After Ann Lee’s death, Shakers regulated morality in a more mundane fashion. Their domestic surveillance turned up misbehavior, which Believers were required to report to the elders, who tried to convince sinners to repent and confess. The society’s leaders, a team of two brethren and two sisters known as the Ministry, institutionalized procedures for repentance and confession. During the Era of Manifestations, however, that system changed. Shakers tried to maintain a dynamic tension between gifts of inspiration and their need for order and union. But from 1838 through 1841, inspiration prevailed. Knowing that their followers prized spiritual gifts, the Ministry and Elders gave visionists free rein, much as Ann Lee had done with Pierce and Prescot. As a result, some instruments used spirit messages to threaten, intimidate, and expel their peers. That is what befell Sally Dean and Olive Gates.

First Page


Last Page