From the outside, Mount Zion, near Sing Sing, New York, looked like any other well-ordered farmhouse in the summer of 1834. Inside, however, the residents of Mount Zion had little in common with their neighbors. They were a diverse group—from former slaves to prosperous businessmen—devotedly following The Prophet Mathias, self-proclaimed Spirit of Truth. Mathias ran the farm as an Old Testament patriarchy, controlling all aspects of his followers’ lives, from diet to sex partners. That fall, the state of New York would have to determine whether Mathias also controlled whether they live or die.
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