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The Shakers

  • Date Submitted: 12/13/2011 06:26 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 41.9 
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The ShakersIn his book,┬áThe American Soul, Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders,┬áJacob Needleman states, "we need to appreciate the important role that innovative religious communities played in the formation of our country--remembering that, for many of the Founding Fathers, America itself was envisioned as a new land, a new community defined not only politically but also spiritually." While the definition of "spirituality" took many forms, from enlightenment principles to freedom of worship, many European groups envisioned America as a place to plant the seeds for utopian communities, both religious and secular. One such group was the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, commonly known as the Shakers, who arrived in America from England in 1774. Founded in 1747, in Manchester, England, from a group of dissenting Quakers, only a handful of Shakers came to North America in 1774. Once in America, the Shakers won many converts, and their faith spread to include roughly 6,000 members just before the Civil War. The Shakers were but one of many sects that found fertile soil in the North American continent to practice their beliefs and expand. Today, except for one active community in Sabbathday, Maine, the great Shaker villages are diminished, but the Shakers left an enduring impact on the religion and culture of the United States.           The origins of the Shakers, like many other religious sects that splintered off mainstream Protestantism, are found in the 17th century. The Protestant Revolution, which began in Europe in 1517, along with the discoveries of new technologies and trade routes, altered the political, spiritual, and economic life of Europe and the world. The discoveries of the Americas, the uses of the vernacular tongues in writing, and the ancient earth-centered universe disproved by most astronomers, along with the opening of new trade routes and newer technologies for warfare altered the earlier medieval conception of the...

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