Rebecca Cox Jackson

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Rebecca Cox Jackson (1795–1871) was an African-American free woman, best known for her religious activism and for her autobiography.


Rebecca Cox was born on February 15, 1795 in Hornstown, Pennsylvania[1] into a free family.[2] She married Samuel S. Jackson and worked as a seamstress until she had a religious awakening during a thunderstorm in 1830.[2] She got divorced after her husband failed to teach her to read and write, and later realised she was able to do both anyway.[2] Whilst travelling from church to church, she came upon and decided to join the Shakers in Watervliet, New York.[2] However she returned to Philadelphia to live with Rebecca Perot for six years,[2] up until she went back to Watervliet, where she ended her life as Eldress of her own family of Shakers in Philadelphia.[2] In 1859 she had founded the first black Shaker community in Philadelphia.[3]

Her autobiography, although written between 1830 and 1864, was only published in 1981.[4]


  • Gifts of Power:The Writings of Rebecca Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress edited with an introduction by Jean McMahom Humez. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981.


  1. ^ Morgan, Barbara (2000). "Jackson, Rebecca Cox (1795–1871)". Women in World History, Volume 8: Jab-Kyt. Waterford, CT: Yorkin Publications. pp. 21–22. ISBN 0-7876-4067-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Africans in America/Part 3/Rebecca Cox Jackson
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-08-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ The Signifying Monkey, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Oxford University Press, hardcover, page 241