IN the midst of the Belchertown campaign of 1842 Joshua Longley, the most prominent of the Beichertown Perfectionists, sent Noyes an urgent request for three hundred dollars to tide him over a financial crisis and save the cause from reproach. Miller advanced the amount from money needed by the store. In the fall Longley again called loudly for help. Noyes replied that the Corporation could not, unless by some unforeseen good luck, meet its own obligations. After the death of David Harrison his widow with four children came upon the Corporation for support. They were crowded into the Campbell house with the Cragins and Mr. Bradley. In November 1843 Noyes wrote to Longley: "For my sake, for the sake of peace and confidence between me and Miller, I entreat you to take decisive measures to have that note paid at once." But Longley was unable to raise the money. Meanwhile trade at the Corporation store had dropped to a low ebb owing to the policy, which had been adopted, of selling only for cash. Miller was compelled to borrow for the running expenses of the Corporation as well as to make up the losses of the publishing department. ~~hen Noyes and Cragin returned from their Connecticut trip they had money enough for only one stage fare, and Cragin walked part of the way. There was still another complication. Noyes's younger brother George became of age on December 4, 1843, and the question of his future and the disposition of his share in his father's estate, which Noyes had thus far held for him in trust, was involved.
Under these circumstances Noyes appealed to his subscribers to lift the load of publication which the Corporation must otherwise throw down, sent a circular letter to each member of the Corporation urging temperance and economy, modified the cash rule in the store to allow credit consistent with safe, simple business, and arranged with his brother George to become Miller's partner in
the store, transferring to George as his share in his father's estate one-half interest in the lot where the store stood and one-half interest in the Campbell farm, where he and Miller were to live. Finally, for the purpose of registering the changes that had taken place and simplifying still further the pecuniary relations between the members of the Corporation, Noyes, Skinner, Miller and George formed a new partnership "without keeping an account of their individual expenses," a provision which, writes Mrs. Harriet A. Noyes in her journal, "we all think will unite us more closely than ever."
CONTRACT OF PARTNERSHIP FEBRUARY 26, 1844
The undersigned hereby enter into a partnership, the conditions of which are as follows:
1 All property of every kind, which we are now severally possessed of or which shall hereafter come into our possession so long as we remain in the Corporation, shall be held as the property of the Corporation; and all debts, which we now owe or may hereafter contract so long as we remain in the Corporation, shall be held as the debts of the Corporation.
2. The whole property thus converted into joint-stock and all its increase shall be controlled by the Corporation in its united capacity; and the unanimous agreement of the partners shall be necessary in all important transactions.
3. Any of the partners may withdraw from the Corporation on the first of January of any year, or at any other time with the consent of the Corporation.
4. In case of withdrawal or dissolution the whole property of the Corporation at the time shall be appraised, either by the agreement of the partners or by impartial men chosen by them, and each withdrawing partner shall be entitled to such share of the property as shall be proportioned to his previous investments; and in case any one of the partners shall be removed from the Corporation by death, his heirs shall receive his share of the property in the same manner.
5. We agree that the following estimate of our several investments until the present time shall be the basis of calculation in determining the proportion of the joint property to which we or our heirs shall be severally entitled in case of withdrawal, dissolution or death:
John H. Noyes invests $7.980.00
John R. Miller invests $7.220.00
John L. Skinner invests $5.420.00
George W. Noyes invests $5.320.00
6. In case any one of the partners shall hereafter obtain from extraneous sources (as by inheritance) and invest in the joint-stock any additional property, the value of that property shall be added to his investment stated above, and shall increase accordingly the proportion to which he or his heirs shall be entitled in case of withdrawal, dissolution or death.
7. In case any interest or annuities shall be paid by any of the partners for any stock invested by them, or in case any repayment of stock shall be required by persons from whom any of the partners have received it, or in case any losses shall be sustained on account of debts or liabilities contracted before the partners were connected with each other in September 1841, such payments or losses shall be deducted from the investments of the partners on whom they fall, and shall diminish accordingly their proportion in the event of division.
8. The expenses and labors of each of the partners, with his family and necessary dependents, shall be held as the expenses and labors of the Corporation, and shall not be charged or credited to the individuals so as to increase or diminish the shares to which they or their heirs shall be severally entitled in case of division or death.
9. Each of the partners shall have a copy of this contract signed by all of them; and in case any additions to or deductions from the investments shall be made, such additions or deductions with the name of the partners concerned shall be endorsed on each copy; and those endorsements shall be the evidence of the additions or deductions to be made in case of division.
John H. Noyes
Witnesses Lemuel H. Bradley, John R. Miller, Maria Clark John L. Skinner, George W. Noyes
With the formation of this new partnership the Corporation began to overcome the difficulties against which they had contended for a year. Sufficient pledges were received from subscribers and the publication of The Perfectionist was resumed. "Dying and behold we live," Noyes wrote to his wife, "must be our motto for the present. That is better than dying altogether."
Applicants for admission to the Corporation now began to be heard. Noyes turned them away with the statement that, since the object of the Corporation was the publication of the gospel of salvation from sin, neither the attention nor the expense required by a primarily communistic enterprise could be spared.
Mrs. Harriet A. Noyes's grandfather died in August of this year, and as one of his three heirs she received nine thousand dollars. This completely relieved the financial pressure, and led to an enlarged "plan of operations," which is thus set forth by Noyes:
Money-making is the soul of the world. Therefore in order to subdue the world to Christ we must carry religion into money-making. We have begun right in getting the fullness of the gospel first. To keep religion always in control we must establish a theological seminary as a permanent and increasing basis of printing and preaching. Having thus set up a spiritual bank, we must as soon as we obtain the means establish wholesale commercial agencies in Boston and New York. These agencies will furnish facilities for distributing our spiritual
currency in this country. Then we must advance into foreign commerce, and as our means enlarge we must cover the ocean with our ships and the whole world with the knowledge of God. This is a great scheme, but not too great for God. Let every man, woman and child among us take hold with the heart of a hero and the meek subordination of a servant, and within ten years we will plant the standard of Christ on the highest battlements of the world.
The "Contract of Partnership" adopted on February 26, 1844, remained in force only until March 9, 1845, when it was superseded by an elaborate "Constitution," of which we quote only the preamble:
For the purpose of sustaining the gospel of salvation from sin and gaining the advantages of union and combined capital we, whose names are hereunto subscribed, enter into entire partnership with each other, and agree to be governed by the following regulations: . .
This Constitution was a long step in the direction of organized Communism. Its most significant changes as compared with the Contract of Partnership were these:
First, under the Contract no provision was made for members other than those who invested property. Under the Constitution there were two sorts of members, those who invested time but not property, and those who invested both time and property.
Second, under the Contract there were no officers; the management was in the hands of the partners as a united body. Under the Constitution a President, Secretary and three Directors were chosen annually from among the stockholders; it was their duty to direct the affairs of the Corporation and report at the end of each year. The Secretary, in addition to the usual duties of his office, was required to keep a journal of all important events in the history of the Corporation.
Third, under the Contract unanimity was required in all transactions. Under the Constitution unanimity was required only for the admission of new members. A majority vote of the members could call meetings, elect officers, take action in case of disagree-
ment among the officers, expel members; and a majority vote of the officers was sufficient for the transaction of ordinary business.
Fourth, under the Contract the Corporation guaranteed the economic support of all its members, but there was no reciprocal duty of the members to the Corporation. Under the Constitution the Corporation guaranteed the economic support of all its members, but with the prerequisite that every member should be governed in his "expenses, labors and domestic arrangements" by the officers of the Corporation.
Fifth, under the Contract profit in case of dissolution was divided among stockholders in proportion to the amount of their stock. Under the Constitution profit was divided among all the members, whether stockholders or not, in proportion to length of service. Losses under both instruments fell only on holders of the stock.
After signing this Constitution the Corporation elected John
R. Miller President, John L. Skinner Secretary, and John H. Noyes, George Cragin and George W. Noyes Directors. The amount of property invested by the members was as follows:
John H. Noyes $15.173.00
John R. Miller $7.220.00
John L. Skinner $5.420.00
George W. Noyes $5.320.00
George Cragin $200.00
Certificates of investment were issued to the stockholders, and a time-of-admission certificate was issued to Stephen R. Leonard, who was not a stockholder.
Written constitutions were from the beginning foreign to the genius of the Putney and Oneida Communities. They were out of date the day after they were written. The Journal of the Corporation records only one more meeting under the Constitution of March 9th. It was held on February 20, 1846. The officers of the preceding year were all re-elected. A perfunctory financial report was made by the President, showing a nominal gain for the year of $286.66. The Secretary recorded as of more substantial interest '~a very considerable increase of love to God and one another, which is our most valuable capital." Soon the authority and even the existence of the Constitution of March 9th, 1845, were forgotten, and in the later history no other such instrument is found.
Chapter 10: Steps Towards a General Organization of Perfectionists 1841 - 1845 | Contents