Devin Mc Comber
2 April 2006

Oneida Commune & the many lovers of John Humphrey Noyes

I. Background
John Humphrey Noyes was born on September 3, 1811[1] to an old and respected New England family[2]. Noyes was a precocious learner and thoughtful. As a child he used to say that he wanted to go to bed early so he could think.[3] After graduating from Dartmouth in 1830, Noyes pursued the study of law, but soon gave up law to dedicate his life to Jesus Christ[4]. The Second Great Awakening in 1831 delivered Noyes from the path of law to the path of God. After reluctantly attending a church revival, Noyes wrestled with Satan and the spirit of unbelief, until “light gleamed upon his soul” and he decided to devote himself to God.[5] Noyes entered Andover Seminary to study religion and ministry, but found his fellow students less than passionate and transferred to Yale Theological School.[6]
In August 1833, Noyes received his license to preach from Yale and by February 1834 Noyes was asked to resign his license and withdraw from the college premises.[7] Prior to the expulsion, between 1833 and 1834, Noyes discovered and studied Wesleyan Perfectionism which advocated Entire Sanctification (holiness, perfection), a doctrine of spiritual transformation.[8]  It is understood as an experience of grace, subsequent to salvation, with the effect that the Holy Spirit takes full possession of the soul, sanctifies the heart, and empowers the will so that one can love God and others blamelessly in this life.  The power of sin in the believer's life is either eradicated or rendered inoperative as one participates in the higher life of the divine.[9] Although Wesleyan Perfectionism advocated the way of perfect holiness, the church did not expect or require sinlessness from people.[10] To Noyes perfection could only be achieved though sinlessness and the idea that one wasn’t expected to be perfect was hypocritical to the ideal of Perfectionism. On February 20, 1834 (High Tide of the Spirit), John Humphrey Noyes declared that “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” A fellow student asked Noyes “Don’t you commit sin?” Noyes answered, “No.” Within a few hours word spread through the college and New Haven that Noyes believed he was perfect and that Noyes was, in fact, crazy. After a hearing regarding Noyes’ proclamation, the faculty association allowed him to resign his license and asked him to withdraw from the University.[11]
The following years of Noyes life were characterized by both outward tumult and inward uncertainty. Noyes suffered from the rejection by his college, church, friends, and family. He wandered, often on foot and without money, the length and breadth of New England and New York, preaching and spreading his new faith.[12] Noyes began publication of a circular called the Perfectionist (followed by a second publication called The Witness).[13] During the late 1830s and early 40s John Humphrey Noyes first developed ideas regarding “Bible Communism” and “Complex Marriage” and the beginnings of a new way of life.[14]

II. History of the Commune
John Humphrey Noyes married Harriet Horton in 1838; she shared his perfectionist views and provided greatly need financial resources. Noyes lacked a romantic attachment to Harriet, but he thought she would make a suitable partner for his work.[15] The Noyes family settled in Putney, Vermont and began their experiments into their unique communal ideals. The community was officially consolidated on about November 1, 1846 with the signing of the Statement of Principals.[16] Seven leaders of the community agreed in writing:
We, the undersigned, hold the following principals as the basis of our social union:
1. All individual proprietorship of either persons or things is surrendered and absolute community of interests takes the place of the law and fashions which preside over property and family relations in the world.
2. God as the ultimate and absolute owner of our persons and possessions is installed as the director of our combinations and the distributor of property. His spirit is our supreme regulator.
3. John H. Noyes is the father and overseer whom the Holy Ghost has set over the family thus constituted. To John H. Noyes as such we submit ourselves in all things spiritual and temporal, appealing form his decisions only to the spirit of God, and that without disputing.
4. We pledge ourselves to these principals without reserve; and if we fall away from them, let God and our signature be witness against us.[17]
Complex Marriage (each male member of the community is married to each and every female community member) was officially instituted by the above cited document and simultaneously made the community infamous. The commune was forced to abandon Vermont when Noyes was arrested for adultery in 1847 and relocated in early 1848 to Oneida, NY. By the end of the calendar year of 1848 the commune consisted of 87 people.[18] After several years of financial struggle, the people of the Oneida community began manufacturing steel animal traps, which gave the community a sound economic base. The community thrived for over thirty years, but eventually the new of way life failed. The final years of the Oneida Community were tumultuous and unhappy; internal dissension wracked the community and the issue of Noyes’s successor remained in doubt.[19]
The declining ability of the aging and increasingly deaf John Humphrey Noyes set the stage for the community’s breakup. No other leader would emerge to full Noyes’s place.[20] In 1877, Theodore Noyes (John Humphrey Noyes’s eldest and only legitimate child) officially took over the leadership of the Community; his medical studies at Yale made him well educated, but caused him to abandon his belief in God. Theodore was not considered a wise enough leader, nor was a society, founded on a strong Christian belief, satisfied with an atheist as a spiritual leader.[21] A faction challenging the old order and calling for reform coalesced around James William Towner, a capable leader, but he was unable to secure enough support to gain command.[22] The weak leadership was combined with a decline in commitment of the group to ideals to cement its dissolution. The younger generation of adults had a more skeptical and secular bent. Without the strong commitment to communal values, it became more and more difficult to justify the intense self-sacrifice necessary to make the community work.[23]
An external attack against Oneida by Reverend John W. Mears began in the mid-1870s, alone it posed no real threat.[24] It was not an attack directly aimed at Oneida, but was anger directed at sexual deviation in general.[25] Oneida faced the same attacks through out its history. Further, the immediate community surrounding Oneida considered the group responsible and believed they ought to be left alone. The Oneida community provided jobs and economic stability for the surrounding community. In fact, Puck, a satirical journal printed a cartoon that skewered Oneida critics. The cartoon showed a band of self-righteous ministers pointing at Oneida and declaring “Oh, dreadful! They dwell in peace and harmony and have no church scandal. They must be wiped out.”[26] If Oneida had a leader to unite the community the attack by outsiders would have been completely insignificant. However, the internal toils of the community allowed the external attack to further weaken its commitment to God and to each other. Internal tensions not external tensions were the key to the Oneida crisis and subsequent demise.
The end of the Oneida Community truly began with the dissolution of Complex Marriage. On August 28, 1879 the Oneida Community announced its return of the practice of traditional marriage.[27] The internal struggles in the community accelerated with the end of Complex Marriage; family interest undermined attachment to the group interests. On January 1, 1881 the Oneida Community ended and in its place the Oneida Community, Limited was formed.[28] The assets of the old Community were divided in the form of stock in the company. Until 1895, when Pierrepoint Noyes rescued the company, Oneida Community, Ltd. stumbled along, making some money in good years, and barely scraping by in poor years.[29] In 1917, Pierrepont Noyes relinquished the control of the company after making it a true success.[30] Today, Oneida Ltd. is publicly traded and one of the world’s largest marketers of stainless steel flatware; and offers a complete range of tabletop products. It has operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Australia.[31] Oneida started out as a way of life followed by less than four hundred people, it evolved into a lucrative business that has lasted well over one hundred years.

III. Communal Life
Food, housing, and warmth were provided for all at the Oneida Community; the member’s financial state was one of communism.[32] The Community built a large communal unitary home (the Mansion House); the inside of the house contained a number of small private and semi-private rooms for sleeping and other purposes, supplemented by a large and attractive library, several communal sitting rooms which provided comfortably furnished centers for Community life, and a large intimate hall.[33] The large hall of the Mansion House served many functions. Arguably, the most important activity in the hall was the nightly religious and business meeting.[34] The meeting was attended by all the adult members of the community.[35] The Community has no formal religious service on Sunday or on other days. There was no church or chapel. Neither baptismal nor communion services were utilized. Since there were no marriages, there were no weddings.[36] Death was played down and Christmas was not celebrated. The religion and moral concerns of the group were raised in the evening meetings. Rather than have special religious cerebrations or set aside special days for worship, the Community believed that every day should involve religious awareness. The Community members were avid readers of the Bible and loved to discuss various parables.[37] Most importantly and distinctly, the community believed that by listening to John Humphrey Noyes they were listening to the voice of God. The hall, also, housed activities such as dancing, plays, concerts, skits, and educational classes.[38] The Mansion House even had a Turkish bath. The community was a both lively and tranquil home. Members, could if they wished, travel or visit the outside world, but few chose to avail themselves of the opportunity. Supposedly, there were too many attractions at home. However, literature created by the community discusses the need to minimize contact with the outside world too maintain spirituality. The Community did not live in luxury, but neither did it live a Spartan life.[39] The daily life of an Oneidan can best be described by one of their published articles:
Five o’clock! Stillness reigns from [attic] to cellar. Six o’clock! The whistle sounds. Little bare feet pattering along the main hall on their way to the children’s room to be dressed – the first glad sound of morning. Laughing voices ringing through the empty halls and corridors arouse the sleepers from their dreams. Half an hour and there is a noise of footsteps, some light and some heavy, constantly hurrying up and down the long stairway form the Mansard; the noise of chairs and tables hastily shoved about, and the rumble of bedsteads in the many chambers around the house. Another half hour and the women are at their several callings – bed-making, sweeping halls, tidying up the parlors, mopping and dusting the library, and putting things to rights generally. Meanwhile a tril of active cooks are getting breakfast for the fifteen “titmen” of the family, who file out of the dinning room at seven o’clock. Some of the men go to the shop, some are out on the farm, some are at the barn, one or two are in the printing office, a few are reading in the library, and the rest are in their rooms till eight o’clock when the whistle call them one and all to breakfast. By the hour of nine the people are scattered to their various assignments – trap-shop, machine-shop, silk-room, business-office, printing-office, kitchen, dining-room, laundry, company-room, etc. The children with their guardians start off for the lot east of the road, and the people who remain are tending our youngest, or making their clothes, or taking care of the various concerns of the household.... Cooks and waiters are stepping lively to get dinner in readiness at one o’clock. At twelve the bells ring, and the older children go to school, and the younger ones to bed. Stillness reigns for the next two hours. At three the whistle calls to dinner; there’s a thronging toward the dining-room and the two hundred discuss the viands temptingly laid out. Dinner over, and many resume their labors until six o’clock, when the family are all again at home. People are meeting in the court, vestibule, or in the sitting-rooms to tell the latest news; young and old mingle in croquet on the lawn, or at dominoes in the house, as the case may be. Many are reading, or studying, or writing; the children are frolicking below stairs; it is a time of rest and relaxation, and the home feeling predominates. All concentrate in the hall at eight for a family meeting; some interesting topic draws out the enthusiasm of all who are present. Meeting closes at nine, and people disperse, some to the nursery kitchen, and some to their own bedrooms. At ten-o’clock the house is still. The watchman goes quietly round on his mission; he locks the doors- puts out the lights- darkness and tranquility till morning.
A Panoramic View, Circular, August 18, 1873
The overall pleasant environment described above is supported by general research consulted on the Community. The Oneida Community appeared to be without crime and scandal[40]; God and communal ideals set the stage for the development of their comfortable home and family.
Everything the Community members did was designed to play down “I” in favor of “we.” Members ate together, worked together, and played together. The members shared property, sexual partners, and their children[41]. Tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, pork products, and smoking were prohibited at Oneida because they had the potential to be habitual and distractive, weakening one’s connection to the community. Smoking was specifically prohibited because it was considered to individualistic, while dancing was encouraged since it was a group activity.[42]
There was no such thing as demeaning labor at the Oneida Community. A person was respected for the spirit with which he or she completed the work rather than for the work itself. Community members also rotated jobs to keep stay off boredom and other spiritual evils.[43] .

The beginning of community life really began with Noyes proposal to Harriet Holton. Noyes proposed to Holton “a partnership which I will not call marriage. “ Noyes did not have a romantic love for Holton, but instead found a woman that demonstrated an unswerving loyalty to him and his ideas.[44] Holton was “safe” sexually and not likely to make special demands on him. Holton was capable and hard working, and willing to be shaped according to his desires.[45] Also, as cited above, she had money. The Holton-Noyes marriage was the first of many sacrifices that was made for the benefit of the community. In his marriage, as well as in all aspects of the community life, Noyes subordinated individual wills and self-interest to the larger communal goals.[46]
Noyes’ next step in the preparation of communal life was to assert complete authority over his entire family. Noyes secured the loyalty of his younger brother George, as well as two of his sisters, Harriet and Charlotte. Eventually, he arranged that his sisters marry his two closest followers, John L. Skinner and John R. Miller.[47] In 1939, Noyes finally gained the allegiance of his mother when she finally stated that her son was “to me a teacher and father in spiritual things.”[48]
Noyes required total authority and control over the community. As early as 1837, Noyes declared that he “would never connect [himself] with any individual or association in religion unless [he] were the acknowledged leader.” [49] Later, Noyes described his ideal model for the government of his community at Oneida an “absolute monarchy,” with authority coming from the top, yet decisions tempered by the concerns of the membership below. Noyes, was the supreme leader who benevolently delegated authority to loyal subordinates who would do the actual work of implementing his ideals.[50] The dogma of Noyes was either completely accepted by an individual in which case the individual was made part of the brotherhood of self-sacrificing quest for the Kingdom of God or the individual rejected it and was turned away. Although, the religious beliefs of the Onieda Community seem greatly radical, the community in fact provided a sense of security and a satisfying new set of absolutes to replace the capriciousness of revivalist religion. [51]
The Oneida Community was founded on three theological principals. The first principal centers on the nature and use of pleasure. According to Noyes, “In reality the whole circle of enjoyments- enjoyment of food, of intellectual pleasures, of love in all its forms—is the enjoyment of God.”[52] God is present within every living thing. The world of creatures leads man to God: an attraction to matter is really the call of God. Therefore according to Noyes there is divinity in eating a peach, as there is divinity in sex. The act of sex, Noyes taught his followers, becomes an act of fellowship with God when one recognizes the Lord in the relationship one is sharing. The spiritual man enjoys pleasure, not less so, but more intensely than his idolatrous neighbor. When Noyes rebuked his followers for the “pleasure-seeking spirit”, he was attacking their narrow-minded, paltry satisfaction with a pleasure which was but a pale imitation of the true happiness waiting the man who seeks God in all matters. True Christianity was not an enemy of pleasure and happiness, but its friend and champion. Jesus instructed his disciples: seek first the kingdom of God, and all things shall be given to you. According to Noyes, this meant that the man who seeks God in every action, in every pleasure, in every attraction, shall not only find God, but shall also find himself heir to all the treasures which the material world can offer. The orthodox churches, Noyes believed, attempted to suppress, even annihilate, the passions of man, instead of suborning them into God’s service.[53] Christianity must learn again, Noyes stated, to value the passions as sources of great strength and power, which when properly controlled, aid a man in the search for holiness. According to Noyes, the selfish spirit of which the world is full, and not the teachings of Jesus, is the deadly enemy of pleasure.[54]
The second theological principal used in the development of complex marriage recognizes that everything is part of a single entity and therefore followers are to abandon the illusion of individuality.[55] Unfortunately, Noyes admitted, recognition of this basic truth does not come easily to man; there is a repugnance of the heart to the notion that each is not his own. A harm that follows upon the illusion of individualism is possessiveness. Noyes frequently encouraged confessions to Christ, for every time a member recalled their connection with Christ and with each other, the “we spirit” would prevail over the “I spirit”, over the weak, sickly, unruly position of individualism. The man who views his world, and other men, as separate entities seeks to sequester, to own or posses, a multitude of objects and pleasures for himself views others as competitors, whom he must exclude, outwit, and outrun.[56] Material pleasures, which should be a means of holiness, become occasions of competition, envy, jealousy, and pain when they are sought by men imbued with a spirit of individualism and the consequent need to own and hoard objects of pleasure. According to Noyes, ownership adds nothing to the original enjoyment of something; rather it destroys the true pleasure of it. Ownership brings with it cares and worries which are unhealthy and more than life can bear; concern for property is a poison which slowly kills the spirit of man. However, when there is no ownership, no willful holding into property and excluding of others, the pain is removed and there remains only the unadulterated pleasure which the world offers to those who do not try to posses its treasures.[57] Christ said: “Except a man forsake all that he hath....” This according to the theology of Oneida, was not intended as an indictment of enjoyment, nor intended to inculcate neglect or indifference to the good things of the world. Rather, according to Noyes’ interpretation, Christ was counseling men to forsake the desire to possess the things which they find pleasant. Christ himself possessed nothing, not even a place to lay his head, because private ownership is inconsistent with that kingdom he came to establish.[58] The Perfectionists were not enemies of pleasure but of possessiveness; the single factor separating healthful and unhealthful enjoyment of pleasure. The Oneida Community maintained that to say: “I enjoy this thing and I will have it for mine, and no one else shall have it, is counterproductive and diabolical, because experience testifies that this stance brings with it only disappointment and disgust.” Due to the theological principal that every pleasure leads to the same pervading principal, God; that every pleasure, no matter how small its out-ward inducements, provides and opening into infinite depth, mystery, and joy (see above).” There is no need, then for disappointment when one particular pleasure, one object, one honor, one love is not available; there is always other objects which can give access onto the same source of pleasure. And because there is always access to pleasure there is no reason to for man to amass private possessions. Also, since men are all part of one whole, it is possible for one man to share in the joys of another. Thus a man can participate in the pleasure of another. The man who is aware of the power of sympathetic enjoyment, and who works to develop it, finds no need for ownership, no occasion for selfishness, envy, or competition.[59] Oneida Perfectionists believed that pleasure was better for being enjoyed with, and through, others.
The third theological principal is inspiration: one person can penetrate and take over the spirit of another, so that the former can influence the thoughts, words, and actions of the latter.[60] The phenomenon was explained as magnetism; just as a magnet exudes an invisible force which can control the action of objects with which it is not in physical contract, so too, the mind generates a kind of physical force best compared to electricity or magnetism which can permeate the senses, muscles, and faculties of another, and control them. A man constantly generates spiritual, invisible influence which communicates his consciousness to the minds around him, influencing in turn their thoughts, actions, and sensations. Along with inspiration comes the female and male principals. The female principal is the ability to “inspire” another, while the male principal includes the ability to receive inspiration from those more powerful and the ability to inspire or transmit power to those less perfect. Both males and females have both types of principals within themselves. Noyes taught that salvation began with God the Father filling his Son with his power, the Son in turn having as female received the Father’s power within himself, turns, as male, transforms the souls of the primitive church. The church, first receives as a female, and then passes on their power as a male to the people on Earth.[61] The Oneida Community followed the same scheme among themselves; Noyes of coarse was at the top of the chain, helping God transmit his grace and power among the community.

Throughout Oneida’s history John Humphrey Noyes was known as “Father” Noyes.[62] Noyes controlled the spiritual administration of the community and hence controlled the major day to day decisions of the community member’s lives. He decided the activities the community would engage and suggested which members could have children and when they ought to have children.[63] Father Noyes’s power lasted until old age when his health failed him and he was forced to withdraw from directing the community.[64]
Noyes allowed a few hand picked men to help lead the community, but there power was limited and completely dependent on Noyes. Noyes’s men existed to carry out his directives and where called “apostolic deputies” or “lieutenants” by the community members. The community equated Noyes’s “lieutenants” to Christ’s disciples.[65] Generally, the men chosen for leadership roles were more educated and spiritually developed than the typical Oneida member. The male leaders counseled with Noyes in his private living quarters concerning important community decisions, spoke at evening meetings, and wrote ideological articles for Oneida publications.[66]
Women were not consulted regarding important community decisions. Rather, certain prestigious women in the community were used to explain and secure female obedience to the ideas developed by Noyes and his male leaders.[67] Women of prestige were described as “mothers” or “aunts” of the community. In fact, Noyes’s wife, favorite lover, and two sisters were the women of influence.[68] However, both female and male leading members appeared to have been exempt from the more mundane work assignments.[69]
The majority of the adults at Oneida, both male and female, were at the bottom of the community hierarchy; they functioned as children in the collective family. The community as a whole, upon entering the community, gave up their independence to Father Noyes. [70] The community believed in Noyes’s wisdom as a prophet of God and the obedience that went along with that belief. Noyes’s divine authority could not be challenged. However, every member of the community member had a voice and was encouraged to speak out at evening meetings to discuss any and all issues.[71]

Smaller day to day operational decisions were made by committees and departments. There were twenty-one standing committees and forty-eight different departments. Heating, clothing, patent rights, photographs, haircutting, fruit preserving, music, dentistry, bedding, and paintings, all involved committees or departments. There was also a department for incidentals.[72] There were enough committees and departments to allow everyone an opportunity to have a real voice in the management of the Community.[73]
A side effect of the numerous committee and committee meetings is that the community was always changing. Much of the change was meaningless, but never the less change was often instituted. The Community members changed their work schedule, their meal schedule, and the number of meals severed per day. The prohibition on smoking was years in the making. The Oneida community changed their jobs and their way of doing things, they even had a habit of changing their rooms.[74] The Community believed that: “when one keeps constantly in a rut, he is especially exposed to attacks of evil. The devil knows just where to find him!”[75]
The nearly eighty specialized groups running the day to day operations of the community was not the most efficient government, but it worked and it worked well for the Community’s entire existence. The Oneida community functioned with almost no major quarrel. The lack of efficiency was replaced with community members feeling important and significant.

Membership at the Oneida Community was not a problem. The community was never going to expand to cover all of the United States, but neither did the community fail due to lack of membership. The community had more trouble keeping prospective members out than in. At any given time there were around three hundred members.[76] Within the early years of the Community there were seven branches (Oneida, NY; Willow Place, NY; Cambridge, Vermont; Newark, New Jersey; Wallingford, Connecticut; New York City; NY; and Putney, Vermont) all under the leadership of John Humphrey Noyes.[77]
Except during the early periods, the Community did little or no active proselytizing. Yet they reported no difficulty in attracting members. In 1873, the Community received over two hundred application.[78] The retention rate of the Community was quite high; 84 of the 109 adult members that joined within the first two years at Oneida either died in the community or lived there until the breakup.[79] The Oneida Community was successful and that was all that was necessary for word to spread quickly and crate interest. The Community’s own publications and the popular press permitted wide coverage. Noyes traveled and lectured extensively on the Community.[80]
Applicants were carefully screened before they were accepted for membership. Once a person or family was accepted there was a probation period of about a year. During the probation period the community was to determine if the new comers adjusted to Community life and whether they had the necessary devoutness. Most new members adjusted very well.[81] The persons admitted to the community were primarily from the middle class and upper class; the community included lawyers, dentists, doctors, teachers, engineers, accountants, ministers, and business managers.[82] The stability of the Commune is speculated to be one of the major draws to community members. Most members were in an emotionally unsettled state when they joined the community. The members had been religious “seekers” that were distressed by the emotional ups and downs of the revivalist religion of the times; Noyes promised to provide “salvation from sin” within a stable, supportive, and authoritative communal structure. [83]
Although most of the members were happy with their decision to join the Oneida community, some were not and each year a few individuals left. The actual number of members that left the community is unknown, but it was not more than three adults per year.[84] The individuals generally left because they couldn’t adjust to sharing sex partners or the economic philosophy. Others joined for the wrong reasons and quickly became disillusioned. Those who chose to leave were permitted to take anything they brought with them. Those that came with nothing were given one hundred dollars.[85] There was only one case where a member, William Mills, had to be forcibly removed Charles Guiteau was highly unstable member that left the community in 1867, fourteen years later he assassinated President Garfield.[86] However, most often, those who left the community did so with good will regarding the Community and the same feeling flowing in the opposite direction by the Community toward the departing member. A number of community members that left the community actually rejoined later.[87]

i. Mutual Criticism
As a young man at Andover Seminary, Noyes was part of a select society called the Brethren that performed a weekly exercise which consisted of frank criticism of each other’s characters. The member whose turn it was to submit to the criticism held his place while other members, one by one, told him his faults in the plainest possible way.[88] This exercise was a fundamental aspect of Oneida life carried over by Noyes. Each community member was exposed to his or her faults several times a year and sometimes as much as once a month.[89] The community member was, of course, to receive the criticism in silence. A criticism of a community member once took up eighteen pages of notes.[90] The process primarily intended to improve the members of the community and therefore bring them in harmony with God through the spirit of improvement. Criticism allowed community members to increase their points of harmony, which would make them more attractive in heaven.[91] Mutual Criticism was also used as disciplinary measure and curative for physical ailments. In fact, Mutual Criticism was the only formal means by which the community controlled its members.[92]
Noyes explained that Mutual Criticism could only be instituted once love for the truth and love for one another were nurtured in a community.[93] The community had to be strengthened in order for a community member to both take criticism kindly and give criticism without fear of offending. Further, a criticism cannot be given if individuals are not well acquainted and know each other faults. The community member was not to allow feelings of malice influence his criticisms, but instead was to do his or her best of holding up a perfect mirror of the faults of the person being criticized.[94] Love, respect, and sincerity were all necessary characteristics of a person giving a criticism. The difference between the right and wrong way of receiving criticism, is the difference between manliness and childishness. And the great secret of going through the judgment comfortably is to help judge yourself. One sign that a criticism was given in good spirit is that the community feel good-natured toward the person afterwards, and it does not disturb the social flow within the group. Meekness is required of both those criticizing and receiving criticism, for the spirit of God can only passed in humility.[95] I
The criticisms were completed by either the entire community or a portion of the community, allowing for many perfect mirrors to be held up to the target of the criticism. A standing criticism committee was developed at Oneida to administer the process. The committee was selected by the Community, and was changed every three months – giving every one an opportunity to serve as critics as well as subjects.[96] The person volunteering him or herself for criticism would make an application to the committee for a criticism and was free to have others besides the committee present, or to invite the whole Community. In general, the majority of cases criticism was solicited by individuals.[97] However, in some instances, where it was noticed that a person was suffering from faults or influences that might be corrected or removed by criticism, they were advised to submit themselves. In extreme cases such a disobedience to the Community regulations the Criticism would be administered without solicitation. Criticisms could also take place in private.[98] Different manners of criticisms were necessary for different Oneida citizens:
In the case of a person who is not really in a progressive state – who has no genuine ambition for improvement – with a view to get him in motion, wake him up, and start him on the track, it may good to say the worst that can be said, and make his faults ass odious as the truth will bear, so that he will hate himself if possible. But when a person has a genuine eagerness for improvement, and what he wants is, not to be put in motion, but to be shown where to move, criticism properly takes a different form. A person in that state, wide awake and sincere in general does not need very much to be told what his deficiencies are: he is likely to know them as an one, and perhaps more so. Your way to help him is... him the next step in faith that is fore him – the very thing he that he can do to improve.[99]
John Humphrey Noyes, Mutual Criticism
Mutual Criticism was also one of the entrance fees into the community.[100] The object of the Perfectionist Community was self-improvement which could best be accomplished through criticism. In order to be a member of the Oneida Community you had to participate in Mutual Criticism. Noyes believed that criticism exists in every society and is one of the fundamental ways in which individuals develop and that Oneida’s Mutual Criticism was the most efficient and positive form of criticism.
ii. Evening Meetings
Evening Meetings were used as a method for keeping the community members in line. The meetings were convened not only for social and business purposes but to thrash air and resolve disputes.[101] The first few years at Oneida, when the group was small enough, a roll call occurred at each meeting and the community members were encouraged to voice their complaint when his or her name was called.[102] Later, when the group grew and roll call was not feasible the custom of airing your grievance in public, rather than in private, remained. The public airing of problems significantly decreased the backbiting, gossip, and dissension.[103]
iii. Father Noyes
John Humphrey Noyes’ word was law. Though Noyes was a kind and flexible man, he was the acknowledged divine authority of the Community.[104] The members of the community could not challenge his authority without repudiating their entire way of life.[105] In the case of unresolved arguments Noyes was the final arbiter. When there were lagging departments or recalcitrant individuals, it was Noyes who administered the necessary reprimand. And if it became obvious that a member was deliberately flouting the rules of the Community, his or her expulsion was handed quietly and firmly by Noyes.[106]

The Oneida community completely and totally adhered to economic communism during its existence.[107] From the very beginning to the very end, the group rejected all forms of personal wealth and private property. Everything was jointly owned, including clothes. For example, “Going-away clothes for grown folks, as for children, were common property. Any man or woman preparing for a trip was fitted out with one of the suits kept in stock for that purpose.”[108]
During the first ten years of the Community suffered many economic woes; it seemed almost everything they tried failed. The started in agriculture and had experienced farmers, but could not compete on the open market. After farming failed, the group tried light manufacturing: furniture, baskets, slippers, and bags. None of these endeavors made a profit. The Community then turned to peddling silk thread, pins and needles, and preserved fruits; again, loosing money in the process. The Community lost one average about $4,000 a year.[109] Some of the failures were attributed to lack of experience and others came about because of simple bad luck set backs, such as fires. However, the chief reason for the economic failure on the whole was the community was spread too thin: seven different branches in four different states.[110] Noyes decided to restructure by phasing out all the branches except Oneida and Willingford. The streamlining of the community into two branches allowed their community to pool their resources and specialize in a single product.
The business venture that saved the community from bankruptcy and eventually became a huge success was traps. In 1948, shortly after the Community’s founding, a man named Sewell Newhouse was admitted. Newhouse was a legendary hunter and made his own traps using a blacksmith’s forge, anvil, and hand punch. He made an excellent product that he had no trouble selling. However, he had no real desire to establish a business or make money. Initially, no one thought of using the taps as a basic community product. Additionally, when it occurred to the Community to use the traps as a product, Newhouse was reluctant to reveal his secret process of spring tampering. However, Noyes patiently prodded for the information and eventually Newhouse relented and gave up the secret.[111]
By the late 1850s the Oneida Community was turning out traps by the hundreds.
Demand for the product grew rapidly and to meet the orders an assembly-line operation was created. By 1860, the Newhouse trap was not only being used domestically and in Canada, but was used all over the world. The Newhouse trap became the premier trap in the world; many professional trappers would use no other brand.[112]
The Community made the traps in the trap factory located near the Mansion Home. The business developed into a typical industrial plant of the period. In 1868 the Community manufactured 278,000 traps.[113] The Community was unable to complete the orders themselves and hired outside workers. At its peak, the Community employed seven hundred people.[114] Interestingly, once the Oneida Community was able to make its trap business a success the other products (preserved fruit, bags, silk thread) proved to be valuable secondary businesses.[115]
In 1877, the Community began to manufacture silverware.[116] Originally, the business had a few ups and downs, but in the end proved very successful. When the community dispersed in 1881, the industrial aspect of the Community was perpetuated under the name of Oneida Ltd[117] and still thrives today (see above). At the time the members disbanded the Community was worth about $600,000.

Free love with us does not mean freedom to love to-day and leave tomorrow.... Our Communities are families, as distinctly bounded and separated from promiscuous society as ordinary households. The tie that binds us together is as permanent and sacred, to say the least, as that of marriage, for it is our religion. We receive no members (except by deception or mistake), who do not give their heart and hand to the family interest for life and forever. Community of property extends just as far as freedom of love.
The thing we have done for which we are called “Free Lovers,” is simply this: we have left the simple form of marriage and advanced to the complex stage of it.” We have no quarrel with those who believe in exclusive dual marriage and faithfully observe it, but we have concluded that for us there is a better way. The honor and faithfulness that constitutes ideal marriages, may exist between two hundred as two; while the guarantees for women and children are much greater in the Community than they can be in any private family.
Oneida Community Handbook, 1867 and 1871

Perhaps the single most distinctive feature of the Onieda Community was the practice of complex marriage; an unprecedented combination of polygamy and polyandry, with certain religious and social constraints. According to community member, Abel Easton, the tenant of complex marriage developed by the Onieda Community created “a home the like of which has not been seen since the world began.”[118]
Before the practice of complex marriage could be implemented, Noyes’ had to demonstrate to his followers the true meaning of love and the evils of traditional marriage.[119] The Oneida Community was taught that “love” as commonly understood in the world was a form of idolatrous, debilitating selfishness.[120] Noyes insisted that romantic love was like a narcotic: the initial experience of generosity and fulfillment was false and ultimately the love degrades its user and jades his appetite for the pleasure of true love. Noyes believed that false love was the source of most evil and disasters to which men and women were subjected: it sent people to hospitals, insane wards, and to their death.
Noyes taught that in the matter of love: we must learn to seek the Divine, to seek God, behind and within every fellowship.[121] Fellowship is the surest opening by which a Christian can enter into union with the Divine; love of another person should be the means whereby he or she contacts his Creator.[122] Anything short of contact with God is a blind and false love. According to Noyes chastity is when a person is able to see God in all lovers and drink in God’s spirit with every relationship. Noyes taught that all new lovers experience awe, respect, and feeling of sacredness as a result of their relationship – a feeling of depth and sublimity. However, the average man assumes that these feelings are caused by the partner, but it not the partner; it is God that is the source. Eventually, boredom and disappointment develop in a relationship where God is not acknowledged as the awe and sublimity behind a lover’s experience. Christ, admitted into love, sweetens and strengthens it.
Jesus told his disciples to love God with all thy heart. Noyes interpreted the first commandments to not only love God with one’s whole heart, but to love him alone. God is a jealous god that claims exclusive rights over the heart and anything less than entire and exclusive devotion is a prostitution of the heart.[123] Any relationship that demand’s a person’s full attention is sinful. Unbelief, in the Oneida Community, is not a direct refusal of God, but a positive attraction from one person to another that causes either to withdraw his or her heart from God.[124] A person that falls prey to romantic love would either have to refrain from all love relationship or be separated from his or her love temporarily, to prepare the heart to love in a God-centered way.
An Oneida Community member realizes there is no need to suffer because a particular lover is not available because he realizes that an identical joy can be found in whatever lover God sends his or her way.[125] A man or woman, who does not think this way, will expend considerable time and energy comparing lovers and experiences. And should he or she judge a particular relationship more satisfactory than another, he or she will be distraught if circumstances make it impossible for that relationship to develop. The individual will worry, scheme, and stoop to jealousy and revenge. Also, his or her life will be characterized by alternating fits of depression and reassurance. A basic tenant in the Oneida Community was to be able to enjoy everything and yet to be dependant on nothing but God for happiness. [126]
At Oneida, no one had the right to demand love from another; no had the right to act as if he were the owner of another person. Oneida did not believe that an exclusive pair was the perfect arrangement for affection. Man is gregarious; he ought to love whomever and whenever he finds the lovable. The most beautiful kind of love is between two people who give each other perfect freedom to love any other person.[127] Jesus and Mary’s relationship was used a proof by Noyes that possessive loves was contrary to a true relationship with God. According to Oneidan theology, Jesus denied the claims which Mary made on him due to the relationship as mother and son. Further, Jesus promised that those who give up Father, Mother, Sisters, Brothers, and Wives for his sake would discover a hundred-fold of Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, and Wives. Noyes, claimed that this meant that the disciples of Jesus should not limit his love to those with whom he is bound by legal or blood ties, but should learn to discover in every man and woman a potential parent, lover, or child.[128] An exclusive relationship was therefore contrary to God’s plan.
At the Oneida community it was important that citizens seek the companionship of those who would influence them toward goodness and holiness. It was the duty of every person serious about salvation to seek someone wiser in the knowledge of God than himself. A basic principal at Oneida was that a person’ spiritual life developed only to the extent that he or she associates and mingles with superior life.[129] Noyes counseled that a person choosing a companion should primarily be guided by criteria of inner beauty, closeness to Christ, and nobility of spirit; he urged members not to be swayed by external inducements. According to Noyes, It therefore followed that a sincere lover avoids too much conversation and frivolities because those activities prevent the interchange of inner life.[130]
Noyes believed that sexual relations were a fine art, intrinsically more pure and aesthetic than singing, eating, and drinking. To rob the body of its sexual function was worse than robbing it of its voice, hearing, or sense of taste. Oneida members were taught to regard the bodily sexuality as sacrament: a means of union with God; a channel by which his grace and power could be shared; a source of growth and joy.[131] There was no doubt in the mind of John Noyes that during sexual relation every spiritual person is conscious of being drawn near the Divine source, of bring wrapped in a “nimbus” of sacredness, purity, and infinite beauty.
Noyes viewed marriage as an institution which sanctions and intensifies all the evils of false love; it transforms the heavenly passion of love from a vehicle of God’s grace into a drudge devoted to the most menial of service.[132] First, Noyes claimed that the average man comes to think of his wife as an object, something owned and to be used for his pleasure. At its worst, marriage sheltered acts of cruelty and violence which the law could never sanction outside of wedlock. Noyes equated marriage from the female perspective to a form of slavery. Secondly, Noyes maintain, that care for one’s family because the ruling passion of a person’s life. That the primary concern in a nuclear family is providing necessities and makes sharing impossible. It creates an unhealthy dependence partners and unhealthy concentration on children. All of the pressures of nuclear family life left little time for God.[133] Thirdly, marriage chains a couple together for life, which according to Noyes is unnatural and undesirable. Fourthly, marriage proves secrete adultery; ties together unsuited natures, keeps matched nature apart, gives sexual appetite only scanty feedings, and condemns adolescents, who are ready for sexual intercourse but too young for marriage, to a period of unhealthy waiting and leads to masturbation and other perversions. Lastly, marriage is a barrier to instituting a system of scientific breeding (see Stirpiculture discussed below), and therefore makes impossible needed steps toward the improvement of the human race. Overall, marriage sets mankind against one another in competitiveness and exclusive ownership.[134]
Noyes’s rejection of marriage was founded in the Scriptures.[135] According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus clearly taught that there would be no marriage in the kingdom of heaven. When the Sadducees attempted to trick Jesus by asking to which of her many husbands a hapless bride would be married, Jesus responded that in heaven there would be no giving or taking in marriage. Jesus, also, commanded that Christians should love one another. Noyes claims that the marriage goes against the commandment for Christians to love one another.[136] Just as 19th century America had taken up the long overdue battle against slavery, the Oneida community saw themselves as Crusaders against marriage. The Community did not suggest that the new course of loved developed at Oneida was open to everyone. Only those that overcame selfishness and entered into a state of perfection were fit to attempt the new path of love. For the majority of the American population, the law of marriage was still necessary. The law of marriage was instituted by God after the fall of men from Grace and it should not be aside by anyone until he or she was living in the state of grace.
Noyes did not implement his plan for marital reorganization until he set up an adequate value foundation (see theological principals sited above) and organizational backing so that he could be relatively confident of success.[137] In May of 1946, Noyes broke, for the first time, from conventional marriage patterns to those that he considered to belong to the heavenly state. Noyes obtained the consent of his wife (Harriett), Mary Cragin, and George Cragin to enter into a complex marriage. Interestingly, Noyes later wrote that Mary Cragin had a “spirit exceedingly intoxicating – one that will make a man crazy.”[138]
Complex Marriage was the name given to the social system at the Oneida Community; it was an attempt to replace marriage by a system which was consonant with the highest of Christian ideas about love. All of the members in the community were to consider themselves married to one another, joined by a bond that was as solemn and as permanent as that of any marriage.
Free love with us does not mean freedom to love today and leave tomorrow.... The tie that binds us together is as permanent and sacred, to say the least, as that of marriage, for it is our religion.... We are not free lovers in any sense that makes love less binding or responsible that it is in marriage.
Circular, 14 May 1866
All members of the community pledged themselves to love and care for one another. Each member was to love every other member – there was to be no place for exclusiveness, cliques, or animosity. Children were to be thought of as the offspring, not of one couple, but of the whole Community.[139] Although, each member was married to every other member, guidelines were developed to restrain influences of selfishness. The need for guidance in matters in the heart applied to all members, but especially to the younger and newer members. The responsibility of enforcing the guidelines fell to the elder members. One of their most important chores was to root out romantic love and to wean members from their false attachments and their improper love. In the Oneida community the young did not have the wisdom to take complete responsibility for their matters of the heart.[140] At Oneida, love was not to be left to the impulses of the young and immature.
Girls joined the adult community around the age of puberty, shortly after their first menses. Noyes typically initiated each virgin into sexual intercourse. The young women (ages 12-25) had sexual relations exclusively with much older community males who had learned the art of Male Continence. Additionally, women demonstrated their understanding of community spirit through sexual relationships with the older male members. Boys joined the adult community around the age of twelve, as well. From the ages of twelve to twenty-five the young men were permitted only sexual relationships with postmenopausal women in order to master Male Continence.[141] The sexual relationships between the youth and the elders were highly practical; protecting against both births and passions.
Brotherly love was the most important type of love at Oneida, following a member’s love for God. Any love or friendship that took away from a person’s love for the general community was regarded as a weakening influence of the spirit and health of the whole community.[142] However, this did not mean that one could not have a special relationship with another community member; equality of love among all members was not insisted upon. A special or intense relationship was laudable as long as the lovers or friends remained open to the rest of the community. Noyes proudly pointed out that Mr. L and Mrs. L, a couple in the community, was the most sweetly united and affectionate of the community, but at the same time they were independent of one another and perfectly free from exclusiveness and jealousy. No man in the community feared being an intruder in loving Mrs. L because Mr. L was happy about all of her experiences. A person that did not have a special relationship with anyone was to attribute the fault to themselves and their lack of attracting spirituality. The only recourse open was to work on himself or herself in terms of achieving a perfect union with Christ which is the only true source of attractiveness.[143] Married couples that entered the community, were not asked to renounce their marriage, they only agreed to accept the rest of the community into their lives.[144] A relationship that excluded part the community was described as sticky and completely condemned. Friends, families, or lovers that developed a sticky relationship could be sent to different branches of the community to correct the prohibited behavior.[145]

Choosing a lover at Onieda involved two principals: 1) No one would ever be forced to take a lover and 2) a person selecting a lover must base his or her selection on spirituality, not outward appearance.[146] The first principal meant that no one would ever be required to sleep with someone they did not find attractive. However, each community member has a duty to remain open to others at the same time. A member that failed to give others a chance, who arbitrarily armored himself against others, would be accused of unfaithfulness to his obligations to the community.[147] The second principal of selecting lovers based on spirituality created categorizations of pairing defined as horizontal fellowship, ascending fellowship, or descending fellowship.[148] Horizontal fellowship meant that the two partners in the relationship had achieved approximately the same spiritual development. The community believed that these types of friendships contributed little towards improvement and, in fact, tended towards degradation. The relationships comprised of one party with a more advance faith permitted spiritual inspiration and opportunity for growth for the less spiritually experienced party (respectively descending and ascending and fellowship).[149] There was a cost to the partner with more spirit because the experience brought the loss of resources by draining the person of strength. It was important to make sure that one didn’t drive themselves into spiritual bankruptcy under the banner of altruism. A person was always to maintain a balance of ascending fellowship over descending fellowship.[150] The ascending/descending fellowships applied to friendships and relationships outside the community walls. The Oneida community preached that relationship with outsiders, including family, was not advisable because it would drain the member of his or her spiritual strengths.[151]
Natural tendencies followed from the requirement that the spiritually wise must sleep with the less experienced: cross-generational love. The soulful individuals tended to be the elder community members, while the more immature spirits belonged to the younger community members. Therefore, the ascending/descending fellowship encouraged relationships that crossed over generation gaps; encouraging the young men to mingle and associate with older women as it encouraged young women to mingle and associate with older men. Activities that could be shared by both the old and young alike were most favored.[152] The fist sexual experience of a young adolescent girl and boy typically involved significantly older partners:
It is regarded as better for the young of both sexes to associate in love with persons older than themselves and if possible with those who are spiritual and have been some time in the school of self control, and who are thus able to make love safe and edifying. This is only another form of the popular principal of contrasts. It is well understood by physiologists that it is undesirable for persons of similar character and temperaments to mate together. Communists have discovered that it is no desirable for two inexperienced and unspiritual person to rush into fellowship with each other; that it is far better for both to associate with persons of mature character and sound sense.
Circular, 14 January 1867
The elders in the Oneida community believed if the young were left to their own devices, they would inevitably and innocently be come wrapped up in the passions of romantic love. Further, it was reasoned that a young woman and man’s first sexual experience should be with an experience partner to ensure that sexual encounter was in its most noble form. Sex with an experienced partner was educating and in theory spared much pain and suffering for novices.[153]
A man at the Oneida Community was to propose a sexual liaison to a woman through a third party. The third party transmitting the request was generally a woman. Noyes, claimed that the third party go between allowed a woman to refuse a request with less embarrassment and pressure. [154] However, although pressure and embarrassment might have been decreased; the true motivation behind the third party requirement was to bring the intimacies of the community members out to the open for inspection and control. A third party could bring to the attention of Noyes and his central committee any proposed lovers that was not found suitable.[155]
Although, the Oneida community created a third person request process to bring the pairing of members out to the open, generally the community believed sex to be a private matter. The subject of sex was in fact taboo at the Community.[156] Public displays of affections, vulgarity of any kind, sexual discussions or innuendoes, and immodest behavior were all forbidden.[157] Only one man in the history of the Community went against these stated rules. William Mills discussed sexual matters openly and asked others about their amours. The female community members would have nothing to do with the vulgar man. Soon, Mills was asked to leave, but he refused. This was the first and only time that a member refused a request to leave. After several discussions, the central community members decided to remove him by force.[158] According to Robert Park: “Mills found himself, one winter night, suddenly, and unceremoniously, and horizontally propelled through an open window, and shot-harmlessly but ignominiously- into the depths of a snowdrift. It was the first and only forcible expulsion in the history of the community.”[159]
The original procedure regarding a sexual liaison was for the man to go to the woman’s room and remain all night.[160] Evidently, the women complained that the practice was too tiring and Noyes saw to it that the men would stay for an hour or two and then return to their own room.[161] The short rendezvous remained the procedure for for the rest of the Community’s existence.

According to Noyes, at the time of the Oneida Community, a woman had no more freedom than a slave. A woman was a prisoner of marriage and expected to submit to the sexual demands of her husband. She was condemned to a life of drudgery without opportunity.[162] A truly profound observation by Noyes was that the health of women was often destroyed by repeated child-birthing. At Oneida, women were to be free: free from possessive men, free from compulsory sex, free from forced child-bearing.[163] At the Oneida Community, women were to be respected as co-workers of men; men and women were to work side by side. Men at the Oneida Community challenged gender roles by washing dishes, cooking, rearing children, knitting, and sewing. Community policy urged women to keep indoor work to a minimum and to join the men in at the workbench or in the yard. Women were not only expected to be present along side the men at work, but also to be present at all social gatherings.[164] It was understood that every activity was more fun and beneficial with both sexes involved. Lastly, the community also advocated that women belonged at the side of men in terms of intellectual studies. Noyes believed women had more of an aptitude for education than men and once given the opportunity to learn would surpass the male in terms of learning.[165] In the Oneida community a woman’s primary responsibility was no longer her husband or her child, but God. As well, man’s primary responsibility was to God.[166] In effect, both men and women shared a common personal and religious commitment that radically undercut social restrictions.
The work at Oneida can be classified into five categories. First, traditional women’s work including kitchen duties, housekeeping, laundry, sewing and mending, nursing, early childhood care, and teaching. In these areas of work women dominated as both workers and supervisors. Within in the light manufacturing and community support activities, such as: fruit canning and packing, silk-spooling, traveling bag manufacture, print shop, bookkeeping, and phonography, the women predominated as workers and were supervised by both men and women. Industry, the third classification, consisted of the animal-trap business and machine shop, and various departments of specialization including dairy work, dentistry, transportation, and gardening. In these economic activities, men predominated as both workers and supervisors, but a few women worked these areas too. Heavy farm work, carpentry, saw milling, lumbering, sales work and peddling were performed by men or the community or hired labors, only. The fact that women did not farm, except during crisis periods, was not a sexual slight. The men didn’t want to do farm work and eventually the Community hired enough outside workers to all the onerous labor. The last categorization of work, ideological administration was controlled by John H. Noyes. It appears that the women at the Oneida community gravitated toward traditional female occupations, but no occupation was formally closed off.[167]
However, it can be argued that women at Oneida were never really intended to be considered the equals of men. As cited above women were not permitted to partake in the decision making of the community. Further, girls were forced to end their formal educations by twelve years of age, while formal education programs existed for boys between the ages of fourteen to twenty-six years old.[168] In reality, Oneida women lived under a male dominated rule while spending a majority of their day completing house hold duties; much like any typical woman in America.
Although the community supposedly advocated equality for women at work, play, and schooling, Noyes made it clear that men would always be superior to women fundamentally; he constantly discussed his expectation that women play a supportive role toward men.[169] Although, women deserved freedom, dignity, and responsibility; men were the inspirers of women and would always remain so. The ideal woman at Oneida, Charlotte Noyes Miller (Noyes’s sister) was described as a true woman because “there was not a suspicion of strong mindedness” about her. Ms. Miller “gave man his true place as head of woman, and felt no suppression or infringement from his superiority.”[170] The Oneida community refused to support the woman’s movement that gained popularity in America during the mid-nineteenth century. The community claimed to oppose the movement because it pitted men against women, which was contrary to the brotherly loved required between all members as the setting of the sexes against one another is contrary to a heavenly existence.[171]
Interestingly, women in the Oneida community wore bloomer-type outfits and cut their hair short.[172] A theory behind the clothing style was that it was instituted to outwardly demonstrate the equality of men and women. This bloomer-type clothing allowed women to work at any type of work offered at the community, including work typically considered male.[173] However, it can also be argued that the dress code was institute to “crucify the dress spirit.”[174]

Arguably, Male Continence (a method of birth control) is the single necessary development that allowed the Oneida community to exist and survive for over thirty years. Due to the institution of Complex Marriage in the community the children born in the community would be unsure of their paternity without a reliable birth control method. Noyes claimed to have developed Male Continence: the practice of sexual intercourse where the man does not ejaculate and the woman avoids pregnancy.[175]
According to Noyes the purpose of an orgasm was to impregnate a woman and the act of love was for the mutual joy of the two parties.[176] Noyes advocated that the two types of sex could be separated and controlled through Male Continence. Noyes, experimented with the technique in 1844, and in 1848 published a paper on it. Noyes argued that the practice of Male Continence vastly increased the pleasure and benefit of sex to both males and females.[177] The male’s ability to control his ejaculations allowed for the community to protect against unwanted children and to determine paternity of the children. It is arguable, that the community would not have lasted for thirty years, if unwanted pregnancies were not avoidable or if paternity could not be identified.
Stirpticulture was reproduction based on the theory that spiritual traits could be coupled and passed onto children through reproduction. Noyes believed that his spiritual “genes” were the strongest and therefore it was important that traits were passed onto the next generation. [178] Further, Noyes intended for stirpticulture experiment to strength and revitalize the community; it was a protection against complacency and stagnation.[179] In the end, the stiprticulture epoch tore the community apart more than holding it together. Community members during Stirpticulture were allowed to have children, subject to the approval of a stirpticulture committee; Noyes initially headed the committee. Most participants selected their own mates and applied as couples, only about twenty-five percent of the stirpticulture unions were suggested by the committee. Forty-eight children were born during the scripture period at Oneida, nine of which were sired by Noyes himself.[180] As the children grew up, no noticeable spiritual superiority was detected.[181] .

193 children spent all or some significant portion of their childhood at the Oneida Community.[182] Children born in the Oneida community only stayed with there mothers until they could walk. Children in the community were not brought up by their parents, but by a “department” called the Children’s House.[183] The men and women chosen to run the Children’s House were picked specifically for their ability to mold the children to community behavior and ideology. The Children’s house was a combination of nursery and school divided into three departments: a nursery in which the children stayed till they were four; a kindergarten, and the larger "South Room." [184] Mothers were taught to fight philoprogenitiveness and informed that it was against the communal rules to have a special relationship with their children. According to Mary E. Cragin, Noyes’s favored lover, the excessive love of children prevented women from loving God wholeheartedly.[185] Both women and their children suffered for lack of a relationship and ironically both suffered when a relationship was built. If “stickiness” developed between a mother and her child they were often punished by not being allowed to have contact for weeks at a time. A special mother and child relationship that continued to grow after repeated castigations were split and forced to live at seperate branches of the Oneida community. Female children appeared to suffer more than male children by the forced distance between themselves and their mothers.[186] The only special privileges permitted between a mother and a child were short visits (once or twice a week) and a mother’s obligation to care for her sick child.[187] No reference to paternal philoprogenitivenss can be found in the Community literature. In general, each adult male and female member of the Community was to be a mother and father to all the children (see above).
In these formative years, the children were indoctrinated with the idea that Community surrounding them was a family.[188] Due to the lack of a nuclear family, the children developed a sense of solidarity in their own immediate generation; like a class within a school.[189] Female and male children attended school together until the age of twelve. The children were graded according to age: toddlers, preschoolers, and primary school. The primary school children (ages six to twelve) attended school in the morning; the children studied reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, science, obedience, manners, and prayer. The afternoon was set aside for work, outdoor play, and regular children’s religious meetings. The work performed in the afternoon by the children was considered an integral part of their education. The children pared and sorted apples, stored weights, and made chains to attach to steel traps. At the religious meetings the children learned about God and how he was always watching over them. The children, also, received criticisms from their elders on their behavior and attitudes. Occasionally, the children administered criticisms to each other.[190] At Oneida, childhood appeared to have been highly structured but not oppressive. The children were not pampered or romanticized; however, they were cherished. The children were the future of the Community.[191]

IV. Conclusion
. “The community was never in our minds, an experiment, we believed we were living under a system which the whole world would sooner or later adopt.”
Alice Ackley, Oneida Community Member
Both the children and the original members failed to realize the continued success of the Oneida Community. However, the community did not fail in blazing a new way of life that spanned almost half a decade and will most likely never be forgot.
V. Personal Thoughts
The Oneida community seemed most similar to the Cheyenne Community of the Studies regarding Legal Systems Very Different Than Our Own. The most striking comparison is the impression that both communities are understood to have excess resources. The Oneida communal system would not have lasted for such a significant period of time had assets of the community not covered more than the basic needs of the members. The Cheyenne Indians demonstrated their overstock of commodities by punishing individuals by destroying their property and then replacing the destroyed property with their own articles. If horses, tents, and bows were scare on the plains the social pattern of destroy property would not have developed. The Cheyenne Indians would have been more likely to confiscate the property than destroy it if a scarcity was an issue.
Further, Cheyenne literature indicates the sexual practice of the community was not conservative. A single and life long marriage was not insisted upon for the duration of life. Men were permitted multiple wives and divorce was also an option. Male Cheyenne Indians often took the first wife’s sister as a second wife. Further, a story in The Cheyenne Way[192] indicates that common knowledge that wife become pregnant by a man other than her husband would not necessarily mean the end of the marital relationship or that the husband won’t help bring up the child. The picture presented describes Cheyenne marriage as flexible. By no means are the marriage cultures of the two communities identical, but they do have similarities.
Lastly, both the Cheyenne community and the Oneida community were spiritual. A version of the Christian God was at the foundation of the Oneida community. And supernatural powers influenced the lives of the Cheyenne.

In the end, regardless of the community origins of a person, people all over the world a fundamentally similar. Typically people want to be happy, safe, loved, and better than person standing next to them. :

[1] Robertson, Constance Noyes, Oneida Community: An Autobiography, 1851- 1876,
pg.2, Syracuse University Press, (1970).
[2] Noyes, Pierrepont, My Father’s House: An Oneida Boyhood, pg. 4, (Peter Smith,
1988), (1937).
[3] Robertson, supra, at 2.
[4] Noyes, supra, at 4.
[5] Roberston, supra, at 3
[6] Id. at 4
[7] Id. at 4 – 5
[8] Id at 5.
[9] Christensen, Michael J., Theosis and Santification: John Wesley’s Reformation of a
Patristic Doctrine, Wesley Center for Applied Theology,, (lasted
visited on April 2, 2006.)
[10] Robertson, supra at 5.
[11] Id. at 5.
[12] Id. at 6.
[13] McClymond, Michael J., John Humphrey Noyes, the Oneida Community and Male
Continence, Religions in the United States in Practice, Vol. 1, pg. 219, (ed. Mc
Dannell, Colleen), Princeton University Press, (2001).
[14] Id. at 221.
[15] Id. at 220.
[16] Roberton, supra, at 10.
[17] Id. at 10.
[18] McClymond, supra, at 220.
[19] Id at 223.
[20] Kinsley, Jessie Catherine, A Lasting Spring, (ed. Rich, Jane Kinsley), pg. 44,
Syracuse University Press, (1983).
[21] Kinsley, supra, at 44.
[22] Foster, Lawrence, Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida
Community, and the Mormons, pg. 115, Syracuse University Press, (1991).
[23] Id, at 115
[24] Foster, Lawrence, Religion and Sexuality: Three American Communal Experiments of the Nineteenth
Century, pg. 120, Oxford University press, (1981).
[25] Foster, Women, Family, and Utopia, supra, at 117
[26] Id., at 117.
[27] Robertson, supra at 25.
[28] Id. at 25-26.
[29] Kinsley, supra at 72.
[30] Noyes, supra, at 310.
[31] About Oneida, Oneida, Ltd.: a proud tradition since 1880,,
(last visited on April 3, 2006).
[32] Kinsley, supra, at 59.
[33] Foster, Religion and Sexuality, supra, at 117.
[34] Id. at 117.
[35] Id. at 117
[36] Kephart, William M., Extraordinary Groups: The Sociology of Unconventional Life-Styles, pg. 59, St.
Martin’s Press, (1976).
[37] Id. at 60.
[38] Id. at 57.
[39] Kephart, supra, at 77.
[40] Kephart, Extraordinary Groups, supra, at 68.
[41] Id. at 58-59.
[42] Id. at 59.
[43] Id. at 78.
[44] Kinsley, supra. at 82.
[45] Id. at 83.
[46] McClymond, supra, at 220.
[47] Foster, Religion and Sexuality, supra, at 84.
[48] Id. 84-85.
[49] Id. at 85.
[50] Id. at 85.
[51] Id. at 85.
[52] DeMaria, Richard, Communal Love at Oneida: A Perfectionist Vision of Authority, Property, and
Sexual Order, The Edwin Mellen Press, pg. 52 (1978).
[53] Id. at 57
[54] Id. at 59
[55] Id. at 60
[56] Id. at 60-61
[57] Id. at 62.
[58] Id. at 62.
[59] Id. at 63-64.
[60] Id. at 64.
[61] Id. at 65.
[62] Klee-Hartzell, Family Love, True Womanliness, Motherhood, and the Socialization of Girls in the
Oneida Communiyt, found in Women in Spiritual and Communitarian Societies in the United
States 1848-1880, pg. 182, Syracuse University Press, pg. 182, (1993).
[63] Id. at 182.
[64] Foster, Women, Family, and Utopia, supra, at 115.
[65] Klee-Harzell, supra, at 182.
[66] Id. at 182.
[67] Id. at 183.
[68] Id. at 183.
[69] Id. at 183.
[70] Id. at 183.
[71] Kephart, supra, at 69.
[72] Id. at 61.
[73] Id. at 61.
[74] Id. at 61-62.
[75] Id. at 62.
[76] Id. at 66.
[77] Id. at 66.
[78] Id. at 66.
[79] Id. at 66.
[80] Kephart, supra, at 66.
[81] Id. at 66.
[82] Id. at 67.
[83] Id. at 67.
[84] Id. at 67.
[85] Id. at 67.
[86] Id. at 67-68.
[87] Id.a t 68.
[88] Robertson, supra, at 4.
[89] Kinsley, supra, at 29.
[90] Id. at 30.
[91] Noyes, John Humphrey, Mutual Criticism, Syracuse University Press, pg. 15, (1975).
[92] Kephart, supra, at 71.
[93] Noyes, Mutual Criticism, supra,. at 14.
[94] Id. at 14.
[95] Id. at 29-30.
[96] Id. at 18.
[97] Id. at 18
[98] Id. at 18.
[99] Id. at 31-32.
[100] Kephart, supra, at 69.
[101] Id. at 69.
[102] Id. at 69.
[103] Id. at 69.
[104] Id. at 69.
[105] Id., at 69.
[106] Id. at 69.
[107] Id. at 72.
[108] Id. at 71 -72.
[109] Id. at 72.
[110] Id. at 73.
[111] Id. at 73-74.
[112] Id. at 74.
[113] Id. at 74.
[114] Id. at 74.
[115] Id. at 75.
[116] Id. at 75.
[117] Id. at 75.
[118] Foster, Lawrence, Religion and Sexuality: Three American Communal Experiments of
the Nineteenth Century, pg 74, Oxford University Press, (1981).
[119] DeMaria, supra, at 106.
[120] Id. at 108.
[121] Id. at 52.
[122] Id. at 55.
[123] Id. at 130
[124] Id. at 130
[125] Id. at 131
[126] Id. at 131
[127] Id. at 132
[128] Id. at 133
[129] Id. at 140.
[130] Id. at 140
[131] Id at 140.
[132] Id. at 60-61
[133] Foster, Religion and Sexuality, supra at 92.
[134] DeMaria, supra, at
[135] Id. at 111.
[136] Id. at 111.
[137] Foster, Religion and Sexuality, supra, at 88.
[138] McClymond, supra, at 220
[139] Id. at 130.
[140] Id. at 175.
[141] Klee-Hartzell, supra, at 197.
[142] DeMaria, supra, at 180.
[143] Id. at 181 – 182.
[144] Id. at 157.
[145] Kinsley, supra, at 15.
[146] DeMaria, supra, at 141.
[147] Id. at 141.
[148] Id. at 145.
[149] Id. at 147- 148.
[150] Id. at 149.
[151] Id. at 150.
[152] Id. at 153.
[153] Id. at 155.
[154] Kephart, supra, at 81
[155] Id. at 82.
[156] Id. at 82.
[157] Id. at 82.
[158] Id. at 82.
[159] Id. at 82.
[160] Id. at 82.
[161] Id. at 82-83.
[162] DeMaria, supra, at 70.
[163] Kephart, supra, at 63-64..
[164] DeMaria, supra, at 67.
[165] Id. at 95-96.
[166] Foster, Women, Family, & Utopia, supra, at 96.
[167] Foster, Religion and Sexuality, supra. At 104.
[168] Klee-Hatzell, supra, at 191.
[169] Id. at 84.
[170] Id. at 184.
[171] DeMaria, supra, at 163.
[172] Kephart, supra, at 64.
[173] Foster, Women, Family, & Utopoa, supra, at 91
[174] Foster, Women, Family, & Utopia, supra, at 92.
[175] McClymond, supra, at 221.
[176] DeMaria, supra, at 96.
[177] Id. at 97
[178] Id. at 192.
[179] Id. at 119.
[180] McClymond, supra, at 223.
[181] Noyes, Boyhood, supra, at 23.
[182] Klee-Hartzell, supra, at 190.
[183] Noyes, Boyhood, supra, at 41.
[184] Kephart, supra, at 92.
[185] Klee-Hartzell, supra, at 185.
[186] Klee-Hartzell, supra, at 188.
[187] Id. at 187-190.
[188] Kephart, supra, at 91-92.
[189] Id. at 92.
[190] Klee-Hartzell, supra. at 191.
[191] Id. at 199.
[192] Llewellyn, K.N. and Hoebel, E.A., The Cheyenne Way: Conflict and Case Law in Primitive
Jurisprudence, University of Oklahoma Press, (2002).