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Discord in Utopia: reconciling perfectionism with human nature in the Oneida Community.


Seventeen years prior to the establishment of the Oneida Community in 1848, founder John Humphrey Noyes underwent a religious conversion that forever shaped his understanding of Christianity. "My heart," Noyes wrote, "was fixed on the Millennium, and I resolved to live or die for it." (1) While training to be a minister at Yale Theological Seminary, Noyes became convinced that Christians needed to profess faith in God, attain spiritual perfection, and congregate to hasten the coming of the Millennium. Noyes's contemporaries, objecting in particular to his assertion that humans could attain perfection on Earth, accused him of heresy.

In spite of popular opposition, Noyes accumulated enough followers to form communistic societies based on his teachings in Putney, Vermont, and later in Oneida, New York. The Oneida Community (OC), Putney's long-lasting successor, served as a testing ground for Noyes's religious, social, and scientific experiments until its formal dissolution on January 1, 1881. In accordance with Noyes's teachings, members of the OC practiced bible communism and complex marriage, sharing all possessions, responsibilities, and sexual partners with one another. (2) The Community flourished economically under this system and carved a niche for itself in central New York.

Although other nineteenth-century religious communal societies also paired communistic living with spirituality, the OC stood out from the rest because of its Perfectionist leanings. Noyes contended that his followers needed to place complete faith in God and renounce all temptations to sin in order reach an exalted state of perfection. He understood the attainment of perfection to be a long, drawn-out process rather than an immediate acquisition. OC member Allan Estlake indicated in The Oneida Community (1900) that Noyes expected his followers to experience "a slow development of the spiritual nature of man leading up to the regeneration" as opposed to immediate perfection. (3) Such perfection could be attained through virtuous behavior, faith in God, and rigid adherence to Noyes's doctrines of complex marriage and bible communism. In attempts to defend their unconventional practices to outsiders, OC members described the Community as peaceful, pleasant, and devoid of internal divisions and quarrels. Estlake, for instance, proclaimed that the OC "fulfilled all the requirements of an ideal home of harmony" while it lasted. (4)

OC publications, documents, and diaries reveal, however, that the Community experienced many internal conflicts and tensions, contrary to its utopian image. In Free Love in Utopia (2001), historian Lawrence Foster stated that the OC faced particularly significant internal turbulence during its first decade of operation. He noted that early issues of the Community newspaper, the Circular, placed strong emphasis on obedience, unity, love, and other virtues designed to facilitate community building and harmony. Foster posited that this trend reflected a difficult transition to communal life. (5) As the OC became more secure in its effectiveness as an organization, its publications increasingly addressed instances of interpersonal conflict, apostasy, and mental illness among members. Personal diaries, memoirs, and documents also reveal the range of doubts, insecurities, jealousies, and resentments plaguing Community members on a regular basis. These sources, which arguably paint the most accurate portrait of Community life, indicate that many members did not see their lives as utopian at all.

According to contemporary publications and documents, the OC dealt with spiritual lapses, emotional disorders, interpersonal conflicts, and social resentments during its years in operation. Prospective members joined the Community after expressing ideological solidarity with Noyes and his fellow Perfectionists. In spite of shared doctrinal convictions, however, many new members wrestled with spiritual doubts and faced temptations to regress to their former ways of life. In some cases, these crises were sufficiently significant to warrant secession from the Community. Challenges of this nature also manifested themselves in health patterns, contributing to instances of psychosomatic illness, insanity, and mental unrest within the Community.

In addition to adapting to new doctrines and lifestyles, Community members found it challenging to coexist as a harmonious family of believers. Individuals clashed with one another over personal resentments, jealousies, and differences in temperament. Many also found it difficult to integrate themselves into the Community and its social hierarchy. Despite commonly held perceptions of the OC as egalitarian, Noyes and a band of central members dominated much of Community life and prevented low-status members from exercising their own wills in communal affairs. Perceived inequalities among Community members resulted in conflicts during the Community's later years that eventually contributed to its dissolution. The existence of troublesome undercurrents beneath the surface of the OC raises provocative questions about how the Community understood its mission and evaluated its success as a perfected institution.

Mutual Criticism

The Oneida Community attempted to eliminate tensions among its members through a system of conflict reduction called mutual criticism. John Humphrey Noyes first coined the term mutual criticism in 1844 after attending a criticism session held by Protestant missionaries in Andover, Massachusetts. During the meeting, the missionaries systematically criticized individual members for their imperfections and offered recommendations for improvement. Impressed by what he had witnessed, Noyes incorporated the practice into the fundamental structure of the OC. He encouraged members to appear before special committees and submit to criticism sessions modeled after those of the Andover Missionary society. An article titled "An Oneida Journal," published on July 30, 1857, in the Circular, best expresses the importance of criticism to the Community, describing it as "the very breath of life to the Community." (6) At Noyes's urging, mutual criticism grew to become one of the Community's defining features.

The centrality of mutual criticism within the OC suggests that enough tensions existed beneath the Community's surface to merit concrete institutional responses. Mutual criticism theoretically brought Community members closer to perfection by providing them with a means of identifying and correcting their imperfections. Noyes also appears to have intended mutual criticism to eliminate individual imperfections before they caused full-fledged interpersonal conflicts within the Community. In a pamphlet titled Mutual Criticism (1876), a Community member identified as "G." claimed that criticism sessions prevented feuds, grudges, and other internal tensions from complicating interpersonal relations within the OC. In most cases, the Community compelled its members to submit to criticism sessions after members exhibited signs of corruption from jealousy, selfishness, pride, and other vices. Mutual criticism instilled virtues into erring Community members and ensured that behavioral and spiritual temptations were "necessarily short-lived" within the Community. (7)

When describing its practices to outsiders, the OC emphasized the importance of impartiality within the context of mutual criticism. Mutual Criticism consistently reminded readers that the practice existed to help OC members attain perfection rather than to publicize personal vendettas between members. At one point, the pamphlet stipulated that "in giving Criticism no person shall indulge in remarks suggested by personal enmity or resentment." (8) Community members believed that criticisms delivered in animosity, envy, or vengefulness would harm the critic as well as the individual in need of guidance. The OC acknowledged the difficulties associated with abandoning individual prejudices during mutual criticism sessions but maintained its stance regarding impartiality. Mutual Criticism claimed that OC members possessed sufficient "intelligence and civilization of the passions" to prevent personal resentments from influencing mutual criticism sessions. (9) This statement further represents mutual criticism as an impartial practice designed to eliminate tensions within the Community.

Unfortunately, the OC's perception of mutual criticism as an antidote to conflict was accurate in theory but not in practice. Although the Community clearly intended mutual criticism to accomplish Perfectionist aims in a theoretical sense, the practice did not promote happiness or eliminate social divisions within the Community to the extent that Noyes and his followers claimed. In practice, mutual criticism failed to do away with a number of social tensions that affected the OC.

Spirituality and Loyalty in Crisis

From the very beginning, the transition to community life presented incoming Oneida Community members with social, emotional, and spiritual challenges. During the Community's first ten years, John Humphrey Noyes learned through trial and error how to consolidate control over his followers and implement bible communism successfully. The Community accepted members from many different regions, social classes, and spiritual backgrounds during this period. Although to an extent members bonded over shared religious convictions, their common commitment to the Community did not immediately eliminate the difficulties associated with adjusting to communalism and complex marriage. Allan Estlake commented that the process of disassociating new members from their past mindsets was "long and arduous." (10) The early years of the Community's history were particularly difficult in that, apart from mutual criticism, few opportunities existed for new members to express their feelings. Nonmember John Ellis noted in Free Love and Its Votaries (1870) that Community leaders frowned upon any form of dissent, stating that objecting to any members meant objecting to the Community as a whole. (11) This meant that troubles within the Community were rarely addressed unless unintentionally brought to light.

To begin with, many new OC members found it difficult to accustom themselves to communal life, bible communism, and complex marriage. The transition to living communally, pooling resources, and sharing labor affected every incoming member regardless of past socioeconomic status. In addition to having to adapt to communal life, incoming members struggled to conform to new social and sexual practices. Noyes instructed new members to subordinate their preexisting relationships to the greater social good of the Community, that is, to live apart from their spouses and children, carry on sexual relations with their peers, and profess to love all Community members equally. While members rarely voiced their discontent outright, evidence of their dissatisfaction with the Community's social structure exists in the form of documented disputes over interpersonal relations within the Community.

Throughout the duration of the OC, members clashed with Noyes over pursuing exclusive relationships with one another. The Community's condemnation of special fellowship did not stop individual members from forming social cliques among themselves. These social groupings undermined communalism by widening divisions among Community members of different ages, genders, and persuasions. Noyes took it upon himself to ensure that cliques did not detract from the Community's social order. In 1850, for instance, he approached a clique of young members and demanded that it expand to incorporate older members into its fellowship. (12) The mere existence of this exclusive youthful circle suggests that Community members naturally rebelled against Noyes's espousal of social inclusivity. In addition to exclusive friendships, the Community faced numerous challenges in the form of special love between individuals. John Lyvere and Almira Edson, for instance, seceded from the Putney Community in 1842 in order to marry without Noyes's permission. (13) Rather than disappearing as time passed, special love plagued the OC throughout its years in operation, often creating tensions between members. Among other things, Noyes's own alleged special love relationship with a Community woman caused some members to waver in loyalty to the Community and its leader.

Despite having professed faith in Perfectionism prior to joining the OC, many members struggled with submitting to Noyes's authoritarian leadership. When the OC excommunicated Otis Miller in 1849, its members criticized him for being selfish, proud, and quarrelsome. More importantly, they accused Miller of attempting the "damning act of a direct attack on Mr. Noyes." (14) Given that Miller rejoined the Community after promising to submit henceforth to Noyes's authority, one can assume that his denunciation of Noyes was primarily responsible for his expulsion from the Community. Other OC members doubted Noyes as a theologian. In 1866, the Daily Journal of Oneida Community rejoiced after the secession of Community member Amasa Carr, stating that his membership in the Community had produced a "nightmare of unbelief and obstructions to the free flow and organizing power of the Community spirit." (15) By casting doubt upon Community beliefs, Carr essentially challenged Noyes's political and spiritual status. Clearly, undercurrents of discontent existed in the Community in relation to Noyes's absolute power as head of the Community. Each time the Community clashed with members over these issues, moreover, Noyes refused to call into question the effectiveness of Community institutions. As a result, members interpreted discord as stemming from flaws in individuals rather than in the Community's structure as a whole.

Noyes believed that an individual's understanding, acceptance, or denial of Community doctrines reflected the readiness of that person's spirit for perfection. Rather than reevaluate his expectations for Community members, Noyes perceived doubt and insubordination as outward manifestations of the presence of evil spirits within the Community. Contemporary publications reveal that the OC blamed Satan for instilling skepticism and rebelliousness into the minds of its members. In the Community's main theological text, The Berean (1847), Noyes represented God and Satan as consistently competing for Christian souls. While God started Christians on the path of morality and faith, Satan attempted to lead them astray through temptation and false promises. "When men commit immoralities," Noyes stated, "instead of laying the blame on external temptations, we hold with Peter that they work wickedness because Satan hath 'filled their hearts.'" (16) Unsurprisingly, Noyes applied this philosophy to the OC, attributing any social and spiritual tensions within the Community to Satan's influence. When Otis Miller denounced Noyes and his doctrines, for instance, the OC claimed that "the Devil himself seemed to drive him on" towards insubordination. (17) This did not, however, mean that Miller was blameless.

Contemporary documents suggest that OC leaders blamed individuals for causing conflicts in the Community, however unwittingly. Although The Berean attributes human error and sin to Satan, it indicates that certain individuals were more susceptible to temptation than others. While all humans were theoretically able to attain perfection through faith and Christian behavior, some did not have sufficient "moral energy" to fend off Satanic influences. (18) True to these teachings, Noyes and his compatriots blamed erring Community members for lacking the moral energy necessary to remain faithful and behave correctly. George Cragin Sr., a leading member of the OC, referred to another member, Keziah Worden, as "an active unbeliever, a hiding-place and refuge for every disobedient spirit we have had to deal with" after she expressed a lack of confidence in the Community. (19) This quotation reveals that OC members attributed internal tensions within the OC to insubordinate members rather than to problems with implementing Noyes's Perfectionist doctrines. Unsurprisingly, therefore, OC leaders targeted members for allegedly causing conflict under the influence of Satan.

Between 1857 and 1866 alone, pressures of this nature caused 115 members to secede from the Community. (20) The OC did not, of course, attribute secession to internal tensions within its borders. Instead, its members accused seceders of lacking faith, maturity, and spiritual conviction. In "Old Mansion-House Memories XXVII," an Oneida Circular article published in December 1871, Community members identified expedience, worldliness, and discomfort caused by mutual criticism as top causes of secession. These causes suggest that Community leaders blamed individual seceders for personal failures instead of acknowledging the existence of flaws and tensions within its Perfectionist system. As far as OC members were concerned, secession was beneficial because it distinguished between which members were true believers and which were not. Secession did, however, force the OC to monitor its members to ensure that true believers were not contaminated by the evil spirits manifested by seceders prior to their defection from the Community.

Some OC members accused erring members and seceders of instilling within the other members doubts and spiritual insecurities. Members receiving criticism often blamed the spirits of seceders for their sinful desires or pursuits. On November 26, 1866, the Daily Journal of Oneida Community published a letter written by George Campbell, confessing his contamination by the spirit of former Community member Amasa Carr. Campbell admitted to unconsciously internalizing Carr's jealousy, selfishness, and rebelliousness. He attributed his changes in behavior both to the power of Satan as manifested through Carr and to his own spiritual failings. (21) Confessions, or alternatively, accusations of this nature appear in multiple Community publications, which often contain references to evil spirits. In all of these documents, Community members like Campbell ascribed their personal doubts, sins, or disillusions to ideological contamination from individuals already known for insubordination and spiritual infidelity. Following the secession or reformation of such problematic individuals, the affected members expressed feelings of liberation and spiritual renewal. For instance, the Daily Journal quoted Erastus Hamilton as stating that Amasa Carr's departure allowed OC members to "take in every body with a feeling of fellowship, love, and charity." (22) Once problematic members had seceded, true believers could settle into their past routines without ideological interference from imperfect members.

Early OC publications suggest that tensions resulted from individual members rather than from the Community's expectations of perfection. While Noyes acknowledged the existence of imperfections within Community members, his Community represented itself as a utopia that rarely faced instances of discord or conflict. Community publications suggest that the majority of members lived happy, peaceful lives in harmony with Perfectionist doctrines unless beset by seceders or Satan himself. Those members that rebelled against Community doctrines or challenged Noyes's authority did so because Satan controlled their spirits and prevented them from realizing their full Christian potential. While the Community may have correctly identified certain members as immoral and unchristian, the many allusions to secession in Community publications call into question whether the challenges faced by the Community can be solely attributed to individual corruption. It is possible that some Community members were swayed toward rebellion in part by feelings of doubt and dissatisfaction with the communal lifestyle. Whatever the reason, conflicts of this nature were common within the Community. As will be explored in the next section, Community members provided further evidence of disharmony beneath the surface of the Community by manifesting varied forms of mental illness, psychosomatic sickness, and insanity.

Insanity and Mental Unrest

Despite maintaining outward appearances of happiness, health, and harmony, the Oneida Community regularly dealt with numerous cases of mental illness. Community publications reveal that insanity--or at least unhealthy emotional behavior the OC perceived as insanity--plagued the Community from its earliest years. The unnamed author of "Insanity," a Circular article published on January 4, 1852, discussed the mental status of OC members with surprising frankness: "Within a few months past, however, it must be confessed that the spirit of insanity has made several apparently successful inroads upon us." This candor reveals that the OC's members were comfortable publicizing instances of mental unrest within the Community despite the challenges such anecdotes presented to Perfectionism.

The frequent allusions to mental illness within OC publications reveal that many OC members suffered from anxiety and depression. As mentioned previously, many Community members found it difficult to transition to complex marriage and communalism. Even members born into the Community or indoctrinated into Perfectionism from an early age chafed against the Community's constraints on romantic and familial relationships. Consequently, many members appear to have been upset or depressed. The OC understood these emotions to be representative of "hypo," a word Noyes defined as synonymous with depression or unnecessary pessimism. References to hypo in the Circular reveal that the Community recognized the presence of depression beneath the placid surface of the Community. One article, titled "Receipt for Curing the Hypo" and published on February 4, 1854, encouraged readers to combat depression by "opening the heart in gratitude to God." (23) Community members who expressed gratitude for God's gifts could expect their despair and depression to disappear.

Community documents reveal that members found it difficult to extricate themselves from the clutches of depression and anxiety. Tryphena Hubbard, a Community member labeled insane soon after joining the Community, appears to have suffered from both depression and an unidentifiable nervous condition following her marriage to Community member Henry Seymour. Noyes wrote that Hubbard's insanity manifested itself through "what some termed hysterics [and] crying nights," along with assorted irrational behaviors. (24) Although the cause of Hubbard's insanity is unknown, her symptoms may have been products of suppressed unhappiness and stress, perhaps even a nervous breakdown. Henry Seymour's attempts to cure his troubled wife through stern exhortations and corporal punishment only contributed to Hubbard's psychological despair. Apart from the well-publicized Hubbard case, OC diaries provide the most compelling evidence for the presence of depression and anxiety within the Community. Victor Hawley, a young man consistently thwarted in his attempts to conduct a special love relationship with a Community woman, described himself in his diary as hopelessly depressed: "9 months have nearly past of sorrows & tears and torture & pain, an aching heart that no one knows of & tears would not ease." (25) Although Hawley's description of his emotional state is clearly dramatic, the longevity of his sadness suggests that he was indeed suffering from depression during this period of his life.

The diary of Tirzah Miller also powerfully testifies to the presence of depression and anxiety within the Community. Miller, one of Noyes's nieces and a loyal adherent to Perfectionism, often became embroiled in conflicts over special love relationships that sent her into periodic fits of spiritual doubt, rebelliousness, and despair. Her diary reveals many instances in which her psychological state suffered from disruptions to her social life caused by complex marriage. After hearing that her love interest, Edward Inslee, had slept with another woman, as befit an OC member, Miller "went to bed in great distress of mind ... awaking every half hour to a consciousness of the pain at [her] heart." (26) Miller's emotions intensified rather than dissipated over time, and her journal contains numerous allusions to unhappiness and depression. On March 27, 1874, she admitted to feeling depressed for longer than a week. (27) Miller's mental unrest stemmed from her attempts to conform to OC practices and balance her desires with her all-encompassing devotion to Noyes. The resulting pain and stress seem to have taken a toll on her physical and mental health.

The diaries of Tirzah Miller and Victor Hawley indicate that the OC also presided over what appear to be cases of physiological and psychosomatic stress-related illnesses. The OC perceived diseases, including mental illness, to be outward manifestations of spiritual troubles, brought on by the same malicious spirits responsible for influencing Community members toward doubt and apostasy. Victor Hawley's diary provides a particularly clear account of psychosomatic distress within the Community. On April 8, 1876, Hawley suffered a spasm characterized by dizziness, cramping of the limbs, and increased blood flow to the head. One can, of course, attribute these symptoms to a common ailment or malady; Hawley himself blamed a head cold for his troubles. But Hawley's physical symptoms coincided suspiciously with his worsening depression. Five days after his spasm, Hawley confessed suicidal thoughts to his friend Frederic Marks, stating that "death would be better than living as I am." (28) References to other spasms of this nature appear later in Hawley's journal. Clearly, Hawley was experiencing health-related issues while grappling with psychological ones. While the exact cause of Hawley's symptoms is unknown, it is possible that his spasms were linked to his unhealthy mental state and depression.

In addition to depression and psychosomatic illness, the OC diagnosed instances of insanity among its members based on demonstrated changes in behavior and reasoning. In "Notes from J.H.N.," a Circular article published on September 23, 1867, Noyes placed insanity within a broad category of mental disorders caused by "morbid conditions of the brain and nervous system." (29) Specific manifestations of insanity within the OC differed on a case-by-case basis but typically involved what OC members perceived as irrational behaviors. Some Community members labeled insane by their peers seem to have displayed schizophrenic tendencies. The Oneida Journal claimed, for instance, that a Mr. Joslyn imagined spirits, including that of the angel Gabriel, speaking to him. (30) Meanwhile, in a Circular article titled "Story of a Lunatic," Jonathan Burt described his brother Horace as battling a form of unhealthy paranoia: "the idea had seized him, that his friends were plotting against his life." (31) Other instances of insanity took the form of behavioral changes. Victor Cragin Noyes, a son of John Humphrey Noyes, admitted in a letter to famed abolitionist Gerrit Smith that he had once been afflicted by bouts of insanity. Victor Noyes described his former self as "being under a strong excitement, subject to wild impulses, and about to lose the helm of reason." (32) Regardless of the form taken by insanity, however, OC members understood it to be caused by the influence of a malicious spirit on a flawed, imperfect soul.

Although the OC typically attributed insanity to the influence of malicious spirits, its leaders attempted to combat mental unrest through targeting individual faults and weaknesses. To an extent, the OC perceived insanity as a product of outside influences. As in cases of doubt and doctrinal conflict, Community members understood spirits as malicious forces designed to turn vulnerable believers away from Christianity. In a Circular article titled "In a Hurry for More" published on October 7, 1867, Noyes attributed insanity to the influences of these evil spirits and stated that it was possible to exorcise them through the "power of Christ." (33) He employed similar rhetoric when addressing the case of Horace Burt. According to "Story of a Lunatic," a Circular article from September 9, 1867, Noyes told Burt to confess his insanity, accept that "the cause of it lay in himself," and acknowledge candidly that he was to blame for the symptoms of insanity. (34) This anecdote implied that Burt had indirectly brought upon his own insanity by allowing an evil force or spirit to lead him astray from the Perfectionist path. True perhaps to form, Burt regained his sanity after admitting that he was responsible for his own mental troubles. The Burt case reveals that, although the Community associated evil spirits with insanity, Community members could only regain sanity by acknowledging their faults and promising to reform.

Having dealt with numerous cases of mental unrest, the Oneida Community perceived Perfectionism to be the most effective cure for insanity. George Washington Noyes commented in an 1852 letter to Charlotte Miller, "All the crazy ones have got well, and those at Oneida who have suffered attacks seem to better." (35) Regarding most cases of insanity, Noyes's comment seems to be accurate. Victor Cragin Noyes battled insanity while a young man, renouncing the authority of his father and behaving irrationally enough to warrant time in the Utica Asylum. After nine months in the asylum, Noyes escaped, returned to the Community, and immediately prostrated himself before his father with promises of loyalty. Although Victor Noyes was not cured immediately upon returning, he recognized "by instinct that there [the Oneida Community] was where [his] safety lay." (36) Writing to Gerrit Smith, Victor Noyes stated that his sanity returned to him, as did his faith in Perfectionism and the authority of his father. (37) Other Community members also regained their sanity after extensive mentoring from John Humphrey Noyes. Horace Burt and Tryphena Hubbard, for instance, both renounced their past experiences and reaffirmed their commitment to the OC after years of psychological distress. The large number of members who returned to the Community following periods of mental unrest may explain the OC's willingness to discuss psychological issues within its publications.

Interpersonal Conflict and Isolation

Despite the many difficulties associated with incorporating members into its socioeconomic institutions, the Oneida Community created for itself an image of harmony, unity, and togetherness unaffected by contamination from sin or spirits. Members promoted idealistic images of the Community in attempts to challenge criticism from outsiders, frequently describing the Community as close-knit and socially coherent. In "Letter to the Parasite," a Circular article published on January 2, 1865, member Lorenzo S. Bolles Jr. praised the Community's harmonious nature, describing its members as "living in harmony, peace, unity, order, freedom and love ... more healthy, happy, mutually obliging and sweet tempered than I had supposed it possible for so many to be in one family." (38) Bolles's vision of the OC as peaceful, uniform in opinion, and free from petty conflicts is, of course, inaccurate. Although few Community publications document the presence of interpersonal conflicts within the OC, seceder narratives, diaries, and memoirs suggest that conflicts existed beneath the Community's harmonious surface, intentionally out of sight and out of mind.

Although most seceders abandoned the Community without incident, several former members leveled against the Community charges of discrimination, in transparent attempts to ruin its reputation. In many cases, it is difficult to determine whether these accusations were legitimate. Most accounts written by dissenters and seceders express enough bias and fabricate enough details to warrant concerns over their truthfulness. There are, however, enough parallels among seceder stories to merit investigation into the social dynamics responsible for secession and dissatisfaction within the Community. Of all of these narratives, the case of seceder William Mills offers the greatest insight into interpersonal conflicts within the OC.

After seceding from the OC, William Mills began the most notorious altercation in Community history, blaming members for refusing to accept him as one of their own. In his letters to the Circular, Mills claimed that members of the OC, particularly its women, socially and sexually isolated him. Noyes published a correspondence between Mills and his daughter, Ellen, in which Mills forbade Ellen to interact sexually with OC men. After she informed him she felt isolated from other members of the Community, Mills referred to his difficulties with relating to Community women: "What do you think of your Father, whose social addresses has been spurned by almost every woman in the Community for most 5 years." (39) In other his letters to members of the OC, Mills attributed his disillusionment with the Community to his failure to please Community women. Writing to Noyes on October 26, 1859, Mills claimed that Community women consistently rejected his social and sexual advances. He acknowledged that it was wrong to blame the Community for his rejections, but he added somewhat passive-aggressively that to do so was "in the nature of that poor selfish individual, that is finding faults because some one don't love him, or notice him." (40)

Following his secession from the Community, Mills sent letters to Community women he felt had wronged him through rejection or unkindness. In a letter to Harriet Skinner dated October 23, 1864, Mills complained that a Community member named Philena Hamilton had spurned him and treated him in ways not befitting a Christian woman. Mills clearly faced rejection from certain Community women, an unfortunate but inevitable product of complex marriage. The letter indicates, however, that Mills's problems were not restricted to the occasional rejection. Rejection turned to isolation when large number of Community members became involved. Midway through his letter, Mill addressed Skinner directly with the following criticism: "You say in your note to me, you have no harde feellings toward me--In this, I believe you are deceeved, for I must be very much decivved, if I don't discover a very harde spirit towards me, and one that would crush me out of the world if circumstances were favorable." (41) This quotation suggests that Mills also blamed high-profile Community members for working against him in every dispute. In summary, Mills attributed his secession and subsequent war of wills with Noyes to the cruel treatment he had received from his fellow OC members.

Mills's post-secession correspondence identifies significant flaws in the OC's understanding of Perfectionism. In accordance with what has been discussed above regarding the Community's treatment of troubled members, Mills indicated that the OC blamed individual members for the presence of tensions and interpersonal conflicts within its borders. In a letter published in the Circular on November 21, 1864, Mills discussed the extent to which Community members perceived individual spirits as responsible for discord and dissatisfaction: "If you feel distressed and unhappy by any disappointments it is clear Christ did not propose what you was disappointed in," he wrote. "If an individual is troubled because they meet with disappointment, it shows that selfishness was the father and at the bottom of it. If any individual is unhappy and discontented & tc, ... it shows that the devil is making a fool of them." (42) This quotation provides insight into how the OC understood perfection and imperfection. Because the Community perceived natural emotions like discontent, unhappiness, and disappointment to be unchristian, individuals who expressed them were assumed to be influenced by evil spirits. This allowed members to blame individuals for their imperfections rather than explore what possible factors within in the Community contributed to their behaviors.

There does seem to be some truth behind this understanding of the Community's attitudes toward social conflict. Writing to William Mills, Lorenzo S. Bolles Jr., an affiliate of the Community, confessed that he had "tried to think that you have a kind of honesty and self-deception, and that you are only an instrument in the hand of a subtile, unseen power, of which you are ignorant, as you evidently are of yourself." (43) Bolles's perception of Mills as an individual tormented by evil spirits or influences corresponds neatly with Mills's understanding of how the OC interpreted conflict within its borders. Bolles clearly saw Mills as the aggressor within the "Mills War" on account of his imperfections; he followed his criticism of Mills with the aforementioned quotation about the OC and its harmonious, peaceful members. His letter completely ignores the possible role the Community had in exacerbating tensions between itself and Mills.

Despite being the only seceder narrative discussed here in detail, the Mills case provides important, general insights into how the OC responded to conflicts beneath its surface. Clearly, OC members clashed with individuals who failed to meet expectations of proper behavior after joining the Community. Documents written by Community members emphasize the ways in which seceders ruptured community social norms and practices. Seceders like Mills, on the other hand, claimed to have been sexually and socially marginalized by members of the Community. Those who differed from Noyes in terms of doctrine, practice, and behavior could expect to be harassed by other Community members. There is reason to believe that Community members may not have been welcoming, open-minded, and tolerant of individuals struggling with the adjustment to communal life. Since all documents relating to secession cases are biased toward one side or the other, it is difficult to determine whether Community members isolated individuals for unfair, petty reasons or for legitimately spiritual ones. However, evidence of interpersonal conflict within the OC appears in sources other than seceder narratives.

While Community members coexisted peacefully on the surface, personal documents reveal that members often harbored ill will toward one another. There are at least two references to children repeating insults that they undoubtedly overheard from adults within the Community. On May 24, 1877, Tirzah Miller wrote in her diary that her son, Paul, had lately been referring to his father, Edward Inslee, as a "naughty, bad man." (44) Paul would not have described his father in such a way had not other Community members referred to Edward Inslee in this fashion, either to his face or within his earshot. In his memoir, My Father's House: An Oneida Boyhood (1937), Pierrepont Noyes recollected an instance in which his brother Humphrey informed him that Mr. James Towner was a "bad man." Humphrey called Towner a seceder and troublemaker, stating that Towner was bound to make life difficult for Community members in the future. (45) Both of these allusions indicate that Community members were vocal in criticizing members they perceived as hostile to the OC as a whole.

The diary of Tirzah Miller demonstrates that Community members also clashed over petty resentments and rivalries. In the privacy of her journal, Miller repeatedly alluded to her distaste for her cousin Constance Bradley Noyes. Miller objected to Noyes's dominant, overbearing nature and expressed doubt in the woman's talent as a spiritual leader. To Miller, Noyes had done nothing to warrant her status as a high-profile Community member, especially considering her "intellectual inferiority, her arrogance, and her inconsistent and imbalanced social and spiritual career." (46) In another section of her journal, Miller referred to the existence of a long-term conflict with Ann Eliza Van Velzer, stating that Van Velzer had behaved treacherously toward her in the past. (47) The most interesting instance of conflict within the OC occurred on December 29, 1877, when John Humphrey Noyes informed Miller that he considered Ann Hobart to be the "devil of the Oneida Community." (48) If John Humphrey Noyes, the only theoretically perfect member of the Community, entertained resentful and judgmental thoughts, one can only assume that the rest of the OC did as well. Community members seem to have accepted the existence of such feelings as long as they did not outwardly affect social and spiritual relations with others.

Despite claims to the contrary, these resentments influenced how Community members interacted with one another. Personal resentments, jealousies, and quarrels complicated relationships between individuals and at times interfered with mutual criticism sessions. John Ellis discussed the impact of personal resentment on mutual criticisms in Free Love and Its Votaries, stating that Community members could not completely eliminate jealousies, petty rivalries, and grudges from their daily lives. He presented readers with hypothetical situations: "Sister A. refuses to accept the advances of Brother B., and upon the first occasion her being subjected to criticism, you may be sure Brother B. will not be sparing his analysis of her character. Or, vice-versa, Sister C., old and ugly, finding Brother D., young and handsome, averse to her society, pours out the vials of her wrath upon his head at his next criticism." (49) Although the OC explicitly combated this perception of mutual criticism in books and newspaper articles, resentments did actually interfere with the administration of objective criticism.

Once again, Tirzah Miller's diary illustrates conflicts of this nature within the Community. Because Miller had numerous special love interests throughout her time in the Community, criticism sessions were often awkward and uncomfortable for her. On October 7, 1874, Miller underwent a mutual criticism session and received what she perceived to be unfair criticism from a former lover. She felt disappointed with him for criticizing her in such a fashion, stating that "what he said certainly seemed to [her] very much biased by personal feeling and resentment for [her] sincerity last winter." (50) In Miller's case, interpersonal conflicts affected everyday life more significantly than most members of the OC would have cared to admit.

Power Dynamics and Social Stratification

Conflicts among Oneida Community members often festered beneath the surface of the Community because members lacked outlets through which to express their dissatisfaction with communal life. Noyes promoted mutual criticism as a means of curing individual vices, and by extension, eliminating personal grievances among community members. As discussed previously, however, mutual criticism failed to reduce resentments and conflicts within the Community. Many tensions remained unaddressed as a result of communal pressures and expectations. Suppressed resentments over social hierarchy and power became particularly destructive forces in the OC, eroding the Community's stability from within and contributing to its dissolution in 1881.

Over time, the OC earned a reputation for egalitarianism in governance, labor, and representation. Indeed, many features of communal life correspond to modern understandings of democracy and egalitarianism. Nineteenth-century American society sharply divided people based on social class, financial status, and sex. Upon joining the OC, however, new entrants abandoned past ties to social class and agreed to live and work alongside one another in relative equality. Even Community members who had once pursued illustrious careers participated in menial labor at Oneida, seemingly without complaint. Although men and women generally performed different tasks, the Community permitted women to practice bookkeeping, dentistry, and other typically male-dominated professions. Regardless of sex or occupation, all members held seats on committees designed to manage food preparation, industries, and other features of community life. On an individual level, all members were supposed to be subjected to mutual criticism regardless of status in the Community. Prior to the Community's dissolution, few individuals voiced aloud grievances pertaining to social status or power dynamics. It is likely, however, that the OC suffered from its fair share of power struggles.

Contemporary sources reveal the extent to which Noyes held absolute power over the OC. Numerous nonmembers referred in passing to his exalted status within the Community, although they usually did so with veiled contempt. In New America (1867), for instance, William Hepworth Dixon compared Noyes to God and stated that "God was to rule [the Community] in person, with Father Noyes for his visible pope and king." (51) While Dixon's testimony may certainly be biased against the OC, there exists evidence to suggest that Noyes conceptualized the OC as a monarchy rather than a democracy. The historian Spencer Olin quoted Noyes as stating outright that democracy "had no value whatsoever as a practical institution." Rather than trusting the masses to make decisions for themselves, Noyes expressed interest in modeling the OC after an absolute monarchy, naturally with himself in charge. (52) There is no disputing Noyes's personal interest in retaining power and exercising full authority over the Community. He envisioned himself to be the supreme leader of the Community and confessed in a moment of arrogance that he "would never connect [him]self with any individual or association in religion unless [he] was acknowledged leader." (53)

While Noyes claimed to be equal to his followers, he enjoyed a number of benefits as leader of the Community. OC historian Spencer Klaw noted that Noyes did not live as frugally or simply as his followers. (54) Certainly, he used community funds to finance trips abroad, most notably to the London World's Fair in 1851. (55) Noyes also exempted himself from menial occupations, choosing instead to occupy himself with writing and releasing community publications. One can also argue that Noyes held himself to different standards of behavior from those to which he held his followers. For a long time, he nurtured a special love relationship with OC member Mary Cragin, all the while claiming that his relationship with Cragin transcended special love. Perhaps the most noticeable distinction between Noyes and other Community members came in the form of mutual criticism. In 1870, an outsider asked the Circular whether or not Noyes submitted to criticism like other Community members. The Circular claimed that Noyes volunteered himself for criticism but failed to elicit any criticism on account of his perfected spirit. (56) Noyes himself offered a different explanation for why he did not submit to criticism, stating at one point that he "would be happy to be criticized if and when Christ or St. Paul, or even some lowlier members of the Primitive Church, should return to earth and take on the task." (57) Until then, he took advantage of his position to avoid criticism altogether.

Many contemporary documents refer to the existence of an established hierarchy of "central members" within the OC administration. In American Communities (1878), member William Hinds addressed an outsider's query as to whether certain Community members enjoyed more influence than others. Hinds replied in the affirmative, stating, "Of course: that is true of every organization. The best and wisest ought to rule every-where." (58) Hinds made no secret of the fact that the Community operated within a hierarchal framework in which certain members held more power than others. Because many members had received little education prior to joining the OC, it is possible that the Community chose its central members based purely on prior experience and ability. More likely, however, Noyes delegated authority to members who had remained faithful to him and the Community over a long period of time. In Oneida Community Books, Pamphlets, and Serials, 1834-1972 (1973), Jack Ericson notes that Noyes held the older members of the Community in high esteem, particularly those that had helped form the original Putney Community. (59) As a result, the Oneida Community operated under a social structure that the historian Spencer Olin has described as a "gerontocracy," in which older members exercised power over the younger. (60) Contemporary documents suggest that Noyes handpicked the majority of central members from his close friends and family.

Like John Humphrey Noyes, most central members enjoyed special privileges arising from their favored positions within the Community. Central members traveled more than their less-distinguished counterparts. George Washington Noyes journeyed to Europe in the mid-1860s, while other central members went on shorter trips to New York and other northeastern cities. (61) At home, central members--often Noyes's close relatives--managed branches of the Community and mediated interactions between members engaging in complex marriage. Central members played active roles in Community politics, often issuing proposals for other members to endorse at evening meetings. (62) Due to perceived spiritual superiority, central members often initiated young, inexperienced members into sex through what Noyes termed "ascending fellowship." (63) Such freedoms did not endear central members to their younger, less-powerful counterparts. Community members also resented central members for their relative immunity to criticism, claiming that high-profile members were held to different behavioral standards than those to which everyone else was held.

Stirpiculture encouraged debate over social status and hierarchy during the OC's later years. During the late 1860s, Noyes expressed interest in creating the next generation of perfected humans through a form of eugenics he referred to as stirpiculture. He encouraged all members to apply for parenthood in couples, but he stipulated that only the most spiritually and morally sound members would be chosen for participation in the program. The stirpiculture program exacerbated tensions between social groups because it favored central members over marginal members. Moreover, because the stirpiculture committee accepted only the most spiritually superior members for participation in the program, most young members were destined to fail. Unsurprisingly, the statistics in relation to stirpiculture suggest that different groups of Community members were not equally represented in the eugenics program.

The remaining statistics on stirpiculture reveal that a small number of central members fathered the majority of Community children between 1869 and 1879. The stirpiculture committee rejected nine out of the fifty-one couples applying to be parents because of perceived spiritual imperfections. (64) It approved the remaining twenty-eight men and thirty-five women to become parents. Robert Fogarty noted in his introduction to Victor Hawley's diary that the OC men chosen for stirpiculture were an average of twelve years older than their female counterparts. From existing statistics, he concluded that the same ten men fathered 48 percent of the "stirpicults." (65) When considered together, these statistics suggest that central members played particularly large roles in the Community's stirpiculture program. This caused many Community members to see stirpiculture as a conflict between high- and low-status members.

The Noyes family also fathered a disproportionate number of children during this period. In her article "Experiment in Human Stirpiculture" (1891), Anita Newcomb McGee determined that five males and three females with Noyes blood participated in the decade-long genetic experiment. As a result, nineteen out of the fifty-eight stirpiculture children born into the Community can be said to have had Noyes blood. (66) This high number can, to an extent, be attributed to John Humphrey Noyes himself, since the Community founder sired nine stirpiculture children with nine different women. When it became clear that everyone could not equally participate in the stirpiculture program, OC members began to express dissatisfaction with OC social institutions.

After more than thirty years of uncontested unity, the OC began to experience internal conflicts as members reacted to the social inequalities accentuated by stirpiculture. Hilda Herrick Noyes and George Wallingford Noyes attributed the OC's success as an institution to its tendency to remain unanimous at all times. (67) Stirpiculture, however, disrupted communal harmony by popularizing the marriage spirit and highlighting differences in social status between OC members. In A Yankee Saint (1935), Robert Allerton Parker claimed that "amongst themselves, the young men spoke rebelliously of the old men who took advantage of the regime of stirpiculture to select the younger women as the mothers of their children." He also accused Community members of flouting authority and fathering children in defiance of the stirpiculture committee's ruling. Most importantly, Parker credited stirpiculture with forcing Community members to express their suppressed resentments over social status. (68) During this time, several young men challenged Noyes's position as "first husband"--the person responsible for initiating young women into sexual relations for the first time--within the Community, arguing that the role was better suited for younger men. (69)

The conflicts emerging from the OC's experiment with stirpiculture played a significant role in causing the Community's dissolution. The gap between generations widened significantly during the 1860s and 1870s, as members could no longer ignore the relationship between age and social status. Conflicts also materialized over the preferential treatment of Noyes's relatives. Tirzah Miller indicated in her diary that she feared the creation of a Noyesian aristocracy in which relatives of John Humphrey Noyes were blindly worshipped as divinely inspired because of their bloodline. Miller acknowledged that the first generation of Noyes leaders deserved to be exalted, but she argued that the second generation, of which she was a member, possessed no spiritual superiority. Miller recognized that hierarchy of this nature was contrary to everything for which the OC stood. "Now an aristocracy of blood in this Community is inconceivably more unjust and senseless than the aristocracy of the nobility. It is contrary to the genius of communism," Miller wrote in her diary on January 9, 1875. (70) While Miller did not write at length about the events inspiring her entry, she appears to have been frightened by the consequences of social stratification on the OC's future.

During the OC's final years, members separated into warring factions based in part on social divisions within the Community. The OC did, of course, experience external pressures as well; a professor from Hamilton College accused Noyes of statutory rape and forced him to flee from the Community to avoid arrest. However, as Robert Allerton Parker argued, dissent within the Community played a significant role in the breakup. (71) Without unity, the Community could not stand strong in the face of external pressure. Allan Estlake stated it best when he attributed the Community's collapse to the deterioration of spiritual bonds between its members, claiming that "pressure from without could have had no power to break up the Community so long as the true spirit prevailed within." (72)


On a superficial level, the Oneida Community's reputation as a utopian institution was not entirely unfounded. Members lived and worked together in prosperity, with most of their needs met by the profits of Community industries. Following his visit to the OC, William Hepworth Dixon described the Community as embodying "taste, repose, and wealth" and commented that the Community had grown affluent over the past seven or eight years in operation. (73) As a result of the Community's financial success, members did not have to worry about their own survival. The communist system ensured that individual members did not run out of money, lose their occupations, or struggle to feed their families. Because the OC was so economically successful, members had extra time to devote to leisure activities like reading, studying, and picnicking outdoors.

In spite of these benefits, members expressed dissatisfaction with the OC and, in particularly serious cases, chose to abandon it entirely. Some members seceded and made their fortunes elsewhere, while others nurtured secret grievances throughout their time in the Community. Following the Community's dissolution in 1881, former member Helen Barron commented that she hoped heaven would not resemble the OC, as "the tyranny was so great, it was such a relief to be free." (74) Clearly, the internal tensions present beneath the OC's peaceful, harmonious exterior were substantial enough to drive Community members away from the institution that should have theoretically been their utopia.

In the end, OC members perfected their industries and economic strategies but failed to attain complete perfection for themselves. Members failed to reach perfection because they were humans with doubts, flaws, and thirsts for power. John Ellis summed up the unfortunate reality of the OC, stating that "these Saints, perfect as they claim to be, are merely men and women, endowed with the same feelings and passions which distinguish their fellows in the world without. Though they have separated themselves from that world, they have not changed their natures, and they must be judged by the same rules by which ordinary humanity is tried." (75) Despite planning to attain perfection, OC members simply could not transcend their humanity.

Based on the ways in which John Humphrey Noyes responded to conflicts and tensions within the OC, one might argue that Noyes both recognized and failed to recognize the Community's inability to perfect its members as he and they desired. From 1844 onwards, Noyes maintained that mutual criticism was powerful enough to eliminate all conflicts and tensions within the Community. He acknowledged the flaws of his followers but remained in denial about the permanence of their defects, being convinced that mutual criticism could destroy all imperfections over a long enough period of time. When members experienced difficulties with conforming to Community practices or cooperating with one another, Noyes always blamed the individuals in question and did what he could to ensure that they did not influence other Community members in negative ways. In the end, combatting conflicts associated with certain individuals did not resolve the main tensions present beneath the Community's surface. Because the OC did not address the roots of its social and spiritual problems, internal conflicts within its borders eventually forced it to dissolve, felled in the end by its own imperfection.

(1) John Humphrey Noyes, Confessions of John Humphrey Noyes. Part 1. Confession of Religious Experience: Including a History of Modern Perfectionism (Oneida Reserve, NY: Leonard, 1849), 2. Digitized by Syracuse University and accessible at All quotations from Community publications and diaries retain their original typographical errors and spelling variants.

(2) In accordance with Noyes's understanding of bible communism, incoming members surrendered their possessions to the Community prior to joining and partaking in the Community's shared labor and resources. Noyes requested that members abolish "property in persons" by forsaking exclusive relationships between family members, friends, and lovers. He encouraged members to distance themselves from special love through complex marriage, a practice outsiders often referred to as "free love." Complex marriage allowed members to pursue sexual relationships with any other Community members as desired. To prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring, Noyes instructed his followers to practice male continence--coitus reservatus--as a form of birth control. For more information, see First Annual Report of the Oneida Association: Exhibiting its History, Principles, and Transactions to Jan. 1, 1849 (Oneida, NY: Leonard, 1849).

(3) Allan Estlake, The Oneida Community: A Record of an Attempt to Carry Out the Principles of Christian Unselfishness and Scientific Race Improvement (London: George Redway, 1900), 6; emphasis in original. Allan Estlake was the pseudonym of Community member Abel Easton. Further references to the text will continue to refer to Easton by his chosen pen name.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Lawrence Foster, ed., Free Love in Utopia: John Humphrey Noyes and the Origin of the Oneida Community. Compiled by George Wallingford Noyes (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001), xv. Former Community member George Wallingford Noyes compiled approximately 2,200 pages of documents relating to the Oneida Community while writing two histories of the Community. In 1993, the Oneida Community Mansion House museum and historical site allowed scholars to access Noyes's typescript. Foster edited the typescript and published excerpts from it in Free Love in Utopia. The book contains a number of excerpts from Oneida Community journal entries, letters, publications, and pamphlets.

(6) "An Oneida Journal," Circular, July 30, 1857.

(7) Mutual Criticism (Oneida, NY: Office of the American Socialist, 1876), 86.

(8) Ibid., 90.

(9) Ibid., 42.

(10) Estlake, The Oneida Community, 52.

(11) John B. Ellis, Free Love and Its Votaries; Or, American Socialism Unmasked. Being an Historical and Descriptive Account of the Rise and Progress of the Various Free Love Associations in the United States and of the Effects of Their Vicious Teachings Upon American Society (New York: United States Publishing Company; San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft, 1870), 186.

(12) Foster, Free Love in Utopia, 56.

(13) Maren Lockwood Carden, Oneida: Utopian Community to Modern Corporation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1969), 19.

(14) Foster, Free Love in Utopia, 35.

(15) Daily Journal of Oneida Community, January 14, 1866, 4.

(16) John Humphrey Noyes, The Berean: A Manual for the Help of Those Who Seek the Faith of the Primitive Church (Putney, VT: Office of the Spiritual Magazine, 1847), 175-76.

(17) Foster, Free Love in Utopia, 35.

(18) Noyes, The Berean, 175-76; emphasis in original.

(19) Constance Noyes Robertson, Oneida Community Profiles (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1977), 90.

(20) O.C. Daily, March 13, 1867, 232.

(21) Daily Journal of Oneida Community, November 30, 1866, 519-20.

(22) Ibid., January 24, 1866, 33.

(23) "Receipt for Curing the Hypo," Circular, February 4, 1854.

(24) Foster, Free Love in Utopia, 260.

(25) Robert Fogarty, ed., Special Love and Special Sex: An Oneida Community Diary (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1994), 139.

(26) Robert Fogarty, ed., Desire and Duty at Oneida: Tirzah Miller's Intimate Memoir (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), 75.

(27) Ibid., 81.

(28) Fogarty, Special Love and Special Sex, 88.

(29) John Humphrey Noyes, "Notes from J.H.N.," Circular, September 23, 1867.

(30) Foster, Free Love in Utopia, 263.

(31) Jonathan Burt, "Story of a Lunatic: VIII," Circular, September 9, 1867.

(32) Victor Cragin Noyes, "Letter to the Hon. Gerrit Smith," Circular, November 11, 1867.

(33) John Humphrey Noyes, "In a Hurry for More," Circular, October 7, 1867.

(34) John Humphrey Noyes, "Story of a Lunatic," Circular, September 9, 1867; emphasis in original.

(35) Foster, Free Love in Utopia, 269.

(36) Noyes, "Letter to the Hon. Gerrit Smith."

(37) Ibid.

(38) Lorenzo S. Bolles Jr., "Letter to the Parasite," Circular, January 2, 1865.

(39) John Humphrey Noyes, "The Parasite--No. 6," Circular, December 19, 1864.

(40) "The Parasite," Circular, November 21, 1864.

(41) "Mills's Cause of Quarrel," Circular, January 9, 1865.

(42) "The Parasite," Circular, November 21, 1864.

(43) Bolles, "Letter to the Parasite."

(44) Fogarty, Desire and Duty at Oneida, 137.

(45) Pierrepont Noyes, My Father's House: An Oneida Boyhood (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1937), 155. John Humphrey Noyes's son with Charlotte Miller, John Humphrey Noyes II, went by the nickname Humphrey.

(46) Fogarty, Desire and Duty at Oneida, 106-7.

(47) Ibid., 120.

(48) Ibid., 150; underlining in original.

(49) Ellis, Free Love and Its Votaries, 142; emphasis in original.

(50) Fogarty, Desire and Duty at Oneida, 102.

(51) Frederick Hepworth Dixon, New America (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1867), 2:246.

(52) Spencer Olin, "The Oneida Community and the Instability of Charismatic Authority," The Journal of American History 67 (1980): 289-90.

(53) Robert David Thomas, The Man Who Would Be Perfect (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977), 83-84.

(54) Spencer Klaw, Without Sin: The Life and Death of the Oneida Community (New York: Penguin Books, 1993), 79.

(55) Foster, Free Love in Utopia, 91.

(56) Robert Allerton Parker, A Yankee Saint: John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Community (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1935), 218.

(57) Klaw, Without Sin, 11.

(58) William Alfred Hinds, American Communities: Brief Sketches of Economy, Zoar, Bethel, Aurora, Amana, Icaria, The Shakers, Oneida, Wallingford, and the Brotherhood of the New Life (Oneida, NY: Office of the American Socialist, 1878), 124.

(59) Jack T. Ericson, Oneida Community Books, Pamphlets, and Serials, 1834-1972 (Glen Rock, NJ: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1973), 12.

(60) Olin, "The Oneida Community," 299.

(61) Carden, Oneida, 87.

(62) Ira Mandelker, Religion, Society, and Utopia in Nineteenth-Century America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984), 110.

(63) Carden, Oneida, 52.

(64) Hilda Herrick Noyes and George Wallingford Noyes, "The Oneida Experiment in Stirpiculture," reprinted from Eugenics, Genetics and the Family 1 (1923): 378.

(65) Fogarty, Special Love and Special Sex, 26.

(66) Anita Newcomb McGee, "An Experiment in Human Stirpiculture," American Anthropologist 4, no. 4 (October 1891): 321.

(67) Noyes and Noyes, "The Oneida Experiment in Stirpiculture," 377.

(68) Parker, A Yankee Saint, 263.

(69) Olin, "The Oneida Community," 298.

(70) Fogarty, Desire and Duty at Oneida, 106-7.

(71) Parker, A Yankee Saint, 267.

(72) Estlake, The Oneida Community, 7.

(73) Hepworth Dixon, New America, 214.

(74) Klaw, Without Sin, 119.

(75) Ellis, Free Love and its Votaries, 175.

Leigh Gialanella graduated from Hamilton College in 2015 with a major in history and minors in Hispanic studies and archaeology. Her senior thesis, "Discord in Utopia: Reconciling Perfectionism with Human Nature in the Oneida Community, " won the 2015 Communal Studies Association Starting Scholar Award. Leigh is currently pursuing a master of information at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in preparation for a career in digital libraries, digital archives, and digital asset management.
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Author:Gialanella, Leigh
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Date:Dec 1, 2015
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