The Kingdom of Matthias

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The Kingdom of Matthias tells the story of a very bizarre religious cult that was founded in New York City in the 1820s. Poor men who were forced by economic necessity took to this religion. Many felt the need to join because of the need for the cult because of the culture of New York City and its members having too much individual ambition. The leader of the religion was Robert Matthews, an emigrant who grew up in upstate New York. He had been a member of the orthodox Scots Presbyterian Church where the main belief was that humans were innately corrupt. This belief became a main focus of Matthews' cult. Matthews was an apprentice to a carpenter then left for Manhattan at the age of twenty. Here he became to build up a criminal record and was charged for several counts of being a woman beater. To escape his recent convictions, Matthews returned to upstate New York where he became married and lead a very low-key lifestyle. He profited by an economic boom that followed in the economic boom in the War of 1812. A sudden loss in funds made him go back to Manhattan and start over again as a carpenter. Family illness and unemployment struck Matthews while in Manhattan. Matthews then began to become a religious fanatic and he had a compulsion to emulate the Old Testament Jews, even down to the dietary laws and the patriarchal costume. Next, Matthews began to create prophecies which claimed "there would be no market, no money, no buying or selling, no wage system with its insidious domination of one father over another, no economic depression of any kind." Also, "everything that has the smell of women, will be destroyed and only real men will be saved; all mock men will be damned." By the 1830s he attracted a vast group of followers and renamed himself Matthias. He roamed with a group of demented followers around the New York area from New York City to Albany. Many other psychologically confused men and needy women joined his groups along the way. Sexual...
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