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Quakers

Quakers

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Radical Roots. The Society of Friends, or Quakers as they are better known, have always stood apart from the mainstream of American religion. Because of this, they offer some important lessons about the range of religious beliefs and practices in early America. During the revolutionary era Quakers dominated Philadelphia, at the time the largest city in America and a center of support for independence. They struggled in special ways with the relations between religion and the American Revolution. Their struggles were rooted in their particular beliefs. Quakers believed in the inner light. This was the notion that God was a spiritual presence within each individual and could speak to all humans through the words and actions of anyone. Their spiritualism led them to reject worldliness more than most Protestants, and they became easy to recognize by their use of the informal pronouns thee and thou and their refusal to doff their hats to their social superiors since they tried at all times to promote a spiritual equality. Quakers also refused to take oaths. Quaker worship also emphasized equality by letting all persons participate on the same basis. Quakers had no ordained ministers, and at services there was no public Bible reading or sermon, just silence, until the spirit moved someone to speak about a religious story or some personal experience. Women could speak as well as men, although over time, men and women came to meet for worship separately. Quakers read the Bible, but because of their highly individualized and spiritual attitudes, the story of Jesuss death and resurrection did not have the same importance for them as for most early Americans. Most orthodox Americans considered Quaker beliefs to be radical and threatening to the social and religious order based on biblical authority. They were outcasts in many parts of America and tended to live together in separate communities, although by 1770 these communities were found all along the Atlantic seaboard.

Social Prominence. The largest Quaker communities were in the parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey centered around Philadelphia. The English Quaker William Penn founded the city in 1682 as a refuge for his coreligionists and guaranteed religious toleration and freedom of conscience in the colonys frame of government. By the 1750s, Philadelphia was a large city, remarkable for its ethnic and religious diversity. Quakers mingled on the streets with Scots-Irish Presbyterians, English Congregationalists, Swedish Lutherans, Dutch Reformed Protestants, German Moravians, Anglicans, and even Roman Catholics. If Quakers were religiously just one group among many tolerated equals, socially and politically they were Pennsylvanias first citizens. The colonial government concentrated political power in Quaker hands. The citys commerce was similarly focused on the tight networks of Quaker families on both sides of the Atlantic that controlled shipping and trade and made the Quakers countinghouses at least as important as their meetinghouses. Many Quakers felt they had declined from the intense spirituality of the groups early days. The coming of the Seven Years War changed this, however.

Challenge. As war began in 1754, Quaker leaders found it more and more difficult to reconcile their social position with their religious beliefs. One of those beliefs was pacifism. Most Quakers obeyed the biblical order to submit to the legitimate civil authority even though it meant agreeing to requests from the government for money that would be used for war as well as for peaceful purposes. In 1755, however, Gen. Edward Braddock was ambushed by French and Indian forces at Fort Duquesne in western Pennsylvania. This stunning defeat prompted the Pennsylvania assembly to take the military initiative for the first time and vote for funds to raise a militia and defend the frontier. Many Philadelphia Quakers, some of whom saw Braddocks defeat as a sign of Gods judgment on their worldly ways, developed a crisis of conscience. In 1755 several prominent Quakers issued a statement supporting tax resistance on religious grounds, one of the first signs of a deeper reform movement within American Quakerism. The reformers challenged those Quakers in the assembly to withdraw from public affairs in order to limit their involvement with the war and to avoid contradicting their religious beliefs. Ten members obeyed the call by resigning or refusing to run for reelection. Some would later reenter the assembly, but after 1756 the Quakers would never have a majority in the legislature again. The Quakers withdrawal was not only an important step in religious reform but also marked significant political changes. Until the Revolution, the political initiative in Pennsylvania would be taken by the colonys governor, or proprietor, who lived in England, because there was no longer a powerful enough group on the scene in Philadelphia to control the political process. The principles the Quakers in the assembly had supported continued to be important, but they were now articulated by Benjamin Franklin and his party of supporters rather than by devout Quakers, who mainly removed themselves from politics to concentrate on business and religion.

Revolution. The growing conflict with Britain after the end of the Seven Years War brought new problems to Quakers. One of the basic beliefs of the Society of Friends was pacifism. The duty to testify to peace at every opportunity was taken seriously by most Quakers and had been at the root of the 1755 withdrawal from colonial government. As the Stamp Act crisis began to move Americans toward independence, Quakers were caught in the middle. At first Americans pursued economic measures, such as nonimportation, which at least some Quakers were willing to support as nonviolent. Others objected to any form of resistance to the acknowledged government, including boycotts. The coming of actual war in 1775 made it even harder for Quakers to participate in the patriots efforts even if they disagreed with Britains actions. Most Quakers refused to participate in the framing of the new state governments forming after 1776 or to serve in the Continental Army or in the state militias. They were criticized by their neighbors for their principled stand against war and were fined and punished by the American governments. Quakers endured their sufferings and sought other ways than fighting to share in the burden of war. In Boston and other battle areas, for example, they offered medical help to the wounded on both sides. The American Revolution was a civil war in part, and it divided Quakers just as it divided other American groups. A significant minority of the Society of Friends supported the American cause and paid war taxes and even did military service. For this, many were disowned by the Quaker communities. In 1781 a few of these people, led by Samuel Wetherill Jr. and including seamstress Betsy Ross, broke away and formed the Society of Free Quakers in Philadelphia. This small group was a refuge for the Society of Friends, who actively supported American independence as well as the principles of Quakerism. Most Quakers desperately tried to remain neutral during the war, but their witness for peace was taken as support for the British by most of their neighbors. Pacificism further isolated the Society of Friends from the mainstream of American society.

John Woolman. One of the supporters of the 1755 tax-resistance movement was a man named John Woolman. Woolman wrote a detailed spiritual diary that was published a year after his 1772 death. The Journal made Woolman a well-known model of the Quaker spirituality that reasserted itself after the 1750s. In the Journal the daily events of Woolmans life are much less prominent than his thoughts on religious matters and moral action. Everyday life is important only as it leads to spiritual growth. Woolman was a shopkeeper for a while, but his work eventually brought Woolman to an appreciation of the destructive power of the desire for luxury goods. Because of this, he became a traveling minister and schoolteacher. Over the years his typically Quaker openness to finding spiritual possibilities everywhere led him to understand religion as the center of his life and as something that incorporated many elements. The Journal records these. It has elements of revivalistic Christianity, as when Woolman describes his spiritual awakening as a feeling of God in my soul, like a consuming fire. He considered Jesus an important religious personality, but was less moved by the specific doctrines most Christians found in the Bible. Instead he preferred to chart the movement of the spirit within himself, and to describe this he took up the Quaker language of singleness of heart, clearness and purity. He described visions where he was able to communicate directly with the light, the preeminent Quaker symbol of the presence of God. Finally he was drawn to nature as a source of guidance about spiritual truth and good behavior. It led him to think of harmonious relations between humans and nature as part of the moderation in all things that Woolman held out as the ideal that the Society of Friends should pursue. Again, Woolmans central complaint was about worldliness. He wrote that the least degree of luxury . . . hath some connection with evil, hath some connection with unnecessary labor.

RELIGIOUS HYMNS

Religious singing in the revolutionary period was much less common and much simpler than it is today. Few people had the time to devote themselves to music, and few congregations had the wealth to pay for organs or choirs. Some groups, such as the most traditional Congregationalists, frowned on all singing other than the chanting of psalms and refused to allow musical instruments into the service. By far the most important musical figure was the English Dissenting minister Isaac Watts. Watts wrote numerous hymns based on the psalms, that were more elaborate than the plain chants of the earlier colonial period. Editions of Wattss hymns were among the bestselling books in eighteenth-century America.

Americans started writing their own hymns during the mid 1700s, spurred on in part by the intense religious feelings associated with the revivals. As the revolution developed, some of these hymns became as much about patriotism as religion. William Billings, one of Americas first professional church musicians, wrote the following hymn, Chester, in 1778. It demonstrates how close the connection between religion and politics could be for many Americans. As soldiers sang it over and over, Chester became an unofficial anthem of the American Revolution.

Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And slavery clank her galling chains.
We fear them not; we trust in God;
New Englands God forever reigns.
When God inspired us for the fight
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forced;
Their ships were shattered in our sight
Or swiftly driven from our coast.
The foe comes on with haughty stride;
Our troops advance with martial noise.
Their veterans flee before our youth,
and generals yield to beardless boys.
What grateful offerings shall we bring?
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud Halleluiahs let us sing,
And praise his name on every chord.

Source: Albert Christ-Janer and others, American Hymns, Old and New (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980), p. 143,

Reform. Woolmans personal journey toward a more saintly life was mirrored in a broader reform movement that preoccupied American Quakers throughout the revolutionary era. Giving up political offices was one thing, but giving up the genteel lifestyle pursued by elite Quakers in Philadelphia and elsewhere was another. From the 1750s on, reforming Quakers reminded their neighbors of the traditions of the Society of Friends, which historically had promoted a simpler existence oriented toward spiritual growth rather than accumulating wealth and material goods. They thought the evangelical Protestants around them, still in the throes of the emotionalism of the Great Awakening, rightly thirsted for a greater appreciation of the spirit even if they were doing it in a distastefully enthusiastic manner that did not accord with the quiet ways of Quakerism. The reformers, including John Churchman, Sophia Hume, Catherine Phillips, and Israel and John Pemberton, took up the idea of Quaker discipline, stressing Quakerism as a complete form of life rather than a religion that could be separated from the rest of ones existence. These men and women traveled through America, visiting Quaker meetings and speaking tirelessly about the importance of bringing children up in the Quaker tradition and putting the beliefs of the Society of Friends into action at every opportunity. Visiting committees were formed in many areas to visit Quaker families in their homes and observe the ways Quaker principles were being practiced. By the 1770s there had been a marked increase in cases of discipline for neglect of these principles in Quaker communities throughout the colonies. The stricter Quakerism that was emerging focused on the Quaker family as the core of a purer, more religious society. It meant, in the end, greater separation between Quakers and the rest of American society. The reform movement corresponded with the political isolation of the Quakers during the Revolutionary War. The Society of Friends became more and more like a sect, removed from the general trend of American Protestantism toward greater denominational interaction and toleration. Quakers lost their direct influence over society, as they became increasingly tribal, but they became a prophetic voice, urging reforms that would only be realized well into the nineteenth century.

Abolition. The most significant of these was agitation against slavery. Woolman was also important in this movement, which had deep roots in the Quaker vision of the spiritual equality of all believers. Many American Quakers held slaves and engaged in the slave trade just like their non-Quaker neighbors. Slowly, over the first half of the eighteenth century, opposition to both of these practices grew. The Quaker belief in the ongoing presence and teaching of the spirit within the Quaker meeting gave them an opportunity to reflect on their behavior and develop new ideas in response to it over time. This is what happened with slavery, as gradually more and more Society of Friends members came to see slavery as incompatible with their religious culture. Various meetings, including the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the general governing body of the large Pennsylvania Quaker community, spoke out about the evil of the slave trade and later, of slaveholding. Woolman was one early convert to antislavery, and he wrote a treatise about slavery in 1746 that was finally published in 1754. That same year the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting issued an epistle, or letter to the community, that declared slaveholding as unrighteous. In 1758 the Yearly Meeting took the first step toward enforcing that judgment. A committee was formed to visit local meetings and individuals, to educate them about the policy, and to impose sanctions on those who continued to be involved with slavery. The committee included Woolman, and he added these duties to his other chores as a traveling Quaker minister.

Anthony Benezet. The most significant antislavery activist among the Quakers was Anthony Benezet, who took the emerging antislavery feeling of the 1750s to the next level, linking it to a more general humanitarian movement. Benezet came from a French Protestant family and converted to Quakerism after his immigration to America in 1731. Like his friend Woolman, he became a teacher. In 1755 he opened the first advanced school for Quaker girls and later taught in the first Quaker school for blacks. Benezet read widely and wrote on many topics. His broad interests deeply informed his stand against slavery, which he attacked with arguments drawn from many disciplines. As part of his exploration of the effects of the slave trade, Benezet wrote the first Englishlanguage history of West Africa. As Americans began to complain about their enslavement by the British during the Stamp Act crisis, Benezet taught and wrote to remind them of the conditions of African American slaves. This writing was some of the first to make an appeal against slavery on humanitarian grounds, trying to establish an emotional bond between slaves and white readers that would move the readers against slavery. Benezet also argued that blacks were not naturally inferior to whites and that the differences between the races could be accounted for by the degrading experience of life in bondage. These powerful arguments slowly had an effect. He reached several readers in England and Europe and made an important contribution to the emerging abolition movement in Britain. In America, Benezets work first had an effect in New England, where Quaker meetings in the 1770s began to urge their members to free their slaves. Philadelphia followed in 1774, when the meeting passed measures to disown members who refused to free slaves. In 1775 Benezet formed the first American antislavery society, designed to protect free blacks unlawfully held in bondage. Benezet was an important supporter of the decision of the Pennsylvania assembly in 1780 to end slavery gradually. The Philadelphia Quakers in 1783 rightly took credit for their efforts against slavery that led the new nation in an effort that would conclude only some eighty years later. To Benezet goes the credit for giving the antislavery movement its grounding in humanitarianism, something that would link it to the powerful reform movements of the nineteenth century and give it the broadest possible appeal.

Sources

Hugh Barbour and J. William Frost, The Quakers (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988);

Thomas E. Drake, Quakers and Slavery in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950);

Jack D. Marietta, The Reformation of American Quakerism, 17481783 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984).

Phillips P. Moulton, ed., Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971);

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Quakers

QUAKERS

QUAKERS. The Society of Friends was the most enduring of several religious groups to emerge out of the social and religious turmoil of the English Puritan Revolution. The movement dates its origins from 1652, when George Fox announced he had received from God a vision of "a great people to be gathered" in northwest England. The movement spread to the American colonies soon thereafter.

The core of Friends' theology was the Inner Light, or the intervention of the Holy Spirit in the consciousness of ordinary men and women. Friends, or "Quakers" (so called because of the trembling said to follow divine illumination), agreed with the Puritans that the Anglican Church had not gone far enough toward purifying itself of the external forms of the Catholic Church. But Quakers went further than the Puritans in their effort to clear the path to a direct and personal religious experience. They rejected the need for clergy or outward sacraments and adopted a plain worship style. Community worship took place not in churches, but in "meetings," during which members sat in silence until one among them felt moved by the Inner Light to speak. Quaker ethics, or "testimonies," were rooted in the belief that pride and wastefulness obstructed the path of the purifying Light. Thus they opposed ostentatious dress and other signs of social hierarchy, such as formal greetings, titles, and "doffing the hat" before superiors; insisted on fair business dealings; and refused to take oaths. The Quaker "peace testimony" against raising money or men for wars (deriving from their belief that war, too, was a manifestation of pride) evolved over time to become one of the more distinctive Quaker beliefs. Quakers believed that theirs was the only true religion and that God was working through them to turn others to the Light of Christ within and thereby remake humanity and society.

Quakers in the colonies, as in England, faced severe persecution in response to their persistent challenges to existing religious and civil authority. Between 1659 and 1661, several Quaker missionaries were hanged in Massachusetts Bay Colony because the Puritan leaders considered them a threat to their Bible Commonwealth. Persecution abated there and elsewhere in the colonies in the 1660s, but Quakerism spread most successfully in Rhode Island, which granted religious freedom, and in those areas of Long Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina where the established church was weak. When George Fox visited America (1671–1673) he helped institutionalize the colonial meeting structure, establishing "Yearly Meetings" in New England (1671) and Maryland (1672). Quakers emigrated to America in the 1670s and early 1680s in large numbers, escaping harsh persecution in England and seeking new opportunities for religious and economic prosperity. They migrated in families and sometimes Quaker communities, the majority coming from the "middling ranks" of English, Irish, and Welsh society.

Pennsylvania, founded in 1681 by English Quaker convert William Penn, was the largest haven for emigreting


Quakers. Penn, who had been granted a royal charter (probably in payment of a debt), planned Pennsylvania as a "Holy Experiment"—a peaceful community formed in obedience to God, which, if successful, would prefigure Christ's reign on earth. Although Pennsylvanians expected conformity to Quaker moral codes, the colony allowed freedom of religion. Pennsylvania was to have no militia and to maintain peaceful relations with the local Delaware Indians. The early decades of the colony were characterized by internal conflict over how best to govern and collect revenue for the colony while maintaining religious commitments. Tensions peaked in the Keithian Controversy (1691–1692), in which George Keith challenged the ministerial authority of the Quaker leaders and was disowned. Quaker society in Pennsylvania and the Delaware River region achieved stability by the 1720s. Philadelphia, or the "City of Brotherly Love," became the center of temporal and religious power in the colonies.

Beginning in the 1720s Quaker strictures on plain dress and simple living increasingly gave way to visible signs of wealth and class difference. Quakers' fair business dealings and frugal habits had made them successful businessmen. By the 1740s Quaker "grandees," or wealthy Philadelphia merchants (many of whom owned slaves), dominated Philadelphia's legislative assembly. Beginning in the 1750s, in response to a perceived fall from "first principles," reformers within the Society brought about a quietist, sectarian turn in Quaker theology and practice. They worked to foster commitment to Quakerism within the community through strengthening the family and tightening enforcement of Quaker moral codes, or "disciplines"—particularly that forbidding marriage to non-Quakers. In this same period, Quakers withdrew from political leadership of Pennsylvania and sharpened their opposition to slavery and violence against Indians. During the French and Indian War (1754–1763), the Quaker-led Assembly battled with proprietor Thomas Penn (William Penn's son) and German and Scotch-Irish frontiersmen—long embittered by the Quakers' pacifist relations with the Indians—over appropriations to fight the Delawares, who had sided with the French. By 1756 the Quakers in the Assembly were forced to resign or compromise their peace testimony. Quakers never again controlled the Assembly.

While some Quakers had criticized slavery since the time of Fox, there was no consensus against it until the time of the American Revolution. Germantown Quakers had written the first protest against slavery in the colonies in 1688, and George Keith had spoken out against slavery; but not until the sectarian turn of the 1750s did Quakers as a group begin to condemn slavery. John Woolman's antislavery tract, "Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes" (1754), rallied Quaker meetings against slavery. In 1775 Philadelphia Quakers launched the first abolitionist society in America. By 1776 Quaker slaveholders who did not manumit their slaves were disowned. During the Revolution, Quakers incurred patriot hostility because of their pacifism. In these tumultuous years Quakers had become a religious sect, seeking to reform the world they inhabited without becoming contaminated by it.

In the nineteenth century, Quakers left southern states and migrated westward, relocating to the slave-free states of the Northwest Territory, and eventually farther west. In response to the pressures of the market revolution and the evangelical revivals of the Second Great Awakening, Quakers underwent a series of schisms in the nineteenth century that brought the majority into greater conformity with the broader evangelical culture.

By the 1840s Quakers were divided into "Hicksites," "Wilburites," and "Gurneyites." "Hicksite" followers broke off in 1827, when the "Orthodox" majority disowned Elias Hicks for rejecting the Atonement, Original Sin, and other standard Christian tenets for total obedience to the Inner Light. Orthodox Friends went on in the 1840s to divide over the evangelical innovations to Quakerism of English preacher Joseph John Gurney. Gurney emphasized the importance of Scripture and justification by simple act of faith, thus adopting the more immediate "conversion" experience of evangelical Christianity over the slow process of justification by Divine Light characterizing early Quaker belief. Gurney, closely associated with leaders of the British antislavery movement, also defended abolition and other philanthropic reform activities of the kind evangelicals were actively pursuing in the nineteenth century. Five hundred "Wilburites" followed John Wilbur in separating from the "Gurneyites" in 1843, calling for a return to a more quietist vision of Quakerism. A wave of revivalism influenced by the interdenominational Holiness movement coursed through Gurneyite Meetings in the 1870s, leading to further divisions, which presaged the Fundamentalist-Modernist divide. Holiness Friends, along with some "Conservative" Wilburites and Gurneyites rejected higher criticism of the Bible, the theory of evolution, and the immanence of God in human history. More moderately evangelical Friends embraced the social gospel and theological liberalism, finding a spokesperson in American Friend editor and Haverford professor Rufus M. Jones.

Quakers in the nineteenth century, particularly of the "Gurneyite" variety, sought to partake of the broader evangelical Protestant culture without losing Quaker distinctiveness. They strengthened Quaker commitment to secondary and higher education and extended the humanitarian implications of the doctrine of the Inner Light. While they devoted themselves most energetically to temperance reform, they also supported foreign and home philanthropic mission efforts, pioneered prison-reform activities, and fought to end slavery in the South. Many Quakers held leadership positions in the abolitionist movement, including John Greenleaf Whittier, Levi Coffin, and Angelina and Sarah Grimké. Quakers also dedicated themselves to freedmen's aid after the Civil War.

In response to the total wars of the twentieth century, Quakers sought to expand their peacemaking role in creative ways. In 1917 Gurneyites, Hicksites, and Philadelphia


Orthodox worked together to create the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), modeled after British war-relief organizations, to provide conscientious objectors with alternative ways to serve their country in war—including civilian relief, reconstruction, and medical work overseas. The AFSC's youth work camps, starting in the 1930s, helped pave the way for the government's development of the Peace Corps in the 1960s. The AFSC has also assisted in arbitration efforts, defended the rights of conscientious objectors, and, back home, engaged in social welfare, prison reform, and civil rights activism.

A distinctive legacy of Quakers is their disproportionately large presence in the ranks of the early feminists. Although official Quakerism may not have abided the activities of many of these feminists, the Quaker belief that "in souls there is no sex," and the opportunities provided Quaker women to preach, hold meetings, and write epistles, gave rise to the high percentage of Quakers among the "mothers of feminism," including Angelina and Sarah Grimké, Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelley, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Paul.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bacon, Margaret Hope. Mothers of Feminism: The Story of Quaker Women in America. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986.

Barbour, Hugh, and J. William Frost. The Quakers. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Hamm, Thomas D. The Transformation of American Quakerism: Orthodox Friends, 1800–1907. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

Marietta, Jack D. The Reformation of American Quakerism, 1748– 1783. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984.

Soderlund, Jean R. Quakers and Slavery: A Divided Spirit. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985.

SusanHaskell

See alsoAwakening, Second ; Evangelicalism and Revivalism ; Puritans and Puritanism .

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Society of Friends

Society of Friends

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Radical Sect. The Society of Friends originated as a radical offshoot of puritanism that arose during the English Civil War of the seventeenth century. George Fox is usually credited as its founder and was ridiculed as a quaker when he told a judge to tremble at the words of the Lord. Quakers first settled in tolerant Rhode Island, from which they sent missionaries to proselytize in Puritan New England. They preached extemporaneously, paraded in the streets, mocked the clergy, and generally challenged both the theology and society of New England. Quakers believed that all humans possessed the Inner Light of Christ, which was more important than the Scriptures in ruling ones life. They ordained no ministers, followed no formal liturgy in their worship, and recognized no sacraments. Instead they gathered and spoke at the prompting of their Inner Light, men and women alike. Believing in the equality of all people, Friends recognized no hierarchy and refused to engage in the customary rituals of deference, such as tipping their hats in the presence of their betters or referring to important people with the formal you. Instead they employed the more familiar thee and thou for everyone. They dressed plainly, eschewing any ornamentation, to signify that the material life was unimportant. As a matter of Christian principle they refused to bear arms or to take the oaths required in courts of law. The Puritans reserved the harshest penalty for these deviants and, for a time, hanged those who returned after having been banished from their colonies. In time Quakers moderated their attacks and settled down to a pious and sober Christian lifestyle that others admired.

REJECTING LUST

Ye are called to peace, therefore follow it... seek the peace of all men, and no mans hurt... keep out of plots and bustling and the arm of the flesh, for all these are amongst Adams sons in the Fall, where they are destroying mens lives like dogs and beasts and swine, goring, rending and biting one another and destroying one another, and wrestling with flesh and blood. From whence arise these wars and killing but from the lusts?

Source: George Fox, Journal, edited by John L. Nickalls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952), p. 357.

William Penn. The man most responsible for creating a legitimate space for the Society of Friends and attracting them to the colonies was William Penn. He was one of the leading lights of the English Quakers and wanted to create a model colony based on their beliefs. He first joined other proprietors in founding West Jersey for Quakers and in 1681 was granted a charter for Pennsylvania (Penns Forest). Penn immediately traveled through Europe, inviting all to come, offering generous grants of land and guaranteeing freedom of conscience by his Frame of Government and, later, Charter of Liberties. The right to vote and hold office in the assembly was open to almost every free man, and oaths were not required. Penn also set the tone that the colony would follow in dealing with the Native Americans. He considered Indians to be descendants of Old Testament Jews who practiced a primitive Christianity and treated them with the same respect that he accorded others. He purchased land from them at a fair price, prohibited the sale of alcohol to them, regulated the fur trade, and learned their language. The lavish wampum belt that the grateful Delawares gave him can still be seen at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Although open to all, Pennsylvania was dominated by the Quakers, both in population and control of political office. As other immigrants arrived, this dominance became increasingly difficult to maintain, and the Quakers withdrew into their subculture that separated themselves from these newcomers.

Meetings. Local Friends gathered at least once a week, usually in simple meetinghouses but also in private homes and barns. The meetinghouses were plain, rectangular buildings with windows high in the walls, which were often whitewashed to heighten spiritual intensity. They were also sparsely furnished, with no pulpits, altars, or ornaments of any kind. Members arrived quietly, with men and women entering by separate doors and sitting apart. Seating was by order of arrival, not rank, except for the elders. A time of silence allowed all to turn inward and tune into their Inner Light. As the spirit moved them, people rose and spoke spontaneouslymen, women, and children alike. When there seemed to be no more messages, the elders rose, shook hands, and the meeting ended. Although all possessed the Inner Light, individuals were expected to employ their unique talents in following it. Those who had a gift for speaking of the spirit and leading others to contact it were called Public Friends (ministers). These men and women traveled around, ministering to Quakers and non-Quakers alike. Likewise, at monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings men and women met separately and had different responsibilities. Men conducted the more-public business; women were responsible for charity, child rearing, marriage, and the moral conduct of the female sex.

Family and Community. Local meetings were almost synonymous with the community of extended families, for Quakers built their homes in clusters, or loving neighborhoods, where they could monitor behavior. Those who did not behave as charitable Christians were required to stand before the meeting, shame themselves, and be forgiven in love. Individual families also relied on spiritual love rather than authoritarian hierarchy to maintain harmony. Families were openly affectionate and oriented to their children, regarding them as innocent and incapable of sin until at least eleven years of age. Then they used rewards and reason to encourage proper behavior. Adolescence was the most dangerous time, for Friends viewed lust as a sin and premarital sex as an abomination. Young people were watched closely by the elders, prohibited from physical contact, and married within the faith and only with the consent of their parents. Quakers spent little on formal education, other than learning to read and write and to perform in practical trades. They felt that too much book learning might obscure the Inner Light. Quaker homes were large by colonial standards, reflecting their family orientation, but were as plain as their dress. Because clothes were a badge of wealth and status in these times, rich and poor dressed in somber colors with no ornamentationnot even buttons.

Keithian Schism. George Keith arrived in Philadelphia in 1688 to head a Quaker Latin school and became active among the Society of Friends. By 1691 he was accusing ministers of downplaying the importance of a knowledge of the Scriptures and Christ, not inquiring into the spiritual state of members, and refusing to discipline their flocks. He demanded that the Quakers adopt a creed, require a relation of spiritual experience of all who attended meetings, and formalize the handling of discipline and finances in local meetings. He did all of this in a loud and censorious voice. His followers even organized separate local meetings, calling themselves Christian Quakers. Other Quakers called the Public Friends condemned them and fought to keep members from joining their schism. Eventually Keith returned to England, was forced out of the Society, and became an Anglican. He returned to Pennsylvania as a missionary with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and continued to plague the Quakers.

Formalization. Keiths charges struck a nerve among the Society of Friends, which responded by implementing much of what he advocated. Public Friends issued a statement of their beliefs which served as the orthodoxy, even though they did not force anyone to sign it. They became much more careful of whom they admitted to their meetings and more stringent in disciplining their own, especially the children. The Yearly Meeting began to circulate specific directives on what Quaker children could not do, such as wear over long scarves or their hair in bangs. Local meetings were directed to appoint Overseers to scrutinize behavior by asking standardized questions drawn up by the monthly meetings. Finally, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting even prepared papers on discipline and practice which all of the lower meetings were directed to follow. Special quarterly meetings were instituted where the children were to be drilled in their duties. Weighty Friends (wealthy and respected elders) took a greater role in all of the meetings where the Public Friends had been dominant. The lines of authority were clarified: Overseers of local meetings, monthly meetings, quarterly meetings, and finally the Yearly Meeting. Decisions made at one level could be appealed at the next.

Decline. The Great Awakening of the 1740s had little impact on the Society of Friends. The theological emphasis on predestination and emotional preaching flew in the face of Quaker understanding of the Inner Light and practice of quiet contemplation. In addition Public Friends, or ministers, began sharing responsibilities with Weighty Friends and Overseers, so New Side and New Light attacks against ministers attracted little interest. Moreover, Quakers were less concerned with attracting converts, another goal of the various revivalists in the Awakening. Friends were more concerned about increased secularization. Prosperity was taking its toll on the Quaker lifestyle as wealthy merchants built bigger homes, purchased household items of exquisite craftsmanship, and acquired larger wardrobes of the finest and most expensive fabrics, even if they were still in dark colors and sported no ornamentation. It seemed as if the countinghouses of their businesses were attracting more of their attention than the meetinghouses of their faith. Young people followed suit, engaging in more games and social activities, often with non-Quakers. Some even married outside of the faith. Although they personally refused to bear arms, Friends in office were under increasing pressure to vote for military spending to defend the western frontier from Native American attacks. Some succumbed and voted for military stores; more defied the proprietor, which caused political conflict, or withdrew from office, leaving the governance of the colony to others.

Sources

Hugh Barbour, The Quakers in Puritan New England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964);

Ewin B. Bronner, William Penris Holy Experiment: The Founding of Pennsylvania, 16811701 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962);

Barry Levy, Quakers and the American Family: British Settlement in the Delaware Valley (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988);

Frederick B. Tolles, Meeting House and Counting House: The Quaker Merchants of Colonial Philadelphia, 16821763 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1948).

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Quakers

Quakers. The Religious Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers (so dubbed derisively by a seventeenth‐ century judge who said they quaked before the power of the Lord), has opposed war and violence from its inception, and has sought instead to do away with the causes of war and alleviate the suffering it causes.

George Fox (1624–1691), usually regarded as the founder of the Friends, preached in the 1640s, during the English Civil War, that there was a divine spark within each person, which means that all human beings are infinitely precious in God's sight and no one is justified in taking the life of another.

After the restoration of Charles II in 1660, radical religious groups stirred up rebellion, which led Friends, in 1661, to issue a declaration beginning,: “We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons….” Eventually, this Peace Testimony became fundamental to Quakerism.

In 1682, William Penn founded his “holy experiment” in Pennsylvania, based on the belief that a province that had no army, treated Native Americans as equals, and offered religious liberty could make the Peace Testimony a living reality. Penn published his Essay Towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe (1693), which offered a plan for bringing peace and justice. Although Pennsylvania was drawn into two wars between England and France, the colonists avoided deep involvement, and peace returned in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht. When the French and Indian War broke out in 1754, most of the Quaker politicians resigned from government rather than support the war.

Two decades later, at the start of the Revolutionary War, Friends took a neutral position and were persecuted by both British loyalists and American Whig revolutionaries. Quakers raised money and sent supplies to assist civilians, first in Boston in 1775, later elsewhere. In 1777, seventeen Philadelphia Quaker leaders were unfairly accused of treason and exiled to Virginia by the Whigs, but the following spring the fourteen who survived were released without trial. Several hundred Friends, including Betsy Ross, were strongly drawn to the revolutionary cause, and many of them joined the armed forces, notably Gen. Nathanael Greene from Rhode Island. When disowned by their Meetings, they organized a new group known as Free Quakers, but this group died out by the 1830s. A few Friends also joined the British cause as loyalists.

Friends turned their humanitarian efforts to opposition to slavery and other reforms, including the peace movement. When the Civil War broke out (1861), many Quakers were troubled by their desire to use the conflict as a way to end slavery, for such action ran counter to the Peace Testimony. The official position of Quakers remained unchanged, but some Friends were tolerant toward those who supported the war for the Union and emancipation and allowed members who joined the armed forces to remain. President Abraham Lincoln's government was more lenient toward conscientious objection than the Confederate government, but some conscientious objectors (COs) on both sides suffered for their refusal to fight.

After the Civil War, individual Friends were active for peace. Benjamin F. Trueblood served as secretary of the American Peace Society; Hannah J. Bailey, a New England Quaker, edited magazines for adults and children on peace education; and Albert K. Smiley sponsored the Mohonk Conferences on International Arbitration in New York.

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Quakers organized the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to assist COs and engage in relief work in Europe. The government recognized COs who belonged to traditional peace churches such as Quakers and Mennonites, but they were expected to serve in the army as noncombatants, usually in the medical corps. Many Quaker COs refused. Some were furloughed to do farm work; a few were imprisoned.

Through the AFSC, Quaker volunteers did relief work in France and Germany—eventually feeding 1 million children daily—in Central Europe, and then in Russia during the famine there. Herbert C. Hoover and other Friends raised several million dollars for such work.

Quaker organizations strongly advocated the Peace Testimony between the two world wars. In contrast to isolationists, they supported the League of Nations and conducted peace education in churches and schools; they also helped bring persecuted German Jews to the United States. However, the Friends joined other pacifist groups in opposing conscription, rearmament, and entrance of the United States into World War II.

The Selective Service Act of 1940 included a provision that COs might be assigned to do “civilian work of national importance” in Civilian Public Service units administered by the peace churches under Selective Service regulations. Some 12,000 men worked in forestry camps, agricultural projects, mental hospitals and institutions for the mentally deficient, and as “guinea pigs” in medical experiments. They received no pay and none of the benefits provided veterans of the armed forces. Deeply stirred by outrageous conditions in mental hospitals, some of the COs created the National Mental Health Foundation in 1946, and four years later this body merged with two others to create the National Association for Mental Health.

In 1947, the AFSC and the Friends Service Council of Britain received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in Europe and Asia during and after the war.

Quakers opposed the nuclear arms race and the reintroduction of conscription (1948). The Friends Committee for National Legislation lobbied in Washington, D.C., for Quaker principles.

During the Vietnam War, when antiwar feeling swept over the nation, Quakers, a tiny minority of the Vietnam Antiwar Movement, sought to prevent violence and the use of force in antiwar protests. Most young Friends of draft age opposed the war, the first time in the twentieth century that the official Quaker position matched the wartime practices of most of its members of military age. Many Friends' organizations strongly supported members who resisted conscription, and offered help to those imprisoned; at the same time, the AFSC and others provided relief and medical supplies to civilians in Vietnam during and after the war. Similarly, they opposed the Persian Gulf War and aided its civilian victims.

The AFSC and other Quaker bodies continue to support peace and humanitarian work around the world.
[See also Nonviolence; Peace and Antiwar Movements; Rustin, Bayard; Woolman, John.]

Bibliography

Mary Hoxie Jones , Swords into Ploughshares, 1937.
Mulford Q. Sibley and and Philip E. Jacob , Conscription of Conscience, the American State and the Conscientious Objector, 1940–1947, 1952.
Edwin B. Bronner , William Penn's “Holy Experiment,” 1962.
Peter Brock , Twentieth Century Pacifism, 1970.
John Ormerod Greenwood , Quaker Encounters, Vol. 1: Friends and Relief, 1975.
Lawrence S. Wittner , Rebels Against War: The American Peace Movement 1933–1983, 1984.
Peter Brock , The Quaker Peace Testimony, 1660–1914, 1990.
Charles C. Moskos and John Whiteclay Chambers, eds., The New Conscientious Objection: From Sacred to Secular Resistance, 1993.
Alex Sareyan , The Turning Point, How Men of Conscience Brought About Major Change in the Care of American Mentally Ill, 1994.
Arthur J. Mekeel , The American Revolution, 1996.

Edwin B. Bronner

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Quakers

QUAKERS

QUAKERS. Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) emerged in the north of England in the early 1650s as one of the many sects spawned by the Puritan revolution. George Fox (16241691), the most prominent early leader, after seeking for certainty among many religious groups, experienced what he and other Friends described as the Inward Light of Christ, an unmediated contact with God. Quakerism was an attempt to communicate and institutionalize this encounter with divinity that was available to all women and men. Worship consisted of meetings held in silence in an unornamented room with preaching or prayer spoken under the guidance of the Light. There was no educated and ordained clergy, no liturgy, hymns, or Bible reading to come between a person and God. Friends refused to pay tithes, take oaths, or show deference to social superiors and denounced all other forms of worship as corrupt.

Early Friends attracted the middling classes and few of the very rich and powerful or the poor. Traveling ministers (persons recognized as able to preach the new faith) brought the movement by 1654 to London, Bristol, and Norfolk and soon after to the West Indies, Ireland, and North America. The rapid spread and religious and social radicalism of many early Friends brought sporadic persecution, even under Oliver Cromwell (ruled 16531658).

The Restoration in 1660 brought twenty-four years of occasional persecution by royal and Anglican authorities who saw Friends as threatening religious uniformity and social order. Friends also experienced internal divisions occasioned by Fox's effort to organize a hierarchy of meetings, including separate gatherings for women. Robert Barclay's (16481690) Apology for the True Christian Divinity (1678) provided a theological framework, and William Penn (16441718) emerged as an advocate for religious toleration for all Dissenters and Roman Catholics.

After the Revolution of 1688, Friends repudiated their social radicalism and became respectable dissenters. No longer openly challenging church or state, Friends enjoyed toleration, accepted distraints for tithes, and sought to ensure their survival by concentrating upon family nurture and preserving distinctive customs of dress, speech, and endogamous marriage (that is, marriage with other Friends). Their primary impact on England came through innovations in technology, industry, and finance, for example the Darbys and Lloyds in iron and Barclays and Lloyds in banking.

Outside Britain, the primary concentrations of Friends were in Rhode Island, Maryland, and North Carolina, where inhabitants converted, and New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which were settled by Quaker immigrants. In 1681 William Penn obtained a charter for Pennsylvania, and colonization began the next year. Penn's law guaranteed religious liberty, created a representative assembly, ended capital punishment for most crimes, and instituted a strict moral code. Quakers dominated the assembly until the eve of the American Revolution. Conflict with the proprietors, first with Penn and then with his sons, became characteristic as Quakers sought political power and won every assembly election until 1775 on a platform of low taxes, no established church, and no militia. Pennsylvania and Friends prospered, and Philadelphia became a cosmopolitan town with Quakers supporting the American Philosophical Society, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and the Library Company.

The French defeat of a British force in 1755 near present-day Pittsburgh brought a major transformation of Quakerism. Blaming the war on their own moral failures, Quakers now pronounced slavery a moral evil, initiated an Indian rights movement, questioned the legitimacy of their exercising political power and paying war taxes, and tightened the enforcement of testimonies on all Friends. The reform movement eventually spread to meetings throughout the colonies and Great Britain.

American Friends supported the protests against British taxation beginning in 1765 until they concluded that the agitation was leading to war. After 1774, Quakers began withdrawing from politics and opposing the movement toward independence. In 1776 they proclaimed neutrality between the two warring parties and noninvolvement in politics, required all members to free their slaves, and disowned members who served in the military or occupied political office. They also began the international antislavery movement taken up by British Friends after 1783. In the new Republic, Friends saw it as their role to be advocates for American Indians and African Americans.

See also American Independence, War of (17751783) ; Cromwell, Oliver ; Dissenters, English ; English Civil War Radicalism ; Puritanism .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barbour, Hugh, and J. William Frost. The Quakers. New York, 1988.

Ingle, H. Larry. First among Friends: George Fox and the Creation of Quakerism. New York, 1994.

Larson, Rebecca. Daughters of Light: Quaker Women Preaching and Prophesying in the Colonies and Abroad (17001775). New York, 1999.

Marietta, Jack. The Reformation of American Quakerism, 17481783. Philadelphia, 1984.

Moore, Rosemary. The Light in Their Consciences: The Early Quakers in Britain, 16461666. University Park, Pa., 2000.

Tolles, Frederick. Meeting House and Counting House: The Quaker Merchants of Colonial Philadelphia, 16821763. New York, 1963; first published 1948.

J. William Frost

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quakers

quakers, or Society of Friends, are said to have derived their name either from ecstatic shuddering or from George Fox's advice to Justice Bennet in 1650 to tremble at the word of the Lord. They originated during the religious tumult of the 1650s, had no formal ministry or service, and professed the principle of the ‘inner light’, a sense of the direct working of Christ. Their refusal to pay tithes, insistence upon addressing everyone as thou, refusal to doff hats to authority, and the extravagant behaviour of some of their members, shocked a hierarchical society, and they were fiercely persecuted before and after the Restoration. The earlier excesses of the movement were soon abandoned and they acquired a reputation for sobriety and peaceableness. Quaker organization was based on a monthly meeting, quarterly county meetings, and an annual meeting in London. They benefited from the Toleration Act of 1689 and in 1696 were allowed to affirm rather than take an oath. There was considerable emigration to Pennsylvania, founded on quaker principles. They were not enthusiastic evangelists and did not share in the rapid growth of dissent in the early 19th cent., having 413 meeting-houses in 1800 and 371 in 1851. Quakers refuse military service but are often prominent in ambulance and medical corps.

J. A. Cannon

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Quaker

Quaker a member of the Religious Society of Friends, a Christian movement founded by George Fox c.1650 and devoted to peaceful principles. Central to the Quakers' belief is the doctrine of the ‘Inner Light’, or sense of Christ's direct working in the soul. This has led them to reject both formal ministry and all set forms of worship.

The name may refer to George Fox's direction to his followers to ‘tremble at the name of the Lord’, or from fits supposedly experienced by worshippers when moved by the Spirit, and this is suggested by a passage in his journal; however, there is a record of 1647 of the name having previously been applied to members of a foreign religious sect, a group of women who were ‘called Quakers, and these swell, shiver, and shake’. Quaker is not used by the Friends themselves, but is not now regarded as derogatory.

Members of the Society of Friends typically wore very plain clothes, and this may be referred to allusively.

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Quakers

Quakers (officially Society of Friends) Christian sect that arose in England in the 1650s, founded by George Fox. The name derived from the injunction given by early Quaker leaders that their followers tremble at the word of the Lord. Quakers rejected the episcopal organization of the Church of England, believing in the priesthood of all believers and the direct relationship between man and the spiritual light of God. Quakers originally worshipped God in meditative silence unless someone was moved by the Holy Spirit to speak. Since the mid-19th century, their meetings have included hymns and readings. The largest national Quaker Church is in the USA, where it began with the founding of a settlement by William Penn in Pennsylvania (1681). Today, there are c.200,000 Quakers worldwide.

http://www.quaker.org

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Quaker

Quak·er / ˈkwākər/ • n. a member of the Religious Society of Friends, a Christian movement founded by George Fox c.1650 and devoted to peaceful principles. Central to the Quakers' belief is the doctrine of the “Inner Light,” or sense of Christ's direct working in the soul. This has led them to reject both formal ministry and all set forms of worship. DERIVATIVES: Quak·er·ish adj.Quak·er·ism / -izəm/ n.

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Quakers

Quakers. Usual name for the Society of Friends. It was first given in the mid-17th cent. to the followers of George Fox. Its derivation is uncertain: it may be derived from an occasion when, in 1650, Fox told a judge in Derby to ‘tremble at the Word of the Lord’; or from an existing women's sect; or from the ‘spiritual trembling’ experienced at meetings.

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Quaker

Quaker member of the Society of Friends. XVII. f. QUAKE + -ER1. ‘Shaking and quaking’ was attributed to them.

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Quakers

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Society of Friends

Society of Friends See Quakers.

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Quaker

Quakeracre, baker, breaker, Chandrasekhar, faker, forsaker, Jamaica, Laker, maker, nacre, partaker, Quaker, raker, saker, shaker, staker, taker, undertaker, waker •bellyacher • matchmaker • bedmaker •dressmaker •haymaker, playmaker •sailmaker • rainmaker •lacemaker, pacemaker •peacemaker • filmmaker • kingmaker •printmaker • holidaymaker •cabinetmaker • moneymaker •merrymaker • watchmaker •clockmaker • lawmaker • homemaker •bookmaker • troublemaker •boilermaker • heartbreaker •safebreaker • Windbreaker •tie-breaker • strikebreaker •icebreaker • jawbreaker •housebreaker • muckraker •boneshaker • caretaker • piss-taker •stavesacre • wiseacre •beaker, Costa Rica, Dominica, eureka, Frederica, Griqua, leaker, loudspeaker, seeker, shrieker, sika, sneaker, speaker, squeaker, streaker, Tanganyika, theca, tikka, Topeka, wreaker

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