John Humphrey Noyes was a socialist reformer in Vermont in the midst of the 1830’s. John Noyes was described in childhood as a “rebel”. Both his parents had respectable public roles in Vermont, his father a senator, and his mother was a great-aunt of Rutherford Hayes, the 19th president. Many of Mr. Noyes’ critical views of society came from his experiences in life. John Noyes criticized Vermont communities, and the generally accepted “norm” of how communities and social relations were formed. John Noyes believed that complex marriages, and male continence. He criticized religion, and was stripped of preaching rights at Yale when he refused to follow the accepted teachings and preach his own ideas.

John Noyes took active steps in his crusade for his ideas. When he had returned from Yale, he began to create his community in Putney Vermont. At the center of his ideal community was the idea of complex marriages. There are many ideas as to my John Noyes pushed for them. The main two are:

a.) He believed that having a single wife was selfish, and against the teachings of the church, and his personal interpretations.

b.) There is a possibility that, as a result of his four stillborn children of his last five, and that the suffering that it brought was without a religious reason. He believed that personal continence would prevail over the desire of men, and help dismiss the suffering. John Noyes’ original community was abolished, and he was kicked out of Putney. He then traveled to upstate New York to create the Oneida community. Here John Noyes and his followers were allowed to peacefully settle and follow his preaching. The Oneida community was extremely self sufficient because of this. They wished to remain away from other groups, as to not be criticized. During the periods of depression in the economy, Oneida continued to produce large amounts of goods and for this reason John Noyes community was successful.

I think that John Noyes went to far in trying to change the view on religion, and marriage. I think he missed an important message when he was removed from Vermont, and would not realize that without him as their leader, the Oneida community would not happen. As it was, when John Noyes died, the Oneida community collapsed.

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