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The Public Universal FriendJemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America$
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Paul B. Moyer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780801454134

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801454134.001.0001

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(p.31) Chapter 2 Numbers
The Public Universal Friend

Paul B. Moyer

Cornell University Press

This chapter looks at why some individuals followed Jemima Wilkinson based on the opinion of one of her disciples, Abner Brownell. Brownell decided to follow the Public Universal Friend after seeing in her the possible path toward redemption, saying that the prophet's “doctrine and Practice of Performance in Religion, seem'd to have so much Resemblance of Holiness and the Truth.” He described her as “singular and extraordinary, appearing in a different Habit from what is common amongst Women” and with “a very agreeable Aspect in her Countenance.” The chapter argues that the decision to follow Wilkinson shows that the late eighteenth century was a time of intense spiritual fervor as well as religious experimentation for many Americans.

Keywords:   Jemima Wilkinson, Abner Brownell, redemption, Public Universal Friend, Practice of Performance

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