A.D. Gordon was born on June 9, 1856, in Podolia, Russia, to a pious family who were related to the magnate Baron Horace Guenzburg. After his marriage, Gordon was given responsibility for the management of a large tract of land which was rented out for farming. However, after the lease ran out in 1903, Gordon looked for new employment. While he had been involved in Hovevei Zion, there was little expectation that he would immigrate to Eretz-Israel and become an agricultural laborer especially given his relatively advanced age forty-seven.
Nonetheless, Gordon decided to come to Eretz-Israel and begin a life of agricultural labor first in Petah Tikvah, later in Rishon Le-Zion, and finally making his home in Deganyah, the first of the kvutsot. It should be remembered that Gordon had been a white-collar worker all his life and had no experience of agricultural labor. However, he believed that physical effort on the land would not only bring about his personal redemption but also that of the Jewish people. He attributed pioneer work to a semi-religious status, arguing that it created an organic interrelationship between man, the land, and culture.
Gordon became the inspiration for a generation and more of Labor Zionists who saw in his example a way to personal and national fulfillment. A number of youth movements were influenced by his teachings, and one, Gordonia, took his name as the rallying call for their work.
Gordon died in 1922 and was buried in Deganyah, where he had lived during his final years.