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SHAKERS
The United Society of Believers
The United Society of Believers (or "Shakers") was founded in England in the mid 18th century by Ann Lee. Mother Ann and eight followers split from the Quaker movement and moved in 1774 to Albany, New York in a search for religious freedom. The Shakers were first known as Shaking Quakers then later simply Shakers because of the shaking dance which sometimes accompanied their worship.

They followed governing principles of celibacy, neatness, cleanliness, and agrarian communal living, lived in gender segregated, dormitory-style housing, but coming together to work and pray. The Shaker movement in America was also characterized by public confession of sins, pacifism, belief in equality of all people, and daily living designed to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. They were one of the most successful American experiments in communal living.

The Shakers believed in living a simple but comfortable lifestyle. Their skill in furniture making and woodworking are described well by the Shaker credo "Beauty rests on utility". Shaker style furniture is still made today and admired for its utility, beauty and simple lines.

The sect grew by the mid-ninteenth century to about 6,000 members in eighteen communities in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Partially because of their belief in celebacy, but primarily due to their loss of financial stability which resulted from the American shift towards mass produced goods after the Civil War, the Shakers, by 1900 they had declined to about 1,000. There are currently less than 10 Shakers left...living in the Sabbathday Lake Village