What were the fastest-growing religions in the United States by 1800? Provide an example of a utopian religious community formed in the eighteenth or nineteenth century, and explain their connection to the American workforce.

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During the 19th century, communities based on shared principles, which were often religious beliefs, were established throughout the United States. Often termed "utopian communities," they featured experimental forms of social organization, such as communal landholding and polygamy. As the United States became more well known as a nation with religious...

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During the 19th century, communities based on shared principles, which were often religious beliefs, were established throughout the United States. Often termed "utopian communities," they featured experimental forms of social organization, such as communal landholding and polygamy. As the United States became more well known as a nation with religious tolerance, immigrants from various countries established such communities. With westward expansion, as new territories were opened to Euro-American settlement, people seeking land and acceptance increasingly moved west to establish their communities.

In the 1840s, the New England transcendentalists established the Brook Farm community in suburban Boston Massachusetts; Nathaniel Hawthorne was a founding member. Another transcendentalist community, Fruitlands in Harvard, Massachusetts included founders Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May) and Charles Lane. They not only practiced vegetarianism but also declined to use animal labor in their farming practices.

The Amana community in Iowa was established in the 1840s by German immigrants. One of the longest lasting communities, it remained in operation into the 1880s.

Another notable movement was prompted by Joseph Smith's spiritual vision. His Church of LatterDay Saints attracted members who followed him from Illinois to Utah.

In addition, communities that sought to move beyond religion were innovations of the 19th century. The most well known, New Harmony, Indiana, was founded by Robert Owen, seeking to base shared understanding and lifeways on science.

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By 1800, several Protestant denominations were growing quickly. Baptists, Methodists, and Lutherans enjoyed the fastest growth. The growth occurred quite quickly in what was considered the west for the young Republic. The Baptists and Methodist churches were self-governing, and lay people led some of the initial churches in early settlements. These early churches often met in people's houses before they could build an actual church. The church provided a social outlet as well as a place for spiritual guidance.

The Shaker communities of the early 1800s were an attempt to create utopia. Shakers were celibate, as they believed that the fall of Man originated with sex. They took in children through adoption in order to keep the movement alive. Shakers believed in hard work, as thrift and industriousness did away with sinful thoughts and therefore brought one closer to God. The Shakers continue to be famous for their furniture and artwork. Shakers valued work for work's sake and did not look at it as only a way to gain wealth. In this respect, they were different from the rapidly industrializing United States, where rising "captains of industry" looked to work as the way to gain wealth and prestige.

One of the more notable aspects of Shaker culture is their belief in gender equality. Many of the most prominent Shaker leaders were women, which is remarkable given that most Protestant denominations of the time period did not believe in allowing women to lead church services.

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By 1800, the fastest growing religions in the United States were evangelical movements such as Protestants, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Quakers, and Methodists. To understand why, it's important to look at the context.

In the 16th century, the protestant reformation in Europe saw the growth of new, non-Catholic Christian faiths that had different ideas about papal authority and how to get to heaven. Some, like the Calvinists, believed that your eternal fate was pre-decided at your birth. Others, like the Lutherans, believed that one can get to heaven only through faith. Others believe that faith and good works/deeds get you to heaven.

In response to these new religious sects, some European countries persecuted minority Christian religions. For example, Henry VIII made England an Anglican country, and non-Anglicans were discriminated against and persecuted. This is partly what encouraged the Puritan pilgrims to travel to the New World and settle colonies like the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Other countries, like in France, saw religious civil wars between Catholics and non-Catholics (the Thirty Year's War).

All of these events in Europe saw the rise of evangelical religions in the United States by 1800. An example of a Utopian religious community that formed in the 1700's-1800's would be the Shakers, who created several settlements in the mid-18th century. They practiced celibacy, communal ownership of goods, and division between the genders; men and women lived and worked separately. They were engaged in furniture manufacturing, connecting them to a growing commodities market in the United States in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

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The fastest-growing religions in the United States by 1800 were evangelical Protestant sects, including Methodism and the Baptists. These religions were especially popular with ordinary Americans, including farmers and the working classes, which were emerging in many cities. They especially exploded in the Second Great Awakening of the 1820s–30s. Most of the utopian communities that formed in this period were religious in nature. The Shakers, for example, which emerged in the late eighteenth-century, were a religious sect that sought to separate from society in order to pursue their faith. Like some other religious utopians, they devoted themselves to communal work, including unique architecture and furniture. Some utopian communities were explicitly created to experiment with new ways to work. The New Harmony settlement, for example, was founded by Scottish industrialist Robert Owen to promote industry and scientific progress in opposition to the form of industrial capitalism that was emerging in both Britain and the United States. The Oneida community, aside from practicing non-traditional marital relations out of religious conviction, also worked communally in manufacturing a number of goods, including the silverware and flatware for which they eventually became famous. So utopian communities marked in many ways an intersection between work and religion changes in the antebellum period—the so-called "market revolution."

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