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Abstract

In 1822, a young Shaker sister named Sally Dean penned a remarkable letter to her former church. Simultaneously a testimony of her faith and a rebuttal to criticism of Shakerism, it is the only known manuscript attributed to Dean, who wrote that it was “quite contrary” to her feelings to communicate in writing. That letter, however, did an excellent job of promoting Shaker views. What provoked it was a letter from Phineas Fletcher of the Baptized Church of Kingsbury and Hartford, New York. He wanted to know why, after professing her faith to the Baptists, she had left their church and gone to the Shakers, who broke up families, denied the resurrection of the body, and rejected customs such as baptism and communion. He asked for an explanation of her departure.

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