"The meeting of the Prophets Matthias and Joseph Smith was one of hundreds of strange religious events that occurred all across the United States from the 1820s through the 1840s" (6). These were the peak years of the market revolution and the Second Great Awakening.
During anytime of great change and uncertainty, people who are directly affected can be left searching for answers to such questions as why did this happen, and why did it happen to me? They may feel like they have lost their place and interpret certain things that only apply to them or want to apply to them. Certainly the market revolution and Robert Matthews are no exception. .
The major theme of The Kingdom of Matthias is that uncertainty breeds individual vulnerability. This can make people susceptible to believing and behaving in ways that they normally would not.
The first example is Elijah Pierson. "He was a supremely unlikely candidate for membership in the cult of Matthias" (13). Leaving a tight-knit patriarchal society, he took a job as an apprentice clerk in New York City hoping to earn his fortune in the nation's fastest growing seaport. .
Pierson later married Sarah Stanford. "Their marriage was a spiritualized union between partners: it began in a shared vocation in Christian missions, and it thrived on prayer and feminine influence" (27). Sarah and other influencing radicals as Frances Folger became his guides in matters of spirituality. .
These evangelical ideas were quite a change from those of the patriarchal society he had come from, but it wasn't until his wife's death that he was truly vulnerable to Matthias.
Robert Matthews had much more to deal with even from the time he was a young child. His parents died around 1795, leaving him alone with his four brothers and five sisters to the care of relatives and neighbors. Matthews turned up in Manhattan as a successful carpenter in 1808. .
His luck ended in the market revolution.