Shaker History


The individuals at Sabbathday Lake are carriers of a religious tradition that dates back to the eighteenth century. Their founder, Mother Ann Lee, a Manchester textile worker, led a group of followers to America in 1774, to flee persecution and imprisonment in England, and to practice their more autonomous, personal Christianity in the New World. In the late 1770s, they established their first community in what was Watervliet, New York. The first group was "gathered into order" as a fully organized community in 1787 in New Lebanon, New York. The foundations of their faith, which have continued to this day, are celibacy, common ownership of property, confession of sins, and pacifism. Covenanted members relinquish all personal property, as well as the right to receive wages for their services. The Society was at its height around 1840, when more than five thousand Believers lived in nineteen communal villages from New England to Ohio and Kentucky. Today, Sabbathday Lake is the only active Shaker community