Monday, September 8, 2008

Ann Lee and the Shakers

Mother Ann Lee was the founder of the Shakers. Shakers' official name is The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing but are usually called the Shakers. This is due to shaking and trembling they did during their ritual dance. The shaking was thought to rid the body of sin.

Ann Lee was born in Manchester, England in 1747 and was married off, by her parents, at a very early age. He had eight children, four that died during childbirth and four that died before they were six. She developed religious beliefs against sexual activity and marriage and became famous for her preaching of her beliefs. She emigrated to the US in 1774 fleeing persecution and settled in Watervliet which is somewhere near Albany, NY.

Shakers lived in communes where men and woman lived side by side as equals. They believed that the spirit of god lived through your work. Their craftsmanship is famous for perfectionism and beauty without being ostentatious. Their inventiveness brought us the clothespin, the circular saw and the flat broom. Their membership dwindled into the 20th century. Since they didn't reproduce, they could only grow or survive by recruitment or adoption. States no longer allow the adoption of children by communes. The last Shaker community closed in 1992. There were close to 20 of them in the US at their peak, mostly in the New York and New England. The last few remaining Shakers live in Sabbathday Lake, Maine.

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