The Quakers

By Hugh Barbour; J. William Frost | Go to book overview

11
CRISIS AND REFORMATION

John Woolman* ( 1720-1772) is the most celebrated eighteenth-century Quaker, and his fame rests upon his Journal. From almost the date of its publication in 1773, people recognized the special qualities of this spiritual autobiography. The Journal has continued in print into the present, and it has been used as devotional material by persons who have no appreciation of Quakerism or awareness of the eighteenth-century context. The author creates a sense of quietist worship and awe from his initial sentence: "I have often felt a motion of love to leave some hints of my experience of the goodness of God: and now, in the thirty-sixth year of my age, I begin this work."1

Reading the Journal as a religious classic takes away its historical context. Woolman took the traditional forms of Quaker journal writing and thrust into them his passionate response to evil and great inward turmoil over compromise. To understand him we should confront the dilemmas that burst upon the Meetings' awareness in the 1750s: slavery, Indians, war, wealth, and purity of Discipline.


SLAVERY

The Society of Friends is significant in world history for becoming the first religious group publicly to denounce slavery and the first to require all members to free blacks held in bondage. The theoretical framework supporting slavery had been ingrained in Western civilization for so long that becoming an abolitionist required a major intellectual revolution. 2 Seventeenth-century Friends initially encountered chattel slavery in their missionary journeys to the West Indies. Black slavery there was particularly vicious, since planters growing sugar found it more profitable to import new slaves from Africa than to provide adequate food and care for those they already possessed. 3 Some Englishmen in the islands proved susceptible to the preaching of Friends, and Quaker Meetings appeared in Barbados as early as 1655.

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The Quakers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Denominations in America ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Series Foreword xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Part One the Quakers: A History of Friends in America 1
  • 1: Introduction 3
  • 2: The Religious Setting of the Early Friends 11
  • 3 - The Lamb's War and the Awakening of the North of England 35
  • 4: Quaker Worship and Ethics and Their Transformation, 1652-1662 39
  • 5 - The Mission to America 58
  • 6: England, 1660-1689 61
  • 7: The Quaker Colonies 73
  • 8: A Tolerated Society of Friends 83
  • 9: A Spiritual Existence 95
  • 10: A Disciplined Christian Life 107
  • 11: Crisis and Reformation 119
  • 12: The American Revolutions 137
  • 13: Quaker Migrants to Carolina and the Midwest; Eastern Philanthropists 153
  • 14: Separations 169
  • 15: The Midcontinent in the Midcentury, 1828-1867 185
  • 16: West and Midwest, 1867- 1902 203
  • 17: The Liberal Transformation 219
  • 18: Suburban and College Friends 231
  • 19: Creativity in Peacemaking 247
  • 20: Social Service and Social Change, 1902-1970 261
  • 21: New Forms of Quaker Interaction, 1960-1987 271
  • Part Two a Biographical Dictionary of Former Quaker Leaders in America 281
  • A 285
  • B 287
  • C 301
  • D 311
  • E 313
  • F 315
  • G 321
  • H 327
  • J 337
  • K 343
  • L 347
  • M 351
  • P 357
  • R 363
  • S 365
  • T 369
  • U 371
  • V 373
  • W 375
  • Appendix: Chronology 381
  • Bibliographic Essay 385
  • Index 393
  • About the Authors 409
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