‘Shaking your filthy tail’: Religious Rivalry and Shaker identity in the Early American Republic
Mar. 23 2023
Shaker Historical Museum 16740 S Park Blvd, Shaker Heights, OH, USA Open in Google Map
6–7:30 pm

Join us on Thursday, March 23, 2023 from 6:00-7:30 pm at the Shaker Historical Society for ‘Shaking your filthy tail’: Religious Rivalry and Shaker identity in the Early American Republic with Dr. Rodney Hessinger, Professor of History and Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at John Carroll University.

While to many people today, the Shakers embody homespun America, at one time they were perceived as a genuine threat to the young nation. This was so much so that Shaker communities faced repeated mob attacks. In part, the hostility was born of rivalry. During the Second Great Awakening, many new churches were competing for converts. The enmity also came from a fear of Shaker gender and family arrangements, as Shakers dissolved nuclear families and parents worried about losing their children.

This talk will start with the tale of a local clash between the Mormons from Kirtland and the Shakers of North Union. Then, it will narrate a larger transition in Shaker self-presentation, showing how they repackaged the memory of their founder, Mother Ann Lee, so as to keep the peace with their non-Shaker neighbors.

Rodney Hessinger has taught and researched history in Northeast Ohio for the last 20 years. He started at Hiram College where he was Professor of History and Associate Dean of the College. It was there where he first started to explore religious competition and revivalism in the early American republic. He regularly took students to the John Johnson home in Hiram, the place where Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. suffered a mob attack from religious rivals. Hessinger moved to John Carroll University in 2014 where he has also served as Professor of History and Associate Dean. While at JCU, Hessinger continued his exploration of the religious history of the Western Reserve, including encounters between the Shakers and Mormons. This work produced the just-published book Smitten: Sex, Gender, and the Contest for Souls in the Early American Republic, part of which will be featured in this talk.

This event is free and open to the public, no advanced registration required. Please contact [email protected] or 216-921-1201 with any questions or to request any accessibility accommodations.

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