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Abstract

The Shakers, with all their idiosyncratic ideas of millennialism, of celibacy, of separation, and of communal property, worked hard to position themselves as the fulfillment of God’s plan for salvation made possible through the establishment of a non-coercive political system where they could live freely, oppose slavery, and encourage pacifism. The Shakers drew on common patriotic themes which stressed a divine plan for America, but they extended their reach by way of distinctive theological analyses which were neither superficial nor merely occasional. Their claims appeared in history texts, hymn verses, visionary manifestations, new sacred texts, and, even, a gift drawing. Although one can trace, as we will in this essay, examples of their national engagement ranging from 1808 to 1854, one might also notice that they had dreamed of an America where they would be free from persecution prior to leaving England in and that they continued to provide serious leadership for American ideals through their work in peace movements in the early days of the twentieth century.

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