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Oneida Reform Movement

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by

Alexandra Johnson

on 9 January 2013

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Transcript of Oneida Reform Movement

Tried to create a "Heaven on Earth" through Perfectionism; rid the world of sin
Attempted to "purify" the community through unorthodox theories including:
Complex Marriage- polygamy
Male Continence- self-restraint of ejaculation
Mutual Criticism- group meetings to eliminate bad character traits through criticism
Communalism- shared item possession
Eugenics- to create more perfect offspring
"His (Noyes') religion is based, first, on kindness; second, on justice, in doing good and doing right rather than in bowing down to authority in humility and observing forms and ceremonies." -Samuel Wells (peer of Noyes) The Oneida Community Founded by John Humphrey Noyes
Wanted to create a perfect community by use of many controversial practices
1848-1881 in Oneida, New York
Key Players
John Humphrey Noyes- Founder
Pierrepont Noyes- Agnostic son who led to the downfall of the community
Professor John Mears- strongly opposed the community, achieved warrant for John Noyes' arrest

By: Austin French and Alexandra Johnson The Oneida Reform Movement: Changing Lives Three Wives at a Time Early Activity Noyes' Realization
While studying at Yale Theological College, he determined that Christ had been born again in AD 70 and that "mankind was now living in a new age." Decided to create his own "shining city"
Early Attempts
Tried to start a community in his hometown, Putney, VT
forced to leave by surrounding residents' disapproval
Smaller "Noyesian" communities in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Vermont Summary/Conclusion The Oneida Community was a Utopian community started by John Noyes that was active from 1848-1881 and had over 300 residents
Noyes believed that Christ had already appeared a second time and believed he could create a heaven-on-earth
To achieve this they practiced many different unorthodox theories
This goal was highly unrealistic, because of the fact that their views were far too radical for the time period, they received strong opposition
They were strongly opposed by not only the Church but by the surrounding society for their various practices
June of 1838: Noyes proposes a polygamous marriage to Harriet Holton-she accepts 1836: Formed a Bible institute in Putney, began to get followers 1877-present: silverware company created, still in business By the end of 1848, group had reached 87 members 1869: A program of eugenics is introduced 1877-79: Crisis in Community leadership; Noyes flees America January 1st, 1881: The Oneida Community dissolves and becomes a company called Oneida Ltd. 1848: Noyes and others from Putney, VT, found the Oneida Community http://www.oneidacommunity.org/TeacherHandbook3.swf 1834: John Humphrey Noyes declares himself free of sin through faith in Christ Timeline of the Movement "After a painful process of conviction, in which the conquest of my aversion to becoming a minister was one of the critical points, I submitted to God, and obtained spiritual peace."
- John Humphrey Noyes Impact and Legacy Noyes first coined the term "free love"
used by gay/lesbian rights activists
Questioned traditional views, influenced others to question social norms
Influenced women's rights movement
Showed that a community with a different economic system (Communalism) could prosper
Built an immense mansion
Remaining silverware company-- Oneida Ltd.
Lasted thirty-three years
"The multitude of them that believed of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that ought of the things that he possessed was his own, but they had all things common" -Peter Verheyen(historian) Opposition/Setbacks External Opposition
Churches upset because Oneida's views completely contradicted those of Catholicism (Catholicism strongly advocated monogamous marriage and confession (sacrament), Perfectionism disregarded both)
Surrounding society wanted them to leave because of their unorthodox practices
Noyes' license to preach was revoked
Noyes was expelled from Yale Theological Seminary for radical beliefs
Internal Issues
Noyes passed power onto his incompetent and agnostic son; he was generally disliked as he was a harsh and unskilled leader
Noyes was accused of statutory rape by Professor John Mears; Noyes permanently fled the country
Founding members vs new generation
Divided on issue of monogamous or complex marriage
Related Events Historical Events
Monada Community, 1921-1938
Created in Brussels, Belgium
Similar ideals based off of the Oneida Community
Collapsed when leader died and WWII begun
Modern Events
Twin Oaks Community, 1967-present
Created in Virginia, home of 100 people
Similar ideals as the Oneida
Oneida is given direct tribute at Twin Oaks Conditions/Time Period 19th Century America
Undergoing Industrial Revolution, Civil War, Women's Rights Conventions, reform and revolutions of all types
New York in the 1840s
"Burned-Over District": an area in central/western NY that had been so heavily evangelized as to have no "fuel" (unconverted population) left over to "burn" (convert).
Second Great Awakening
Produced a belief that people could bring heaven upon themselves and be free of sin/imperfection
"A shining city upon a hill"- a city (or heaven-on-earth) that was supposedly superior to other communities because of their unique ideals
Feared the Lord (like Puritanism), people strove for perfection Primary Goal Summary/Conclusion
The decline of the Oneida Community was caused by Noyes having to flee to avoid arrest, which led to his disliked son taking charge, ultimately leading to an internal split and collapse of the community
Despite the downfall of the community, the Oneida Community has impacted American society to this day.
They were one of the first to radically oppose the standard life style which further influenced the Women's Rights Movement as well as current day Gay/Lesbian Rights
Also showed that a different economic system could function and prosper as their silverware company, Oneida Ltd., is still active Oneida Mansion Today "In consequence of the announcement of the new doctrines, he was excluded from the Orthodox churches, deposed from the ministry, subjected to a flood of contention from the college and the seminary, forsaken by friends and relatives, and sent forth with the reputation of a fanatic and madman. In his own language, 'I had lost my standing in the church, in the ministry, and in the college. My good name in the great world was gone. My friends were fast falling away. I was beginning to be indeed an outcast. Yet I rejoiced and leaped for joy'" -Lawrence Foster(historian)
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