SAVARDAN, AUGUSTIN (1822–1893). Augustin Savardan (Auguste Savardon), physician and La Réunion colonist, was born in Chapple Gaugain, France, on May 18, 1822. He studied at the College of Medicine in Paris and earned his medical degree in 1846. In the French capital he developed a lifelong fascination with politics and law, interests that led him to become a disciple of the utopian socialist Charles Fourier. Savardan became a close friend of Victor Considérant, the leading Fourierist in France at the time. Considérant was in the process of founding a Fourierist colony in Texas, and he convinced Savardan to serve as secretary of the European American Society of Colonization, an organization that Considérant had established to recruit settlers to what would become the La Réunion colony. Savardan was also among the first forty-three settlers who left France in 1855 for the United States. They arrived at the site of the utopian colony in Dallas County in June of that year.
Savardan was known as an outstanding doctor. In France he had been a pioneer in urging the importance of accurate medical records and in advocating the development of modern hospitals. He served the new colony well as a physician. He treated his fellow colonists for the numerous minor ailments that continually afflicted them and also helped contain an outbreak of malaria that hit La Réunion in September 1855, by dispensing quinine sulfate dissolved in whiskey. The colonists also put his knowledge of law to good use when they made him their chief magistrate and justice of the peace.
By early 1856, however, Savardan had become disenchanted with the development of the colony and especially unhappy with the leadership of Considérant. The two men had several serious public quarrels, the last of which prompted Savardan to leave La Réunion in 1857 and return to France. Deprived of his talents, and already fatally weakened by other internal divisions and by the various frustrations associated with starting a new settlement in an unfamiliar land, La Réunion disbanded shortly thereafter.
Savardan, who never forgave Considérant for his alleged mismanagement of the colony, wrote an exposé, Un Naufragé au Texas (Paris, 1858), condemning Considérant's incompetence and lack of preparedness. This book is the only detailed record by a colonist of the day-to-day life in La Réunion. Savardan later wrote another book outlining his proposals for the care of abandoned children, entitled Asile Rural d'Enfants Trouvés (Paris, 1869). He devoted the remainder of his life to his various medical interests and to several philanthropic projects for orphan children. Savardan died on June 15, 1893, in Paris.
Rondel V. Davidson, "Victor Considérant and the Failure of La Réunion," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 76 (January 1973). The French Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1973). George H. Santerre, White Cliffs of Dallas: The Story of La Reunion (Dallas: Book Craft, 1955).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Christopher E. Guthrie, "SAVARDAN, AUGUSTIN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsa57), accessed February 10, 2016. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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