Friday, April 19, 2013

Lucy Wright and the Shakers

The Shakers were a uniquely American, quasi-monastic, charismatic Protestant movement, founded outside of Albany, New York. They expressed their religious fervor through dance. To quote:
Lucy worked diligently to energize the westward expansion of Shakerism.  Under her administration the decision was made, in 1804, to send out the mission which eventually led to the establishment of 7 Shaker societies in Kentucky, Ohio, & Indiana.  By 1840, an estimated 5,000 or more Shakers lived in 19 principal communities in New England, New York, Ohio, & Kentucky. Brothers and sisters lived in dormitory accommodations in dwelling houses separated by sex. Males & females used separate stairways, & meeting houses had separate entrances & seating arrangements. Daily labors were also divided by gender. Shaker communities were agriculturally-based. Communities grew their own produce, raised livestock, wove cloth, made finely-crafted furniture, & sold a variety of goods to what they referred to as the (outside) “World.”

This type of communal living may have appealed to many for both spiritual & practical reasons. Membership freed individuals from the responsibility of individual land ownership, while providing converts with clothing, daily meals, & jobs. It also liberated many from the constraints of marriage & childbirth. Although the Shakers chose not to procreate, families with children often joined, & communities also adopted children. At the age of 21, these young adults could either choose to become full covenant members or leave to live in the World. (Read entire post.)

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