When most people hear the words “Valley Forge,” they conjure up pictures of poorly clad Revolutionary War soldiers starving in the backwoods of Pennsylvania while “fat cat” Redcoats feast on the colony’s spoils during the winter social season in Philadelphia. In contrast, very few individuals are aware of the attempt to found a community there during the 1820s that eventually resulted in almost sixty converts to Shakerism. This relatively forgotten chapter in Shaker history, however, is worth a detailed examination. While the Valley Forge community is a mere footnote in the history of communal societies in the United States, for the Shakers it was one of the richest single sources of life-long members.
American Communal Societies Quarterly