Noyes, John Humphrey


Noyes, John Humphrey
born Sept. 3, 1811, Brattleboro, Vt., U.S.
died April 13, 1886, Niagara Falls, Ont., Can.

U.S. social reformer.

While studying for the ministry at Yale, Noyes declared his belief in "perfectionism," announcing that he had achieved a state of sinlessness. Because his views were in direct opposition to the prevailing Calvinism, he was forced to leave Yale. In 1836 he organized a community of "Bible communists" in Putney, Vt., where he advocated free love and "complex" marriage as opposed to "simple," or monogamous, marriage. Arrested for adultery in 1846, he fled to Oneida, N.Y., where he established the Oneida Community, which he led until 1879, when he fled to Canada to avoid legal action. He wrote several books on perfectionism and a history of U.S. utopian communities.

* * *

▪ American religious leader
born Sept. 3, 1811, Brattleboro, Vt., U.S.
died April 13, 1886, Niagara Falls, Ont., Can.

      founder of the Oneida Community, the most successful of the utopian socialist communities in the United States.

      The son of a well-to-do New England businessman, Noyes graduated from Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.) in 1830 and seemed bound for a legal career. But, after one year of studying law, he was swept up in the religious revival of the evangelist Charles Finney and decided to become a minister. He enrolled first at the Andover (Mass.) Theological Seminary but later transferred to Yale University.

      It was there that Noyes first enunciated his belief in perfectionism, the idea that it is possible for an individual to become free of sin in this life through religious conversion and will power. Noyes declared himself free of sin and in a state of perfection. Because his views were in direct opposition to the prevailing Calvinist orthodoxy, he was refused a license to preach and forced to leave Yale. He then wandered around the Northeast, talking to other perfectionists and to social reformers.

      In 1836 he organized a group of “Bible Communists” in Putney, Vt. The following year he wrote his “Battleaxe Letter,” in which he advocated free love, but it was not until 1846 that the Putney community abandoned “simple” (monogamous) marriages in favour of Noyes's “complex” marriages.

      In complex marriages, all the women of the community were wives of all the men and all men of the community were husbands of all the women. Sexual relations were permissible as long as there was mutual agreement and as long as men practiced continence so as to preclude pregnancy. Childbearing was a community decision and was based on selective breeding.

      The Putney practices led to Noyes's arrest for adultery. He jumped bail and in 1848 established a new community at Oneida, N.Y. The Oneida Community (q.v.) lasted more than thirty years, evolving from a faltering agriculturally based economy to a highly successful industrial organization. Until 1879, when Noyes succumbed to outside pressure and declining popularity, Oneida did not waver from his principles. That year the community abandoned complex marriages, and in 1880 it reorganized itself as a joint-stock company specializing in the manufacture of silver flatware. Noyes, meanwhile, was forced to flee to Canada to avoid legal action.

      Eager to provide the outside world with candid and complete knowledge of his views, Noyes throughout his lifetime published several books of perfectionist doctrine: The Berean (1847), Bible Communism (1848), Male Continence (1848), Scientific Propagation (1873), and Home Talks (1875). He also wrote History of American Socialisms (1870), an investigation of utopian communities in the United States.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Noyes,John Humphrey — Noyes (noiz), John Humphrey. 1811 1886. American religious leader who founded (1848) an experimental community at Oneida, New York, based on his belief in perfectionism and communal living. * * * …   Universalium

  • Noyes, John Humphrey — (3 sep. 1811, Brattleboro, Vt., EE.UU.–13 abr. 1886, cataratas del Niágara, Ontario, Canadá). Reformador social estadounidense. Cuando estudiaba teología en Yale, Noyes manifestó su convicción acerca del perfeccionismo y anunció que había… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • NOYES, John Humphrey — (1811 1886)    religious and SOCIAL REFORMER who developed PERFECTIONIST and ADVENTIST views contrary to CALVINISM. Pronounced himself Sinless in 1834. Established two communes Putney, Vermont (1840 1848) and Oneida, New York (1848 1881) to… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • John Humphrey Noyes — John Humphrey Noyes. John Humphrey Noyes (3 de septiembre de 1811 13 de abril de 1886) fue un socialista utópico estadounidense, quien fundó la comunidad utópica Oneida en 1848.[1 …   Wikipedia Español

  • John Humphrey Noyes — (September 3, 1811 ndash; April 13, 1886) was an American utopian socialist. He founded the Oneida Community in 1848. He coined the term free love .LifeEarly activismNoyes was born in Brattleboro, Vermont was not even 21 before he started voicing …   Wikipedia

  • John Humphrey — may refer to:* John Humphrey (musician), member of the band Seether and former member of The Nixons * John Humphrey (bass player) * John Humphrey (footballer), English footballer * John Peters Humphrey, Canadian legal scholar, jurist, and human… …   Wikipedia

  • John Humphrey Noyes — Portrait de John Humphrey Noyes, vers 1850 John Humphrey Noyes (3 septembre 1811 – 13 avril 1886) est un socialiste utopique américain. Il a fondé la communauté d Oneida en 1848 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Humphrey — /hum free/, n. 1. (Duke of Gloucester) 1391 1447, English soldier and statesman (youngest son of Henry IV). 2. Doris, 1895 1958, U.S. dancer, choreographer, and teacher. 3. Hubert H(oratio), 1911 78, U.S. politician: vice president 1965 69. 4. a… …   Universalium

  • Humphrey — (as used in expressions) Bogart, Humphrey (DeForest) Gilbert, Sir Humphrey Humphrey, Doris Humphrey, Hubert H(oratio) Noyes, John Humphrey …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • john — /jon/, n. Slang. 1. a toilet or bathroom. 2. (sometimes cap.) a fellow; guy. 3. (sometimes cap.) a prostitute s customer. [generic use of the proper name] * * * I known as John Lackland born Dec. 24, 1167, Oxford, Eng. died Oct. 18/19, 1216,… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.