THE MIDCONTINENT IN THE MIDCENTURY, 1828-1867: GURNEYITES, CONSERVATIVES, AND SLAVERY
In 1822 Elisha Bates* of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, printed a detailed list of the sixteen Monthly Meetings in Ohio Yearly Meeting and the twenty-eight in the newly made Indiana Yearly Meeting. He did not estimate membership, perhaps because of constant new settlement. After the Hicksite separation the Discipline book and silent worship remained the same in Meetings of both Quaker branches. 1 Once the logs and the Meetings were split Quaker farm life in Ohio and Indiana did not change dramatically until the coming of canals, the railroads, and the Civil War.
For the evangelicals, doctrinal Truth, and for the Hicksites, freedom from the authority of the elders remained the key issues of difference. Orthodox leaders used strictly their power to "elder" and "disown" Friends on issues of doctrine, whereas the Hicksites maintained traditional Quaker patterns of ethics and plain dress and speech. Ethically uncompromising Friends have often disagreed over the central leaders' authority to discipline individualists. John Woolman's* "Reformers" had "disowned" Friends over ethics. In the nineteenth century the Hicksites, with similar ethics, opposed powerful elders and insisted on the autonomy of each local Meeting. The Orthodox insisted that Yearly Meetings could override Monthly Meetings' decisions: many wanted a uniform Book of Discipline for all American Friends. 2
Elisha Bates was clerk of the Ohio Yearly Meeting for five years before and after the Hicksite split and wrote a book much read and reprinted among the Orthodox, The Doctrines of Friends ( 1825). Like Joseph John Gurney's* Observations, it kept the traditional Quaker emphases on the primacy of the inward Spirit over the Scriptures, on silent worship without sacraments, and the universality of grace; but Bates in very uncompromising language also stressed sin, atonement, the divinity of Christ, the authority of sacred Scriptures, miracles, and the Devil. By 1828, Ohio's year of decision, Bates was particularly stern in disowning "infidels."
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Publication information: Book title: The Quakers. Contributors: Hugh Barbour - Author, J. William Frost - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1988. Page number: 185.
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