Wilkinson, Jemima

Wilkinson, Jemima a fanatical Quakeress, was born at Cumberland, R.I., in 1753. In October 1776, on recovering from an, attack of sickness, in which she had fallen into a kind of trance, she announced that she had been raised from the dead, and had received a divine commission as a religious teacher. She gathered around her a few proselytes, who styled themselves "Universal Friends" (q.v.), and formed a settlement between Seneca and Crooked lakes, N.Y., which she called New Jerusalem. Here she secured the belief of her followers in the most absurd pretensions. She claimed to be inspired and to have reached absolute perfection. She pretended to foretell future events, to discern the secrets of the heart, and to have the power of healing diseases. She declared that those who refused to believe in her claims rejected the counsel of God to their own hurt. She even claimed to be Christ in his second coming. On one occasion she declared her intention of walking across Seneca Lake; but when all the preparations were made, she inquired of her followers whether they had faith in her power to do so, and on their replying in the affirmative, said that as they believed in her power it was unnecessary to display it. She claimed to be the one by whom the millennium was to be established, and two of her disciples declared themselves to be the "two witnesses" mentioned in the book of Revelation.

She lived in a luxurious style in an elegant house, having amassed a large fortune by the donations made by her followers. She died in 1819. See Hudson, History of Jemima Wilkinson (Geneva, N.Y., 1821); and Memoirs of Bath.

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