The Journal and Essays of John Woolman

The Journal and Essays of John Woolman

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The Journal and Essays of John Woolman

The Journal and Essays of John Woolman

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Nearly a decade has passed since the preparation of this edition of John Woolman Journal was undertaken at the request of the Friends' Historical Society of Philadelphia. In that interval has come and gone the Great War, whose shadow has fallen so deeply upon our modern civilization. To the philosopher of the future, who will command a truer perspective than is possible for us today, must be left the final verdict of its effect upon a great portion of the human race.

In view, however, of the stupendous changes which have been wrought in national and political relations, and of the fact that never before were social upheavals of such magnitude or importance, it is appropriate that a wider hearing be given to one whose quiet voice has still a message for this weary world, and whose meditations have survived in a form, quaint indeed, but singularly penetrating in their sympathetic counsel and wisdom. John Woolman had two great aims in his rather brief life:--the abolition of slavery, and the readjustment of human relations for the relief of the laboring classes. The first was accomplished at the cost of a civil war, and the life of the Great Emancipator. Over the second, which is yet unattained, the world nevertheless may discern faint gleams of light; but we desperately need today the sound teaching of John Woolman. He called his little book a Journal, although in it will be found comparatively few autobiographical details. Such it is, however, in the sense of being the history of the Progress of a Soul through what was to him indeed a Vale of Tears. John Woolman believed it possible "to provide all men with an environment which will best develop their physical, mental and spiritual powers." This definition of social reconstruction is that of a modern English student and leader in social reform, B. Seebohm Rowntree, but it was anticipated more than a century and a half ago by John Woolman.

The circumstances of the early publication of Woolman Journal are related in the pages that follow. It is less a matter of . . .

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