For 35 years, the author of this book has been a devoted student of the history, beliefs, and ways of The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, better known as the Shakers. Out of his extensive research into manuscripts and primary sources and his conversations with friends in present-day Shaker communities has come a warm, illuminating history, the most thorough ever written on these pious, humble people and the distinct impression they made on American life. The book opens with an introductory assessment of the Shaker contribution to the history of American social experimentation, as seen from the modern point of view. There follows the often amazing story of Ann Lee and the origins of the movement in eighteenth-century England, its emigration to New England, the early Shaker experiments in communism, and the expansion to the American West. The author then pauses to examine in detail the ideology behind the Shaker dedication to physical labor; Shaker industry and design, including a discussion of the spare, utilitarian folk art so popular today; the highly formalized mode of worship, with its lively songs and dances and its often violent emotionalism; strange manifestations during the revival periods of the 1830s and 40s; the rigid internal organization of the Shaker community and its original economic and sociological theories; Shaker relations with the outside world; and the decline of the sect after the Civil War. This edition is the first to include the author’s valuable notes, as well as the original appendixes containing the complete text of the Millennial Laws, a statistical breakdown of all the Shaker communities, and a bibliography. This material is especially useful to students of American social and religious movements, but the author’s reliance upon original manuscript material and contemporary illustrations lend this book an exciting immediacy that makes it a pleasure for all readers interested in fascinating people and unique ways of life. “An excellent history of one of the most interesting of American religious cults.” — Nation. “Satisfies the exacting standards of historical scholarship and promises at the same time to enlighten and hold the interest of the general reader.” — Saturday Review. “A substantial contribution to American history.” — The New York Times.