America's Communal Utopias (Shakers, Harmony, Brook Farm, more)From the Shakers to the Branch Davidians, America's communal utopians have captured the popular imagination. Seventeen original essays here demonstrate the relevance of such groups to the mainstream of American social, religious, and economic life. The contributors examine the beliefs and practices of the most prominent utopian communities founded before 1965, including the long-overlooked Catholic monastic communities and Jewish agricultural colonies. Also featured are the Ephrata Baptists, Moravians, Shakers, Harmonists, Hutterites, Inspirationists of Amana, Mormons, Owenites, Fourierists, Icarians, Janssonists, Theosophists, Cyrus Teed's Koreshans, and Father Divine's Peace Mission. Based on a new conceptual framework known as developmental communalism, the book examines these utopian movements throughout the course of their development--before, during, and after their communal period. Each chapter includes a brief chronology, giving basic information about the group discussed. An appendix presents the most complete list of American utopian communities ever published. The contributors are Jonathan G. Andelson, Karl J. R. Arndt, Pearl W. Bartelt, Priscilla J. Brewer, Donald F. Durnbaugh, Lawrence Foster, Carl J. Guarneri, Robert V. Hine, Gertrude E. Huntington, James E. Landing, Dean L. May, Lawrence J. McCrank, J. Gordon Melton, Donald E. Pitzer, Robert P. Sutton, Jon Wagner, and Robert S. Weisbrot.
America's Spiritual Utopias (Shakers, Oneida, more)There are some 20,000 utopian communities in present-day America. Most of them keep a low profile, welcoming new members without advertising for them. Nearly all are hidden from view -- in rural America, in city slums, behind monastery walls. A majority of them are motivated by religious faith and seek to approximate heaven on earth. Some are startlingly successful. Utopian communities share a belief in the essential goodness of human nature and the possibility of personal perfection. The glue that binds them is not coercion, but commitment. Most are radically egalitarian. Their members are persuaded that their individual interests coincide with the values of the group, which stands in the place of God. The earliest Christians embraced a communal life of mutual caring, prompting pagans of the time to marvel, See how they love one another. Contemporary spiritual communities in America enjoy the same motivation. For a disconnected society obsessed with unfettered freedom and acquisitiveness, they demonstrate the power of fellowship and sharing over individual isolation and narrow self-interest. These are their stories. From the outset, settlers freed from the cynicism of the Old World welcomed the opportunity that beckoned in the New. The Puritans conceived of Massachusetts as the biblical City on a Hill. The Quakers made Pennsylvania a Holy Experiment. Like the Israelites before them, the Mormons trekked through a desert to create an empire of the spirit. Even failed utopias offer lessons. The Shakers are remembered today for their furniture, tools, and songs, but in their time they attracted thousands to a devout life of simple abundance in community. It was only because they were celibate that their numbers decreased. By contrast, the Amish still thrive because their birth rate is three times the national average. Today there are 660 Amish congregations across 20 states -- 14,000 of the simple farmers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania alone. Most of the communes that flourished in the counter-culture of the 1960s and 70s failed for lack of resources and rules. But some, motivated by spirituality rather than anarchy, have become models of self-sustaining modern Edens. Here, Yount describes the history and place of several utopian communities in America, offering a glimpse into their lives, beliefs, and the ideas that sustain them.
Communal Utopias and the American Experience : Secular Communities, 1824-2000This important study begins with America's first secular utopia at New Harmony in 1824 and traces successive utopian experiments in the United States through the following centuries. For the first time, readers will come to realize that American communalism is not a disjointed, erratic, almost ephemeral part of our past, but has been an on-going, essential part of American history. We have a communal utopian motif that sets the history of the United States apart from any other nation. The utopian communal story is just one other dimension of the Puritan concept that America was a city upon a hill, a beacon light to all the world where the perfect society could be built and could flourish. After discussing New Harmony and other Owenite communities, the author examines nine Fourierist utopias that were built before the Civil War. Next, he analyzes the five Icarian colonies that, collectively, were the longest-lived, non-religious communal experiments in American history. Then, discussion moves to the seven Gilded Age socialist cooperatives, followed by the utopian communities created during President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. Finally, Sutton turns to the hippie colonies and intentional communities of the last half of the 20th century.
Fruitlands : The Alcott Family and Their Search for UtopiaThis is the first definitive account of Fruitlands, one of history's most unsuccessful--but most significant--utopian experiments. It was established in Massachusetts in 1843 by Bronson Alcott (whose ten-year-old daughter Louisa May, future author of Little Women, was among the members) and an Englishman called Charles Lane, under the watchful gaze of Emerson, Thoreau, and other New England intellectuals. Alcott and Lane developed their own version of the doctrine known as Transcendentalism, hoping to transform society and redeem the environment through a strict regime of veganism and celibacy. But physical suffering and emotional conflict--particularly between Lane and Alcott's wife, Abigail--made the community unsustainable. Drawing on the letters and diaries of those involved, Richard Francis explores the relationship between the complex philosophical beliefs held by Alcott, Lane, and their fellow idealists and their day-to-day lives. The result is a vivid and often very funny narrative of their travails, demonstrating the dilemmas and conflicts inherent to any utopian experiment and shedding light on a fascinating period of American history.
Historical Dictionary of the Shakers by Stephen J. Paterwic"Shakerism teaches God's immanence through the common life shared in Christ's mystical body." Like many religious seekers throughout the ages, they honor the revelation of God but cannot be bound up in an unchanging set of dogmas or creeds. Freeing themselves from domination by the state religion, Mother Ann Lee and her first followers in mid-18th-century England labored to encounter the godhead directly. They were blessed by spiritual gifts that showed them a way to live the heavenly life on Earth. The result of their efforts was the fashioning of a celibate communal life called the Christlife, wherein a person, after confessing all sin, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, can travel the path of regeneration into ever- increasing holiness. Pacifism, equality of the sexes, and withdrawal from the world are some of the ways the faith was put into practice. This second edition of Historical Dictionary of the Shakers contains a chronology, an introduction, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 300 cross-referenced entries on Shaker communities, industries, individual families, and important people. This book is an excellent resource for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the Shakers.
The Kentucky ShakersIn 1805, at the height of the period of early religious excitement in Kentucky, three members of the Shaker community in New Lebanon, New York, came to the Commonwealth of Kentucky to recruit converts. Soon there were little communities of Believers at Pleasant Hill in Mercer County and at South Union in Logan County. These settlements survived into the twentieth century as centers of worship and communal life; the buildings the Shakers erected here and many of their tools and artifacts remain to delight the eye today. But it is the life of the Shakers as well as the monuments they left that Julia Neal explores. Using the detailed journals and other records kept at both communities, she recounts the early struggles against poverty and persecution, the high hopes of the 1850s when the Shaker idea of communal life seemed to have borne fruit at last, and the hardship and violence of Civil War and Reconstruction days, from which the Kentucky Shakers were never to recover. This absorbing account of the Shakers at Pleasant Hill and South Union is, like so much else associated with the Shakers, simple, functional, and beautiful.
Maclure of New Harmony : Scientist, Progressive Educator, Radical PhilanthropistMaclure of New Harmony follows the twists and turns of William Maclure's intriguing life. A native Scotsman, Maclure (1763-1840) became a merchant, made a fortune, and retired in his early thirties. Then his life became interesting. Fascinated by the study of geology, Maclure did fieldwork throughout Europe before traveling to the United States, where he completed the first geological survey of his adopted nation and published a detailed, color geological map--one reason he is known as the Father of American Geology. Maclure's travels sharpened his convictions about social justice and led him to a life of social radicalism. He founded progressive schools to educate the children of the working classes and, in 1820, he joined forces with Robert Owen to found New Harmony--the utopian community in Indiana. Ever restless, Maclure later moved to Mexico, where he watched his hopes for the new republic founder.
The Ministers' War by Michael DoyleUnbridled passions threatened nineteenth-century America, a vulnerable young nation already feeling beset by foreigners, corruption, and disease. Purifying crusaders like Hamilton College philosophy professor and Presbyterian minister John W. Mears mobilized to fight every sin and carnal lure, from liquor to free love. In Upstate New York's famed Oneida Community, Mears encountered his stiffest challenge. Oneida's founder and patriarch, John Humphrey Noyes, oversaw a radical Christian commune where men and women sexually mingled through the practice of ""complex marriage."" While others struggled to dislodge the community that had evolved since 1848 into a successful business venture and congenial neighbor, it was Mears who, after years of trying, rallied New York's church and university leaders for a final, concerted anti-Oneida campaign. In The Ministers' War, Doyle traces the full story of Mears and the crusade against the Oneida Community. He explores the ways in which Mears's multipurpose zeal reflected the passions behind the nineteenth-century temperance movement, the fight against obscenity, and the public animus toward unconventional thought. As an author, political candidate, and controversialist, Mears was a prominent moralizer at a time when public morality seemed to be most at risk.
Oneida Utopia : A Community Searching for Human Happiness and ProsperityOneida Utopia is a fresh and holistic treatment of a long-standing social experiment born of revival fervor and communitarian enthusiasm. The Oneida Community of upstate New York was dedicated to living as one family and to the sharing of all property, work, and love. Anthony Wonderley is a sensitive guide to the things and settings of Oneida life from its basis in John H. Noyes's complicated theology, through experiments in free love and gender equality, to the moment when the commune transformed itself into an industrial enterprise based on the production of silverware. Rather than drawing a sharp boundary between spiritual concerns and worldly matters, Wonderley argues that commune and company together comprise a century-long narrative of economic success, innovative thinking, and abiding concern for the welfare of others. Oneida Utopia seamlessly combines the evidence of social life and intellectual endeavor with the testimony of built environment and material culture. Wonderley shares with readers his intimate knowledge of evidence from the Oneida Community: maps and photographs, quilts and furniture, domestic objects and industrial products, and the biggest artifact of all, their communal home. Wonderley also takes a novel approach to the thought of the commune's founder, examining individually and in context Noyes's reactions to interests and passions of the day, including revivalism, millennialism, utopianism, and spiritualism.
Paradise Now : The Story of American UtopianismFor readers of Jill Lepore, Joseph J. Ellis, and Tony Horwitz comes a lively, thought-provoking intellectual history of the golden age of American utopianism--and the bold, revolutionary, and eccentric visions for the future put forward by five of history's most influential utopian movements. In the wake of the Enlightenment and the onset of industrialism, a generation of dreamers took it upon themselves to confront the messiness and injustice of a rapidly changing world. To our eyes, the utopian communities that took root in America in the nineteenth century may seem ambitious to the point of delusion, but they attracted members willing to dedicate their lives to creating a new social order and to asking the bold question What should the future look like? In Paradise Now, Chris Jennings tells the story of five interrelated utopian movements, revealing their relevance both to their time and to our own. Here is Mother Ann Lee, the prophet of the Shakers, who grew up in newly industrialized Manchester, England--and would come to build a quiet but fierce religious tradition on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Even as the society she founded spread across the United States, the Welsh industrialist Robert Owen came to the Indiana frontier to build an egalitarian, rationalist utopia he called the New Moral World. A decade later, followers of the French visionary Charles Fourier blanketed America with colonies devoted to inaugurating a new millennium of pleasure and fraternity. Meanwhile, the French radical Étienne Cabet sailed to Texas with hopes of establishing a communist paradise dedicated to ideals that would be echoed in the next century. And in New York's Oneida Community, a brilliant Vermonter named John Humphrey Noyes set about creating a new society in which the human spirit could finally be perfected in the image of God. Over time, these movements fell apart, and the national mood that had inspired them was drowned out by the dream of westward expansion and the waking nightmare of the Civil War. Their most galvanizing ideas, however, lived on, and their audacity has influenced countless political movements since. Their stories remain an inspiration for everyone who seeks to build a better world, for all who ask, What should the future look like? Praise for Paradise Now "Uncommonly smart and beautifully written . . . a triumph of scholarship and narration: five stand-alone community studies and a coherent, often spellbinding history of the United States during its tumultuous first half-century . . . Although never less than evenhanded, and sometimes deliciously wry, Jennings writes with obvious affection for his subjects. To read Paradise Now is to be dazzled, humbled and occasionally flabbergasted by the amount of energy and talent sacrificed at utopia's altar."--The New York Times Book Review "Writing an impartial, respectful account of these philanthropies and follies is no small task, but Mr. Jennings largely pulls it off with insight and aplomb. Indulgently sympathetic to the utopian impulse in general, he tells a good story. His explanations of the various reformist credos are patient, thought-provoking and . . . entertaining."--The Wall Street Journal "As a tour guide, Jennings is thoughtful, engaging and witty in the right doses. . . . He makes the subject his own with fresh eyes and a crisp narrative, rich with detail. . . . In the end, Jennings writes, the communards' disregard for the world as it exists sealed their fate. But in revisiting their stories, he makes a compelling case that our present-day 'deficit of imagination' could be similarly fated."--San Francisco Chronicle
People Called ShakersFor 35 years, the author of this book has been a devoted student of the history, beliefs, and ways of The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, better known as the Shakers. Out of his extensive research into manuscripts and primary sources and his conversations with friends in present-day Shaker communities has come a warm, illuminating history, the most thorough ever written on these pious, humble people and the distinct impression they made on American life. The book opens with an introductory assessment of the Shaker contribution to the history of American social experimentation, as seen from the modern point of view. There follows the often amazing story of Ann Lee and the origins of the movement in eighteenth-century England, its emigration to New England, the early Shaker experiments in communism, and the expansion to the American West. The author then pauses to examine in detail the ideology behind the Shaker dedication to physical labor; Shaker industry and design, including a discussion of the spare, utilitarian folk art so popular today; the highly formalized mode of worship, with its lively songs and dances and its often violent emotionalism; strange manifestations during the revival periods of the 1830s and 40s; the rigid internal organization of the Shaker community and its original economic and sociological theories; Shaker relations with the outside world; and the decline of the sect after the Civil War. This edition is the first to include the author's valuable notes, as well as the original appendixes containing the complete text of the Millennial Laws, a statistical breakdown of all the Shaker communities, and a bibliography. This material is especially useful to students of American social and religious movements, but the author's reliance upon original manuscript material and contemporary illustrations lend this book an exciting immediacy that makes it a pleasure for all readers interested in fascinating people and unique ways of life. "An excellent history of one of the most interesting of American religious cults." -- Nation. "Satisfies the exacting standards of historical scholarship and promises at the same time to enlighten and hold the interest of the general reader." -- Saturday Review. "A substantial contribution to American history." -- The New York Times.
Robert Owen and His LegacyA radical thinker and humanitarian employer, Owen made a major contribution to nineteenth-century social movements including co-operatives, trade unions and workers' education. He was a pioneer of enlightened approaches to the education of children and an advocate of birth control.
Utopianism: a Very Short Introduction by Lyman Tower SargentThere are many debates about utopia - What constitutes a utopia? Are utopias benign or dangerous? Is the idea of utopianism essential to Christianity or heretical? What is the relationship between utopia and ideology?This Very Short Introduction explores these issues and examines utopianism and its history. Lyman Sargent discusses the role of utopianism in literature, and in the development of colonies and in immigration. The idea of utopia has become commonplace in social and political thought, both negativelyand positively. Some thinkers see a trajectory from utopia to totalitarianism with violence an inevitable part of the mix. Others see utopia directly connected to freedom and as a necessary element in the fight against totalitarianism. In Christianity utopia is labelled as both heretical and as afundamental part of Christian belief, and such debates are also central to such fields as architecture, town and city planning, and sociology among many othersSargent introduces and summarizes the debates over the utopia in literature, communal studies, social and political theory, and theology.