Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Shakers: A Collection of Anti-Family Quotations

Early in October 1844, Engels had written to his friend Marx in Paris that ..... “The first people in America,” he wrote, “and indeed in the world who brought into realization a society founded on the community of property were the so-called Shakers. [Ref. Feuer, Lewis S., “The Influence of the American Communist Colonies on Engels and Marx,” The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 3. (Sep., 1966), pp. 456-474. ]


The following text discusses the importance of the accomplishments of the American cult known as the Shakers (properly “Society of Friends”) on the thinking in October 1844 of Frederich Engels as an inspiration for a workable Communist movement. Engels would co-author with Karl Marx the text that came to be known as “The Communist Manifesto” which was published in London on Feb. 21, 1848, a mere three and a half years following Engels’ endorsement of Shakerism as the model for a Communist society.

Shakerism is today usually represented in glowing terms. In reality Shaker society was, in many of its communities, a totalitarian cult which quite literally took the form of a panopticon, total surveillance, total censorship and blocking of adherents’ access to and contact from outsiders. The cult raised money by defrauding newcomers and it openly engaged in child kidnapping and used psychological conditioning to alienate children from their parents in order to insure that the Shaker labor force would be maintained and perpetuated.


EXCERPT: (from Lewis S. Feuer; 1966 article): We tend to think of Marxism as a political doctrine which emerged altogether from European experience, and which was then exported to the United States. There was an astonishing unity of experience and aspiration, however, common to America and Western Europe during the eighteen-forties. Young men in Germany, France, and England who found themselves drawn to the new, strange, and stirring communist movement listened eagerly and avidly to the reports from the American continent that communist communities were practicable and prosperous. They drew from the American experience the evidence for their view that communism, indeed, was the next stage f human society. Frederich Engels was the leader in expounding to his fellow Germans the significance of the American communist experience. In later years he was to ridicule “Utopian” thought and action. But as he and Marx were forming their standpoint in The Holy Family and the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, that the word “communism” meant for them was the kind of society which was being created by the American communist communities. The overcoming of man’s alienation was then their central aim; what this signified in practical terms was the establishment of communist communities in the American style.

This story has not previously been told – how Frederich Engels in 1844 and 1845 brought the glad tidings of the American communities to his German comrades, and how they proposed to show they were communists who could be practical, too, by founding a community similar to the American pattern. The whole episode has important bearings for our understanding for the development of Marxism.

During this period, when Engels spoke of communism, he meant the community system as practiced by the American colonies. The term “socialism” was usually used interchangeably with “communism,” but when Engels wished to be more precise, he would use “socialism” to signify in Germany a broader, vaguer conception of social reorganization than communism; “in this country the word Socialism means nothing but the different vague, undefined, and undefinable imaginations of those who see that something must be done, and who yet cannot  make up their minds to go the whole length of the Community system. [introductory paragraphs of: Feuer, Lewis S., “The Influence of the American Communist Colonies on Engels and Marx,” The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 3. (Sep., 1966), pp. 456-474. ]


Shaker terminology

Christ = refers to Jesus & Ann Lee in conjunction, or to Ann Lee as superseding Jesus
Connexion, Connection = blood relative
Family = Residential group, none of whom are related by blood
Fleshy, Fleshly = of natural family relations
Gift = order from the Elders; or, in special circumstances, divinely inspired order
Gospel = The unpublished Shaker laws (in manuscript book form)
Open = confess to Elders
The World = non-Shaker

A.        Anti-Family

1786 (before)

“A Letter Written By James Whittaker” (Senior Elder, died 1786); joined Shakers 1776),
quoted in Thomas Brown, An Account of the People Called Shakers, 1812, pp. 39-42

Excerpt: Why tell me of your increasing and multiplying after the flesh? Your vessels are marred in the potters hands – (Jer. Xviii. 4.) and they must be made over again by regeneration, or go down to the pit. Say ye, it is a command to increase and multiply; bit I say it never was a command to corrupt the earth, and fill it with a double condemnation, and then plead the commands of God to increase and multiply, as though you had been doing his will; when you are conscious to yourselves, or know in your hearts, that you never had any other will but your own in so doing; a will proceeding from the lusts of the flesh. God has given me the power to increase and multiply in its true mystical, typical, and evangelical sense; which I go forth to do. I have begotten many thousands of children, and replenished them with many good tidings. I hate your fleshly lives, and your fleshly generations, as I hate the smoke of the bottomless pit; and your pleading the commands of God to increase and multiply, to cover your beastly conduct and doleful corruption, and inverting the order of heaven. … you are but a stink in my nostrils …


Rathbun, Reasons Offered, 1800
Quoted in Mary Dyer (Marshall), Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 66

You call marriage a covenant of death and hell! Again, at Harwood, I was present when Samuel Fitch brought in his wife, son and daughter; ordered them to kneel down – then kneeled himself, in the midst of an assembly of their own sort of people – then, in a solemn manner, renounced his wife and children as being his wife or children ever any more, and forbid his wife ever esteeming him husband again; declaring she was no longer his wife, nor he her husband. You also used severe chastisement, and many other methods, to set men and women, husbands and wives, at the greatest variance from each other.

Rathbun, Reasons Offered, 1800
Quoted in Mary Dyer, Rise and Progress …, 1847, p. 47

You renounce the Bible, and introduce a doctrine quite different from that of Moses and Christ, which will appear by shocking instances among you, viz. children of your community cursing their parents who were not believers, calling them wolves or devils; children insulting their parents, who were of your community, in opprobrious language …”


[Seth Youngs], Testimony of Christ’s Second Appearing, 1808, United Society of Believers,  p. ? (quoted in Andrews, The People Called Shakers, 1953, p. 98)

If any man come to me and not hate his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be his own disciple. [text refers to Luke 14:26-27, 33, as authority]


Smith, Col. James, Remarkable Occurances …, 1810, p. 17

The Shakers reach their diciples, that it is a virtue to be without natural affection. If then under the influence of this doctrine, men become monsters, & abandon their wives, shall we suffer the mother to be robbed of their tender offspring, by a father destitute of natural affection; and by him consigned to bondage?

Polly Smith, affirmation, Aug. 20, 1810, Canebridge
Smith, Shakerism Detected, 1810, p. 11

Whilst she was among the shakers, she heard them say it was necessary when a man and woman joined their body who had a family of children, that it was best to separate them; putting the man in one place and the woman in another, and their children in a third place, the more easily to kill natural affection.

Smith, Shakerism Detected, 1810, p. 11

Shakerism includes in it all kinds of political evils; it disturbs the peace of families; separates husbands and wives; robs women of their tender offspring; destroys natural affection; dissolves the marriage covenant, which is the main pillar of any state or kingdom.

Smith, Col. James, “An Attempt to Develop Shakerism,” Spirit of 76 (Washington, DC), Jul. 20, 1810, p. 4;
reprinted in Remarkable Occurances …Shakerism Developed, 1810, p. 9

After joining the Shakers, he [James Smith Jr] appeared to be divested of all natural affection towards Polly, and other connections

“Hymn of Love,” before 1810, Shaker song; from Thomas Brown, An Account of the People Called Shakers, 1812, pp. 371-2

And to the flesh you’re related
Love not flesh or fleshly kin, (26-27)

Love your parents in the spirit,
Love them freely, though unseen; (32-3)

Love your Elders in their calling,
Love their counsel to obey (36-7)


Thomas Brown, An Account of the People Called Shakers, 1812, pp. 217

If the wife believes, and not the husband, according to the order of the church she must still abide with the husband, and take up her cross according to the faith. I considered the true cause was, because the church had not power to take her away. If the husband will voluntarily give her up, the church will then receive her to live among believers. But if the husband believes, and not the wife, he is counseled to forsake her, and to have no union with her; and if he pleases he can take his children from her.—Many have forsaken their wives and children. I had frequently contended with several believers, that it was the duty of the husband to provide for his unbelieving wife and children, the same or better than he would have done if he had not believed. But this was disputed, and the following texts quoted to justify their conduct—Matt. X. 34 to 37.  Luke. Xii. 52, 53

Thomas Brown, An Account of the People Called Shakers, 1812, pp. 339

According to their faith, natural affection must be eradicated; and they say they must love all equally alike as brothers and sisters in the gospel. It would exceed the limits of this particular account of the schemes they have contrived to destroy all natural affection and social attachment between man and wife, parent and child, brothers and sisters, especially towards such as left the society. Two instances that occurred about this time [Fall 1796] as specimens of others may suffice. A mother, who had renounced the faith, came to Niskeuna to see her daughter. Eldress Hannah Matterson told the daughter to go into the room to her carnal mother and say – “What do you come here for? I don’t want you to come and see me with your carnal affections.”
The mother being grieved, replied –”I did not expect that a daughter of mine would ever address me in that manner.”
The daughter in obedience to what she was taught, replied again – “You have come here with your carnal, fleshy desires, and I don’t want to see you,” and then left her mother.
Some time after, one Dunham Shapley, who had belonged to the society, called to see Abigail his sister at Niskeuna, whom he had not seen in six or seven years; but he was not admitted; he waited some time, being loth to go away without seeing her; at last she was ordered to go to the window and address him in the language of abuse and scurrility. The words she made use of, it would be indecent to mention. For this she was applauded, and that in the author’s hearing when he belonged to the society.


Testimony before New York Legislature, Mar. 20, 1816
in Eunice Chapman, Account, 1818, p. 36

Mrs. Geddis also stated, that “the Shakers are not allowed to receive a letter from a friend until it has been examined by the Elders. She said that when her mother called to see her, she was ordered by the Elders to tell her not to come there with her carnal and old natural affections, disturbing the people of God, and then leave her


Deposition of Jonathan Davis,
Quoted in Van Vleet, “Development of Shakerism,” Weekly Recorder (Chillicothe, Ohio), Oct. 29, 1817, p. 102

[In 1805] no husband and wife were permitted to have any more intercourse with each other than if they were not married; that husband and wife were instructed to have no more affection for each other than for any other person.
Though this deponent and his wife wished to keep children under their own care, yet as they were made to believe that it was the Gift of God, they suffered ….

Deposition of Elizabeth Davis,
Quoted in Van Vleet, “Development of Shakerism,” Weekly Recorder (Chillicothe, Ohio), Oct. 29, 1817, p. 102

The husband of this deponent wished to come and see his wife and child once a week: but she was forbidden to suffer him to come to the house or even speak to him.

Jascob Rude, affidavit, Aug. 23, 1817
Quoted in Eunice Chapman, Account, 1818, p. 24

JACOB RUDE, aged 19 years, being duly sworn, saith, that in the year 1815, he went with his mother to the society of Shakers; that he with 7 other young persons attended an evening school in the winter of 1815 and 1816, that one evening after they had gone through the exercises of the school, John Woods, who taught the school, rose up & taught them, saying that they must hate their parents: and if their parent spoke to them, they must not answer them; or if they did, they must answer them in a scornful sneering manner, frown and look surly at them, &c. And then put the question to them in general, whether this was not their faith; they all answered Yea, except this deponent, who was silent – which Woods perceived, and immediately put the question to each one separately, beginning at this deponent, who stood first in the class, & who though conscious of the error, through fear, answered in the affirmative. – And, that Woods repeatedly endeavored to instill such principles into their minds. [Note: Woods taught at Union Village, Ohio; Smith, Shakerism Detected, 1810, p. 8]

A. 2. Shaker Attempts to refute exposure of anti-family doctrine:

Peter Dodge, Seth V. Wells, Joseph Hodgson,   “To the Legislature of the State of New York,” handbill, Mar. 20, 1817, “In behalf of the society,” Waverliet; reprinted in Richard McNemar, The Other Side of the Question, p. 31

We disclaim any agency in parting man and wife, or breaking up families; nor is it a principle of our faith that the act the act of joining our society disannuls the marriage covenant. Our principles, on these points, may be clearly comprehended in the following particulars:
1. Any man and woman who are married together all their days, and bring up their own children till they come of age, if they chuse [sic] to do so, without any controlment of the society.
2. No man, who may have abandoned his wife and children can be received by the society, without first doing justice to his family, according to the requirements of the law and strict demands of moral rectitude – provided the matter is, at all, attainable. But as we have no agency in parting them, so we exercise no control in keeping them together. Our faith does not prohibit a separation, provided that separation be voluntary and lawful; in this they must be directed by the dictates of their own consciences.
3. No married woman is ever received into the society without the free consent of her husband, and even in that case, very few are admitted. (Section: “Remonstrance,” p. 31)

John Davis, deposition, Oct. 20, 1817
Quoted in Eunice Chapman, Account, 1818, p. 89-90

… the Shakers frequently came to his [John Davis’s] father’s house to preach, … & while preaching, would rave & stamp and repeatedly exclaim that if husband & wife continued to dwell together, they would be lost, go to hell, &c. that it was the influence of the devil that caused them to marry, that the cursed affection of the husband for the wife, the wife for the husband, the parents for their children, and the children for their parents, would sink them to hell; that if they felt any affection for their wife, husband, child, &c., they should turn their thoughts from them, should not speak to them, nor do any thing for them until they had lost all that natural affection, &c. and would also often aver that Elder David possessed the power to damn any one that lived in disobedience, or conducted contrary to the Gift that by these exclamations and aversions together with many awful denunciations, he, this deponent and many others were driven to a separation from their wives and children, & that he was absolutely prohibited from visiting his wife, and not even allowed to notice her – that some time after he and his wife were separated, on of the leaders of the society told him that if they allowed man and wife to live together with their children, they would be so selfish they would want to lay up all their earnings for their children; but if they were separated, and all conjugal and paternal affection destroyed, they would have nothing to work for but the support of the gospel.


Sarah M. L. Sewell, affidavit, Aug, 3, 1818
Quoted in Dyer (Marshall), Portraiture, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 350

They profess to have the power to forgive, or retain the sins of men. I endeavoured to be obedient, was taught to deny my love and affection towards my natural relations, and to love God in our teachers. We must call Job Bishop and Hannah Goodrich, father and mother.

Sarah Tibbets, affidavit, Sep. 10, 1818
Northfield [Mass.?]; certified by Obadiah Mooney, Jus. Peace., Rockingham, N.H.
Quoted in Dyer, Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823], p. 210

I further state that I know the Shakers have denied people who are not Shakers, from seeing their relations who were shakers.”

Betsey Looge affidavit, Sep. 17, 1818; Loudon, N.H.; certified
“Attested before me. Obidiah Mooney, Jus. Peace., Rockingham, N.H.”
Quoted in Dyer, Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823], p. 210

Perfect obedience was required, or we were in danger of eternal damnation. We must hate our companions, children and near relations more than others. We must love God in our elders, with all our heart. We were taught, that it was a crime to say any thing against that way, though it was the truth; and any thing they could say or do was right, and pleasing to God; they held a falsehood no sin, if ordered.

Eunice Chapman, Account, 1818, p. 26

[Referring to a letter from Shakers purportedly by James Chapman to Eunice Chapman:] There was a dissolution of the marriage contract between him and me. … That all who have wives should live as they had none. He believes it is duty to break every bond – and to follow Christ in the regeneration.” … He says, “It is probable that [he] shall remain with the children until they become of age, if he should live so long.” And that “It is not likely [I] shall see his face again in this life! Nor the children of which I was the natural mother!”

Eunice Chapman, Account, 1818, p. 62

All who join them are in perpetual subordination to the Elders, and must give up their property, companions and children, and infants from the breast, lest they should be like Ananias and Sapphira. The companions and children are separated and sent to different families and villages, and perhaps not allowed to see each other in case of life and death, as they hold that all natural affection is sinful and must be eradicated.

Eunice Chapman, Account, 1818, p. 63

They have their spiritual husbands and wives, the spiritual husband’s room on one side of the hall, and the spiritual wife on the other. The spiritual husband and wife are chosen by the head mother of the church and changed at least once a year. See their Everlasting Gospel [this text is as yet unidentified] from page 442 to 446

Eunice Chapman, Account, 1818, p. 63

I love the brethren, the brethren love me,
Oh! How happy, how happy I be;
I love the sisters, the sisters love me,
Oh! How happy, how happy I be.
How pretty they look, how clever they feel, &c.

A. 3. Counter-statement

Betsey Looge, Mar. 1, 1824, Canterbury – Not notarized
Quoted in “To The Public,” New-Hampshire Patriot (Concord), Apr. 19, 1824; excerpt

I never said that there were orders for me and my husband to give up interest and children to the Shaker leaders, nor did I ever know of such orders.

A. 4. Shaker Attempts to refute exposure of anti-family doctrine:

United Society of Believers “To The Honorable, the Legislature of New Hampshire,  now in Session, In behalf of the Said United Society,” reprinted in United Society of Believers, A Remonstrance Against the Testimony and Application of Mary Dyer …, 1818 [Jun. 30], pp. 4, 8, 9

If the order of any family is changed in any respect, in consequence of becoming members of our society, it is by the free consent or choice of the parties (p. 4)

The duty of children to their parents, no just law can ever disannul, and the obligation is by no means lessened by the gospel nor yet by our institution; therefore the duty of obedience from children to their parents, we teach and enforce in a manner, which our consciences should approve, on the strictest examination, before any men of truth and candor.

We know of no child held in our society, but what has been given up by the request or free consent of its parents; nor do we know of any who are held contrary to their own free choice; nor yet, to our own knowledge, has any among us, in a single instance, ever been secluded from seeing their parents, or relations from without the society whenever requested in a civil manner. (p. 8)

We shall deem it a privilege, to manifest our freedom that all who are of age and even children, whose parents are among us (unless enticed by unlawful means,) are at full liberty to say, and go, according to their own faith and free choice; and consequently, that any compulsory law either way, would be an abridgment of our inherent rights. (p. 9)


Betsey Foster, affidavit, Jan. 4, 1819, Northfield
Obidah Mooney, Jus. Peace, Rockingham, N.H.
Quoted in Dyer (Marshall), Portraiture, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 216

You must overcome natural affection, and hate your nearest relations.

John O’Neill, affidavit, Lebanon, Feb. 24, 1819, notarized Jesse J. Foss, Just. Peace, Grafton, N.H.
Quoted in Dyer, Rise and Progress of the Serpent …, 1847, p. 113

The elders said, I must hate my wife

Crain affidavit, Mar. 2, 1819, Grafton
Quoted in Dyer (Marshall), Portraiture, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 427

We want to know if you have not got tired of your fleshy bands

Alice Beck, affidavit, Loudon [N.H.], May 31, 1819, notarized Thomas Brown, Just. Peace, Rockingham, N.H.
Quoted in Dyer, Rise and Progress of the Serpent …, 1847, p. 94

We … must hate our own family, and believe our tenderness for them is flesh, which is called affections. They say we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven with natural affections.


United Society of Believers, Millenial Laws or Gospel Statutes and Ordinances Adapted to the Day of Christs Second Appearing, Aug. 7, 1821, revised Oct. 1845
Unpublished manuscript book, published in Andrews, The People Called Shakers, 1953, pp. 249-289) Note: It is impossible to determine which statutes were included in the 1821 original and which might have been added or altered

Part I, Sec. I., No, 7: None should be gathered into the Church or first family, who cleave unto their natural kindred of Fathers, Mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, or wives, houses or land; none should be gathered into this order, but such as may by obedience stand spotless before the Lord. (Andrews, 254)

Part II, Sec. XIII., Orders concerning Intercourse between Families, No. 2: No member may go out of the family wherein they live, to any other family, on an errand, or on a visit, without liberty of the Elders.
2. Visiting between parents and children, or with relatives from other families, or from among the world, should be done at the Office as a general rule; and wherein it is proper to deviate from this rule, the Elders must direct according to circumstances. (Andrews, 274)


John O’Neill, affidavit, Feb. 24, 1820, notarized, Jesse J. Foss, Just. Peace, Grafton, N. H.,
Quoted in Mary Dyer (Marshall), Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 225

The Elders say I must hate my wife.

Meriam Dickey, statement, no date or place
Quoted in Mary Dyer (Marshall), Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 225

My husband frequently told me that he must hate me, and strive against me;

Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. vii-      viii

Another error of the Shakers’, and one of no small magnitude, if measured by its consequences, is, that of censuring all natural affection as evil, and calling it the work of the Devil. − Those ties of affection which bind parents and children, brothers and sisters, are by the Shakers called carnal affections, and must be wholly destroyed or eradicated from the mind, before a person, whether old or young, can be promoted to any degree of honor or enjoy any peculiar privilege amongst them as a disciple. If the statement should at first seem incredible to any one, let him attend to the facts as narrated in these pages and attested by credible witnesses, and he will be satisfied that this is a grand article of regulation among the Shakers.

Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 281

Some influential characters acknowledge the Shaker religious tenets are “that o fanaticism; “but still say, “It may be pitied as delusory but it ought not to be regarded as a crime;” and they even contend that the Shakers shall still have the power to kidnap defenseless children.”

Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 384

Husbands and wives are separated – mothers and children are separated; and females, after becoming wives and mothers; and standing in respectability and wealth, with every tie of affection – they are driven from their families and cast upon the open world, without protection or home.

From: “What The Shakers Call Flesh,” in
Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 415

When the author lived with the Shakers All affection or regard and tenderness from parents to children, or children to parents was called flesh. If any wept or was sorrowful because of abuse, or a separation from each other, it was called, sunk deep in the fall and very unseemly conduct” A person to have strong attachment to their connexion, making it manifest among the Shakers, is called “more lost in the flesh” and harder to be redeemed by their gospel than a person guilty of the greatest whoredom.

A letter from Mary Crain, wife of Robert Crain, Dalton, July 17, 1818.
Quoted in Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 430-1

The following few lines the Shakers learnt the children to sing, when my daughter lived at the first family. She said they were not allowed to sing it to the world’s people.

Of all relation, that ever I see,
My old fleshy kindred is the furtherest from me.
So bad and so ugly, so distant they feel,
To shun and despise them increased my zeal.

Oh how ugly they look, how nasty they feel
To shun and despise them increases my zeal.
How ugly, &c.

Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 281

You must hate you wife or have no salvation

Shaker Song
Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 388

Except a man hate his own life,
And all his sins forsake;
Hate father, mother, children wife,
Of Christ he can’t partake;
Oh the way, the narrow way, &c.


Gideon Martin, statement, Jun. 11, 1825, Hancock, Mass.
Quoted in Dyer, Rise and Progress of the Serpent …, 1847, p. 32

The greatest impositions and abuse on the people – and beyond any thing that can be imagined – not only corporeal afflictions – but the destruction of every where the head, or any one parent of a family joined them.

Samuel Jones, statement, May 30, 1825, New Lebanon, New York
Quoted in Dyer, Rise and Progress of the Serpent, 1847, p. 34

The consequence was, the destruction of many families. The ties of affection between husbands and wives, parents and children, must be dissolved, according to their creed, and, so far as their baneful influence extended, it was so.

Jonathan Symons, Jane Symonds, affidavit
Quoted in Mary Dyer, Rise and Progress of the Serpent, 1847, p. 41

One doctrine has been prevalent from the beginning, which is, “Husbands hate your wives; wives hate your husbands; parents, hate your children; children, hate your parents; brothers and sisters must hate each other; and love the fathers and mothers of the church, the elders and eldresses, and obey them or lose their sould.


Joanna Hollaway, letter to Mary Dyer, May, 8, 1847, Franklin, Ohio,
Quoted in Mary Dyer, Rise and Progress of the Serpent, p. 132

Elder Rolling [Union Village] saw Mrs. Hollaway speak to her daughter [Pilly], and he, with the voice of a tyrant, told the mother to let her be; for we do not want the flesh to interfere, said he!


Lamson, David R., Two Years Among the Shakers, 1848, p. 170

If he remain, the ministry and elders presume to take possession, not only of his property, and the proceeds of his labor, but also of all his secrets, all his thoughts and all his affections, for no Shaker may exercise any natural affections, but must crucify them all; this is his first duty,) of his intellect and soul.

Lamson, David R., Two Years Among the Shakers, 1848, p. 177

It is the wish of the Lead that those who bring children there, should give them up, to go the church family, where the children of the society, are generally collected. And it is one condition of their reception there, that they be bound, or indentured. Brother Robert was required to give the usual bonds. I saw these writings; and recollect that the indentures were so framed as to make it obligatory on R. Jenkins, not to claim his children, or make any demands for wages, until their minority had expired. But the Shakers could return these children upon their father at any time, if they the children did not do well. So it was a one-sided agreement. I mentioned this unfairness in the agreement to Jenkins; he had observed it, and mentioned it to them. And objected that if he should alter his mind and leave this people, he could not get his children for this agreement. But they could return his children upon him at any time. But the elder assured him that there would be no trouble of that sort; if he ever wanted to take his children away, he could have them. And from this assurance he signed the obligation. But not many months after this agreement was consummated, Robert began to get his eyes open to the iniquities of the system, and to talk of withdrawing. He opened his mind to the elder on this subject.

Lamson, David R., Two Years Among the Shakers, 1848, p. 180

He writes me in the same letter, “I forgot to tell you about  my going to the church office the other day, to see the boys. I was on the step stone, and Lewis (his second boy, about ten years old) came round the corner of the office. As soon as he saw me, he started and run as fast as he could, till he got out of sight. So you see how they are trained to it.” I am a father, and I feel that a parental affection is not to be trifled with. I fear I should not have borne this treatment with that christian meekness which I ought always to possess.

Lamson, David R., Two Years Among the Shakers, 1848, p. 184

Those who would put their children to the Shakers, should understand, that it is an important object of the Shakers, as soon as possible, to prejudice their children against the world; and especially against their parents, if they belong to the world. It is one of their fundamental doctrines, that all the natural affections should be crucified. And by this they mean to include filial and parental affection.—Who can possess absolute power and not abuse it ?

Lamson, David R., Two Years Among the Shakers, 1848, p. 201

But this is not the principal objection to the Shaker doctrine of celibacy. “The cross,” as they express it, requires that all “the natural affections “ be crucified. Parental and filial affection, and all love of natural relations, is as contrary to the doctrine of the cross as conjugal love. It is all carnal and must be put away. To overcome and extinguish all the natural affections, is the great end of the Shaker life. To do this, is the taking up of  “the cross against the world, flesh and devil,” which is necessary to a life of purity, and to salvation.

B.        Alienation

Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 300     294-6

[Eunice Chapman:] I strove by every means I was capable, to awaken his [son George’s] sensibility and regain his affections. But for several weeks he behaved as though I was a stranger, and did not call me mother.

C.        Coercion

Col. James Smith, Remarkable Occurances …, 1810, p. 13

The same day [Mar. 7] the Shakers came to us and proposed to give Polly one third of all James possessed, provided we would sign an instrument of writing, which false and illegal, implying that she had eloped.

Daniel Gale, Judge of Probate, in Rise, 198

These Shakers went and abused Sarah [Sewell] to make her sign to her[?] writing.

D.        Deception

Smith, Col. James, Remarkable Occurances …, 1810, p. 3

They artfully and insidiously conceal their real views and principles, from those whom they wish to proselyte to their scheme …

Testimony before New York Legislature, Mar. 20, 1816
in Eunice Chapman, Account, 1818, p. 36

The Elders influenced a young woman (a natural sister of the abused young woman) to appear in court against her and take a false oath to clear the Elders from the severity of the law, and has since heard her confess she “wronged the truth.”

D.        Mind Control, Surveillance.


United Society of Believers, Millenial Laws or Gospel Statutes and Ordinances Adapted to the Day of Christs Second Appearing, Aug. 7, 1821, revised Oct. 1845
Unpublished manuscript book, published in Andrews, The People Called Shakers, 1953, pp. 249-289)

Part II, Sec. I., No. 2: If any member should know of any sin or actual transgression of the Law of Christ, in any one of the family or society, and have reason to believe that the same is not known, or has not been confessed in order, the member to whom the matter is known is bound to reveal it to the Elders, so that sin may be put away, otherwise they participate in the guilt and condemnation thereof. (Andrews, 261)

Part II, Sec. II., No. 8: No member or members in the family, who may be admonished or reproved by the Elders, for any fault whatever, are allowed to make any inquiry or take pains to find out, by whom the matter was opened to the Elders. (Andrews, 262)

Part II, Sec. XIII., No. 3: Brethren and sisters may not go to the Office to see visitors, without liberty from the Elders for the same. (Andrews, 274)

Part II, Sec. XIII., No. 4: Common members are forbidden by the orders of God, to make known the orders, rules, regulations or gifts of the family wherein they reside, to persons residing in other orders, or families, except by liberty, or discretion of the Elders. (Andrews, 274)


Chapman, Account, p. 22

Oh, can it be expected that young people and children who are brought up in their superstition and ignorance, will ever leave them?


Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. xii

Their consciences being surrendered entirely to their spiritual guides, on whom they rely as infallible directors, and esteem as Saviors, they have no hesitation in doing or saying whatever the elders require; so long as their faith continues steadfast in their religious creed and maxims.

Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” pp.          381

The children and common people call Job Bishop and Hannah Goodridge, father and mother, and style them parents – to them they have to be in perfect obedience, or they are in fear of punishment temporally and spiritually; and they must be their conscience, and every thing contrary to this is Satan trying to lead them out of their kingdom.

Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. 413

He [a severely abused boy] had such impressions about the torments of the world, that when they told him about going, he was unwilling to leave his prison …

E.         Supervised Parent-Child Visitation

Smith, Col. James, article in Western Citizen (Paris, Ky), Mar. 6, 1810, p. 17 (reprinted Remarkable Occurances …, 1810, p. 17; reprinted in Brown, 1812, p. 357)

A short interview was granted on condition that she must not converse with her children except in presence of the Shakers.

Eunice Chapman, An Account …, 1818, p. 17

I was continually kept in anxious suspense about my children, I saw them but very little, and when I was allowed the privilege of seeing them I was not permitted to see them alone. (Jan. 1, 18--)

“Eunice Chapman,” Aug. 1819 (events of Mar. 26, 1818)
in Mary Dyer (Marshall), A Portraiture of Shakerism …, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” pp.      294-6

After waiting some time George, my eldest child came into my sight. I stood and gazed at the little stranger, but could recognize no appearance of my son. He said, “Eunice how do ye do?” I wept over him, but he appeared inflexible, undutiful, and unnatural, though I imagined that I saw the stifled tear startle in his eye. I shewed him his little pocket book with a dollar in small specie, which he had collected before he was carried to the Shaker’s: and his last words were “I shall leave my money for my mother.” I told him how carefully I had kept that to remember him by, he laughed at mew. I handed him a tablet to date the year in which he was taken from my protection; he wrote, “when I was kindly taken from my mother!!” My daughters, and some of Mrs. Dyer’s children were secured in one of their Bastiles, which contained a large number of Shakers. A town officer and a member of the Legislature of that State, with their wives, were admitted with me and Mrs. Dyer to see them. Susan (my next eldest, being now 12 years of age) came into the room: I gazed at her in silent amaze. She appeared like a shadow, with a countenance pale and depicted and features emaciated, while pining away under her confinement. She gently approached me and said “Eunice, how do ye do?” I dropped my face upon her pale sallow cheek, and involuntarily exclaimed; Oh! Can this be my Susan, my dear Susan!!” I could discover none of that sprightly activity, and engaging sensibility, which once made her the pride of her mother. – Even her dialect had changed! I tore off her ghostly cap, hoping to recognize the features of my Susan: She was so much grieved that I hastened to put it on again; I saw the tear of filial affection started her eye. My Julia came next, which excited painful, though pleasing sensations, the reflection of which now stops me to weep! I gazed a moment upon my Julia in silence; she also said “Eunice how ye do!” I fell upon her face, and while bathing her with my tears, in my interval of sighs and groans, said, Oh! My dear Julia, my long lost babe! Have I once more clasped thee in these wishful arms! But she had become a stranger to those endearing caresses, which were once the joy of my heart. I seated her in my lap, but she fled from me and said, “It is against order to sit in lap!” I handed her a fine dressed doll, she said, “It is handsome, but I do not want it here,” though she eagerly gazed at it. Without my asking them any questions, they like two parrots, prattled over what shakers had previously told them to say to me, (how much better they were than with me.)

F.        Parent-Child Visitation

Chapman, Account, 1818, p. 22

“You are a very wicked woman for having broken our orders in staying so long when you went to see your son; and you shall stay no longer.”

G.         Tyranny

Dyer (Marshall), Portraiture, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” p. vii

Dyer (Marshall), Portraiture, [Jun. 1823] “1822,” pp. 93 ff.

– believe that the living God dwells in the Elders, and is no where else to be found for salvation

– believe that God dwells in the Elders, and that makes them Christ: Your faith must center in them.

– the Elders possessing God, they know his will, their assertions are his commands.

– the Elders’ commands are considered truth, which we must believe, and abide in

– any reasoning in the mind of the creature must be considered carnal reason

– the Elders possessing the law of God in the soul, they must obey their own minds, as best accommodates them, for they are a law unto themselves, and are so holy they cannot sin; and their subjects obey God in these Elders, which obedience is their justification for salvation.

Smith, Col. James, Remarkable Occurances …, 1810, p. 3

Before he left Kentucky, he frequently told me their chief Elder David, was infallibly inspired and could do nothing wrong, and that he must implicitly believe and obey him; this he called believing and obeying in God.



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