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PUBLISHED BY ORDER OF THE ASSOCIATION.
LEONARD & COMPANY, PRINTERS,
THE FIRST ANNUAL REPORT of this Association presented a sketch of its History, Organization, Religious Principles, and Social Theory; to which the reader of this Report may refer. It is sufficient to repeat summarily, that the Oneida Association is a religious society or church, (having in fact assumed the name of 'The Free Church;') that it believes in salvation from sin, and other kindred doctrines of the school commonly called 'Modern Perfectionists,' which originated at New Haven, Conn., in 1834; that its social basis is Pentecostal community of all interests; that its organization was commenced in Putney, Vt., and that it was removed to Oneida in 1848. Its Post-office address is Oneida Castle, Oneida Co., N.Y. The present Report is intended to exhibit the last year's progress, and the present spiritual, financial and social condition of the body. We shall endeavor to give, so far as is possible in a brief, verbal document, a view of its whole organic operation, a broad life-sketch of the Oneida Community.
NUMBER AND CLASSIFICATION OF MEMBERS.
The whole number of persons connected with the Association at the commencement of the year 1849, (the time of its last Annual Report,) was eighty-seven. There have been added since that time, eighty-seven members. Eighty-two came in from abroad, and five by births in the Association.
Two children have died during the year, one aged eleven months., and the other nineteen months.
The following is a synopsis of the age, sex, and number of persons included in the Association at the present time:--
Number of married couples, 40, (40x2,) 80
Single adults, (reckoning all over the age of 15,) 32
Whole number of adults, (males 57, females 55,) 112
Youth between the ages of 10 and 15, - 13
Children under the age of 10 years, - 47 -
Whole number of members, - - - 172
4 SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
ENLARGEMENT AND IMPROVEMENT OF DOMAIN.
Since the last Annual Report, 68 acres of land have been purchased at a cost of $2,750. This, added to its former property, makes the whole present domain of the Association, 218 acres.
Considerable has been done during the year in the way of agricultural improvement. In addition to a large number of bearing fruit-trees which were originally on the domain, the Association have planted an orchard the last spring, with 621 young fruit-trees--the gift of GEORGE W. ROBINSON, of Baldwinsville, and HENRY THACKER, formerly of Owasco, now the Horticulturist of the Community. The following is a statement of the kinds and varieties comprised in this donation:--
80 Apple Trees,
621 Whole No.
|of 35 Varieties
A Nursery, also, containing 2300 Trees of different kinds, has been transferred by Mr. Thacker, to the lands of the Community.
The Association has erected during the last year a house for children, 24 feet by 43, and two stories high. Cost $800.
A building for store, printing office, &c., 34 feet by 44, two stories high, with a cellar under the whole. Cost $1200.
Also a wing to the mansion house, 16 feet by 45; and another 16 by 25 feet-both two stories high, and cost $1000.
A more particular description of these buildings will be found in subsequent sections of the Report.
The mansion house, (built principally during the first year of the Association,) is 60 feet long and 35 feet wide, three stories high, with an attic lighted at both ends, and from the cupola in the center. It is situated on an elevated plot of ground in the right angle formed by the intersection of two roads; one of which it fronts on the east, at a distance of six rods, and the other on the south at a distance of twenty-five rods. The space between the mansion and the southern road is naturally suitable for a garden and lawn, and is already planted with shrubbery and fruit-trees.
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 5
The basement story is divided into dining-room, kitchen and cellar; the second story into parlor, (20 feet by 35,) reception room, official and private rooms; the third story and attic are occupied for sleeping and private sitting-rooms.
On the west side of the mansion house is the wing built during the last year-45 feet long and 16 feet wide, two stories high, with an attic lighted at the end and sides. The first story is occupied as a wash and bake room, having large boilers attached for heating water--a baker's oven., 8 by 10 feet on the inside-cistern-well-water-sink, &C The second floor is used for sitting and sleeping rooms; attic, for boys' sleeping apartments.
Projecting south from this, is another wing, 25 by 18 feet, and two stories high. The first floor is used as a wood-house; the second for sleeping and sitting rooms.
Total cost of the mansion house, $3,000.
The children's house is situated 36 feet north of the mansion house. It is 43 by 24 feet, two stories high, with an attic. The children take their meals in the large dining-room at the mansion-house, so that no part of the children's house is used for kitchen or dining purposes. It is devoted exclusively to sitting and sleeping rooms. Cost $800.
These two buildings, with an ordinary farm-house one story and a half high, valued at $600, are all the buildings used as dwellings, and are found sufficient to accommodate the present number of forty families.
The total cost of these three houses is $4,400. Adding $600 for wells, fences,&c., the gross amount is $5,000. The total cost of the houses which would be necessary for these forty families in the ordinary state of isolation, at the low estimate of $500-each, would be $20,000. In this one item, then, of dwelling houses, there is a saving made by this Community of $15,000, or three-fourths of the ordinary expense. The amount thus released from useless investment, can be profitably employed in various branches of business and production.
It has been found by investigation that the expense of furnishing our dwellings is about in proportion to their cost. There is therefore an important and most obvious advantage secured by our social organization in the economy of household furniture. For instance, one large parlor is sufficient for the whole Association; and while this may be furnished on a scale of perfect comfort, and even luxury, it will still cost less than one-fourth of the ordinary expense of the forty parlors of as many separate families. The same is true of kitchen, dining-room, and other common apartments. Again; these forty families,
6 SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
living separate, would require at least forty stoves, and many single families would use two or three. At a fair estimate, the whole would not use less than sixty, and perhaps eighty. Whereas in this Association, twenty-three are all that are required in all the buildings used for dwelling houses, and several of these are used only in the evening. A constant fire is not kept in more than twenty: and even this amount of expense will be much reduced when we come to introduce furnaces and other improvements. This shows, first, a great saving in the expense of stoves; and second, a saving of about three-fourths in fire wood; which those who are in the habit of spending the whole of the winter season in preparing wood for the year, will know how to appreciate, as well as those who buy their fuel at the high prices of cities and large villages; and especially those who labor at day wages to furnish their families with the necessaries of life, under the grinding and oppressive machinery of the present organization of society.
BOARD AND CLOTHING.
It has cost the Association for board during the past year, 45 cts. per week for each individual, including the children.
The expenses for clothing have been $10,50 for each individual. This, any one who is at all familiar with the ordinary expenses of clothing in separate families, can see is much less than is usually paid.
The above we are satisfied is a fair estimate of what the expense for board and clothing will be from year to year.
In Association, where a spirit of love and accommodation rules, much saving and convenience in the article of clothing may be secured by exchanges. Individuals are not under the necessity of having a large quantity of extra clothing on hand, as on every needful occasion one can be supplied from the wardrobe of others. Thus a dozen outside garments, as overcoats, cloaks, &c., suitable for going abroad, are found sufficient to accommodate the whole Community. And this arrangement is not only economical, but it offers occasion for pleasant and kindly interchange, and avoids the accumulation of a large quantity of unfashionable garments. By this convenience of united interests we are also able to dispose of second-hand clothing to advantage, for the use of children, and those whose occupation exposes their clothing to the worst service.
The Association has a capital of sixty-two thousand dollars, after deducting three thousand six hundred dollars, which are due to the State for lands. This amount of capital, by the advantages derived from community of property and social organization, may be said to be, for all practical purposes, equal
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 7
to a capital of a hundred thousand dollars, in the business circumstances of the world. The facilities for its employment are increased, and the drawbacks on its productiveness greatly diminished; as will appear from the foregoing considerations, and those we shall hereafter present.
It will be noticed, that the time covered by the present Report is only the second year of the operations of the Association at Oneida. Thus it is but a short time since, upon our settlement here, we found the place bare, and destitute of every thing adapted to unitary life, except the soil, the natural elements, and an old Indian saw-mill. Every thing was to be created. The inward unity was first to be clothed in some outward body and form, before it could take hold of the material world in the way of direct and extensive production. The work of building and arranging has been a great one, involving, during the two years, a large outlay; but it has now been to a considerable extent accomplished. The result is seen in community dwellings, compact business arrangements, and offices, and convenient fixtures of various kinds. Another circumstance affecting our past productive income, is the fact; that with a large proportion of members the present year is their first and only experience in community life. Time is of course required in such cases to dissolve old habits, and for the individual to become thoroughly organized into the industrial body. The great internal change, which is gradually, but inevitably, wrought in every one's relation to labor here, will be noticed under the appropriate head.
Under these circumstances, it is true that the Association has not for the past year supported itself by its own production. That it has nearly preserved its capital, reckoning the improvements on the domain, the new buildings and fixtures, at a fair valuation, is a fact which gives us entire satisfaction with the past, and full confidence in the future. Nearly all the mechanical wants of the Association are supplied in a superior manner by our own workmen: and we see in the singular variety of talents and capacities which are being incipiently developed among us, the germs of future artistic operations and combinations of the most extensive kind.
From a candid review of our two years experience, we have no hesitation in affirming that the Association is established on a sure foundation, as to all material, as well as spiritual, intellectual and social interests. And the time is near if it has not already come when it will be throughout a self-supporting institution, independent of the funds of members who may hereafter be admitted. The Association has been obliged to defer the application of many friends who would have contributed to its financial strength,--in consequence, of its limited household arrangements and immature experience in organiza-
8 SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
tion. We expect that the difficulties which have prevented a more extensive Association; will within a reasonable time be removed.
Having erected a new building for the purpose, near the principal mansion, the Association opened a store, in November last, with a general assortment of goods, such as are usually kept in country stores; and have since been doing a small cash business, with a fair prospect of an increased trade in the coming spring. The principal object of the store, however, is to supply the wants of our own family.
The Association resorted to none of the ordinary methods of obtaining customers, but commenced on the ready-pay system, with one price only--closing the store at dark. If a firm adherence to these principles, with honesty and fair dealing, shall secure the confidence of the surrounding community, a profitable business may be expected.
The printing establishment was removed to its present location, over the store, in November last, where it now has completely pleasant and convenient accommodations. At the present time 750 copies of The Free Church Circular are printed semi-monthly, besides occasional tracts. The office also does a considerable amount of job printing-a branch of business which is increasing, and is likely to be of considerable profit and importance; there being no other printing office in the immediate vicinity.
The shoe shop, which is under the superintendence of MR. VAN VELZER, an experienced and elegant workman, is at present supplying the wants of the Association, and will soon be in a condition to do an extensive business.
MILLS AND MECHANICAL OPERATIONS.
The saw-mill and other machinery connected with it have been very serviceable to the Association, in preparing lumber for its buildings. A patent grist-mill, sufficient in most respects for the use of the establishment, was procured in June last, and attached to the machinery of the saw-mill.
It may be proper to state here, that preparations are now in progress for making a new and more extensive application of our water power than we have heretofore had. The old mill will be replaced the coming spring with a large new building, sufficient to include under one roof the saw-mill, a new and complete flouring-mill, and a large mechanic's shop, with the privilege of machinery. The contemplated improvement also includes a new and improved water-wheel.
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 9
The Association, in addition to the branches of business named, has worked its farm, permanently established the blacksmithing and wheelwright business, and has prosecuted to a limited extent the cabinet, harness, and other mechanical trades. We are at this time making arrangements to establish a tin manufactory, which will probably commence operation in April next.
That Labor has become attractive here, is a fixed fact of our experience.
As a body, we feel that we have nearly approached, if we have not fully attained, that state of free sportive labor described by Bushnell in his celebrated discourse on "Work and Play ;"-a state of attractive action which, if it is called labor, still has nothing in common with the repugnant, lifeless drudgery that is the necessary curse of isolation-a state which every body instinctively longs for, but which few believe can be actually realized in this world.
But here let us make the proper discrimination, and assign the intrinsic change which is renewing the whole department of our labor, to its true cause. While we find in the circumstance of association everything accessory and adapted to a state of attractive labor, yet this alone can never be the effective cause of lightening the burden to one human soul. No amount of science, and no collocation or interweaving of individual interests, by means of lateral organization however perfect, will make labor attractive, or remove one jot of its curse. We ascribe the result in the case of this Association, to a deeper cause. It springs from a vital, and not a scientific or local change. The same resurrection which raises us up into unity with God and with each other, also lifts us up from the plane of NECESSITY in regard to labor, to the plane of ATTRACTION.
The repugnance universally connected with labor in the world, is not repugnance to action, purely considered. That of itself is natural to man, wholly congenial to his constitution and taste. It is the goading demon of necessity which through unbelief imposes labor as the condition of 'getting a living,' that makes it revolting to the soul.
We have been enabled to rise above this feeling of necessity. Faith has extracted the gnawing evil from our hearts; and in the place of a persecuting destiny; we see over us a perfect, all-sufficient Father and God. We have discarded forever the idea, and forever deny the necessity of 'getting our own living.' That imperative torment passed away, when we found that we were not fatherless outcasts, but children of the great King. Here, in this discovery of a relationship to God, which secures us from want, lies the principal secret of our and of all attractive labor. A murky cloud of law and wrath is removed from our heavens. Action, disconnected from the
10 SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
groveling motives of necessity, relieved from the hauting spectre of poverty, and the deadly atheistical fear in regard to subsistence, becomes true action--free, spontaneous, God-Like. Labor thus emancipated from the degrading obligations of unbelief, is raised with us into the sphere of attraction , education, art. In one word, we have learned to 'take no thought for the morrow;" and put forward that 'hard saying' in Christ's Sermon on the' Mount as the true exponent of our position. Let the reader analyze the exhortations of this passage, and mark the antagonism which is shown between faith and careful necessity, and he will have the secret both of the toiling drudgery of the world, and of the free, unconscious action which belongs to the children of God:-"No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, 'Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment ? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. ARE YE NOT MUCH BETTER THAN THEY? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow, is cast into the oven, SHALL HE NOT MUCH MORE CLOTHE YOU, O YE OF LITTLE FAITH? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek;) FOR YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER KNOWETH THAT YE HAVE NEED OF ALL THESE THINGS. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Matt. 6: 24-34.
The principle then, of our positive regeneration of labor, as of our external community and every other good result, is grounded, back of all results, in our union with God. That one condition, makes all other conditions favorable to its external demonstration, possible. And we recognize in our social circumstances, our common interest, our vital organization, conditions which, though secondary, are still essential to the most effective and attractive industry. We will allude to some of the most obvious advantages that thus continually operate in our favor.
Many demands on individual time and labor are avoided. It will be readily seen that in separate families much time must necessarily be spent
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 11
by each man in doing business at the store, mechanics' shop, mill, post-office, &C &C., which in Association can be done by one man for all. It proceeds on the evident propriety of giving to every one that part which he is best fitted to perform, and relieving him from all unnecessary draw-backs on his efficiency. We are in a situation, from mutual confidence aud common interest, to take the fullest advantage of this principle. And the practical result is, that while all are supplied with congenial employment, all are relieved from the thousand petty cares and trifling collateral duties which in the aggregate make a tremendous burden on isolated life.
It is a common saying that 'there is a right time to do every thing;' and this maxim it is easy for us practically to observe. By combination of labor we are able to do every thing in the right time. For instance, the particular time has come when a field of grain or some agricultural crop is precisely ripe, and when it can best be secured. This operation, with our neighbors must at best extend over a lingering, indefinite time. With us, a signal is only to be given by our farmers, and the hour of maturity is the hour of execution. Ten acres of corn have thus been cut up and stooked by volunteers of the Community in half a day, and sport made of it. To draw this corn from the field, husk and store it, would be a long and tedious job for one or two; but the Association can accomplish it at the right time, and at the rate of six acres a day, with all the enthusiastic, sportive feeling of a game at ball.
This practice of doing work 'by storm,' or in what is more commonly called a 'bee,' in which the men, women and children engage, has been found very popular and effective. It may be employed in a great variety of operations, especially of out-door business, and always contributes to enliven and animate the most uninteresting'details of work. By such volunteering, en masse, the clearing up of a wild meadow or swamp, is done at a single stroke; and the occasion is always remembered as one of positive entertainment and luxury. In fact, wherever we can introduce this gregarious, chivalric principle, (as is seen in the case of city firemen,) the otherwise most odious demands of labor, become attractive invitations and opportunities for action.
To show, in addition to what we have already said, the effectiveness of employing this principle, and the amount of work done on some occasions, it may be mentioned that one time last fall when volunteers were called out for husking, 550 bushels of corn (in the ear) were gathered from the field, husked, sorted, and stored, the same day. On another day 400 bushels
12 SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
were secured in the same way. On one evening it was decided to build a line of picket-fence in a certain place, a distance of 37 rods, and to muster volunteers for the service. In the course of the following day, the posts were drawn from the woods, the post-holes dug, most of the rails and pickets sawed at the mill, the fence put up, and half of it painted; besides making a new road the same distance.
It is argued here at the North, and facts abundantly prove, that free-labor is more profitable than slave-labor, as well as more attractive. We fully believe, and expect to prove to the world, that the conditions of labor in our Society are as much superior to the hireling system of the North, in every particular, as that is acknowledged to be better than the slave-labor system of the South.
The cramping oppression that is brought upon labor by the slavish system of individualism and competition, falls heavily, and with blighting power, upon those who are dependent on their labor for subsistence. It is steadily and surely encroaching on the compensation of labor-reducing it in many cases even now to a point barely sufficient to support life. The growing discouragement and misery of this state of things is beginning even to alarm the world. To correct this evil-to free the laboring class from the effects of capital and competition-is the great problem that the world (or at least the reform part of it) are seeking to solve. We are bold to say that with us, that problem is work ed out. The members of our Association were of the usual classes-laborers; mechanics, farmers, and professional men; but neither in theory or practice do we recognize a 'laboring class.' That distinction is held with us as a 'relic of barbarism.'
The visible proceeds, the actual results that have been produced from our new relations to labor, stand and show for themselves. We regard them thus far as chiefly incidental, as the immature achievement of a transition state. We are as yet, but on the threshold of physical results. We have proved however, that in passing from law to grace, nothing has been lost that was valuable in the old system. Unbelief predicted looseness, unfaithfulness, imbecility, and general anarchy; but instead, the fruits have been faithfulness, efficiency, order, and an organization growing out of vital relations as much above the organization of the old world, as a builder is above the house he builds; or as a company of organized, competent workmen are better than the machinery which they create and superintend.
The health of the Association continues to be a fact of special interest. Instead of the virus of disease, there is a strong contagion of health actively prevalent, to which every one finds himself exposed--exposed to the immi-
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 13
nent danger of living, and growing youthful, elastic, and rugged. The past year has seen not only the absence of all the common forms of' acute disease, but the surrender of long-seated, chronic complaints, and the invigoration of the constitutionally feeble, so that there remains now in the Association, not a solitary invalid, or one who has not his part in active employment and usefulness. The robust, smiling health of our family of children, is a constant occasion of thanksgiving to God. We have dispensed as usual with the employment of physicians and the use of medicine.
Our preservation from accidents and 'shocking casualties,' is also worthy of note. The Association has been remarkably exempt from things of this nature which they ascribe to the insurance of Providence, as well as the inherent vigilance and clairvoyance of spirituality.
CHILDREN'S DEPARTMENT.- J.C. ACKLEY' S REPORT.
"In this department there is a great saving of labor, time, trouble and expense, in every way; and yet I believe the children have better attention and more faithful care than they had in separate families. I have been connected with this department five months, and am convinced that our social system is as economical in respect to the duties of parental care, as it is in respect to dwellings, furniture, &c. Accidents and complaints common to their age, are quite rare among the children; so much so indeed, that the care and attention formerly required by my family of only three, is amply sufficient to meet all demands of this nature here. As to quarreling and tumult, so common among children, I will venture to say, that few families of ordinary size in the world, have less of this trouble than our community family of forty-six. The cause of our prosperity I ascribe to the fact that our children are given up to God. Feeling in our hearts that they are his, we believe that he has a watchful care over them; and all anxious solicitude is relieved.
"They have all needful amusements and recreations, and are joyful and happy. On Sundays they are distributed among their parents, and spend the day in the mansion house; but they return cheerfully at night to their own house, which, being only about two rods from that occupied by the parents, allows all the freedom of communication that is desired. Four are chosen out of their number every Sunday, who are each put under the special charge of parents or some one else, and, live at the mansion house a week. All enjoy this privilege in turn, and it is made pleasant and improving to guardians and children.
"We discard the practice of scolding, fretting, and threatening them, but rule them by love and instruction. We seek to find out the way God deals with us, and apply the same rule and theory to them, and expect more
14 SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
from the spiritual influence that surrounds them, than from any rules or precepts. My experience with them has proved to me that it is not necessary that my philoprogenitiveness should be wrapped only around my own children, but that it is large enough, when given up to inspiration by the grace of God, to encircle and shelter all in its arms. The idea of loving them as Christ loves the church, is a fruitful one, and I think applicable; and by following it out we shall deal justly and honorably by all, and if need be sacrifice our own private happiness or lives for their good."
SCHOOL. - H. J. SEYMOUR' S REPORT.
" Our method of instructing children differs from that of ordinary schools in many important particulars. We act on the, principle, that the things most necessary to be attended to with children under the age of fourteen years, are their physical development and spiritual interests. We value quietness, obedience, and loving hearts, more than intellectual attainments. We labor to impress on their minds and hearts, that God is the author of all good, and the devil the cause of all evil, wherever it is manifested; and that the only way to be good, or to do good, is to keep in fellowship with Christ and have all our motives under his control. The result of this management is, that the children are very quiet without legal restraint, are obedient, ready to help each other, and enjoy each other's society. The labor of taking care of them is very small, and is constantly growing less. In proof of this I will state, that ten or a dozen of those that are from two to five years old, can be left in a room with a few playthings for an hour at a time without any crying or disputing.
"Another result of this system is, that there springs up among them a, natural desire for intellectual improvement. Learning to read and write, is with them a means of social enjoyment; and we see none of that pride and pertness which characterize precocious intellects.
"Our principal business with the children, as already intimated, has been their spiritual and moral training. False habits acquired in the world have rendered such a course necessary for all. The Bible has been our principal school-book. We find more in that to interest them and to enrich their minds with the best kind of knowledge, than in any other. The common course of learning, however, is not neglected, but is successfully pursued by the school, upon the following plan:--
"Conversation is regarded as the best means of communicating truth. We endeavor to get the whole school interested in some particular branch of science, and then make it a subject of general conversation, the teacher taking the lead. In this way the intellectual wealth of each becomes community property. When the private stock of information which each
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 15
one possesses on the subject in point is exhausted, and an appeal to books becomes necessary, the research is entered upon with cheerfulness and good will. Our arrangement places each in the capacity of a public officer whose business it is to report to all the the result of his inquiries. The advantages of this method are apparent.
"1st. It makes the pursuit of knowledge the servant of love. The deficiencies of one are supplied by the fullness of another; and no one can say to his neighbor, 'I have no need of thee.' 2d. The honor of serving the whole is a more healthy and powerful stimulant to activity than law or selfish interest. 3d. The pupil will get a more clear idea of the subject when his object is to make others understand it, than when his motive is to get through a recitation in the ordinary way. 4th. It cultivates the social faculties, and brings into play the power of rendering wisdom available for the benefit of the whole, which we so much admire in the true gentleman. 5th. All science being inseparably connected, as History with Chronology, Geography,&c., a more flexible or fluent method of study is required than that ordinarily pursued. Our conversational process enables us to examine truth as a complete whole, giving each branch its due share of attention.
"Our experience in carrying out this plan has thus far been very successful. Though scholars, under our system, may not display so much immediate advancement in particular branches of book-knowledge as others, yet we are satisfied that they have a more complete and correct idea of truth than can be obtained in ordinary schools.
"One day I inquired of them what advantages they thought our school possessed over others. One said-' We learn more about 'God here than elsewhere.' Another-' We learn more about love.' Another-' We do not have such strict rules.' Another-' We do not have so much quarreling.' Another said-'We shall go to school always and ever be learning something, while in other schools we have to stop learning to work for a living.' Another said, 'he was not obliged to go so far, and most freeze before he reached school.'. Another, that 'she did not have to study when she was tired and did not wish to.'"
The class of youth, as indeed the whole adult portion of the Community, are encouraged to form themselves into groups and circles for intellectual improvement. In this way the sciences, general literature, music, and the arts; have been to some extent cultivated. We have been closely kept thus far, to our central object, spiritual improvement; but we have no doubt, that as fast as symmetrical development demands, our Association will offer the most perfect advantages for a university education. In our social medium,
16 SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
knowledge as well as every thing else, is invested with a warm glory, which makes its pursuit attractive, and its acquisition easy.
A Library has lately been fitted up in the parlor of the mansion house, of about 700 volumes. There is a growing appreciation of Music in the Association; and our facilities for its cultivation are valued highly. We see however a sacredness in the soul of this art, which indisposes us to trifle with or prostitute it to the spirit of mere sensual amusement. It is the fitting expression and complement of all the inward harmonies.
The following general view of the subject of education, prepared by GEORGE CAMPBELL, embodies the mind of the Association:-
"Our ideas of education are far more enlarged and comprehensive than those generally entertained. We make it the business of our life. The hope of our calling, as children of God and subjects of his kingdom, is Eternal Life; and an education for such a destiny must be something more far-reaching, extensive, and practical, than the mere book-knowledge that passes for such in the world. We should define it to be, the art or ability of doing things; the full development and unimpeded action of all our powers and faculties, both of body and mind: and a complete education thus defined, implies the ability of doing every thing within the range of human capacity.
"An education of this sort must begin at the heart. As the life of God in the heart is the central principle of all goodness, so, we may say, it is the central principle and energy of all true improvement. It is by the spiritual cultivation and discipline of the heart, by securing obedience and subordination to the will of God, that a foundation is laid for improvement in all other directions. With this subjective preparation of the heart, the energy of improvement will spread through our whole nature, and fit us for excellence in every department of things.
"To the pursuit of this universal education all our hearts are devoted. We find the love of God to be a stimulus to improvement, which, to be understood and appreciated, must be felt. We regard not only our hours of study, but also our daily employment, our hours of recreation, as so many means of educating our powers, and perfecting our practical ability to honor God and serve each other in every capacity. We do not confine ourselves to one occupation, but let the skill and ingenuity which God has given us, work itself out in every direction. Gifts and knowledge are not sought for the mere sake and love of possession, but for their usefulness to patriotic hearts-as helps to our social harmony, and our fellowship with higher intelligences.
"It is upon these principles that our system of education is based. It is but partially developed as yet, but the results so far are very satisfactory."
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 17
ORDER OF DAILY LIFE.
At this season of the year, (winter,) the Association breakfast at seven o'c1ock, after which all go to their different places of business-the store, printing-office, shoe-shop, saw-mill, blacksmith shop, &c. Dinner is taken at half past twelve. After an intermission of an hour or two, all go again to their different occupations. Tea is had at half past five. This arrangement varies with the seasons, according to the length of the days.
At seven o'clock in the evening, the bell is rung to call the Association together for the evening meetings. These meetings have proved to be exceedingly profitable and interesting; and, though all are left free to attend them or not, they have become so attractive that nearly every member of the Association is seen at the place of meeting immediately after the ringing of the bell. When assembled, the question is first asked whether there is any business to be brought before the meeting. This gives every one an opportunity to make any suggestions about the affairs of the Association, or to ask any advice in relation to his own particular business. It may be proper to mention here, that all business matters of any importance are brought before the whole body, and all have an equal voice in them. The business arrangements are generally made with but little discussion, and always in perfect harmony..
The next thing in order, is reading the correspondence from abroad, communications from the members, &C All letters of general interest received through the day, are read, leaving the members free to hand their private letters in for public reading or not, as they choose. As the correspondence of the Association is quite extensive, this has become an interesting part of the meetings, and the benefit of it is in this way shared by all.
After this the meetings are open for conversation, confessions of religious experience, or general testimony. Frequently the correspondence affords some interesting subject of discussion. We thus combine all the benefits and pleasures of a religious meeting, a school, and a social party. The intellectual, spiritual and social advantages thus afforded, are highly appreciated.
These evening meetings are regarded as private family meetings, and are not open for strangers, except by invitation. They are usually attended however by those who are visiting their friends in the Association.
A religious meeting open to the public, is held every Sunday, commencing at one o'clock, P. M., These are conducted without much formality. They are generally opened by singing a hymn; after which it is usual to read from our publications some doctrinal article or extract, as a subject for consideration and remark. Opportunity is then given for free testimony, relation of experience, &c., and a hymn is sung at the close of the meeting.
18 SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
ADVANTAGES OF ASSOCIATION.
We are able, from our two years' experience in Association, to speak of the positive advantages it offers over isolated life, to all our interests - spiritual, intellectual, social and physical Let us briefly recapitulate some of the advantages.
1. The freedom from care, resulting from a just distribution of labor and responsibility, gives each individual much more leisure than he ever had before; and association gives him an opportunity to spend this leisure to the best advantage.
2. Many of the obstructions which stand in the way of literary attainments in ordinary society, are not found here. A spirit of hope and Sympathy is thrown around those who have most need of the advantages of education. Mind comes in contact with mind, and the energy of one gives impetus to the rest.
3. Our social advantages are very great. We are not obliged to go from home to attend meetings, or mingle in society. Our family is a village in itself. The feeling of unity, which naturally exists among a family of children, extends through the whole body, and is perpetuated.
4. Our community organization has a great advantage over isolated life in the application of talent. A man in the world may have a special talent for some particular art or employment, which he is not in circumstances to improve; but true association supplies these circumstances, and gives him business best adapted to his qualifications.
5. The tendency of community of property is, to abolish the false distinctions created by wealth, and place all on a platform where they are honored and respected just according to their real characters. Reputation, among us, is not founded on a money basis, but every one is valued just in proportion to his true worth, and his ability and usefulness in promoting the interests of society.
6. Another very important advantage, is the opportunity we have of educating our children exclusively under our own care; where they are not liable to be infected by the evils abounding in promiscuous society. The complaint so common among those who educate their children at the ordinary schools, that they get more evil abroad than good at home, is generally well founded, and is a sore evil, from which we are free.
7. Association is an important condition of Health. We are certain from experience that the question of individual health is intimately connected with the question of social relations. We believe the aches and pains, the disease and death that afflict the world, are the natural tokens, correspondents, and accompaniments of its social state. In a state of acknowledged
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 19
disorganization, what should hinder the particles of the social body from rotting? On the other hand, in connection with our living, compact, social unity, we have also found positive, continuous; almost universal health. Three infants only have died since our first establishment here; and from the circumstances of these cases, they are hardly to be considered exceptions to the rule of community health.
8. Another benefit resulting from our community of interests, is the fact, that members are not debarred from taking journeys in consequence of the pressure of family cares. This is especially appreciated by the women, who can leave home at any time, with the certainty that their children will be as well cared for in every respect as though they were under the mothers' own immediate supervision.
Finally, to sum up the matter, let us draw a contrast between vital society and isolated life, by supposing that these forty families, of 172 persons, were living as neighbors on worldly principles, with separate households, and separate interests, and were as fair and honorable in their dealings with each other as the world will average, and see how the picture will compare with their present situation.
We can see, in looking through the ranks of this Association, that some have a talent for making money; while others, who are equally worthy members of society, and equally valuable in some other line of things, have not this faculty. Separate them, and each man's interest at once becomes hostile to that of all the rest. Money being the prime necessity of this spider-like civilization, every one would be compelled to engage single-handed in the scramble for it; and according to each one's natural qualifications for the scramble would be his success. The unavoidable result would be, that those who have the financial talent would become rich, and the rest poor; and strife and contention, envy and oppression would be (as it is in the world) the very atmosphere of existence. Some would be burdened with the troublq of taking care of their property, while others would suffer for the actual necessaries of life. Most of the men would be more or less in debt. The farmer would be in debt to the merchant, the shoemaker, the blacksmith, and other mechanics; and he must be constantly on the lookout for means to pay these debts. The merchant would be in debt for his goods - the shoemaker would have his store bill, his doctor's bill, and perhaps his lawyer's fees to pay; and so of all the others. Each must contribute something towards supporting a minister if he would be respectable.
The consequence of all this would be, that some would become discouraged, and perhaps intemperate; and then they would be despised by the more successful, though the very machinery of society had made them so. There must of course be two classes in society. The poor and their children must
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be made to feel their inferiority; and if they ever succeed in the world, they must do it by overcoming obstacles which are mountain high. Selfishness and covetousness would take the place of friendship and generosity. Every one must be on the constant and anxious lookout for himself, for no one else is interested in his welfare. Dunning letters, writs, and store-bills would take the place of friendly correspondence. Many would be deprived of nearly all the social pleasures of life, from being compelled to work constantly to support themselves and families, and pay their debts to those who were 'sharper' and more cunning than themselves.
Now let us look at the other side of the picture, and see society as it actually exists in the Association. Those who have a talent for making money, or in other words for business calculations, which in the world would tend to make them rich at the expense of their neighbors, here apply this talent to accumulating wealth for the whole. In fact such persons can exercise their gift to much better advantage in Association than in isolated life; since by a natural division of labor they may here be relieved from all other cares, while those persons who have not the financial faculty may be relieved from the responsibility of calculation, and engage in such business as their peculiar talents qualify tliem for.
There being but one interest in all things, and each one working for the benefit of the whole, the consequence is, that all have the necessaries and the comforts of life, and leisure for self-improvement and the enjoyment of social pleasures, without those distinctions in society which in isolated life breed so much misery by creating envy and jealousy. Instead of studying to see how good bargains can be made out of each other, all are seeking personal improvement, and studying to promote the great common interest. The cheerfulness and enthusiasm with which all engage in their various kinds of business, show that no one is disheartened or discouraged. And instead of each one being obliged to be on a constant lookout for himself, he has the whole Association to care for him. No one is obliged to struggle singlehanded to overcome the obstacles which stand in the way of success, as in the world, for the success of each is the success of all. The ruling motto is, 'Seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all other things shall be added.' Bright and happy countenances manifest the inward satisfaction, peace and hope that reign here.
RESULTS OF EXPERIENCE.
1. The condition of the Association is a matter-of-fact witness of the feasibility of our SOCIAL THEORY. Amativeness, the lion of the tribe of human passions, is conquered and civilized among us. If it were not, we could not possibly hold together and prosper as we have done, for four years
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 21
since the beginning, and for two years since we commenced the experiment on a larger scale at Oneida. All men of sense will say that amativeness, in a really licentious state of freedom, will inevitably breed bad business habits, social discords and explosions, bad health, and illegitimate propagation. Accordingly, assuming from the character of our principles that we are licentious, the world anticipates these ruinous results, and confidently predicts our speedy dissolution. But these results have not appeared. The foregoing Report shows an opposite state of things. Good business habits, social harmony, good health, and very limited propagation, are the phenomena which the moralists and prophets must consider and account for. The fact that but one child has been born at Oneida, that was begotten in the Association, (and that not undesignedly or by accident,) testifies loudly for the reality of the victory which we have obtained in separating the social from the propagative, in the sexual relation. That fact, and one other - that of our good health - are palpable and unanswerable contradictions of the hue and cry in certain quarters against our licentiousness. We give our enemies physical facts - statistics - 'figures that cannot lie.' The syllogism we present, is this: - Licentiousness inevitably leads to disease, and illegitimate propagation; but there is no disease or illegitimate propagation among us; ergo, we cannot be licentious. Will the moralists ruminate on this?
2. From the basis thus established, we may fairly rise to the more general affirmation, that the condition of the Association is a demonstration ans realization of our original doctrine of SALVATION FROM SIN. Sin, considered as an offense against God, is unbelief; but in its social phasis, it is properly defined by the general term selfishness. Now our original theory of salva tion from sin, was and is, that the grace of Christ, purifying the heart from unbelief; i.e. sin against God, will also abolish selfishness, or sin against man This theory was established sixteen years ago, so far as it could be by scriptural argument, and by individual confessions of inward experience. But demonstrations of this character necessarily relate chiefly to the invisible work of salvation from unbelief; and are not palpable and practical enough fully to refute the charge of charlatanism. A visible proof of Christ's power to save from sin on the scale of social life, i.e. proof of the actual abolition of selfishness, was needed. This proof is now before the world. We may defy any sober man to account for the continued prosperity, peace, and health of the Association, under its system of community of property, free labor, and free love, without acknowledging that the grace of God has conquered selfishness among us. We have admitted from the beginning that our free principles in regard to property, labor and love, could not be carried out without the actual abolition of selfishness; so that our success has been
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avowedly staked on the answer to the old question, 'Can we be saved from sin in this world?' And the world looking on, has predicted our downfall, because it assumed that salvation from sin in this world is a chimera. But we have succeeded. The greediness which would make community of property a fountain of discord and strife, has not shown itself. The indolence supposed to be inseparable from free labor, is not to be found. The diseases of soul and body which every body expects from free love, are missing. - Facts show that selfishness is conquered. It would certainly be more incredible to any rational judgment - more miraculous - that such a society as ours should prosper as it has done for four years, with selfishness at the centre of it, than that Christ should save men from sin in this world. So much realization is secure, whatever may be our vicissitudes hereafter. Homer says, 'Jupiter (we say Satan) himself has no power over the past.'
3. The standing, visible success of this Association cannot be referred (as some would have it) to the personal influence, the commanding talent or power of, one man, in any such way as to invalidate or limit the foregoing conclusions. Facts clearly show that its successful progress and prosperous condition result from its inherent constitution., and not from any such temporary and extraneous influence. J. H. NOYES, to whose personal presence and direction the stability of the Society has been sometimes ascribed, has been absent from Oneida for the most part of the last year, residing in Brooklyn, . Y., and engaged in a sphere of occupation above the superintendence of any local Community. The skeptics who insist that this Association is held together, and kept in order by his magnetism and dictation, must have a large capacity for the marvelous, if they can believe that his magnetism and dictation are available to regulate 150 'licentious' persons at a distance of 300 miles. E. H. HAMILTON, a young man formerly of Syracuse, an architect by profession, is, and has been for several months, the chief and foreman of the Association.
Any one who will take the trouble closely to examine the mechanism of' our Association, will find that the secret of the power which harmonizes it and constitutes its government, lies not in any code of laws, nor in the coming influence of any man, or set of men, but in our system of Free Criticism. By this channel the resistless spirit of truth courses through the whole body. It is at the same time the bond of union, and the agent of perfection to all classes, from the most spiritual to the most outward and immature. We have introduced a fashion of judgment and truth-telling which gives voice and power to the golden rule - ' Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.' Selfishness and disorder inevitably annoy the circle around them; and the circle thus annoyed in our
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 23
Association has the liberty and the means of speaking the truth to the offender. All are trained to criticise freely and be criticised without offense. Evil in character or conduct is sure to meet with effectual rebuke from individuals, from platoons, and from the whole Association. If any member is afflicted with bad spirit, he finds himself 'judged of all, convinced of all, and so falling down on his face confesses that God is in the Association of a truth.'
Here is the whole mystery of government among us. Our government is Democratic, inasmuch as the privilege of criticism is distributed through the whole body, and the power which it gives is accessible to any one who will take pains' to attain good judgment. It is Aristocratic inasmuch as the best critics have the most power. It is Theocratic, inasmuch as the Spirit of Truth alone can give the power of genuine criticism. The whole secret of the 'stupendous despotism' which J. H. Noyes is said to exercise, to the terrible annoyance of Rev. H. Eastman, and others of like calibre, lies in the simple fact that he has proved himself to be a good critic; for what other means has he of controlling men? He has no military, or political, or pecuniary power; no authority from ecclesiastical antiquity, or from public opinion. Confidence, secured by manifestation of good spiritual judgment, is the only possible basis of the 'despotism' he wields. Nothing else could give him power for a moment over such a mass of minds as exists in the Oneida Association.
4. The foregoing remarks relate to the first great requisite for the success of our enterprise, viz., internal salvation and power of harmony. A second condition necessary to the full development of our system, is external toleration. What have been the results of our experience on this point? Is the world prepared to allow our experiment, and give us fair play? Our experience at Oneida has established one fact, viz., that Putney does not present an averave specimen of the civilization of this country. We are willing to look upon the foolish and mean transactions of 1847 with charity for the mass of the people there, and to attribute their proceedings to the imposition of a dark and malignant influence, which they were then unable to resist. But, whether their misfortune or voluntary crime, the character of the facts stands unchanged; the disgraceful index remains, that there is one receding point in the midst of an advancing world. Their brutal strokes at our press, at our private Association for Reform, at free opinion and free discussion, all belonged to the past age; for which, if they can forgive themselves, and regain the self-respect and moral security which should attend a right course, we certainly can freely forgive them.
In contrast with the course pursued at Putney, Gamaliel's principle of
24 SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
nonintervention prevails, and seems likely to continue to prevail, in the State of New York. We have been well treated by the people immediately around us, though our principles are fully known, and the emissaries of the Putney inquisition have done all they could to disturb our relations with our neighbors. Our last year's Report has met with a civil, and in most cases a favorable reception, in the most respectable quarters.
Another important fact which our experience goes to establish, is, that of the three learned professions which rule society and determine public opinion, viz., the doctors, the lawyers, and the priests, the lawyers are far the most liberal towards us. There is a class of pettifoggers, it is true, who by no means deserve this commendation; but we have found lawyers who are really well educated and in good practice, so far as we have come in contact with them, to be immeasurably superior to the doctors and priests, in the civilization of free thought and discussion. So the very men into whose hands the intolerance of society is most likely to throw us, are the men who are most likely to prove liberal mediators between us and society, or at least Gamaliels.
One reason probably of the liberalism of the lawyers, is, that their minds are trained in a school where there are two sides to every question, and both sides are discussed and attended to; while the doctors and the priests give forth their wisdom as oracles, without being subject to the ordeal of reciprocal argument. The lawyer knows that all his positions will be keenly scrutinized and severely canvassed, and he has to do with judges who compel him to look well to the soundness of his facts and arguments; so he learns to feel the value of unanswerable truth. But the doctors and priests merely peddle out traditional science, to customers who ask no questions - an experience not very favorable to liberality and love of the truth, or even to any discipline of mind at all. Another reason of the liberalism of the lawyers, may be, that their profession gives them a truer insight into human nature than others have, whereby they learn the warping force of prejudice, and the deceitfulness of appearances; they thus form the habit of assuming that there are two sides to every question, and of suspending or moderating their judgment of persons and principles that are condemned by report and popular opinion.
Moreover, lawyers understand better than any other class, that TRUTH is the foundation of all LAW; and this is the very principle to which we appeal in our controversy with the law. We say that Truth is the constitution of the universe; and any law which has not the authority of Truth, is unconstitutional, and may be annulled by any process which shall bring the question of its constitutionality fairly before the supreme court of Reason. Lawyers, we repeat, understand this appeal better than any other class.
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 25
Most uninformed persons probably imagine, that the mass of what are called the laws of the land, are enactments of legislatures, and get their authority from the political organizations of the several states; but lawyers know that statute books are the mere trimmings of the great body of laws which govern mankind. In studying their profession, they have the statute book on their table for occasional reference, but the works which they pore over and dive into, are argumentative treatises of learned jurists and reports of trials in all the courts of Christendom. Nearly all the laws they have to do with, are made, not by any legislatures, but by decisions of good judges.
The actual process of genuine law-making is this; In the trial of a case (no matter where) a RATIONAL PRINCIPLE is presented, and after being canvassed by lawyers, is adopted and maintained by the judge in his decision as sound law, i.e. as a principle of truth. This decision is appealed to as authority in other similar trials. If it commends itself to reason, it is reaffirmed by judges in different parts of the country, and in different countries, till at last it becomes acknowledged universal law. Thus the judges and not the legislatures really make the laws, and the best judges make the most law. This is called 'common law,' and is the kind of law that a sound lawyer chiefly exercises himself in. Its essence and sanction is truth, or reasonab1eness; and the arbitrary enactments of legislatures, except so far as they reaffirm its principles, are limitations and obstructions of it, and must pass away as reason develops itself.
It will be perceived then, that our system of Criticism as it has been described, is really the germ of a system of common law. We differ from the lawyers in looking to the Bible more than they do, and to the Spirit of Truth, for the evolution of law, and in making less account of statute law. We believe that in the 'age of reason,' which is really the age of the kingdom of God, law will become what its admirers now love to imagine it, an exact science, mathematically sure, and covering the whole ground of human relations. Our present movement is simply making an issue between common law and statute law on the subject of marriage. We propose to try the constitutionality of the law of marriage, as the present agitation of this country is trying the constitutionality of the law of slavery, by an appeal to the.supreme court of reason, from which all imperishable law emanates.
Gov. Seward, in his late speech in the U.S. Senate on the Slavery question, nobly plants himself on this appeal. Slavery is an institution of the State, fortified by enactments and guaranteed by verbal constitutions. Whatever sacredness can be conferred by antiquity and by the sanction of successive human legislatures, has been thrown around this institution. Its supporters,
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as they are crowded by the progress of truth, turn and confidently urge these considerations. They appeal to the majesty of the statute and the bond, insisting among other things that the compact of the Constitution, which binds the free States to deliver up fugitive slaves to their masters, is sacred and should be observed. Gov. Seward answers: -
"The Law of Nations disavows such compacts - the Law of Nations, written on the hearts and consciences of freemen, repudiates them. Armed power could not enforce them, because there is no public conscience to sustain the~. I know that there are laws of vari~9us sorts that regulate the conduct of men. There are constitutions and statutes, laws mercantile and codes civil; but when we are legislating for States, especially when we are founding States, all these laws must be brought to the standard of the laws of God, and must be tried by that standard, and stand or fall by it. It is of this principle that an eminent political philosopher of England, Burke, said:
"'There is but one law for all, namely - that law which governs all law - the law of our Creator - the law of humanity, justice, equity-the law of nature and of nations. So far as any laws fortify this primeval law, and give it more precision, more energy, more effect by their declarations, such laws enter into the Sanctuary and participate in the sacredness of its character. But the man who quotes as precedents, the abuses of tyrants and robbers, pollutes the very fountains of justice, destroys the foundations of all law, and therefore removes the only safeguard against evil men, whether Governors or governed, the guard which prevents Governors from becoming Tyrants and the governed from becoming Rebels.'"
However men may lose sight of it, in interested devotion to existing forms and usages, yet every thing instructs us that these things hold but an inferior, temporary relation to the great interior body of truth. History plainly indicates that external institutions were made to serve and not to control the progress of ideas, and that whenever a successful appeal can be made against them to reason that appeal will be sustained by events. The present is full of significance, as the past is full of precedents to this effect.
The whole code of what is called the Law of Nations, to which Mr. Seward refers in the extract quoted, is necessarily nothing but the legislation of reason; since there is no universal Congress or Cabinet to enact or enforce it. It held sway by virtue of its self-enforcing demonstration alone; and although it must be transitional and imperfect, as necessitated by a false state of things, yet it overbears the interests and passions of the most ambitious despots and the most unruly nations.
The American Revolution which gave this country its national existence, was an assertion of self-evident rights against arbitrary power, i.e. of common law against statute law, or of Constitutional Truth against unconstitutional enactments. It was successful, and a new era was opened for the world.
Our free form of government is a continued assertion of the same great
OF THE ONEIDA ASSOCIATION. 27
fact, that Truth is the constitution of the universe. This principle is necessarily the substratum of all our republican institutions. In discarding the arbitrary rule of kings, and assuming that men are capable of self-government, we imply the highest homage to reason and truth The idea of republicanism is, that men can and will ascertain and accommodate themselves to the right thing, whatever it is. They certainly have no right to govern themselves on any other condition. Republicanism then is bound by the very terms of its existence to disregard all outward limitations and partial forms of truth, and to proceed right on to the complete evolution of heaven's justice among men; or in other words, to merge itself in the kingdom of God.
There is then an infinite sphere of right, and of truth, which is accessible to every true man, and which is .the interior, the soul, and life of all useful laws and institutions. Laws and institutions are valuable only as they seek to express, and do approximate in some degree to an expression of; this inward justice. They have never been able hitherto, to do this perfectly, (as indeed no literal statute ever can,) and hence the ever-shifting forms which the body of civil law presents from age to age. The statutes which were tolerable to the reason of men a hundred years ago, are found wholly inadequate to define their relation to persons and things under more advanced intelligence, are discarded, and their place supplied with better. The political institutions which once approved themselves to the necessities of men, are afterwards found widely discordant with 'self-evident truth,' and thenceforth hasten to their downfall. The plain meaning of Providence in the whole process of past events, has been to evolve this eternal principle of, truth, to bring it out by successive refinements of its literal form and body, until at last it should be perfectly expressed, as alone it can be, in the life and spirit of men.
To show that the spirit of the country and of the age is tending rapidly to the consummation in which all arbitrary law will be absorbed into the code of self-evident and self-enforcing truth, we might refer to the best current literature, as the writings of Carlyle, Emerson, James, &c. We are permitted even to quote from the pen of the conservative clergy, and present the principles of this argument, beautifully expressed by Rev. Albert Barnes, in an Address before Hamilton College :-
"The great principle is to go forth through this country, and is never to be recalled, that there is no subject pertaining to the common welfare that may not be freely and fully canvassed and examined. This right is secured to us by the God that made us, and is inwrought into all the elements of freedom and accountable moral agency. God has given us the right to examine all things, and investigate all opinions in science and in morals. He invites us to, by the original aspirations for truth which he has breathed into our
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souls, and which are as inexhaustible as the soul itself. He invites us to it in his own word; and no book ever written is so much the friend of free and ample discussion as the Bible. All his works invite us to it; the heavens gaze upon us by night, asking us to turn away from earth, and investigate the laws of their motion. The heaving tides invite us to examine them; the bud, the opening leaf; the flower of the forest, the insect, and the lion of the desert, the elements around us, nay, the metals, the solid diamond, all invite us to investigation, and to learn their nature. Our institutions are all based on this freedom of investigation. It is to be assumed here that all things may be examined and discussed. We have no liberty which does not suppose this; we know none which does not admit and defend it. Herein is our warfare with the kings and tyrants of the old world; herein is our contest with those thrones of despotism that have so long tyrannized over man; herein is the reason why monarchs turn pale in their palaces, and tremble on their seats of power; herein is the contest of the Protestant religion and Papacy; herein the struggle between freedom every where and arbitrary power. The thrones of despotism in political life, in religion, in science, have stood firm just so long as the maxim could be defended, that there were some points that were too sacred to be examined. Let it be maintained there is one principle in science, or religion, one doctrine of government or maxim of law, that may not be examined, that there is one tribunal of a court, be it the inquisition or the star-chamber, that may not be tested by reason and the Bible, or one mineral that may not be subjected to the crucible or the blow-pipe, and liberty is at an end: a wedge is entered that may be driven until the entire fabric shall be demolished. This doctrine, that all things may be subjected to free discussion, is the only thing that now spreads alarm over the despotism of the oriental world, and that now threatens to subvert the thrones of Europe. All literature and science, as well as liberty, suppose this. - . . . Mind is to meet mind, thought conflict with thought; the struggling powers are to come in collision with each other, and truth is to be elicited as the spark glows from the collision of the flint and the steel. And it is to be assumed in this nation, that there is any thing in science, morals, or public sentiment, that can be proved to be wrong, it is to be abandoned forthwith; if any public custom cannot be defended, it is to be laid aside; and if there be any thing, in reference to which it is maintained that it may not be investigated, be it in morals, in habit, or in religion, IT IS TO BE ASSUMED THAT THAT MUST BE WRONG, and that it is KNOWN to be wrong."
The following correspondence, transferred from the Free Church Circular, exhibits briefly the platform of our property arrangements
Drummondville, Canada West, Jan. 17, 1850.
Mr. J. H. NOYES -
Dear Sir :-Knowing but little of your Association, but rejoicing to find that the faithful begin to see more generally that they are called to cultivate each other's acquaintance for the sake of the unity to be one day manifested to the world, (and that we hope soon,) I hope it will not be asking too much of you, to give me a short sketch of the plan of your Society's temporal
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operations ;-whether or not you have adopted any of Fourier's suggestions, whose complicated system, though certainly necessary for a community of unsanctified individuals, would not be required where the heaveuly element of love bears sway. My attention has been for some time directed to the Socialist question; but having no confidence in the flesh, I continued a mere spectator, until the Spiritual Magazine came to hand, advocating and exhibiting in the Oneida Association the practice of communism among true believers. I have a strong impression, that the day has arrived for the saints to possess the earth. The systems of this world are fast wasting away, having no bond of love to hold them together, - and while the house which has been so long divided against itself is falling, it is our time for co-operation.
Your views on this subject coincide entirely with my own. I believe that the grand outline of Fourier's scheme, will be carried out by the people of God. It is a vast and soul-stirring conception-but much of the detail is unworthy of a holy nature. I shall soon see the Berean, (one of our community having sent for it,) when I shall acquaint myself with the progress of your society in heavenly things. At such a time as this, we need to be very careful whom we receive; (in this we are warned;) but I am sanguine in the hope, that Oneida Reserve is one of those blessed spots on earth, where the Son of Man is now revealing himself. Pray dear sir, write soon and inform me if you can, of any other Association of the kind, you may have heard of. I mean strictly religious Associations.
As I have a great desire to visit you, (should the proposal be acceptable,) will you inform me where to leave the Albany and Buffalo Rail Road in my way to your place.
Hoping that we may meet before long, I remain in the mean while,
Very sincerely yours, ROBERT SPARROW DE LATRE.
Oneida Reserve, Jan.29, 1850.
MR. R. S. DE LATRE -
Dear Sir -I take the earliest opportunity to acknowledge your letter of Jan.17, and in behalf of the person addressed, (who is absent,) and of the Association, will briefly represent to you their reply.
Our 'plan of temporal operations,' has thus far grown into form without any reference to Fourier's philosophy. Ours, starting from an entirely spiritual basis, there can be no real identity between the two systems; and the resemblance, if there is any, between our results and his theories, must be only an incidental one. The correspondence, and the difference, between this body and the Fourierists as Social Reformers, may be stated in the language of Paul, with a little alteration of terms, thus: 'The Free Church which followed
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not after Socialism, have attained to a perfect Society, even the vital organization which is of faith. But Fourier who followed after the law of Socialism, hath not attained to the law of unitary life. Wherefore? Because he sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.' With the mode and the motives of professed Socialists - their barren scientifics, and their aching philanthropy, the Community here have little to do. Our hearts are absorbed in studying, recognizing, and devoting ourselves to, the Rights of God; and in proportion to our progress in this direction, we find all our horizontal relations naturally crystalize into the heavenly order. We have thus far succeeded, by neglecting all formulas and mechanical rules in our organization, and by giving only indirect attention to the material interests which were so prominently put forward by Fourier. We trust the 'organization of industry,' and the universal 'harmony of interests,' to be developed out of our perfected relations to God.
For instance: Let us completely realize the idea that we are his children - that he as our Father, owns all things. This is a proposition that needs no scientific demonstration; it appeals directly to the heart of every lover of the truth, and is one that will be ever present to a spiritual mind. But we also know that it is the only sufficient foundation for social organization. If a formula is required - a theoretic statement - for the solution of the Social Problem, we have found it simply expressed in this: God owns all things. in our experience, this vivid truth, levels down the obstructions, and answers all the difficulties, which without it would be practically insurmountable. It requires however for its complement, a theory of actual inspiration. If God owns all things, and we feel our absolute dependence on him for every good, then inspiration must come in to distribute and arrange, and organize.
Under the operation of these simple truths, every thing becomes a gift. The old feeling of rights, with its cares and complaints, is supplanted, and there is left us only the perception of God's generosity, and the feeling of gratitude. It was in the spirit of these truths, that the disciples met on the day of Pentecost ; - 'No man said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common . . . And breaking bread from house to house, they did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.'
You will see that with these radical principles, this movement, as an associative one, cannot be measured or calculated by any of the theories of others. We know not ourselves the details of the future, but are content with daily progress, under the guidance of daily inspiration. We believe it is the growing Kingdom of God, which will unfold in all material as well as spiritual good, and will 'break in pieces all other kingdoms.' Like yourself, I have
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been formerly dazzled with Fourier's conceptions. They are perhaps the highest poetry of the materialized mind; but they have passed away with me, before the higher poetry which I see in the working power of the Eternal Spirit of Life.
Our industrial organization, though in its infancy, is operating well. The prospects in the material department are entirely favorable, though it engages but a moderate share of attention. It is not the object to show off in this respect prematurely. We feel called rather to a school of spiritual manliness; to cultivate unity with the spirit of God, which is a spirit of inspiration, of organization, and will fit us to. do anything. We believe it is more important for us to prepare ourselves to enjoy, than to seek enjoyment directly. In short it is the peculiar characteristic of this school, which I think distinguishes it from all others, that our attention has been long directed, and is still held, away from the outward to the central. As individuals, and as a body, we find life, light, and assurance, in home improvement, which forbids any concern about external success.
But beyond the satisfied consciousness of the truth of our position, we have also abundant evidence of the direct care of God; and this perhaps is the best ultimate test of all pretensions. With the will of God in its favor', any enterprise will move irresistibly forward. Without it, though their truthfulness and success may appear perfectly demonstrable, yet the best will fail. We feel amply authorized to depend on this fact; on the presence of God's might, as well as his right.
In answer to your last question, I may say, that I presume there is no other Association in the world, at all like this. There are a considerable number of scattered believers who are identified in heart with this Community, and who will undoubtedly move together into other unions as soon as the way shall be opened.
We have been free to answer your letter thus fully, because an introduction to your circle seems to have been providentially thrown in our way. . . In regard to a visit from yourself, it is left to your own discretion. It would. be right for me to say, that the Community do not encourage premature visiting, as it gives but a superficial acquaintance, and is sometimes productive of disappointment. It is true that the most direct method of becoming acquainted with the position of the Association here, and of intelligently discerning its spirit, is by a thorough understanding of the published works of J. H. Noyes, who is its central mind. No one can take other than a limited and imperfect view of it, except through this channel. Still we would leave the matter of a personal interview to your own instincts and reflections.
Yours truly, GEORGE W. NOYES.