The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, more commonly referred to as Shakers, is one of the most intriguing and influential religious and social movements in American history.
The English-born founder of the movement, Ann Lee, arrived in New York in 1774, and with a small group of followers settled near Albany. After her death in 1784, the group established their primary settlement at New Lebanon (renamed Mount Lebanon in 1861), and eventually spread to 19 communities from Maine to Kentucky, the first and largest American communal organization. Today one Shaker community exists in Maine.
The Shakers believe in the millennialist principle of establishing “heaven on earth” through the practices of communitarian social organization, pacifism, celibacy, gender equality, and the public confession of sin.
The Shakers made significant contributions in religious thought, music, art, architecture, agriculture, and business, and became known for the simple, elegant design and high quality of their products.