A Study of 3 Communities Living in Utopia: The Shakers, The Mormons and Oneida Society

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About this sample


Words: 761 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Words: 761|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

I believe the era of reform increased the extent of social and cultural freedoms by adding more religious and social diversity in communities which gave Americans more choices. In the following paragraphs I describe three utopian societies, Mormons, The Shakers, and the Oneida community. Starting Mormons’ trek and Joseph Smiths absolute authority over the group and its controversial practice of polygamy. Then the Shakers, who believe men and women were spiritually equal and their belief in “virgin purity”. Lastly the Oneidas society which yet another controversial practice of complex marriage where as any man can propose sexual relations with any women of his choosing if she accepts, and also its practice of eugenics where only selected couples were allowed to have children.

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The Mormons’ Trek was founded in the 1820’s by Joseph Smith, which he claimed to have been led by an angel to a set of golden plates with strange writing, which only he can interpret and he translated it into the book of Mormon. Joseph Smith gained absolute authority over his followers and he exercised as he pleased. They experimented with many social and cultural freedoms that made them different and angered people. The book also read that Mormons refuse to separate church from state and the most controversial would be their practice of polygamy, which gives men the right to have more than one wife, which contradicted traditional Christian teaching and morality. They were ran out of New York, Ohio, and Missouri before settling in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1839. Smith was arrested for inciting a riot and while in jail was killed. Another Mormon leader, Brigham Young, took 10,000 followers across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains to the Great Salt Lake in Utah, where they hoped to practice their religion in peace and continue on to their purpose to create a Kingdom of God on earth.

The Shakers being the most successful of the religious communities, which was a “refuge from the evils of this Sodom” as said by the founders of Zoar, in Ohio. The Shakers were founded by Mother Anne Lee in the late eighteenth century, she claimed that Christ had told her to emigrate with her followers to America. The first Shaker community was formed in 1787 in upstate New York. The Shakers believed that God had a “dual” personality, both male and female, therefore men and women were spiritually equal. A part of the shakers faith was “Virgin purity”, men and women lived separately and ate in communal dining rooms. They grew by attracting converts and adopting children from orphanages. They rejected the idea of individual property, but managed to be successful economically by selling vegetables and flower seeds, breed cattle, and crafting furniture. Their main purpose was to retreat from an outside world permeated by sin.

In 1848 in upstate New York, Oneida was founded by John Humphrey Noyes. In 1836, Noyes and his followers started a small community in Putney, Vermont. Noyes abandoned private property and traditional marriage. He taught that all members of the community formed a single holy family of equals. Also instead of traditional marriage they believed in complex marriage which allowed any man to propose sexual relations to any woman, who could accept or deny his request. They believed individual exclusive affections were a danger and destroyed the harmony of the society. Noyes was indicted for adultery and in 1848 moved his society to Oneida. It was a very dictatorial environment, to become a member strict guidelines must be followed and must show command of Noyes religious beliefs. Members also watched each other’s actions and criticized those violated regulations. In the 1860’s the practice of “eugenics” was practiced and selected men between 40-50 years of age were to reproduce with between 20-25 years old, in an effort to improve the human race. With their main goal to achieve moral perfection and complete “purity of heart”.

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If social and cultural freedoms diminished during these times, these communities would not have been able to successfully practice their beliefs. With an increase in social and religious diversity it gave people the opportunity to choose a group that best fitted their own ideals and opened the doors for many groups. Mormons continued to grow and are still around in today’s modern time. The Shakers being the most successful society for its time and being one of the first societies that had equality for men and women. Lastly the Oneida community that had some of the most untraditional practices but managed to very influential to the outside world.

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A Study Of 3 Communities Living In Utopia: The Shakers, The Mormons And Oneida Society. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
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