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The editor at first designed to make this book strictly a compilation of original documents. But after the work was complete he yielded to the advice of friends as well as the evident logic of the case, and decided to make use of the semi-narrative form of presentation. The chief advantages derived from this form are, that it makes possible a better balancing of the materials in accordance with historical value, and that it provides for the introduction of connecting links which are needed to indicate clearly the sequence of events. In one other respect the execution of the work has deviated from the original plan. The intention had been to present all documents precisely as written. But since many of the documents consisted of imperfect reports of extemporaneous talks, it was soon seen that some condensing and rearranging would be highly desirable. And in fact by his own explicit direction Noyes's writings and talks were constantly during his lifetime undergoing revision at the hands of his literary associates. The editor has, therefore, allowed himself considerable liberty as reviser. He has, of course, scrupulously avoided any alteration of the sense. His aim throughout in both these changes of plan has been to put the reader in possession of the essential thought or fact in the fewest possible words
and with the least possible obscuration from the literary medium.
April 25, 1922
In the center of New York State lies a region, rich in Indian names and legends, where to the south extends a succession of deep wooded valleys closed in the distance by the foothills of the Allegheny Plateau, and to the north the broad basin of Oneida Lake bordered on its farther side by the blue rim of the Adirondacks. Here in the latter part of the nineteenth century was the scene of a remarkable sociological experiment, the Oneida Community.
The Oneida Community was a product of the great religious revival which swept over America in the years 1830-1834. Its founder, John Humphrey Noyes, and nearly all of his original associates were converts of that revival. After beating against the confines of Calvinistic piety for several years the religious impulse of these earnest people burst forth at last in an attempt to attain salvation from sin in this world. The experience of the "Perfectionists," as they were called, gradually brought them to the conviction that salvation from sin, though possible under the conditions of ordinary society, must have for its full objective development a reconstructed society. They, therefore, in 1838 formed the nucleus of a Community at Putney, Vermont.
The purpose of this book is to recount the per-
sonal experiences which led to the formation of the Putney Community. A future book, it is hoped, after tracing the history of the Putney Community, will follow Noyes and his fellow-Perfectionists to their final home at Oneida, New York, and tell the story of their unique, daring, dramatic experiment in "Bible Communism."