In early 1887, Josiah Foster and Emmanuel Goldman, two friends raised as garmentmakers in New York City, found themselves increasingly disgusted by the society around them. Industrialization was taking root within the United States — a potentially good thing, Foster and Goldman knew, but something worrisome too. As industry flourished, the lifelong pals and erstwhile abolitionists saw other things growing: They saw (and struggled against) bigotry against women, Native Americans, people of various faiths, brown-skinned humans, immigrants, freethinkers, and those considered somehow “different.” They lamented the exponential rise of materialism and the lessening of concern for other people. They recoiled from the growing number of laws imposed on the citizenry merely to protect the pockets of the already wealthy. The nation’s growing love of all things violent did not escape their attention. And they noticed too that as people gave up their plows for factory work, skies and streams were becoming dirtier.
Foster and Goldman determined that remaining within a mainstream setting would be catastrophic for their loved ones. After consultation and planning with their respective spouses, Genevieve Cooke Foster and Chaya Cohen Goldman, they decided to remove themselves from a situation all four knew was destined for ruin and ignominy. The Fosters and Goldmans packed their belongings and set off to find land that they could call their own and where they could build the type of community they needed in order to thrive, an independent and self-governing communal town based on progressive-pacifist values and free from mainstream consciousness.
In time the wandering families finally found what they sought: A wind-tossed riverboat journey carried them to a heretofore untouched and uncharted set of green microislands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Canada and the United States that featured rolling green lands surrounded by cerulean waters, a small but majestic mountain range, acres of dense forest land, and rich, fertile soil. This place was a paradise to the progressive travelers, and best of all, the area was cut off from all mainstream towns and not under the jurisdiction of any other nation.
“My lands, Josiah,” Emmanuel exclaimed after researching the matter. “No one has control over this place. We can claim it as our own! We must, in the name of peace and love and humanity.”
So they did. The Goldmans and Fosters contacted likeminded souls they knew and informed them about a once-in-a-lifetime miracle: a chance to create and live in a town of peace. Manny and Josiah presented proposals to pacifist business associates, while Chaya and Genevieve shared the opportunity with peace- and justice-focused institutions and faith communities.
More on the story of what became known as The Peaceful Collective Republic of Goldman Mill, aka The Town of Peace:
A sovereign island microstate founded in 1890 as an independent democratic pacifist-socialist colony, Goldman Mill, aka the Microstate of Peace, sits in the Atlantic Ocean near Machias Seal Island, off the coast of Maine. Its size is just over 26 km2 (about 10 sq mi) with an estimated population of about 2,600. The microcountry is established as a single city-state in a similar fashion to Vatican City.
In 1887, Josiah Foster and Emmanuel Goldman, lifelong friends from garment-making families in New York City, decided they had had enough with the violent ways of the United States and its citizens as they grew up in post-Civil War society. The duo and their wives developed a plan to find uncharted land and to establish an independent colony that would be devoted to the practice and study of peace and pacifism.
For two years, the Goldmans and Fosters set about finding like-minded men and women interested in departing a violent-minded homeland and starting fresh a new land of peace. By 1889, nearly 150 households (about 500 men, women and children) had been recruited and had invested and pooled funds for the purpose of building the new society. Montreal banker C. Lysander Tate (who had a taste for nonviolent revolution and a long-held idea of his own for a pacifist-socialist collective) served as finance minister; artist and architect Helena Gomez of Mexico City was brought in to oversee municipal planning; constitutional scholars Clive and Prunella James of London and abolitionist and attorney Frederick Johnson of the US joined to help draft the colony’s governing documents. Jamaican pastor Herbert Sims, British rabbi Miles Liebman-Chase and Irish priest Nathaniel Connell amassed a cadre of pacifist clerics from many faiths for the cause. The Fosters headed the building effort and the Goldmans’ vast research in the areas of peace and pacifism led to the philosophical backbone that gave the project intellectual and philisophical heft that won the devotion of the impending colonists. After a three-year long search, suitable land was found, an uncharted island with two satellite microislands near the shores of the US and Canada, but not under the sovereignty of either nation. In 1890, the colonists, led by the Goldmans and Fosters, traveled to the site, pitched tents and began building their new society (residents made the trek in three separate waves). On August 13 of that year, what was called the Goldman Mill Collective released a statement to the world asserting its existence as a pacifist city-state and declaring that The Peaceful Republic of Goldman Mill, aka The Town of Peace, was an independent country in its own right. It offered its services to the world as a beacon of peace, as a trading partner, as a provider of peace education, as an olive branch to the world. By 1895, through the seemingly endless travel and tireless diplomatic work of ambassador Richard Goldman, Goldman Mill had been recognized officially and welcomed into the world community by the heads of state of the United States, Canada and most European nations. (That recognition as a state de jure and de facto was reaffirmed in 1945 by the newly formed International Court of Justice and the United Nations Security Council.) As its closest neighbors, the US and Canada are regular trade partners with The Mill and offer certain protections. In return, Goldman Mill provides diplomatic and humanitarian assistance to the two nations in times of conflict.
Goldman Mill is a collective pacifist-democratic socialist republic governed by the Constitution drafted by Chaya Cohen Goldman, Clive and Prunella James, Frederick Johnson and Genevieve Cooke Foster. It was approved unanimously by all the founding households of Goldman Mill.
The Constitution states that all governmental power rests in the people as represented by a state legislative council of 10 members who are chosen via elections in which all adults aged 21 and over must take part every two years; one non-voting youth member between the age of 14 and 20 is chosen each year in a special election of all citizens 13 and up. (Adult council members may serve no more than two consecutive terms and four terms overall; these positions are part-time and pay a nominal stipend.) The 13th adult member is the head of state, and as the initial idea and vision for the colony came from the Goldman family, the colonists agreed that a member of that clan would hold the spot in perpetuity. The founding families also chose the name of Goldman Mill to honor the family (Josiah Foster made that suggestion, which was adopted enthusiastically by the others, so grateful were they to have the possibility of a life in a land of peace.) The head of state, called Mayor (the colonists felt the idea of a “president” or “prime minister” distasteful, though “prime minister” is used for international relations), would serve as the full-time paid leader of the national government and its administration, would advise council in debates but vote only to break ties, and would serve as the face of the nation to the world. (A diplomatic corps led by an official Ambassador assists in bureaucratic efforts.) The present Mayor is Regina Goldman, who took power at the retirement of her father, Jacob Goldman. She will serve until she retires at age 60 or at death, whichever comes first, as mandated by law. A successor is chosen from within the Goldman clan by the elected state council.
At founding, all adult colonists participated in approving the initial batch of laws; future laws were and continue to be drafted and approved by the elected council (citizens do have the right to propose laws through an initiative process). The founders also established a peace enforcement agency, the Goldman Mill Gardai. The Gardai work without weapons and keep the peace through pacifist means. Citizens receive a basic minimum income and a benefits package. Each able adult can earn additional income through employment or enterprise and also gives a minimum of 10 hours per week to government service. The government is funded through taxation of income beyond BMI, peace education services marketed to the world. Pax University tuition fees and donations from pacifists worldwide, tourism, and proceeds from collective-owned businesses. Those funds cover a host of government-provided services including health care, access to the town shuttle, education and child care, food coop membership, water/power (it runs on a solar-powered electrical grid; citizens must pay for amounts used over standard allotment)/sewer, Gardai, internet, tv/radio/satellite service, telephone, basic housing (larger/more elaborate properties levy a surcharge), employment placement service, arts society membership, and more. Its economy mainly relies on industry, tourism, peace education, services and exports. Goldman Mill has a highly stable economy, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, no national debt and a budget surplus.
After The Mill’s first year, 120 homes, five farms, a rooming house, a textile enterprise (Foster’s Clothiers), and a windmill- and steam-powered factory producing needed items and energy stood proudly in the small township. For the first time, residents celebrated collective holidays: Election Day (July 13) and Founders Day (August 13).
As the years and decades passed, the town grew slowly in number, but rapidly in strength and solidarity. The people of Goldman Mill weathered numerous storms, figurative and otherwise, but — as the founders surmised — they thrived in their hamlet far from the mainstream world.
One of the darkest times in The Mill was the period covering the world wars. Pacifist by charter, the township decided to assist in the cause offering medical care and on the front lines in all arenas of the wars. Humanitarian assistance for casualties of war came from numerous GM institutions. And more than one effort founded in the township sent Millers to Europe to get targeted communities out of Nazi Germany.
Officially, Goldman Mill honors those who give their lives in service to a higher cause. That includes soldiers of integrity (who are we to dictate that they think like us? – Gandhi says to meet people where they are) as well as those Millers who make the ultimate sacrifice through humanitarian efforts during wartime and peacetime. We also honor the conscientious objectors who stand for principle and for peace.
Today, The Mill is a beacon for the world, showing how people can live and work cooperatively and communally for the betterment of all. The township has more than 5,500 citizens and counting plus a rising number of resident aliens, so it is still quite small, but that is exactly what the citizens here want. Through the service of current mayor Regina Goldman and her team, Goldman Mill continues to grow, thrive, and do good. Our children are protected, lovingly raised, and stringently educated. Everyone plays a part in making the township successful. Citizen action and community service are part and parcel of everyday life. Diversity is celebrated. Justice and equality reign. And Mill residents are remarkable, dedicated stewards of the blessings they share. They know none of it could have been possible if not for the bravery and forward thinking of the Goldmans and the other founding families. We Millers love our town, our country, and are so grateful to those who created it. We pray the founders look down on us from heaven with pride — heaven knows we are endlessly proud of them.
A horrible tragedy struck the town! Thankfully, no person was harmed, but the Goldman Mill we knew, all its buildings and farms and wondrous works, were destroyed thanks to the violent and destructive Hurricane Zynga. Mayor Goldman and her team, after a brief respite in the beauteous land of Metaplace, rebuilt in the new frontiers of SmallWorlds (visit, and search for “Goldman Mill”). This is the state web site, the virtual Goldman Mill Town Hall, where links to village information, GM’s radio station, the Mill Messenger, shopping, our citizen service department, and other services can be accessed.
Head of state: Mayor Regina Goldman, Prime Minister
Deputy Mayor/Business Administrator: Endie Connell
Operations Minister: Windy Sims-Goldman
Communications Minister: NR Davis
Citizen Services Director: Ivy Dennis Glasshome
Business Services Director: C. Lysander Tate V
Transportation Minister: Seamus Bridges
Chamber of Commerce Director: Harry Sims Jr
Recreation Director: Rowan Sims-Goldman
Peace Education Minister/Pax University Chancellor: Patricia “Paxie” Goldman
Public Works Minister: Michelle Charles
Gardai Commissioner: Melvin Charles
Technology Minister: Lisbeth Blomkvist
Finance Minister: Kevin Glasshome
State Auditor: Tyrone C. Stephens
Ambassador: Nancy Tate Leeves
Chief Judge: Isabella Tate
Court Clerk: Brendan Bodie
State Attorney: Ruth Foster Goldman
State Prosecutor: Gwendolyn Connell
Public Defense Attorney: Kumar Patel
Public Health Minister: Maeve Callaghan-Ruiz, MD
Romero Clinic Director: Connor Chambers, MD
Environmental Minister: Jennifer Werner
Arts Minister: Marga Goldman Kurosawa
Youth Program Director: Laura Lee Love
Activism/Volunteer Director: Reuben Cantor
Public Media Director: Ariel Lieber
Housing Minister: Hildegard Lieber
Mill Friends Academy Headmaster:
Daycare Director: Saiorse Bridges
Mill Messenger Publisher: Renaldo Ruiz
Postmaster: Edmund Singh
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Grateful Dread Media
Education – Governance – Communications – Mission
Goldman Mill Peace Project is an effort of Grateful Dread Peace Media, a nonprofit enterprise devoted to activism, news, and peace education since 1996. GDPM and its projects, among them Grateful Dread Public Radio and the Armchair Activist effort, encourage nonviolent citizen action for progressive change; disseminate progressive news and diverse views; spotlight unsung artists, activists, and altruists; celebrate progressive counterculture; educate, entertain, inform, and inspire the public, promote sustainable green living, and serve the local and worldwide community.