The sect of “Friends,” who were called Quakers in derision, was founded at about the middle of the seventeenth century.
At first they were called “Professors (or children) of the light,” because of their fundamental principle that the light of Christ
within was God's gift of salvation—that “Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
It is said that George Fox
(q. v.), the founder of the sect, when brought before magistrates at Derby, England
, in 1650,
told them to “quake before the Lord
,” when one of them (Gervase Bennet
) caught up the word “quake,” and was the first who called the sect “Quakers.”
They were generally known by that name afterwards.
They spread rapidly in England
, and were severely persecuted by the Church
At one time there were 4,000 of them in loathsome prisons in England
The most prominent of Fox
's disciples was William Penn
, who did much to alleviate their sufferings.
Many died in prison or from the effects of imprisonment.
Grievous fines were imposed, a large portion of which went to informers.
They were insulted by the lower classes; their women and children were dragged by the hair along the streets; their meetinghouses were robbed of their windows; and, by order of King Charles and the Arch-
A Quaker at the Court of Charles II.|
bishop of Canterbury
, in 1670, their meeting-houses were pulled down; and when they gathered for worship beside the ruins they were beaten over the head by soldiers and dispersed.
In this way many were killed outright or disabled for life.
Constables and informers broke into their houses.
The value of their property destroyed before the accession of William and Mary (1689) was estimated at $5,000,000. Besides this, they were fined to the amount of over $80,000, and their goods were continually seized because they refused to pay tithes, bear arms, or enroll themselves in the military force of the country.
“The purity of their lives, the patience with which they endured insult and persecution (never returning evil for evil), their zeal, their devotedness, and their love for each other often compelled the admiration even of magistrates whose orders oppressed them.”
To escape persecution, many of them emigrated to the Continent, and some to the West Indies
and North America
In the latter places they found persecutors.
Those who first appeared in New England
and endured persecution there were fanatical and aggressive, and were not true representatives of the sect in England
They were among the earliest of the disciples of Fox
, whose enthusiasm led their judgment; and some of them were absolutely lunatics and utterly unlike the sober-minded, mildmannered members of that society to-day.
They ran into the wildest extravagances of speech; openly reviling magistrates and ministers of the Gospel with intemperate language; overriding the rights of all others in maintaining their own; making the most exalted pretensions to the exclusive possession of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
; scorned all respect for human laws; mocked the institutions of the country; and two or three fanatical young women outraged decency by appearing without clothing in the churches and in the streets, as emblems of the “unclothed souls of the people” ; while others, with loud voices, proclaimed that the wrath of the Almighty was about to fall like destructive lightning upon Boston
This conduct, and these indecencies, caused the passage of severe laws in Massachusetts
against the Quakers.
The first of the sect who appeared there were Mary Fisher
and Ann Austin
, who arrived at Boston
in September (N. S.
Their trunks were searched, and their books were burned by the common hangman before they were allowed to land.
Cast into prison, their persons were stripped in a search for body-marks of witches.
None were found,
and they, being mild-mannered women, and innocent, were soon released and expelled from Massachusetts
Nine other men and women who came from London
were similarly treated.
Others “sought martyrdom” in New England
and found it. Some reviled, scolded, and denounced the authorities in Church and State, railing at the functionaries from windows as they passed by. More and more severe were the laws passed against the Quakers.
They were banished on pain of death.
Three of them who returned were led to the scaffold—two young men and Mary Dyer
, widow of the secretary of state of Rhode Island
The young men were hanged; Mary was reprieved and sent back to Rhode Island
The next spring she returned to Boston
, defied the laws, and was hanged.
The severity of the laws caused a revulsion in public feeling.
True Friends who came stoutly maintained their course with prudence, and were regarded by thoughtful persons as real martyrs for consciencea sake.
A demand for the repeal of the bloody enactments caused their repeal in 1661, when the fanaticism of both parties subsided and a more Christian spirit prevailed.
, laws almost as severe as those in Massachusetts
were enacted against the Quakers.
, also, where religious toleration was professed, they were punished as “vagabonds” who persuaded people not to perform required public duties.
In Rhode Island
they were not interfered with, and those who sought martyrdom did not go there.
Some of them who did so disgusted Roger Williams
that he tried to argue them out of the colony.
In September, 1656, the authorities of Massachusetts
addressed to President Arnold
, of Rhode Island
, an urgent letter, protesting against the toleration of Quakers allowed there, and intimating that, unless it was discontinued, it would be resented by total non-intercourse.
There was then very little sympathy felt for the Quakers in Rhode Island
, but the authorities refused to persecute them, and Coddington
and others afterwards joined them.
was a strict churchman, and guarded, as far as possible, the purity of the ritual and doctrines of the Reformed Dutch Church in
Persecuting a Quaker.|
He compelled the Lutherans to conform, and did not allow other sects to take root there.
In 1657 a ship arrived at New Amsterdam, having on board several of “the accursed sect called Quakers.”
They had been banished from Boston
, and were on their way from Barbadoes
to Rhode Island
, “where all kinds of scum dwell,” wrote Dominie Megapolenses, “for it is nothing else than a sink of New England
Among the Friends were Dorothy Waugh
and Mary Witherhead
They went from street to street in New Amsterdam, preaching their new doctrine to the gathered people.
ordered the women to be seized and cast into prison, where, for eight days, they were imprisoned in dirty, vermininfested cells, with their hands tied behind them, when they were sent on board the ship in which they came, to be transported to Rhode Island
, who determined to remain in New Netherland, took up his abode at Hempstead
, where a few Quakers were quietly settled.
There he held a meeting, and Stuyvesant
ordered him to his prison at New Amsterdam.
Tied to the tail of a cart wherein sat two young women, offenders like himself, he was driven by a band of soldiers during the night through the woods to the city, where he was imprisoned in “a filthy jail,” under sentence of such confinement for two years, to pay a heavy fine, and to have his days spent in hard labor, chained to a wheel-barrow with a negro, who lashed him with a heavy tarred rope.
He was subjected to other cruel treatment at the hands of the governor, until the Dutch
people, as well as the English
, cried “Shame!”
There were no other persecutions of the Friends in New Netherland after Hodgson
The executions of Mary Dyer
in 1660 and William Leddra
in 1661, both in Boston
, caused an amazing addition to the number of converts to Quakerism.
The same year monthly meetings were established in several places in New England
, and not long afterwards quarterly meetings were organized.
On hearing of the death of Leddra, Charles II.
sent an order to Endicott
to stop the persecutions and to send all accused persons to England
This order was sent by the hand of Samuel Shattuck
a banished Quaker
, who appeared before Governor Endicott
with his hat on. The incensed governor was about to take the usual brutal steps to send him to prison, after ordering an officer to remove Shattuck
's hat, when the latter handed the magistrate the order from the throne.
He handed back Shattuck
's hat and removed his own in deference to the presence of the King
He read the papers, and, directing Shattuck
to withdraw, simply remarked, “We shall obey his Majesty's commands.”
A hurried conference was held with the other magistrates and ministers.
They dared not send the accused persons to England
, for they would be swift witnesses against the authorities of Massachusetts
; so they ordered William Sutton
, keeper of the Boston
jail, to set all the Quakers free.
So ended their severe persecution in New England
; but the magistrates continued for some time to whip Quaker
men and women, half naked, through the streets of Boston
, until peremptorily forbidden to do so by the King
had suspended its laws against Quakers, Parliament made a law (1662) which provided that every live Quakers, meeting for religious worship, should be fined, for the first offence, $25; for the second offence, $50; and for the third offence to abjure the realm on oath, or be transported to the American
Many refused to take the oath, and were transported.
By an act of the Virginia legislature, passed in 1662, every master of a vessel who should import a Quaker, unless such as had been shipped from England
under the above act, was subjected to a fine of 5,000 lbs. of tobacco for the first offence.
Severe laws against other sectaries were passed in Virginia
, and many of the Non-conformists in that colony, while Berkeley
ruled, fled deep into the wilderness to avoid persecution.
Because the Friends refused to perform military duty or take an oath in Maryland
they were subject to fines and imprisonment, but were not persecuted there on account of their religious views.
When, in 1676, George Fox
was in Maryland
, his preaching was not hindered.
He might be seen on the shores of the Chesapeake
preaching at the evening twilight, when the labors of the day were over, to a multitude of people, comprising members of the legislature and other distinguished men of the province, yeomen, and large groups of Indians
, with chiefs and sachems, their wives and children, all led by their emperor.
, one of the purchasers of west Jersey
, made the first settlement of members of his sect at Salem
Liberal offers were made to Friends in England
if they would settle in New Jersey
, where they would be free from persecution, and in 1677 several hundred came over.
In March a company of 230 came in the ship Kent
Before they sailed King
Charles gave them his blessing.
reached New York in August, with commissioners to manage publie affairs in New Jersey
The arrival was reported to Andros
, who was governor of New York, and claimed political jurisdiction over the Jerseys.
, who denied the jurisdiction of the Duke
in the collection of customs duties, was then in custody at New York, but was allowed to depart with the other Friends, on his own recognizance to answer in the autumn.
On Aug. 16 the Kent
arrived at New Castle
, but it was three months before a permanent place was settled upon.
That place was on the Delaware River
, and was first named Beverly
Afterwards it was called Bridlington, after a parish in Yorkshire, England
, whence many of the emigrants had come.
The name was corrupted to Burlington
, which it still bears.
There the passengers of the Kent
settled, and were soon joined by many
The village prospered, and other settlements were made in its vicinity.
Nearly all the settlers in west Jersey
were members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers.
One of the earliest erected buildings for the public worship of Friends in New Jersey
was at Crosswicks
, about half-way between Allentown
and the Delaware River
Before the Revolution they built a spacious meeting-house there of imported brick.
From the founding of the government of Pennsylvania
the rule of the colony was held by the Quakers, they being more numerous than others.
When wars with the French
afflicted the colo-
nies their peace principles made the members of the Assembly of that sect oppose appropriations of men and money for war purposes.
When, in 1755, the frontiers of Pennsylvania
were seriously threatened, the Quakers, though still a majority in the Assembly, could no longer resist the loud cry “To arms” in Philadelphia
and re-echoed from the frontiers.
The hostile Indians
were among the Juniata
The proprietary party successfully stirred up the people.
After a sharp struggle, the Assembly, in consideration of a voluntary subscription of £ 5,000 by the proprietaries, consented to levy a tax of £ 50.000, from which the estates of the latter were exempted.
The expenditure of the amount was intrusted to a committee of seven, of whom a majority were members of the Assembly; and these became the managers of the war, now formally declared, against the Delawares and Shawnees.
So the golden chain of friendship which bound the Indians to William Penn
was first broken.
This was the first time the Quakers were driven into an open participation in war. Some of the more conscientious resigned their seats in the Assembly, and others declined a re-election.
So it was that, in 1755, the rule of the Quakers in the administration of public affairs in Pennsylvania
came to an end.
The “Testimony” of Friends, or Quakers, at their yearly meeting in Philadelphia
in May, 1775, against the movements of the American
patriots attracted special attention to that body.
The papers and records of their yearly meeting in New Jersey
, captured by Sullivan
in his expedition against the loyalist regiments on Staten Island
, gave Congress the first proof of the general disaffection of the society.
The Congress recommended the executives of the several colonies or States to watch their movements; and the executive council of Pennsylvania
were earnestly exhorted to arrest and secure the persons of eleven of the leading men of that
society in Philadelphia
, whose names were given.
It was done, Aug. 28, 1777, and John Fisher
, Abel James
, James Pemberton
, Henry Drinker, Israel Pemberton
, John Pemberton
, John James
, Samuel Pleasants
, Thomas Wharton, Sr.
, Thomas Fisher
, and Samuel Fisher
, leading members, were banished to Fredericksburg, Va.
The reason given by Congress for this act was that when the enemy were pressing on towards Philadelphia
in December, 1777, a certain seditious publication, addressed “To our Friends and Brethren in Religious Profession in these and the adjacent Provinces,” signed John Pemberton
, in and on behalf of the “Meeting of sufferings,” held in Philadelphia
, Dec. 26, 1776, had been widely circulated among Friends throughout the States.
At the same time the Congress
instructed the board of war to send to Fredericksburg John Penn
, the governor, and Benjamin Chew
, for safe custody.
While the British
army was in Philadelphia
in 1778, Joseph Galloway
, an active Tory, and others employed John Roberts
and Abraham Carlisle
, members of the Society of Friends, as secret agents in detecting foes to the British
was a sort of inquisitorgeneral, watching at the entrances to the city, pointing out and causing the arrest of Whigs, who were first cast into prison and then granted permission to pass the lines.
acted as guides to British expeditions when they went out of Philadelphia
to fall upon and massacre their countrymen.
These facts being laid before Congress, that body caused the arrest of Roberts
They were tried, found guilty, and hanged.