The Shakers, officially known as the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming, were an offshoot religious movement which originated in England in 1747. Called the "Shaking Quakers" for their trembling from religious fervor, the movement bloomed after adherent Ann Lee emigrated to New York and founded the upstate colony of Watervliet. The movement peaked in the mid-19th century in the Northeast before falling into decline.
Shakerism holds that God has dual natures, male and female; reflected in this are beliefs in the equality of the sexes and familial communism. The Shakers were also pacifists, believed in the communal ownership of property, and participatory worship involving singing, marching, and open confession of sins. Shakers were probably best known, however, for their furniture and crafts, and in their belief in total celibacy-- a belief which required a constant stream of new converts to maintain the sect. The Shaker communities peaked in membership around 1860, but by the late 1990s only the New Gloucester, Maine community remained.