In 1834, John Humphrey Noyes (Dartmouth class of 1830) went through a second conversion. He became convinced that he had discovered a "third state of the heart" as he termed it. In his Confession of a Religious Experience (Oneida Reserve, Leonard & Co., 1849), Noyes defined this as a state in which "all of the affections of the heart are given to God." He concluded that in this state there is no sin and that since he had attained that state, he himself was without sin and thus perfected. He further declared that Jesus Christ had already returned and that allowed others to attain the same perfected state.
This declaration was greeted with skepticism and derision and Noyes was expelled from Yale and had his ministerial license revoked. He returned to his native Vermont and began to establish what would become known as the Putney Community. During this period, Noyes refined and added to his doctrine of Perfectionism promoting male continence, complex marriage, and free love among other radical ideas.
He was arrested for adultery in 1846 and subsequently fled to another Perfectionist community in New York. The other members of the Putney Community followed and together they established the Oneida Community. The Oneida Community continued to evolve the ideals of Perfectionism including the practice of stirpiculture, a form of eugenics designed to breed a more enlightened individual. Special attachments between members of the opposite sex were forbidden and children were raised by the community as a whole - an interesting prequel to the "it takes a village" theme of today.
In 1879 Noyes fled to Canada after an arrest warrant for statutory rape was issued and remained there until his death in 1886. The Oneida Community dissolved the same year, though the name lived on in the world of commerce. The flatware company now known as Oneida Limited was initially founded based on the sale of the products produced by the Oneida Community.
Ask for Noyes' Alumni Folder and search the library catalog for books and pamphlets related to John Humphrey Noyes and the Perfectionist movement.