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Historical Society Program Will Explore Attempts To Create Utopia

Sir Thomas Moore coined the term “utopia” in his book of the same name in 1516, describing the intricacies of an island nation that could be called a “perfect” society.

On Monday, April 8, Newtown Historical Society will host a program by Gordon Williams about just that subject. “All This And Heaven Too” will looking at many attempts by others to create their own utopias here on earth,

The program will begin at 7:30 pm in the community room of C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street.

The urge to create a Utopian society has been with people since history has been recorded: the legend of Atlantis with its technological wonders, the Greeks with their diverse city-states, and various European monarchs looking to form their domains into visions pleasing to themselves and their religions. The United States was founded to “form a more perfect union,” and in this atmosphere individual visions of what that meant were fostered and came to life in the 237 years since this nation’s founding.

These societies came to life in various and different ways. The “Shaking Quakers,” or Shakers, are the oldest Utopian experiment in the United States, originally led by Ann Lee, supporting the idea of equality of the sexes. Some societies were very benign with their message, such as promoting industriousness before the second coming of Christ as in the Harmony Society led by George Rapp.

Some were more radical in their approach, like John Humphrey Noyes, who founded Oneida, where meetings were held where attendees would mutually criticize one another’s faults in an attempt to improve themselves. Some Utopias, however, were not as idyllic: Modern Times, founded by Joseph Warren outside of New York, was little more than anarchy and has been called disgusting and degenerate.

Gordon Williams is a historian and former teacher well known to groups in Newtown. He is a former Trumbull Teacher of the Year, a Fulbright scholar and exchange teacher, and still loves to spin historic tales.

He has spoken before the historical society, of which he is a former president, and other local groups many times. A former longtime resident of Newtown, Mr Williams is also active with the town’s Lions Club.

Newtown Historical Society programs are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served following the presentation.

Reservations are not needed. Call 203-426-5937 or visit www.newtownhistory.org for additional information.

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