The Shakers

The Shakers, also known as the "Shakers Quakers" were founded in the 18th century in England, the shakers are officially a branch of the Quaker community. They were known as "Shaking Quakers" because of their very hyper and passionate behavior during worship services. In 1747 women became the main leaders within the sect due to their desire for women's equality. Two of the main women leaders were Jane Wardley and Mother Ann Lee, they helped make the "Shakers" become a model of women's equality in America. The Shakers were also known for their famous herb gathering techniques. The Shakers initially settled in New Lebanon, New York (called Mount Lebanon after 1861) and also what is now known as Watervliet.

The Shakers in action during a ritual service.
The Shakers gathering herbs and food in the fields.

Primary Source:
The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, better known as the Shakers, is a communitarian group that originated in England and migrated to America in 1774. It is a Christian sect that significantly diverges from mainstream Christianity. The Shakers believe that Christ has already returned to earth, as promised in the Bible, and that he has established an embryonic Kingdom of God within the Shaker sect. Christ himself, they believe, came as Mother Ann Lee, their early and most charismatic leader.The Shakers1 were focused upon perfecting themselves, which they believed was possible within the confines of their villages; once they were perfect, God’s kingdom would come in full and it would come as a Shaker village. The village, therefore, played a critical role in the task of perfection. It was a proleptic expression of the Kingdom of God; that is, the kingdom was, at one and the same time, now and not yet. Christ had returned but the full instantiation of his kingdom was yet to come.Their practices derived from these beliefs. Their doctrine was founded upon five main points – celibacy and gender equality, community, confession, charism (a miraculously given power or insight), and millennialism (a belief that the kingdom of God would soon be established on earth).The Shakers were best known for their energetic and spirit-possessed worship. As early as 1769, while they were still in England, the Virginia Gazette reported on the strange new sect that was known for shaking, screeching, singing and dancing, and apparent visions and spirit possession in worship services that lasted for hours (Correspondent 1769). It was this behavior that caused the nickname Shaker to be assigned to the sect.The Shakers were an extraordinary people, with idealistic visions for the possibility of the future. Heaven on earth was their consistent goal. Their villages reflect this single-minded purpose and the effort with which they pursued their goal. All but one of the villages are now closed. Sabbathday Lake in Maine has four members.

They believed that they needed to perfect themselves for god, and that when they did he would come to their perfect village.

Some other things you should know about the Shakers are the things that Jane Wardley and Mother Ann Lee did. Jane Wardley was married to James Wardley, the Wardley's were an ex-Quaker couple who had formed a new group. Jane claims she had received a message from god that Jesus was about to return and that she needed to let people know. She wanted to make her society perfect so Jesus would spare them, hereby creating the Shakers. Mother Ann Lee was the leader of the Shakers for a long period of time, she helped spread the idea of equality and that women were equal.

By Fischer Bodwell and Robert Johnson

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