The Shakers

The Reform Movement Project

The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearance, or more commonly, the Shakers, were a religious communal movement in Northwest England during the 18th century. This group of men and women branched off from a Quaker community, creating a new society that emphasized ideals of celibacy, equality of sexes, pacifism and anti-marriage. However, unlike major religions during this time period like Christianity, the Shakers were not universalizing or ethnic and relied solely on recruits. Their views against reproduction inevitably led to their extinction in 1940.

"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."

-Catherine L. Carter and Martha E. Geores

The excerpts above I think truly summarizes the Shakers very well. Carter and Geores comment on the positive aspects of the Shaker community as well as the reason for their extinction.

The Shakers were a unique religious sect. Founded by James and Jane Wardley, the Shakers believed in the reunification of sin and that the end of the world was near. The society was one of the longest-loved sects under the leadership of Mother Ann Lee. In 1840 the population reached its height of 6000 members. The society lasted impressively long, until 1940, seeing on how each member was a recruit .

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