The United States has long been a place of religious experimentation, sectarianism, and utopianism, encouraged by the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One of the most unique and long-lasting utopian experiments was founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1844 based on the Christian concept of perfectionism: that it is possible to live a sin-free life.
Noyes was expelled from Yale University in 1834 after he declared himself to be free from sin and established his own Bible school in Putney, Vermont. By 1844, it solidified into a religious community.
“Complex marriage,” or communal marriage among members, was one tenet of this new community. Noyes was arrested for adultery in 1847.
His followers and he fled to Oneida, New York, where they again established their commune. They built the Mansion House in 1862, where they lived until 1881.