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Jemima Wilkinson

1752-1819. Religious leader. Born in Cumberland, Rhode Island, her religious interest was roused about 1758 by George Whitefield's* sermons and by the meetings of the “New Light Baptists.” In 1774 she was influenced by Ann Lee,* the founder in America of the “Shakers.” Following fever, she claimed to have died and that her body was inhabited by the “Spirit of Life.” Taking the name “Public Universal Friend,” she held open-air meetings, led processions on horseback clad in a long robe over masculine attire, and established churches (1777- 82). Her disciples' claim that she was Christ come again aroused hostility, forcing her to leave New England; she eventually established a colony “Jerusalem” in Yates County (1790). Internal disputes affected the movement, which disintegrated entirely after her death.