Oneida Community, John Humphrey Noyes, Free Love
Arts and Humanities
ONEIDA, ITS CRITICS MAINTAINED, was a "seedbed of free love, the nursery of anarchic doctrines" that threatened "the total destruction of the marriage relation".2 This paper will examine the cultural and religious contexts within which John Humphrey Noyes developed and implemented his ideas about free love. Although the Putney Community (1843-48) and the Oneida Community (1848-79) were both theocratic, socialistic communities, critics were most concerned about the social and moral implications of their ideas-especially their Perfectionist claims of having irreversibly transformed the "Man of Sin" into the "Spiritual Man". Apologists for traditional evangelical denominationalism and self-appointed conservators of public morals saw Perfectionism as the foremost example of decadence in contemporary American social and ethical life, with "a strong tendency to ultraisms - ultraisms not only in religion and politics, but in almost every department ofmoral and philanthropic enterprise". "Noyesism" was most dangerous because it had embraced the human passions in all their vigor and, through misguided "enthusiasm, or phrenzy, or from deliberate imposture", had been led into "licentiousness and criminal intercourse between the sexes".
Kern, Louis J., "Breaching the "Wall ofPartition Between the Male and the Female": John Humphrey Noyes and Free Love" (1993). The Courier. 296.