Religious Society of Friends

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The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, is a Protestant religious denomination founded in England by George Fox in the 1650s. They have always been a small, radical, Protestant denomination with enormous political and social influence far beyond their small numbers. The Society formed during the religious upheaval in 17th century England seeking the recovery of original Christianity. They earned the name "Quakers" for how members shook, or "quaked", reflecting their struggle against their inner motives "under the Light."[1] Many migrated to America, especially to Philadelphia in the colony of Pennsylvania, which was owned by Quaker leader William Penn. Others went to New Jersey, North Carolina and especially Rhode Island, where they controlled the colonial government for a while. Quakers were active leaders of many American reform movements past and present, especially abolition of slavery, Indians' rights, prohibition, women's rights, civil rights, prison reform, hospital reform, and world peace. Other famous Quakers include founder George Fox, feminist Lucretia Mott, and presidents Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon.

Current status

There are about 100,000 Quakers in the United States today. Hamm (2003) identifies seven currently contested issues—the centrality of Christ, leadership, religious authority, sexuality, identity, unity, and growth. The Quakers are heavily involved with the Peace Testimony, support for "People of Color," the American Friends Service Committee, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation. They are well known for their support of liberal arts colleges including Haverford and Swarthmore (near Philadelphia) and Earlham (in Richmond, Indiana). A majority are affiliated with the Society of Friends (Five Years Meeting); others belong to the smaller Religious Society of Friends (General Conference), the Religious Society of Friends (Conservative), and the more fundamentalist Association of Evangelical Friends. The denomination has a special appeal to disaffected liberals, who often join for a while (then usually move on). Politically, the Quakers in the Midwest are mostly conservative Republicans, while those in the East are more liberal Republicans.

About 20,000 Quakers now live in Britain, and several thousand in Canada. Overseas missions, starting in 1903, were most successful in Africa, especially Kenya, which has 300,000 Quakers in 15 Yearly Meetings.[2]



The origin of the Friends can be traced to the mid-17th century in England. When Henry VIII severed ties with the Roman Catholic Church and formed the Anglican Church in 1534, it instigated a new era of religious dissent. Oliver Cromwell's victory in the English Civil War gave the Puritans control of Parliament and furthered the atmosphere of dissent. The Quakers emerged from the radical fringe of the Puritan movement. Although impossible to link the formation of the Quakers to any one person, George Fox is seen as the driving force behind the movement. Fox, who was raised in the Anglican Church until the age of 19, set out to find a greater spiritual understanding of God in 1643. He wandered the countryside for three years meeting with religious leaders in search of this understanding, but did not find the answers he was seeking. This led him to become disillusioned by these external teachings and he began seeking answers inside himself. In 1647, he believed to have heard the voice of God, which said to him "there is one, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition". It redefined his beliefs on the nature of the relationship between God and man, such as the idea that Christ lived inside all men and women, a church was a meeting of fellowship instead of a building, and that academics was not important to be a minister. These new ideas were radically different from the elaborate ceremony of the Church of England and the belief in Biblical authority of the Puritans. Fox spent the next several years preaching throughout the northwest, experiencing great success in convincing (converting) new followers to his cause. His followers took the name "Friends of Truth", based on the Bible verse John 5:15 in which Jesus stated "I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." Although there is no official founding date for the Quaker movement, it is often attributed to 1652 Fox's trip to Pendle Hill in which he received a vision that let him "see in what places he had a great people to be gathered."

Persecution and growth in England

Small groups of Quakers (who were known as the "Camp of the Lord in England," and later the "First Publishers of Truth" and "the valiant sixty") began preaching their message across the entire country in the 1650s. They were a disruptive group, frequently interrupting church services to spread their message. They taught heretical ideas that minimized the importance of the historic Jesus in lieu of the Spirit and the rejection of the Trinity. The refused to play tithes, take oaths, or treat the aristocracy with customary social respects. This led to persecution in the forms of jailing, beatings, and loss of employment. Margaret Fell began organizing "Monthly Meetings" in order to assist persecuted Quakers, which were their first "formal" gatherings. In 1655, James Nayler, an early leader, brought unwanted attention to the Quaker movement when he rode into Bristol in a reenactment of Jesus' ride into Jerusalem. He was arrested, tried before Parliament, tortured, and imprisoned and the event led to greater levels of persecution among the Friends. This led to the need for more organizational control and Fox called for group confirmation to support individual "leadings" (messages from the Spirit) and advised more experienced Friends to be watchful over the actions of others.

In 1660 the Church of England was reestablished as the official church which led to further persecution of the Quakers. The Restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660 was met shortly afterward with Venner's Rising in 1661, which was a failed attempt to overthrow the monarch. Many Friends were suspected as collaborators and by March over 5,000 per imprisoned. Fox and other Quaker leaders petitioned Charles with their Declaration Concerning Wars and Fighting by declaring that "All bloody principles and practices, as to our own particulars, we utterly- deny; with all outward wars and strife, and fighting with - outward weapons, for any end, or under an pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world."[3] Persecution continued in England until the passage of the Religious Toleration Act in 1689 which allowed them to practice their religion openly.

By 1690 there were about 50,000 Friends in 700 congregations in England and Wales. The center was London, with about 10,000.

Migration to America

Starting in 1656 the Quaker missionaries arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a Puritan controlled colony which took a hard line against dissenting views. The authorities seized the new arrivals immediately, imprisoned them, burnt their literature, and expelled them from the colony. Laws were also passed fining ship captains who brought Friends to the colony, as well as people who defended the Friends or owned Quaker literature; the colonial leadership was more concerned with the Quaker beliefs they considered seditious, rather than their religious dissent.[4] The missionaries were undaunted, however, and began sneaking into the colony, disregarding the persecution handed down to them. In an effort to maintain control, the colonial government enacted the death penalty for any Quaker who had been expelled from the colony three times; in August 1659 Quaker missionaries William Robinson, John Stephenson, and Mary Dyer defied the law and were executed in Boston. In 1661 the General Assembly passed a "Cart and Whip" bill, which led to arresting Friends and transporting them to Rhode Island while whipping them in each town they passed through.

The Quakers found Rhode Island to be much more welcoming, as it was a colony founded by the Massachusetts religious exiles Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson. There was a high rate of conversion in the colony, for Williams and Hutchinson did not try to organize their own church.[5] By the 1670s the Quakers emerged as the dominant political and religious faction in the colony. Quakers for a while controlled West Jersey, where they created landed estates.[6] They established prosperous farming settlements in Virginia and North Carolina.

Role of women

One of their most radical innovations was a more nearly equal role for women. Despite the survival of strong patriarchal elements, they believed in the spiritual equality of women, who were allowed to take a far more active role than had ordinarily existed before the emergence of radical civil war sects. Early Quaker defenses of their female members were sometimes equivocal, however, and after the Restoration of 1660 the Quakers became increasingly unwilling to publicly defend women when they adopted tactics such as disrupting services. Women's meetings were organized as a means to involve women in more modest, feminine pursuits. Some Quaker men sought to exclude them from church public concerns with which they had some powers and responsibilities, such as allocating poor relief and in ensuring that Quaker marriages could not be attacked as immoral. The Quakers continued to meet openly, even in the dangerous year of 1683. Heavy fines were exacted and, as in earlier years, women were treated as severely as men by the authorities.[7]

Friends were among the first women to petition Parliament, the monarchy, and the Anglican Church hierarchy. The Quaker women, exhibiting agency or self-sufficiency, entered into a larger political debate with these religious and secular authorities as they petitioned for the restoration of the monarchy and protested injunctions, the payment of tithes, forfeiture of property, the tendering of oaths and imprisonment, on behalf of themselves and their spiritual sisters and brothers. This shared dialectic—centering on ideas of subjugation and resistance, obedience and punishment, coercion and subversion—demonstrates how the women used their positions of spiritual authority to actively negotiate for power and to gain legal redress. From the emergence of the sect in the 1640s until the mid-1670s, the body of the Quaker woman became a site of legal and political contest as female Friends sought to display the detrimental physical and emotional effects caused by official harassment, imprisonment, and the anti-Quaker legislation. They deliberately reminded authority figures that as handmaidens selected by God, no earthly authority could gainsay their claims. From the 1670s to the end of the century, as the Society of Friends grew more institutionalized, a shift occurred as Quaker women gradually adopted intelligent and logical arguments based on carefully culled biblical examples and legal precedents. Using reasoned and calm voices, they aimed their publications at a court of public opinion to persuade their readers, as well as the authorities they opposed, of the legitimacy of their ideals and beliefs. In a period when the monarchy and Parliament fought a civil war, Quaker women recognized and positioned themselves within these larger contests of power—physically, spiritually, and intellectually—allowing them to participate in the political community in ways that women usually could not in the late Stuart Era.[8]

Colonial Pennsylvania

William Penn, after painting by West

William Penn, a favorite of King Charles II in 1682 received ownership of Pennsylvania, which he tried to make a "holy experiment," by a union of temporal and spiritual matters. Pennsylvania made guarantees of religious freedom, and kept them, attracting many Quakers and others. Quakers took political control but were bitterly split on the funding of military operations or defenses; finally they relinquished political power. They created a second "holy experiment" by extensive involvement in voluntary benevolent associations while remaining apart from government. Programs of civic activism included building schools, hospitals and asylums for the entire city. Their new tone was an admonishing moralism born from a feeling of crisis. Even more extensive philanthropy was possible because of the wealth of the Quaker merchants based in Philadelphia.[9]


Organizationally the Quaker movement opposed abolitionism because it was a political issue that was divisive. Howeverr, the rank-and-file membership comprised a large fraction of the abolitionist movement, and indeed was the single group most responsible for promoting antislavery and abolitionism in the 1770-1860 era. Sassi (2006) compares Anthony Benezet's influential 1771 antislavery tract, Some Historical Account of Guinea, with the sources from which he gleaned his information about Africa and the slave trade, the narratives published by European travelers to West Africa. Benezet, a Philadelphia Quaker and humanitarian reformer, cited the travel literature in order to portray Africa as an abundant land of decent people. His purpose was refutation of the argument that the slave trade was a beneficial transfer of people from a land of barbarism and death to regions of civilization and Christianity. However, Benezet employed the travel narratives selectively, suppressing contradictory evidence as well as controversial material that could have been used to construct an alternative depiction of African humanity. Nonetheless, Benezet's research shaped the subsequent debate over the slave trade and slavery, as antislavery writers incorporated his depiction into their rhetorical arsenal and pro-slavery defenders searched for a rebuttal.[10]

After officially adopting a policy of emancipation in 1775, New York Quakers attempted to aid their former black servants through education, employment, and donations as compensation for their slavery.

In 1816 Virginia Quaker merchant William Hartshorne made the radical proposal that Virginia Quakers join their brethren outside the South in not participating in a slave-based economy, and not grow, buy or sell tobacco, cotton and sugar, nor sell to plantations. The merchants of the South simply could not disentangle themselves from slavery, forcing many to compromise their religious principles in order to remain economically viable, and others (especially in North Carolina) to migrate to Indiana.[11]

Individual Midwestern Quakers were often devoted to abolitionism. The Indiana Yearly Meeting set up a Committee on the Concerns of the People of Color ("African Committee"). Both Orthodox and Hicksite had radically abolitionist splinter groups - the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Anti-Slavery Friends and Congregational, or Progressive, Friends. Midwestern Quakers were influential in providing education for black children, helping runaway slaves and freedmen who had freed themselves from kidnappers, and providing relief to the poor.[12]

Although many Quakers became active abolitionists, most leaders feared that social activism would destroy their religious society, and therefore abolitionism, even as they made clear their opposition to slavery. In response, some abolitionists established "comeouter" churches dedicated to advancing the principle of immediatism, seeking to align churches with the American Anti-Slavery Society's agenda of racial equality. Other reform groups known as Progressive Friends advocated for women's rights. Both Anti-Slavery Friends and Progressive Friends engaged in civil disobedience. The contrast between the Society of Friends and the splinter groups demonstrates how republican religion was tied to social and political stability.[13]

19th century schisms

The schism between orthodox and Hicksite Quakers in Philadelphia in the 1820s involved tensions between rural folk and urban sophisticates, socioeconomic class differences, and religious doctrinal disagreements. The schism spread to Quaker settlements across the country. The expansion of evangelical churches and reform societies during the Second Great Awakening forced Quakers to make choices about what was appropriate religious activity. Orthodox and Hicksite Quakers chose differently. While orthodox Quakers did not see anything wrong in associating with their evangelical neighbors, Hicksite Quakers opposed the methods of evangelical benevolence associations, believing these associations would corrupt the purity and distinctiveness of Quakers.[14]

Disagreements over doctrine and evangelism split Quakers into the modernizing Gurneyites, who questioned the applicability of 17th century writings to the modern world, and the conservative Wilburites. Wilburites not only held to the writings of Fox and other early Friends, they actively sought to bring not only Gurneyites, but Hicksites, who had split off during the 1820s over antislavery and theological issues, back to orthodox Quaker belief.

In the late 19th century Hicksite Quakers looked optimistically toward the future despite declining membership rolls and the decline of their rural base. Advocates of a more liberal Quaker theology reconciled traditional beliefs with Higher Criticism of the Bible and a relativist view toward other faiths. Hicksites dismissed the quietism of an earlier generation and, drawing on contemporary intellectual and social currents, embraced causes such as education, ending racial discrimination, and other social reform.[15] Further discussion of Quaker views towards the Bible is demonstrated in Quakerism and the Bible.

Earlham College

The Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends, founded in 1821 by refugees from the slave South, was the largest Society of Friends meeting in the world by 1850. Earlham College, founded 1859, became their intellectual center. It was coeducational from the first and after the Civil War the students abandoned plain dress and plain speech, and engaged in debate tournaments and intercollegiate sports that made competition respectable in the Quaker ethic. Darwinism was taught, and the modernist religion department alienated some conservatives in the community. The American Friends Service Committee proved highly popular among students, as it embodied humanitarian service and liberal attitudes toward race and world peace.[16]

Peace Testimony

The Peace Testimony prohibited Friends as a group from supporting a war. It proved highly controversial among Quakers, for they also believed in their duty to uphold the government. There has always been a continuum of beliefs among Friends, from pacifism and peace activism, to outright military activity.[17] The Quaker-controlled colony of Rhode Island took part in King Philip's War of 1675-76.[18] By contrast, the Quaker-controlled Pennsylvania colonial government blocked the formation of local militias; helpless settlers were massacred in Indian raids in the French and Indian War of the 1750s. The failure to protect settlers caused serious dissension in the Quaker community, which verged on schism. The solution adopted was for the Quakers to withdraw completely from the government.[19]

Although the Peace testimony remained important for some Quakers, in practice the majority supported American wars, according to an Indiana case study. When the United States entered World War I in 1917 nearly all Indiana Quakers ceased any peace advocacy and probably two-thirds of eligible Indiana Quakers served in the military. In World War II, most Quakers regarded it as a just war and it is estimated that 90% served, although there were some conscientious objectors. In the late 1940s some radicals refused to register for conscription, but they were not well supported and many Quakers regarded the Korean War (1950–53) as a justifiable police action. Although opposition to the Vietnam War steadily grew, conservative Quakers were uncomfortable with the radical tendencies of conscientious objectors and some Indiana Quakers openly supported the war. No Indiana congregations endorsed civil disobedience, and two opposed it. In 1990 the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends declared opposition to the use of force in the Persian Gulf, but by then the majority of Indiana Quakers no longer considered themselves pacifists.[20]

American Friends Service Committee

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) began in in 1917 and in 1947 received the Nobel Peace Prize. Founded to aid conscientious objectors during World War I, the AFSC continued to promote pacifism during World War II. During the Cold War, it focused on providing relief to European countries that suffered from superpower conflicts and worked for reconciliation between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1947 the AFSC decided to become more involved politically and to rely on professionals, but it failed to effect changes in American public policy. The turn to professional lobbying diluted the Quakers' religious message.[21]


Hanson (2005) explores the work of Henry Wilbur in the organization and outreach of the Friends General Conference (FGC) and the Committee for the Advancement of Friends Principles (CAFP) during the early 20th century. Wilbur became involved in promoting Quakerism when he moved to New York in 1896 and argued for better organizational structure for the Advancement of Friends Principles in 1899. The CAFP was created in 1902 with the mission of evangelization among Friends and others seeking religious truth, primarily through the organization of reading groups and weekend conferences. In 1905 Wilbur became the first paid staff member of the committee. Wilbur's efforts and expertise became so essential to the Quaker community that, in 1911, he became the general secretary of the FGC.[22]

Public perception of Quakers

The perceptions outsiders have held of Quakers has included friendly and hostile elements. In his campaign for president in 1928, for example, Herbert Hoover's religion came under attack as inappropriate for a commander in chief.

The Quakers became known for their inventiveness, entrepreneurship, business acumen, and their interlocking business ties; they were trusted by outsiders who welcomed the self-censorship Quakers imposed on each other to maintain high ethical standards. Many leading British entrepreneurs of the 18th and 19th centuries were Quakers, especially merchants in London and industrialists who pioneered the Industrial Revolution in machinery, metals, textiles, railways and food products. A handful of Quaker families (the Darbys, Reynolds, Lloyds, Champions, and Rawlinsons) dominated the British iron industry. The Barclays and Lloyds were powerful bankers.[23] Quakers were disproportionately representation among physicians, and among the scientists of the Royal Society.[24]

There was a great deal of popular representation of Quakers---in jokes, popular magazines, novels, images, advertising and other media---from 1850 to 1920.[25] Popular representations of Friends typically approved the devout distinctiveness attributed to stereotypical Quakers, as evidenced by their plain dress, plain speech, and refusal to swear oaths. The fact that Quakers were changing was ignored as the popular perception idealized a plain-dressed, old-fashioned representative of a national purity, piety, and unity.

The most striking images of Quakers included plain speech, abolitionism and women's rights, pacifism and war, plain dress (in the form of the Quaker bonnet), and the famous Quaker Oats character used in advertising oatmeal. The plain speech testimony seemed to acquire new and greater significance in the broader culture at the same time Quakers were abandoning the witness. Plain speech became an attractive and admirable anachronism, signifying an imagined set of old-fashioned values. The Quaker witnesses for reformism and pacifism were reshaped to suit opposing purposes. Plain dress and appearance became the attractive and malleable image of a religious sectarian, as authors, artists, and entrepreneurs fashioned a normative and vaguely religious referent for American moral superiority.[26]

Current beliefs

The core beliefs among American Friends in the 21st century are worship that is based on the leading of the Spirit; the ministry of all believers; decision making through the traditional Quaker business process; simplicity as a basic philosophy of life; and a commitment to education as a manifestation of Quaker faith.[27]

Although Quakers revere the Bible and quote from it extensively, they do not consider it as authoritative as the Inner Light. They deny the special authority of an ordained clergy and reject all ritual in religious worship. They believe that a true church is created by the fellowship of man rather than a building people meet in to worship. Small groups of Quakers gather weekly for devotion in "meetings" where members usually sit together silently in a bare room, waiting for the Inward Christ to speak through one of them who may be inspired to "give testimony." There is no altar, no recitation of prayers, and no hymn singing at the meeting. The Bible is rejected as the authoritative word of God and replaced with the authoritative messages of the Inward Christ.

There are some "pastoral" Quaker meetings, however, which have "programmed" worship, with hymns and other music, scripture readings, and a sermon or message from a designated pastor, along with a brief period of silence for testimony.

Quakers believe in direct revelation, often referred to as the inner light or, in Fox's words, "that of God in everyone." Traditional Quaker meetings take place mostly in silence, with individual members standing up to speak when they believe they are moved to do so by God. Margaret Fell wrote that Fox had said

the Scriptures were the Prophet's words, and Christ's and the Apostle's words, and what, as they spoke, they enjoyed and possessed, and had it from the Lord and said, then what had any to do with the Scriptures, but as they came to the Spirit, which gave them forth. You will say, Christ says this, and the Apostles say this but what can thou say? Are thou a child of Light, and have walked in the Light, and that thou speaks, is it inwardly from God?

Liberal Quakers

Liberal Quakers are Friends with distinctly liberal social and political views such as the right to choose abortion as an aspect of equal rights for women and/or as a personal matter between the woman and God. The American Friends Service Committee (an independent Quaker organization with participants of many faiths) provides international programs for economic and justice, peace, and humanitarian aid in disasters. Liberal Quakers do not believe that Satan causes suffering. Some believe suffering is part of God's plan, will, or design, even if we don't immediately understand it. Some don't believe in any spiritual reasons for suffering.[28]


Quakers have a strong pacifist tradition. The Society of Friends is, along with the Mennonites and the Plymouth Brethren one of the historic peace churches. See Pietism. However, there is also a non-pacifist tradition of "fighting Quakers."

Plain dress

Historically, Quakers were a nonconformist body. In the early twentieth century, many Quakers began to drop traditional Quaker folkways such as plain Quaker dress ("Quaker grey") and "plain speech" (particularly the use of "thee" and "thou") and replace them with modern interpretations such as not "dressing up" to attend meeting for worship.


A series of divisions has resulted in Quakers being organized into four branches. The Friends General Conference is theologically liberal, sometimes seeking truths from non-Christian sources. They practice “unprogrammed” worship: meetings are conducted in silence, without clergy. Friends United Meeting is more avowedly Christian. They generally practice “programmed” worship: meetings are guided by clergy, with or without a silent component. Evangelical Friends International also practice programmed worship. They are similar to other evangelical Christians in their beliefs, although they generally do not observe the sacraments of communion or baptism. Conservative Friends are theologically conservative and Christ-centered, acknowledging the authority of Scripture. They practice unprogrammed worship, and many also practice traditional plain dress and speech.


Quakers around the world hold a wide range of theological views, but value what are called Testimonies. These are often taught using the acronym SPICE, standing for Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, and Equality. Some friends also include other testimonies such as Compassion and Stewardship.

  • The testimony of Simplicity concerns the adoption of an unostentatious life style and a restraint on conspicuous consumption. Quakers have been traditionally inclined to thrift and temperance, and unlikely to engage in gambling and financial speculation, though there have been very many successful businesses run by Quakers. Recently there has been a renewed emphasis on the dangers of smoking and the misuse of drugs.
  • The Peace testimony is probably the best known. Friends usually refuse to support war as a means of settling disputes. Most oppose the arms trade, conscription, and the threat of nuclear war as a deterrent. They promote reconciliation, mediation and conflict resolution rather than revenge and retribution or the use of violence to achieve desired objectives.
  • The testimony of Integrity requires strict honesty and truthfulness, mutual trust and fidelity in our relations with other people. Friends are greatly concerned about truth and integrity in public affairs. As part of this testimony, most Friends refuse to swear an oath, believing that their word should be equally truthful whether they are on oath or not. Friends normally affirm if required to give evidence in court. The testimony of Integrity also includes a testimony of Stewardship, which focuses on conservation of the environment as a concern for 'the integrity of creation'.
  • The testimony of Community, along with the testament of Equality means that Quakers have generally been at the forefront of penal reform and opposition to capital punishment, emphasizing the need for rehabilitation rather than retribution. Community also includes Compassion, which includes the traditional Quaker concern for the relief of suffering due to famine, natural disasters and war. More recently concern for situations nearer at home have emerged, especially for homeless, disadvantaged or elderly people and those who are particularly vulnerable, such as political prisoners, those with AIDS and those who are addicted to drugs. Compassion for animals has led to opposition to factory farming and other forms of cruelty.
  • The testimony of Equality emphasizes social equality and the need to accept every person individually, and not to regard anyone only as a member of a class or category. Friends oppose discrimination or exploitation on the grounds of creed, race, sex, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, age or social status. This testimony also seeks a fairer distribution of wealth, and equal opportunities for employment and education, and in housing and health services.

These testimonies stretch back to the roots of Quaker history, but the way they are adopted by Quakers is as individual as Quakers themselves, as can be seen in a footnote to the Letter from the Elders Gathered at Balby, 1656 which says: "Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by, but that all, with the measure of the light which is pure and holy, maybe guided: and so in the light walking and abiding, these may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not from the letter, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life."


William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, was a well-known Quaker, who demonstrated Quaker principles in his dealings with the Indians. In 1693, in his "Fruits of Solitude" he wrote:

"A good End cannot sanctifie evil Means; nor must we ever do Evil, that Good may come of it. ... It is as great Presumption to send our Passions upon God's Errands, as it is to palliate them with God's Name. ... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive, or gain by Love and Information. And yet we could hurt no Man that we believe loves us. Let us then try what Love will do: For if Men did once see we Love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: And he that forgives first, wins the Laurel."

Peace Work

The Religious Society of Friends has historically been respected by all sides as mediators, because of their commitment to peace. In 1947, the American Friends Service Committee was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Famous Quakers

See also


  • Abbott, Margery Post et al. Historical Dictionary of the Friends (Quakers). (2003). 432 pp.
  • Bacon, Margaret Hope. "Quakers and Colonization," Quaker History, 95 (Spring 2006), 26–43.
  • Barbour, Hugh, and J. William Frost. The Quakers. (1988), 412pp; historical survey, including many capsule biographies online edition
  • Barbour, Hugh. The Quakers in Puritan England (1964).
  • Benjamin, Philip. Philadelphia Quakers in an Age of Industrialism, 1870-1920 (1976),
  • Braithwaite, William C. The Beginnings of Quakerism (1912); revised by Henry J. Cadbury (1955) online edition
  • Braithwaite, William C. Second Period of Quakerism (1919); revised by Henry Cadbury (1961), covers 1660 to 1720s in Britain
  • Brock, Peter. Pioneers of the Peaceable Kingdom (1968), on Peace Testimony from the 1650s to 1900.
  • Bronner, Edwin B. William Penn's Holy Experiment (1962)
  • Connerley, Jennifer. "Friendly Americans: Representing Quakers in the United States, 1850-1920." PhD dissertation U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 2006. 277 pp. Citation: DAI 2006 67(2): 600-A. DA3207363 online at ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
  • Davies, Adrian. The Quakers in English Society, 1655-1725. (2000). 261 pp.
  • Doherty, Robert. The Hicksite Separation (1967), uses the new social history to inquire who joined which side
  • Dunn, Mary Maples. William Penn: Politics and Conscience (1967)
  • Frost, J. William. The Quaker Family in Colonial America: A Portrait of the Society of Friends (1973), emphasis on social structure and family life
  • Frost, J. William. "The Origins of the Quaker Crusade against Slavery: A Review of Recent Literature," Quaker History 67 (1978): 42-58,
  • Hamm, Thomas. The Quakers in America. (2003). 293 pp., strong analysis of current situation, with brief history
  • Hamm, Thomas. The Transformation of American Quakerism: Orthodox Friends, 1800-1907 (1988), looks at the impact of the Holiness movement on the Orthodox faction
  • Hamm, Thomas D. Earlham College: A History, 1847-1997. (1997). 448 pp.
  • Hewitt, Nancy. Women's Activism and Social Change (1984).
  • Illick, Joseph E. Colonial Pennsylvania: A History. 1976. online edition
  • Ingle, H. Larry Quakers in Conflict: The Hicksite Reformation (1986)
  • Ingle, H. Larry. First among Friends: George Fox and the Creation of Quakerism. (1994). 407 pp.
  • James, Sydney. A People among Peoples: Quaker Benevolence in Eighteenth-Century America (1963), a broad ranging study that remains the best history in America before 1800
  • Jones, Rufus M., Amelia M. Gummere, and Isaac Sharpless. Quakers in the American Colonies (1911), history to 1775 online edition
  • Jones, Rufus M. Later Periods of Quakerism, 2 vols. (1921), covers England and America until World War I.
  • Jones, Rufus M. The Story of George Fox (1919) 169 pages online edition
  • Jones, Rufus M. A Service of Love in War Time: American Friends Relief Work in Europe, 1917-1919 (1922) online edition
  • Jordan, Ryan. "The Dilemma of Quaker Pacifism in a Slaveholding Republic, 1833-1865," Civil War History, Vol. 53, 2007 online edition
  • Jordan, Ryan. Slavery and the Meetinghouse: The Quakers and the Abolitionist Dilemma, 1820–1865. (2007) 191pp
  • Kennedy, Thomas C. British Quakerism, 1860-1920: The Transformation of a Religious Community. (2001). 477 pp.
  • Larson, Rebecca. Daughters of Light: Quaker Women Preaching and Prophesying in the Colonies and Abroad, 1700-1775. (1999). 399 pp.
  • LeShana, James David. "'Heavenly Plantations': Quakers in Colonial North Carolina." PhD dissertation: U. of California, Riverside 1998. 362 pp. DAI 2000 61(5): 2005-A. DA9974014 Fulltext: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
  • Moore, Rosemary. The Light in Their Consciences: The Early Quakers in Britain, 1646-1666. (2000). 314 pp.
  • Nash, Gary. Quakers and Politics: Pennsylvania, 1680-1726 (1968)
  • Punshon, John. Portrait in Grey: A short history of the Quakers. (Quaker Home Service, 1984).
  • Rasmussen, Ane Marie Bak. A History of the Quaker Movement in Africa. (1994). 168 pp.
  • Russell, Elbert. The History of Quakerism (1942). online edition
  • Smuck, Harold. Friends in East Africa (Richmond, Indiana: 1987)
  • Trueblood, D. Elton The People Called Quakers (1966)
  • Tolles, Frederick B. Meeting House and Counting House (1948), on Quaker businessmen in colonial Philadelphia
  • Tolles, Frederick B. Quakers and the Atlantic Culture (1960)
  • Vlach, John Michael. "Quaker Tradition and the Paintings of Edward Hicks: A Strategy for the Study of Folk Art," Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 94, 1981 online edition
  • Walvin, James. The Quakers: Money and Morals. (1997). 243 pp.
  • Yarrow, Clarence H. The Quaker Experience in International Conciliation (1979), for post-1945

Primary sources

  • Gummere, Amelia, ed. The Journal and Essays of John Woolman (1922) online edition
  • Jones, Rufus M., ed. The Journal of George Fox: An Autobiography online edition
  • Mott, Lucretia Coffin. Selected Letters of Lucretia Coffin Mott. edited by Beverly Wilson Palmer, U. of Illinois Press, 2002. 580 pp
  • West, Jessamyn, ed. The Quaker Reader (1962, reprint 1992) - collection of essays by Fox, Penn, and other notable Quakers

External links


  1. Barbour and Frost (1988) p.28
  2. See [1] Rasmussen, (1995) and Smuck, (1987)
  3. Fox, George, and others, Declaration Concerning Wars and Fighting. Retrieved on 2007-08-30.
  4. Barbour and Frost (1988) p.51
  5. Barbour and Frost (1988) p.53
  6. It was a separate colony that later merged with East Jersey to form New Jersey.
  7. Kay S. Taylor, "The Role of Quaker Women in the Seventeenth Century, and the Experiences of the Wiltshire Friends." Southern History 2001 23: 10-29. Issn: 0142-4688, not online
  8. Susanna Catherine Calkins, "Prophecy and Polemic: Quaker Women and English Political Culture, 1650-1700." PhD dissertation Purdue U. 2001. 318 pp. DAI 2002 62(12): 4294-A. DA3037546 Fulltext at ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
  9. Illick (1976) p 225
  10. Jonathan D. Sassi, "Africans in the Quaker Image: Anthony Benezet, African Travel Narratives, and Revolutionary-era Antislavery." Journal of Early Modern History 2006 10(1-2): 95-130. Issn: 1385-3783 Fulltext: Ebsco
  11. A. Glenn Crothers, "Quaker Merchants and Slavery in Early National Alexandria, Virginia: the Ordeal of William Hartshorne." Journal of the Early Republic 2005 25(1): 47-77. Issn: 0275-1275 Fulltext: in Project Muse
  12. Thomas D. Hamm et al. "'A Great and Good People': Midwestern Quakers and the Struggle Against Slavery." Indiana Magazine of History 2004 100(1): 3-25. Issn: 0019-6673 Fulltext: in History Cooperative and Ebsco
  13. Ryan Jordan, "Quakers, 'Comeouters,' and the Meaning of Abolitionism in the Antebellum Free States." Journal of the Early Republic 2004 24(4): 587-608. Issn: 0275-1275 Fulltext: Ebsco
  14. Bruce Dorsey, "Friends Becoming Enemies: Philadelphia Benevolence and the Neglected Era of American Quaker History." Journal of the Early Republic 1998 18(3): 395-428. Issn: 0275-1275 online at Jstor
  15. Thomas D. Hamm, "The Hicksite Quaker World, 1875-1900." Quaker History 2000 89(2): 17-41.
  16. Hamm (1997)
  17. Chuck Fager, "A Great Deep: The Peace Testimony and Historical Realism," Quaker Theology #6 Spring 2002 online edition
  18. "Rhode Island exiled Indians, supplied boats to the Plymouth and Massachusetts armies, blockaded Philip. . . provisioned and provided a safe haven for colonial troops, raised and dispatched soldiers, stored ammunition, transported troops . . . to battle, encouraged the mobilization and training of the local militias, deployed gunboats, manned an official garrison, contributed troops to the final search for Philip himself-–and at last, tried and executed prisoners of war." Meredith Baldwin Weddle, Walking in the Way of Peace: Quaker Pacifism in the Seventeenth Century. Oxford University Press, 2001. p. 170.
  19. Illick (1976) esp 201, 212-20
  20. Thomas D. Hamm, Margaret Marconi, Gretchen Kleinhen Salinas, and Benjamin Whitman, "The Decline of Quaker Pacifism in the Twentieth Century: Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends as a Case Study." Indiana Magazine of History 2000 96(1): 44-71. Issn: 0019-6673 Fulltext: Ebsco
  21. H. Larry Ingle, "The American Friends Service Committee, 1947-49: the Cold War's Effect" Peace & Change 1998 23(1): 27-48. Issn: 0149-0508 Fulltext: Ebsco
  22. Roger Hansen, "'Hungering and Thirsting for the Contact with Kindred Spirits': Henry Wilbur and the Committee for the Advancement of Friends' Principles, 1900-1914." Quaker History 2005 94(2): 44-55. Issn: 0033-5053 not online
  23. Barbour and Frost (1988) p 86-88; Ann Prior and Maurice Kirby, "The Society of Friends and the Family Firm, 1700-1830." Business History 1993 35(4): 66-85. Issn: 0007-6791 Fulltext: Ebsco
  24. Walvin, The Quakers: Money and Morals. (1997).
  25. Connerley, (2006)
  26. Connerley, (2006)
  27. Hamm (2003) p. 64
  28. What Liberal Quakers Believe Beliefnet. Accessed 18 March 2008.