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Introduction Utopian Literature Dystopian Literature Utopian Communities



Community Members with Nagasawa.
The group at Fountain Grove numbered 300 at its height in about 1873. Harris hand-picked his members through a long process of training in the ways of Divine Respiration. This worked as an effective screening process, a problem that plagued many utopian communes, such as Harmony, New Harmony, and even the Shakers.

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Fountaingrove was established in 1875 by Thomas Lake Harris, founder of the Brotherhood of the New Life and of three colonies in New York between 1861 and 1867. Fountaingrove, described by its founder as a Theo-Socialist community, was situated in Northern California on 700 acres two miles north of Santa Rosa, “the Eden of the West.” The charismatic Harris called himself the "primate," or "pivotal man" chosen by God, in whom the forces of good and evil fought on earth and from whom the announcement of Christ’s Second Coming would emerge. He identified himself with Christ and as a bi-sexual and divine man-woman.

His spiritualist doctrine included teachings such as Divine Respiration, which enabled the brotherhood to commune with God through rhythmic breathing. In 1891, Harris’s complex theories of Spiritual Counterparts—each person had a counterpart in heaven—and celibacy resulted in a widely publicized accusation of sexual license and immorality. Harris left Fountaingrove but not without having presided over a successful enterprise.