02 1)
- Hard cover, 498 pages, 100 color illustrations, 226 black-and-white illustrations
- USD 75 / GBP 59 / EUR 64 (*)

° Scholar's edition (ISBN 978 2 491405 01 4)
- Hard cover, 498 pages, 300 color illustrations, 26 black-and-white illustrations
- USD 90 / GBP 70 / EUR 75 (*)

° eBook (ISBN 978 2 491405 00 7)
- Print replica, 498 pages, 300 color illustrations, 26 black-and-white illustrations
- USD 24.15 / GBP 19.91 / EUR 21.80 (*)

(*) PLEASE NOTE! Prices may vary because of fluctuating exchange rates.
Free shipping inside the European Union.





Eyewitness to Utopia book cover by Bauke Ritsert Rinsma and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur

Click here to download your free sample pages of Eyewitness to Utopia



Eyewitness to Utopia book cover by Bauke Ritsert Rinsma and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur

What Critics Say about Eyewitness to Utopia

The honorable Edouard Philippe, MP, Prime Minister of France, declared about Eyewitness to Utopia: "I am delighted that the present memoir reveals the immensity of this historical figure from Le Havre."

Dr. Donald E. Pitzer, Director Emeritus, Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana, wrote: "By happy coincidence, Lesueur’s fellow Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville took his own investigative tour of the United States in 1831-1832 while Lesueur was still in New Harmony. Tocqueville articulated his astute observations of the country’s social and political institutions and practices in his incisive Democracy in America, published in 1835. Lesueur made a similar contribution with his incomparable sketches, documenting America’s natural and built environment, its ancient and living wildlife, and the utopian vision of its people. Two centuries later, Ritsert Rinsma’s Eyewitness to Utopia presents Lesueur’s artistic gift to the New World in its most complete rendition and elevates this artist, scientist and communitarian to his own proper status among the most notable figures in the early Republic."

Dr. Ralph Grayson Schwarz, Founding President of Historic New Harmony, wrote: "In this groundbreaking book, Ritsert Rinsma, with his comprehensive knowledge and acute perceptions, has succeeded masterfully in capturing the significance of Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, illuminating the context of his meaningful American sketchbooks."


Photo of Bauke Ritsert Rinsma

Bauke Ritsert Rinsma is the author of this important book about New Harmony (Robert Owen's utopian commune in Indiana) and many other nineteenth-century utopian settlements in the United States of America, sketched by Charles-Alexandre Lesueur between 1816 and 1837.


C.-A. Lesueur Utopia
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