Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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NOYES, John Humphrey, religionist, born in Brattleborough, Vermont, 6 September, 1811; died in Niagara Falls, Canada, 13 April, 1886. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1830, and studied law, but subsequently took a theological course at Andover and Yale seminaries, and was licensed to preach in 1833. While a theological student he fell under the influence of revivalist preachers, and in 1834 experienced what he called a "second conversion," and announced himself a perfectionist. His license to preach was annulled, and he began to speak and teach on the subject of his new faith, his doctrine being that the existing forms of religion were all wrong, that God possessed a dual body--male and female--and that salvation from sin was a special phase of experience that had for its basis spiritual intercourse with this dual divinity, and was able, even in this life, to perfect its believers. Having founded a community, to whose members he gave the name of Perfectionists, he settled with them in Putnam county, Vermont, and for the first twelve years of his ministry confined his labors to them. But, having adopted some of the principles of Fourierism, and induced his followers to attempt the experiment of communal living, he was driven out of Putnam county by the force of public opinion, and in 1848 removed with his follower's to Oneida, Madison County, New York, and established there what has since been known as the Oneida community. He made many attempts to establish similar organizations, but only two prospered. The one at Oneida consisted in 1874 of 23g members, and that at Wallingford, Connecticut, of 40. They adopted what they called "complex marriage," maintained the equality of the sexes in social and business life, lived in a "unity house," and engaged in farming and manufactures, owning about $500,000 worth of property. A few years later' they were forced to abandon the institution of complex marriage, and their other customs fell into disuse. A few followers still survive (1888), but the community is without a leader and little esteemed in its own locality. Noyes edited the "Oneida Circular" in 1834-'40, in which he promulgated his views, and published "The Second Coming of Christ" (Wallingford, Connecticut, 1859); '" Salvation from Sin the End of Christian Faith" (1869); "History of American Socialism" (Philadelphia, 1870); and several expositions of the practices in his community.
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