Capitalism, Satan and The Mansion of Happiness: 19th Century Board Games

The Mansion of Happiness Board Game
The Mansion of Happiness Board Game

Will you get to heaven or to a seat in the capitalist’s board room? Depends on what game you play.

“The Mansion of Happiness is a roll-and-move track board game, and, typical of such games, the object is to be the first player to reach the goal at the end of the board’s track, here called The Mansion of Happiness (Heaven).[4] Centrally located on the board, the goal pictures happy men and women making music and dancing before a house and garden.[7] To reach The Mansion of Happiness, the player spins a teetotum and races around a sixty-six space spiral track depicting various virtues and vices.[4]

“Instructions upon spaces depicting virtues move the player closer to The Mansion of Happiness while spaces depicting vices send the player back to the pillory, the House of Correction, or prison, and thus, further from The Mansion of Happiness.[7] Sabbath-breakers are sent to the whipping post.[7] The vice of Pride sends a player back to Humility, and the vice of Idleness to Poverty.[8] The game’s rules noted:

“WHOEVER possesses PIETY, HONESTY, TEMPERANCE, GRATITUDE, PRUDENCE, TRUTH, CHASTITY, SINCERITY…is entitled to Advance six numbers toward the Mansion of Happiness. WHOEVER gets into a PASSION must be taken to the water and have a ducking to cool him… WHOEVER posses[ses] AUDACITY, CRUELTY, IMMODESTY, or INGRATITUDE, must return to his former situation till his turn comes to spin again, and not even think of HAPPINESS, much less partake of it.” Wikipedia


Read more about the transformation from piety to materialism in board games HERE.

5 responses to “Capitalism, Satan and The Mansion of Happiness: 19th Century Board Games”

  1. Great find, but Wikipedia made one comment, I disagree with:

    Protestant America gradually began viewing the accumulation of material goods and the cultivation of wealth as signs of God’s blessing,

    People love to lump Protestants as a singular group, but that is definitely not the case. The Quaker preacher, Elias Hicks, would work well as a follow up. People praise Gandhi, but you never here anything about Hicks. The larger and more unionized religions made special effort to demonize the Protestants, as group. Did Martin Luther King sacrifice more for for Blacks than Hicks? No, but Hicks is a forgotten man. Sad.

    Religion balancing out Capitalism is a point I have tried to make. You trumped me with this post. Good work.


    • Glad you enjoyed. I’ll have to take a look at Hicks. I agree that people tend to generalize too much about Protestants–there’s a broad range of different ideas and practices. When Carnegie wrote the Gospel of Wealth some protestants thought it was great and others not so much.

      Today we have the gospel of prosperity by Joel Olsteen and missionaries who sell everything to spread the gospel (they’re considered crazy).


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