19th Century Free Love Community That Bred Presidential Assassin

The New York Times Book review ran a review on Susan Wels’ An Assassin in Utopia , an examination of the background of Charles Guiteau, who’d go on to assassinate President James Garfield. Guiteau’s backstory includes significant involvement in the Oneida community founded by John Humphrey Noyes, with tenets including free love and extreme communalism – principles which would soon be echoed in Thelema’s ethics and morality. Oneida was one among dozens of such communities which thrived in New York State in the 19th century.

An excerpt says:

‘Instead, we can start as Wels does, with the spiritual awakening of Noyes and his ensuing desire to establish a model of communal living based on audacious religious doctrine. Among his precepts: Monogamous relationships are a perversion of God’s will; marriage is a group effort, involving numerous sexual relationships with an unlimited number of partners; men and women alike should work and participate in all household responsibilities. Additionally, it is the sacred task of older men and women to “initiate” the post-pubescent, and birth control is the sole responsibility of men — who are expected to become proficient in the tantric art of “male continence.”

‘From the start, Noyes horrified more conventional Christians. But the once-timid theologian had graduated from Dartmouth and Yale and come to the same conclusion that countless alumni have since: He was “a perfect human being, incapable of sin.” ‘


Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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