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Free Love in America

13 April 1886
Call number: 
US 93/1

John Humphrey Knowles, whom many people were pleased to hear died April 13, 1886, had preached and practised Free Love. In 1848 Knowles established the Oneida Community near New York. Here, according to his teachings, everybody was married to everybody else ('Complex Marriage'). The community elders had first choice when it came to deflowering the young boys and girls (beginning at 14, 'Ascending Fellowship'). Ideas taken from eugenics (Stirpiculture) were important in the efforts to keep down the number of pregnancies. By prohibiting men from ejaculating ('Male Continence'), the birth rate was somewhat controlled.
Although the Oneida Community, even at its height, had no more than 200 members, it was considered an immense threat to morals. An example is the fierce and elaborate (502 pp.) accusation in a book called 'Free love and its votaries; or, American socialism unmasked, being an historical and descriptive account of the rise and progress of the various Free Love associations in the United States, and of the effects of their vicious teachings upon American Society' by John B. Ellis(1870).