The Oneida Community
The Oneida Community, located in Oneida, New York was founded by John Humphrey Noyes as a religious commune. His community believed in free love, or "complex marriage", birth control through coitus reservatus, which was something that was seen as a woman's right, and the selection of parents to create the best offspring possible. This went on for more than 30 years mainly because the artisans from Oneida made the best steel traps. The historical relevance of this community is that like other communities during this time, people were looking for the perfect, utopian society.
Causes- John Humphrey Noyes wanted to create the perfect Christian society where everyone would be happy. He believed that the key to happiness was the suppression of selfishness. True Christians shouldn't possess private property or indulge in exclusive emotional relationships. Noyes thought that exclusive relationships bred jealously, so like material goods, sexual partners were shared among the community.
Effects- his community was seen as strange and non traditional. Outsiders viewed their way of living as wrong and horrifying because the couples weren't faithful to one another.
Long range significance- the Oneida Community showed that a woman should have the right to decide what she wants to do with her body, and that if she doesn't want to become pregnant she can use a kind of birth control. After abandoning their way of life, they became a joint-stock company specializing in the manufacture of silver tableware. They became world's leading manufacturer of stainless steel silverware, and to this day, their company still exists.
Important people- John Humphrey Noyes founded the community, his son, Pierremont led the community away from the complex marriage system and led the Oneida Community, Ltd., the company which made silverware.
Connection to an earlier time period- William Penn came to America searching for his "perfect society". This lead him to create his own town where him and his fellow Quakers could live freely. Although the societies were different, they were both founded because they were thought to be the perfect community.
In this book people are criticizing the Oneida Community for the way they're living their lives. The people of the community don't understand why they're being judged when their lives are empty of scandal and full of peace and harmony. This shows that their community was very different than others and that it wasn't accepted.
This picture shows the building where all the townspeople were gather for activities, ceremonies, etc. There were buildings designated for different things. There was a building for children over the age of one, where nurses and teachers would raise them so the parents could focus on creating more offspring.
“They wanted this to reflect Eden,” said Giles Wayland-Smith, an Oneida descendant who lives in a Mansion House apartment and is a trustee of the nonprofit group that owns the building. “They wanted this to reflect the good life. They wanted to make it comfortable and pleasant and inviting.”
“There are some who think he was just a lecher, pure and simple,” said Robert S. Fogarty, a historian and Oneida expert who edits The Antioch Review. “There are others who believe that he was a great forward-thinking individual who was a great religious figure. I think it’s 50-50, to be honest.”
“We have, like a band of explorers, made a raid into uncharted territory, and we have returned, having charted our findings without injury to man, woman or child.” -J.H. Noyes
These quotes show why John Humphrey Noyes created the Oneida Community and what he was like. This shows that not all people saw him as a disturbed man because of the way he ran his community, but as a unique individual with a different way of thinking.