Those who have witnessed [the Shakers'] institutions, seen the neatness and economy … the sincere though singular ceremonies of their religious devotions, have feit an unwillingness to believe the slanderous representations of Mrs. Dyer.
—Newburyport Herald, April 27, 1824
Suffice it to say that everything we saw and heard tended to confirm M. Dyer's assertions respecting them.
—Mary Clark to Francis Jackson, July 16, 1823
When Mary Marshall Dyer, a vociferous and ambitious convert, departed the Enfield, New Hampshire, Shakers in 1815, the elders breathed a sigh of relief. Since joining the Community two years earlier, Dyer sought her own interpretation of Scripture, repeatedly questioned the eiders, and aggressively campaigned for a leadership position. When Mary left the Enfield Community, the elders felt relief—but it was momentary. Little did they realize that they would soon become embroiled in one of the most public and aggressive disputes to threaten Shakerism in forty years.