The Communistic Societies of the United States, by Charles Nordhoff, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 114 p. 115
p. 116 p. 117
THE Shakers have the oldest existing communistic societies on this continent. They are also the most thoroughly organized, and in some respects the most successful and flourishing.
Mount Lebanon, the parent society, and still the thriftiest, was established in 1792, eighty-two years ago.
The Shakers have eighteen societies, scattered over seven states; but each of these societies contains several families; and as each "family" is practically, and for all pecuniary and property ends, a distinct commune, there are in fact fifty-eight Shaker communities, which I have found to be in a more or less prosperous condition. These fifty-eight families contain an aggregate population of 2415 souls, and own real estate amounting to about one hundred thousand acres, of which nearly fifty thousand are in their own home farms.
Moreover, the Shakers have, as will be seen further on, a pretty thoroughly developed and elaborate system of theology; and a considerable literature of their own, to which they attach great importance.
The Shakers are a celibate order, composed of men and women living together in what they call "families," and having agriculture as the base of their industry, though most of them unite with this one or more other avocations. They have a uniform style of dress; call each other by their first names; say yea and nay, but not thee or thou; and their social habits have led them to a generally similar style of house
architecture, whose peculiarity is that it seeks only the useful, and cares nothing for grace or beauty, and carefully avoids ornament.
They are pronounced Spiritualists, and hold that "there is the most intimate connection and the most constant communion between themselves and the inhabitants of the world of spirits."
They assert that the second appearance of Christ upon earth has been; and that they are the only true Church, "in which revelation, spiritualism, celibacy, oral confession, community, non-resistance, peace, the gift of healing, miracles, physical health, and separation from the world are the foundations of the new heavens." [Footnote: "Autobiography of a Shaker," etc., by Elder Frederick W. Evans.]
In practical life they are industrious, peaceful, honest, highly ingenious, patient of toil, and extraordinarily cleanly.
Finally, they are to a large extent of American birth, and English is, of course, their language.