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Utopian Movements


  • Deism - Belief that God created earth then left. AKA "watchmaker's theory"


  • Established in America after War of 1812


  • Religious denominations

  • Unitarianism

  • Believed God was one person, not trinity (God, Jesus and Holy Ghost)

  • Jesus was a human being

  • Rejected original sin, predestination and infallibility of the Bible

  • Believed no individual or group had an exclusive claim to the truth.

  • Open-minded

  • Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists (Puritans) and Unitarians

  • Members were wealthier and more conservative

  • Methodists and Baptists

  • Less prosperous

  • South and West

  • Slavery issue split churches apart.


  • Began 1800 in "burned-over district" along Erie Canal

  • Created religious fervor

  • Women more involved in religion during Second Great Awakening

  • Inspired women to become reformers

  • Charles Grandison Finney - one of the most significant revivalist preachers.

  • Revivalist preachers said God created man as a "free moral agent"

  • Therefore, sinners could reform themselves.

  • Perfectionism

  • Saw individuals and society as capable of improvement.

  • Revivalism encouraged reform - especially among middle-class women.

  • Temperance (American Temperance Society founded 1826), abolition, pacifism.



  • Full name: United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing

  • Known as Shakers because of ecstatic dances in their services.

  • First successful American communal movement

  • Founded by Ann Lee Stanley (Mother Ann) in 1770

  • Who had a a vision that she was the incarnation of Christ.

  • Mother Ann died 1784, Shakers continued to honor her as Second Coming of Christ.

  • Communal ownership of property

  • Abstained from alcohol, tobacco, politics and war

  • Believed God was a dual person-both male and female

  • Two sexes were spritually equal

  • Shaker government was in hands of male and female leaders (Elders and Eldresses)

  • Virgin purity

  • No sex or marriage because lust was considered corruption.

  • Founded 20 communities in New England, NY and Ohio.

  • Money came from high-quality furniture making

  • Since they didn't believe in sex, they relied on new converts and adoptions of orphans to keep numbers high.

  • Economically successful

  • they bred cattle for profit and made beautifully crafted furniture.

  • Survived to 20th century.


  • Founded in 1848 in upstate New York by John Humphrey Noyes.

  • Believed that marriage was a major barrier to perfection (because of jealousy and exclusiveness)

  • Instead promoted "complex marriage"

  • All members were married to one another.

  • A man could propose sex to any woman who had the right to reject or accept invitation.

  • The sex would be registered in public record book.

  • No "exclusive affections."

  • Believed in equality of men and women, all cut hair short, for example

  • Urged women to avoid multiple pregnancies, Noyes arranged sexual partners.

  • Community started in Vermont but had to move to Oneida, New York because of outrage over complex marriage.

  • Made money by making silverware.

  • When Noyes fled to Canada in 1879 (to avoid prosecution for adultery) the community abandoned complex marriage but remained communal until middle of 20th century.


  • Founded by Joseph Smith in 1830

  • Smith said the angel Moroni visited him in NY in 1823 and told him about a sacred text inscribed on golden plates that were buried by the "lost tribe of Israel

  • Smith allegedly translated sacred text (Book of Mormon)

  • Formally organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) or "Mormons"

  • Followers of Mormonism ostracized and harassed by the surrounding community because of polygamy (men married many women)

  • After Smith was murdered by a mob in Illinois, Brigham Young took over

  • Brigham Young moved the Mormons to Salt Lake City in Utah (then part of Mexico)

  • Utah became a state after Mormons gave up polygamy


  • Established by Robert Owen in 1825

  • British factory owner appalled by degradation of workers in early industrial revolution

  • Created a model factory village at New Lanark

  • Community of equals.

  • New Lanark, Scotland

  • Largest center of cotton manufacturing in the world in 1815

  • Strict rules, discipline

  • and comfortable housing and free education.

  • Around 1815 there were 1,500 employees.

  • New Harmony

  • In 1824, Owen bought Harmony community in Indiana (originally founded by German religious leader George Rapp)

  • Owen plan

  • Children removed from families at early age to be educated in New Harmony schools

  • Trained to support the common good rather than the individual.

  • Women

  • Owen defended women's rights, women's education and right to divorce.

  • Promised women would no longer be "enslaved" to their husbands.

  • End

  • Settlement only lasted a few years because of squabbling.

  • But influenced labor movement , educational, women's rights.


Came out of Romantic movement in Europe

  • Key ideas

  • Believed knowledge/truth transcends the senses. It comes from within a person/intuition

  • Believed people at their best when truly self-reliant and independent

  • Connection between man and nature

  • Believed artistic expression was more important than pursuit of wealth

  • Questioned doctrines of established churches

  • Believed the essence of God could be found in nature

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • From Concord Massachussets

  • Wrote "The American Scholar" -- an intellectual declaration of independence

  • Believed Americans should not imitate European culture but create a distinctive American culture

  • Wrote "Self-Reliance"

  • Said people are powerful themselves

  • They should be self-reliant, independent thinking

  • Primacy of spiritual matters over material ones

  • Emerson was a leading critic of slavery in 1850s

  • Henry David Thoreau

  • Close friend of Emerson

  • Conducted a two-year experiment living simply in a cabin in the woods (Walden)

  • Findings published in "Walden" in 1854

  • Used observations of nature to discover essential truths about life

  • Also wrote "On Civil Disobedience"

  • Favored passive resistance as form of protest

  • His own civil disobedience --> refused to pay taxes that supported Mexican-American War (1846-1848)

  • Called the war a "naked scheme to extend slavery"

  • Spent night in jail for breaking the tax law

  • Brook Farm, Massachusetts

  • Built 1841

  • Founded by Unitarian minister George Ripley and his wife

  • Full name: Brook farm Institute of Agriculture and Education

  • Short-lived Utopian community founded on transcendentalist principles

  • Communal living (based on socialist ideas of Fourier)

  • Participants promised a portion of profits in exchange for work.

  • All chose work and were paid equally (including women)

  • Not successful, closed iin 1847 after a building (the Phalanstery) burned down.

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