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Shakers

The common name of the celibate and communistic “United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing,” originating in the Quaker revivals of mid-eighteenth- century England. Mother Ann Lee* (d.1784) is generally considered the founder of the movement. Persecution, limited success, and a direct revelation led Mother Ann and seven followers to emigrate to New York in 1774. In 1787 the first Shaker settlement was established at New Lebanon, New York, which became the main base for the society's missionary enterprise in America. By the time Ann died, in spite of bitter opposition, there were growing numbers of Shakers in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The movement spread in the wake of revivalism* on the American frontier throughout the first part of the nineteenth century. Shaker communities were established as far west as Kentucky and Indiana. The society reached its zenith in the decade before the American Civil War when there were some 6,000 members in eighteen