John Humphrey Noyes : charisma and sexual manipulation as the guiding force of the Oneida Community / by Kerri Fleming.

John Humphrey Noyes, who lived from 1811 to 1886, founded a religious commune called the Oneida Community in 1848. Earlier in the decade, Noyes established the religious sect in Putney, Vermont before relocating to land on Oneida Creek in New York State. The Oneidans believed they could achieve a sp...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Fleming, Kerri.
Corporate Authors: Simmons College (Boston, Mass.). School of Library and Information Science., Simmons College (Boston, Mass.). College of Arts and Sciences.
Format: Thesis Book
Language:English
Published: 2014.
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Summary:John Humphrey Noyes, who lived from 1811 to 1886, founded a religious commune called the Oneida Community in 1848. Earlier in the decade, Noyes established the religious sect in Putney, Vermont before relocating to land on Oneida Creek in New York State. The Oneidans believed they could achieve a spiritual state where they were free from sin, and in this socialist community, the members lived and worked together in one large house with John Humphrey Noyes as the undisputed leader of the group. Noyes maintained the absolute loyalty of his followers by developing a number of unique sexual practices that bonded the Oneidans in ways that religion alone could not do. Adult Oneidans participated in a large complex marriage with a special method of birth control called male continence, and in later years certain Community members engaged in experiments of spiritual eugenics called stirpiculture. For thirty years the strong religious, sexual, and familial bonds allowed the Oneida Community to thrive, but on January 1, 1881 the members dissolved the religious community and chose instead to function as a joint-stock company producing silverware as Oneida Community, Limited. Scholars such as Louis J. Kern, Lawrence Foster, and Spencer Klaw identify the sexual practices as the cause of Oneida's downfall. While Kern, Foster, and Klaw present strong arguments, these men seem to lose focus on the central role played by John Humphrey Noyes. Noyes strongly regulated the sex and sexuality at Oneida, often interfering and manipulating his followers. By examining the diary of Noyes's niece Tirzah C. Miller, this paper will show that Noyes brought about Oneida's downfall because he did not trust his system to work on its own. Noyes tinkered with his sexual systems and occasionally broke rules, making him the driving force of Oneida's sexuality. While Kern, Foster, and Klaw treat Oneida's complex marriage, male continence, mutual criticism, and stirpiculture as systems that worked on their own, a scrutiny of Tirzah Miller's diary shows Noyes personally made these systems operate. Oneida collapsed because John Humphrey Noyes lost interest in his communal socialist experiment and stopped controlling the communal rules of sex.
Physical Description:68 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm
Bibliography:Includes bibliographical references (leaves 66-68).