Period II Reconstruction 1861-1914

CHAPTER 30

FRIENDS IN THE CIVIL WAR AND FREEDMEN'S AID

THE War between the States made a definite break in the history of American Quakerism. The Society was forced out of its official isolation both because of its pacifist attitude and by its relief work. The war dragged many of the young men from their home communities and compelled them to reëxamine their inherited Quaker traditions, the pacifist tradition in particular. It brought many Friends a fresh baptism of suffering for their principles; and committed the Society, both in England and the United States, to help the Negro freedmen and to aid in the religious and educational reconstruction of parts of the South.

The Civil War, which brought about the emancipation of the slaves, brought an end to the Underground Railroad and the struggle for Abolition;1 but these ends were achieved by warlike methods which Friends abhorred. President Lincoln stated their dilemma as he saw it in his letter to Eliza P. Gurney:

____________________
1
Levi Coffin, Rem., p. 712.

-408-

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