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Transcript of Utopian Movements
By Ashley Garcia, Kassandra Carreon, Tara Shumacher
What was the Utopian Movement?
During the 1800s
The Utopian Movement was a period during American History when people with fundamental opinions began to build their own perfect communities or societies and they possessed highly suitable or perfect qualities.
Most of the communities had short lifespans, and the utopians performed their experiments in isolation from the rest of society, yet they all expressed the deep desire of a perfect society.
More than 100,000 individuals formed utopian communities in an effort to create perfect societies.
The idea of a perfect society can be traced back to Plato's Republic and the book of Acts in the New Testament.
The years 1820 to 1860 saw the heyday of this movement with the creation of numerous communities.
The Panic of 1837, led some people to embrace a belief in imminent catastrophe.
Religions that believes that there will be an apocalypse, a term which originally referred to a revelation of God's will.
Apocalyptic religions tend to spring up in places experiencing rapid social change
The Erie Canal region, which experienced the full impact of the market revolution in the early nineteenth century, was such a place.
Factors that Contributed
The Second Great Awakening left countless converted souls, many shattered and reorganized churches, and numerous new denominations.
Encouraged evangelicalism that bubbled into numerous areas of America, including prison reform, temperance cause, women's movement, and slavery abolishment.
Evangelical revivals and reform movements like the Seneca Falls Convention
Burned-Over District an area that referenced to the waves of reform that swept through like wild fire.
Puritans who were blistered by sermonizes preaching "hellfire and damnation"
Reformers in the aftermath of the Second Great Awakening sought to get away from authoritarian power structures but still provide for all members of the group.
The Millerites named for their founder William Miller
Believed that the Second Coming of Christ would occur on October 22, 1843
Members of the church sold their belongings and bought white robes for their ascension to heaven in anticipation
When the Day of Judgment didn't occur most of Miller's follower drifted away
A small group of member persisted, they revised their expectations and formed the core of the Seventh-Day Adventist faith, that's still around today.
The oldest utopian group, founded by "Mother" Ann Lee
An offshoot of the Quakers
Lived simple and highly structured lives
Wanted isolation from the changing world
Adopted a radical social philosophy that called for the abolishment of the traditional family in favor for family of brothers and sister joined in equal fellowship.
Their beliefs in equality drew new follower, especially women
The Shaker movement grew between 1820 and 1830, eventually reaching twenty settlements in eight states.
Estimate total of 6,000 members
Founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848.
Practiced free love "complex marriages". This meant that every man in the community was married to every woman and every woman to every man.
Only "spiritually advanced" male could father children, who were raised communally
Supported birth control through male continence.
These practices gave the sect a notorious reputation as a den of "free love" and "socialism," preventing Noyes from increasing in members beyond 200.
The community lasted until John Humphrey Noyes attempted to pass the leadership thereof to his son, Theodore Noyes.
The community began selling manufactured items, including silver spoons. Before long the spoons became so popular that they added knives and forks.
THE SECOND GREAT AWAKENING
THE BURNED-OVER DISTRICT
The most successful of the nineteenth-century utopian movement.
Product of the Burned-Over District
In 1830, A young man named Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Based on the teachings of the Book of Mormon, which he claimed to have received from an angel in a vision.
Initially as the new religion became known, seemed little different from the many other new religions.
Under Joseph Smith, it rapidly gained distinctions for its extraordinary communitarianism
They were exclusive and had economic success.
Mormons were harassed in New York and driven west to Ohio and then Missouri.
In 1839 they built a model community, achieving almost complete self-government and isolation from non-Mormon neighbors.
In 1844 dissension within the community over Joseph Smith's new doctrine of polygamy gave outsiders a chance to intervene.
In the mid 1820s, Robert Owen established a commune at New Harmony, Indiana.
Owen had the belief that poverty could be ended in society by collecting the unemployed into self-contained and self-supporting villages.
Owen based his conception of utopian society on the belief that an individual's character was shaped by his or her environment.
Due to Owens beliefs and practices, this community had no poverty and unemployment.
New Harmony had an eight-hour work day, cultural activities for workers, and equal educational opportunities for both boys and girls.
Owen instituted a system of "time money" and "time stores," currency was worth the amount of time that a worker had labored, and could be exchanged for commodities worth the equivalent amount of labor.
Favored women's equal rights and criticized organized religion.
Amana Society: Amana was the most successful Christian communist society in American history.
Brooke Farm: Brook Farm adopted a constitution in 1844 based conditions including communal life and a republican style government.
Mormons: The Mormons proved the most successful of the utopian communities of the 1800s.
New Harmony Experiment: It was established to allow its members to pursue the study of the sciences and natural philosophy without the encumbrances of modern, capitalist life.
Oneida Community: Followers believed that with conversion came perfection and a complete release from sin.
Shakers: Shakers practiced celibacy and communal ownership of goods, along with a strict separation of the sexes in both work and life.
Reasons for Success and Downfall
Close cooperation and hard work
Effective method of communal settlement
Good use of ingenious and cooperative methods of irrigation.
Population grew, and by the end of 1848, some 5,000 settlers arrived.
Polygamy increased population, and so, men married as many as 27 women. (Some in name only)
Mormons ran a foul use of the anti-polygamy laws passed by Congress in 1862-1882.
Man's greed was the downfall of other communities such as the Brook Farm and New Harmony
In New Harmony they lacked the strong central belief which served to unite other utopian groups, the members of the community were lacking the commitment.
New Harmony only survived three years due to contradiction and confusion
Millirites predicted the wrong date for the Second Coming and caused many people to sell their belongings for no reason.
"The women were left to do all the work while the men philosophized." -Alcott
The rapid failure of these socialist communities was due to inadequate planning and organization.
Throughout all the political activism and reform fervor of the 1830s, some chose to escape into utopian communities and new religions. The seedbed for these movements was the upstate New York area along the Erie Canal.
In July of 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott spearheaded the first women's rights convention in American history.
Over 300 men and women came to Seneca Falls, New York to protest the mistreatment of women in social, economic, political, and religious life.
Seneca Falls Convention