Quaker History by Era

This page provides a much more detailed history of the Society of Friends in Truth through the centuries. To see the text for each era, click the triangle at the beginning of the sentence so that the triangle points downward.

Sources: Faith and Practice, 2018, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting; The Journal of George Fox, Friends United Press, 1963; The Quakers; A Very Short Introduction, Ben Pink Dandelion, Oxford University Press, 2008; Friends for 350 Years, Howard H. Brinton, Pendle Hill Publications, 2002; A Procession of Friends, Daisy Newman, Friends United Press, 1972; The Proud Tower, Babara Tuchman, Literary Classics of the United States, 2012; History of the English-Speaking Peoples, volume 2, Winston Churchill, 1956.

1450-1650 -- Setting the Scene

For centuries, the Catholic Church wielded great power over European society. It was also the repository of knowledge. Books were expensive and rare because they had to be written by hand, usually by monks. This gave the Catholic Church near complete control over what material was available to European readers. In 1450, Johannes Gutenberg unveiled his first printing press. Although the process was still difficult (it took 5 years to produce the Guttenberg Bible), this opened the way to vastly expanding access to information and loss of control by the Church.

The church had become very rich, through tithing, the sale of indulgences and other means. Many felt the need for reform. Some, like Erasmus, hoped this could come from within. Others, like Martin Luther, concluded a complete change was needed. In 1510, on a trip to Rome, Luther was shocked by the decadent lifestyle of the pope and the church hierarchy and the sale of indulgences. In 1517, he nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral. This was the start of the Protestant Reformation.

Luther also challenged the pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely inspired knowledge. He opposed sacerdotalism, the belief that priests are essential mediators between God and mankind. For all this, Luther was excommunicated and sentenced to death. He avoided being caught by hiding in Wartburg Castle, were he translated the Bible from Greek into German for publication in 1522. Before this, the Church required that the Bible be printed only in Latin. German translation made the Bible more accessible to the laity and helped the development of a standardized German language.

The Bible had been translated once before into the vernacular, which at that time was Middle English, by  John Wycliffe of Oxford University and fellow priests, around 1384. Wycliffe, a Catholic priest, believed that priests should live in poverty, favored caesaropapism (the belief that secular authority should be superior to the spiritual authority of the church) and questioned the veneration of saints, the sacraments, transubstantiation (the belief that the bread and wine turn into the blood and body of Christ at communion), monasticism and the legitimacy of the Papacy. Because the Wycliffe Bible had to be written by hand, it was not disseminated. However, the widespread preaching by the priests and laity that Wycliffe taught at Oxford probably had some role in the Peasants Riot in 1381. The religious foment caused by the Wycliff Bible in the late 1300s led to a law mandating a death sentence for anyone possessing an unauthorized version of the Bible.

William Tyndale, an English theologian and linguist, followed in Luther’s footsteps. Tyndale spoke Hebrew, Greek, Latin and 4 other languages and drew on Hebrew and Greek texts as he translated the Bible into English. He began writing the New Testament in 1524, possibly in Wittenberg, and published it in 1525, with a printing press. It was the first Bible to use the term “Jehovah” as God’s name, a term preferred by English Protestant Reformers. The Tyndale Bible translation was used as a source by later Bibles, including extensively by the King James Bible.

Tyndale wrote a treatise in 1528 that favored the idea that a monarch, rather than the Pope, should control the country’s church. This pleased Henry VIII, who ruled at the time, but his support for Tyndale changed after Tyndale opposed Henry VIII’s request to the Pope for an annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Tyndale was forced to flee to Europe. He was arrested, accused of heresy and executed there at the insistence of Henry VIII.

The refusal of the Pope to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine led Henry, who also coveted the vast wealth of the Church, to convince Parliament to pass the Supplication Act against the Ordinaries in 1532. That bill made Henry the effective master of the Church of England. Henry gradually dissolved monasteries and acquired their wealth and began to collect tithes. Thomas Cromwell, now the King’s vice regent in spiritual affairs and a proponent of Reformation, tolerated and may have sponsored the more widespread publication of the Tyndale Bible by 1535.By 1611, there was an English-language Bible in every church in England.

During her brief reign from 1553-1558, Mary Tudor unsuccessfully tried to re-establish Catholicism as the state religion. When Elizabeth I ascended the throne in 1558, she tried to reach a middle ground. She convinced Parliament to pass the Act of Uniformity of 1559, which restored the 1552 version of the English Prayer Book, the first vernacular prayerbook, but kept many of the familiar old practices and allowed for 2 interpretations of communion, one Catholic and one Protestant.

After the death of Elizabeth in 1603, there was a struggle over the power of the monarchy, which often leaned toward Catholicism, and Parliament, which was becoming more Protestant. Under Charles I (1625-1649), William Laud was made Archbishop of Canterbury. He emphasized the ceremony and dignity of the clergy, railed off altars, persecuted the Puritans and fined people who did not attend church. Parliament gradually gained more power. In 1549, after a series of battles between Charles and the forces of Parliament and Pilgrims, Charles was tried and executed. His grandson, James II, the last pro-Catholic king, allowed Catholic officers in the army and tried 7 Protestant bishops for sedition. This led to the bloodless "Glorious Revolution” of 1688, in which James II was exiled to France. He was replaced by his son-in-law William of Orange and Mary II, his eldest daughter and heir. William and Mary accepted that they ruled by constitutional agreement, not divine right, solidifying the role of a constitutional monarchy with a guaranteed Parliament. Before then, Parliament assembled only when called by the king, mainly when the king needed added taxation approved by Parliament.

The democratization of knowledge, brought about by the printing press, and social, economic and societal changes in England were affecting the relationship of the people with the church and government. Farms were being enclosed, younger sons who did not inherit farm land were entering trades and professions, commerce was expanding and the cities were growing. Many religious sects developed during this time- Puritans, Presbyterians, Lollards (followers of Wycliffe), and others.

Toward the end of the reign of Henry VIII, the Puritan movement arose within the Church of England. The Puritans believed the Church of England was too similar to the Catholic Church and that it should eliminate ceremony and rites not rooted in the Bible. They felt they had a directive from God to change these practices. The Puritans believed in predestination, that God is judgmental and rewards good and punishes evil, that salvation or damnation was predetermined by God and that humans are innately sinful, tainted by the sin of Adam and Eve and that good can only be accomplished by hard work and self-discipline. Their movement continued to grow and some groups formed separate churches from the Church of England, calling themselves Separatists or Pilgrims. One group of Pilgrims moved to Holland in 1608 and then to Plymouth, Mass. in 1620. A larger group from England emigrated to Massachusetts Bay a decade later. The Pilgrim colony quickly grew to over 10,000 souls and spread throughout New England.

1650-1690 -- Rise of the Society of Friends in Truth

George Fox, the son of a successful weaver and churchwarden, was born in 1624 in Drayton-in-the-Clay, a strongly Puritan village now called Fenny Drayton. In his own words, George “had a gravity and stayedness of mind and spirit not usual in children.” He was apprenticed to a shoemaker and grazier and found the solitary job of grazing animals suited his contemplative nature. He was also concerned with simplicity, humility and the abandonment of luxury.

Fox knew followers of the Church of England but by age 19 (1643), was looking down on their behavior, especially drinking alcohol. One night at prayer, after leaving 2 acquaintances who were drinking, Fox heard an inner voice counsel “Thou seest how young people go together into vanity, and old people into the earth; thou must forsake all, young and old, keep out of all, and be as a stranger unto all.”

Over the next few years, Fox traveled around the country seeking answers for his spiritual turmoil, sometimes consulting with clergy without help- one suggested he take tobacco, another suggested bloodletting, and another lost his temper when Fox accidentally stepped on a flower in his garden. At last, Fox had an epiphany “I heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition, and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy.”

By 1647, Fox began to preach publicly. His charismatic speaking attracted a small following but he did not seem to want to found a sect. By 1651, other talented preachers began to travel with him, despite sometimes harsh receptions, including beatings. The silent form of worship, with individuals speaking as the Spirit moved them, seemed established by this time.

Fox was imprisoned several times, including most of 1650. In 1650, at Derby, he was imprisoned for blasphemy. The judge mocked Fox for his exhortation to “tremble at the word of the Lord”, calling him and his followers “Quakers.” Fox also refused to swear oaths or take up arms.

Fox continued to preach as he traveled through England. In 1652, after climbing Pendle Hill, Fox recorded in his journal “From the top of this hill, the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered, dressed in white raiment.” This was the critical moment at which Fox thought of starting a church, rather than just preaching. Two weeks later, he preached in Sedbergh at a hiring fair for flax workers, who dressed in white. A week later, he preached to over 1000 members of the Westmorland Seekers sect on Firbank Fell, convincing many that Christ might speak to people directly. This was the formal beginning of the Quaker movement. Over the next few months, he gathered a band of preachers, the “publishers of Truth”, around himself. During this time. he stayed at Swarthmoor Hall, the home of Thomas and Margaret Fell. Although Thomas did not convert to Quakerism, Margaret did, 2 weeks after the Pendle Hill experience. Thomas was very helpful to Friends who encountered legal persecuion. Around this time, the ad hoc meetings of Friends began to be formalized and a monthly meeting was set up in County Durham.

After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, England had no king until 1660. Before and during this interregnum, many independent religious groups, called Nonconformists, sprang up. The Protestant Parliament was no more tolerant of them than the Catholic church had been. It passed the Clarendon code, which consisted of 4 acts- the Corporation Act (1661), the Act of Uniformity (1662), the Conventicle Act (1664), and the Five Mile Act(1665). In order, these required that all municipal officials take Anglican communion, excluding Catholics and independent religion adherents from office; made the Book of Common Prayer compulsory in religious service; forbade a meeting for unauthorized worship of more than 5 people not members of the same household; and forbade Nonconformist ministers from coming within 5 miles of incorporated towns or the place of their former living. Combined with the Test Act, these acts excluded all Nonconformists from civil or military office and prevented them from being granted degrees by Cambridge or Oxford Universities.

Another Act, the Quaker Act (1662) required subjects to swear an oath of allegiance to the King, which Quakers would not do because they refused to swear oaths, based on the sayings of Jesus and James in the Bible.

Between 1652 and 1675, Fox was arrested and Imprisoned at least 8 times. He continued to write and preach in prison. About a thousand Friends were in prison by 1657. Despite this, the Society of Friends became increasingly organized and was able to hold large meetings.

In 1655, fearful that Fox, whose Meetings now attracted over a thousand people, might try to overthrow the government, Oliver Cromwell had Fox arrested and brought to London under armed guard. Fox was able to speak to Cromwell for most of a morning, assuring him there was no plot and advising Cromwell to listen to God’s voice and obey it. They met several more times until Cromwell died in 1658.

After Cromwell’s death, the monarchy was restored with the crowning of King Charles II. Fox wrote to him, offering advice on governing. Despite a secret Catholic bias, Charles II was tolerant and released 700 Quakers from prison.

In 1656, Fox traveled throughout Wales, frequently accompanied by John ap-John, a former minister. Although they were often met by hostile residents and jailed frequently, the Welsh converts soon migrated in large numbers to Pennsylvania and settled Montgomery County, transferring names such as Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Radnor, and Merion.

In 1661, a revolt by a sect called the Fifth Monarchists was suppressed, but this led to more repression of other Nonconformists, including Quakers. In response, Fox and 11 other Quakers issued a statement called A Declaration from the Harmless and Innocent People, called Quakers, that later became known as the “peace testimony”, committing themselves to oppose all outward wars and strife as contrary to the will of God. Not all of Fox's  followers accepted this. Issac Pennington dissented for a time, saying that the state had a duty to protect the innocent from evil, using military force if needed but he later agreed with this testimony.

There were those, such as Pennington, John Perrot and John Pennyman, who were uneasy at Fox’s increasing power but Fox retained popularity and continued teaching and normalized the system of monthly and quarterly meetings in 1666 with an ecclesiological document called A Testimony from the Brethren.

After Judge Fell died in 1658, Fox married Margaret Fell in 1669. The couple were together for 10 days after the wedding before they resumed separate work lives. Of the 8 children from Fell's first marriage, all but 1 were Quakers.

By 1671, Margaret had been released from prison. Fox decided to visit North America and the West Indies. In addition to preaching, he helped establish organizational systems and met Native Americans. He endured illness, hunger, danger and very difficult travel as he went from the Barbados to Jamaica to what is now Maryland, and as far as Rhode Island. From Barbados, he had sent several papers back to England, including one supporting women’s right to preach, hold separate meetings and publish tracts. When he returned to England two years later, he found Friends sharply divided. John Wilkinson and John Story, from Westmorland, opposed Women’s Meetings. This dispute gradually faded away. Fox traveled once more, to Holland and Germany, in 1677, but his health had declined so he traveled less and wrote more. He died January 13,1691.

Of note, Robert Barclay’s Apology for the True Christian Divinity was published in Latin in 1676 and in English in 1678, establishing a strong and comprehensive theological grounding and standard for Quaker beliefs until at least the mid-1800s. Friends had no qualms about attempting to appeal to the same Light of Christ in all mankind in an attempt to bring them to Quakerism, sending delegations to the Mediterranean, Europe, Russia, and northern Africa. In 1658, a delegation was even sent to Rome to try to convert the Pope and Mary Fisher met with the Sultan in Constantinople! Oddly, today many say that Quakers “don’t proselytize”, in contradistinction to our early history. .

George Fox's Ideas and Other Influences

George Fox had several ideas:

  • Rituals can be ignored if one experiences a true spiritual conversion.
  • Qualification for ministry is given by the Holy Spirit, so that anyone has the right to minister, including women and children, if the Spirit guides them.
  • Religious experience is not confined to a church building; God’s presence can be felt anywhere.
  • Fox reasoned that because God was within the faithful, believers could follow their own inner guide rather than rely on a strict reading of Scripture or the word of clerics.
  • Fox made no clear distinction between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

George Fox came into contact with at least four other sectarian movements:

  1. Baptists, often called Anabaptists, believed the church and state should be separate, objected to infant baptism, encouraged lay ministry, including women, declared tithes unlawful, opposed “steeple houses” (churches), and believed that only those moved by the Spirit were fit to preach. They had been present since the time of Luther.
  2. “Seekers” - living principally in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Yorkshire, the Seekers held that there was no true church since the days of the apostles, didn’t celebrate sacraments, and had no heads to their assemblies. They “waited together in silence” but sometimes spoke if they felt it sprang from the divine. Many converted under the influence of Fox.
  3. “Ranters” - believed that God is in everything and that man is a manifestation of God, so that what the man does, God does. Under the excitement of religious enthusiasm, they went to wild and perilous extremes and felt they were free from the law. There was no defined belief system or organization. The movement died out quickly.
  4. “Fifth Monarchists” (1649-1660) interpreted the Scriptures literally and were convinced that the Fifth universal monarchy - Christ’s - was about to be set up. The first four world monarchies were the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. They thought the execution of Charles I in 1949 marked the end of the Fourth Monarchy and felt the Protectorate (1653-1660) and the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 were delaying the Fifth Monarchy. As a result, some of their members took military action in the Venner’s Rising of January 1661. Many of the leaders were executed as a result and the group was absorbed into other sects.

Source: Rufus Jones, "Introduction" to The Journal of George Fox, Friends United Press, 1976.

1690-1800 -- Growth, Introspection and Retrenchment

Persecution continued in England during the reign of Charles II, when 11,000 Quakers were imprisoned and many died. This improved after the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and the coronation of William and Mary and the adoption of the Toleration Act in 1689. However openly-devout Quakers were not officially permitted to attend university or join the professions until 1870. This led to their involvement in finance and industry, similar to Jews.

It is estimated that Quakers made up less than 10% of the population of Britain by the end of the 1600s. The system of monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings was well established. Women’s meetings were primarily to care for the poor and interview couples before marriage (along with men’s meetings). However, the missionary zeal of the early Quakers diminished soon after, although there continued to be many traveling ministers.

At the same time, there was rapid growth of Quakerism in America. Quakers attempting to enter Massachusetts were met with intolerance, persecution, deportation and even death at the hands of the Pilgrims. Elsewhere, however, Quakers were tolerated and thrived. The period 1700-1740, known as the Golden Age of Quakerism, marked a time of Quaker growth, influence and the development of a unique Quaker culture. Quakers purchased New Jersey before Pennsylvania and held proprietary rights until 1702. Quaker meetings and membership increased rapidly in Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas- all places that Fox had visited. In tolerant Rhode Island, by the mid-1740s, Quakers made up one-half of the population and Quakers held 36 successive terms as governor.

William Penn (1644-1718) was an influential and loyal Friend who traveled often with Fox and was jailed frequently. One of these jailings may have helped shaped the concept of habeas corpus.

In 1670, Penn and William Mead deliberately provoked arrest in order to challenge the validity of the Conventicle Act, which said that no more than five non-family people could assemble for religious purposes. Penn had had some legal training at Oxford and was assisted in his trial by Thomas Rudyard, an eminent Quaker lawyer. They pleaded for the right to see a copy of the charges bought against him but the judge refused, although this was a guaranteed right. The Recorder also directed the jury to come to a verdict without hearing the defense. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, the jury returned a “not guilty” verdict. The Recorder then jailed the jurors for several days when they refused to reconsider their verdict. The Lord Mayor of London, also on the bench, then told the jury “You shall go together and bring in another verdict, or you shall starve.” Penn was sent to Newgate Prison for contempt of court for refusing to remove his hat and the jury was sent too, and fined the equivalent of a year’s wages each. The jury fought their cause from prison, in what was called the Bushel’s Case, and won the right for all English juries to be free from the control of judges. This helped shape the concept of jury nullification and was a victory for the use of habeas corpus, freeing those unlawfully detained.

Penn’s father eventually accepted his son’s Quakerism and, before he died, wrote to the King and Duke of York, asking them to protect his son. They did. Charles II owed Penn’s father, an admiral, a large debt for helping him return to power and paid it with a grant of the province west of the Delaware River.

A few months later, the king’s brother, the Duke of York, granted Penn what is now Delaware. In 1681, William Penn arrived west of the Delaware, with a plan for a “Holy Experiment “. He was followed by a large influx of Welsh Quakers who quickly set up meetings in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. In earlier travels to Europe on behalf of Quakerism, Penn had met various German Anabaptist religious sects. They also migrated to Penn’s experiment, founding Germantown and other Mennonite, Amish and Brethren settlements, as well as the Ephrata Cloister. The population of Pennsylvania grew rapidly. By 1720, Quakers, although a minority, still retained control of the colony until the beginning of the French and Indian War. For example, John Kinsey (1693-1750) was, all at the same time, Clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the province and Speaker of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania.

The French and Indian War (1754-1763) was a distressing time for Quakers. Many Pennsylvania residents feared that Pennsylvania would lose its charter if the Quaker-controlled Pennsylvania government refused to prosecute the war. When the war flared in 1756, most Quaker members of the Pennsylvania assembly resigned rather than vote for taxes for the war against the French. Friends then formed the “Friendly Association for Gaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures”, which was largely effective in making peace in 1758. Friends who refused to pay taxes to support the war gave to this group to demonstrate the adequacy of peaceful methods. The Revolution was an equally difficult dilemma for Quaker Meetings. While most Philadelphia Meetings opposed the war, some supported it, left the Yearly Meeting and became members of the Free Quaker movement. Some actively supported the British and others moved to Canada.

In the late 1700s, Quakers in America and England increasingly withdrew from active public life and public office and looked inward. This period became known as the Quietist Period. Meetings began to establish requirements for membership and adopted books of discipline to define more precisely the expectations for Quaker conduct and established the means to enforce this. Some of this began earlier - the 1704 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Book of Discipline discouraged marriage to non-Friends. In 1712, discipline recommended disownment for this and the 1722 discipline required it. Nonetheless, Friends remained very active in certain public areas - opposing payment of war taxes and slavery, and promoting the rights of indigenous people and the humane treatment of prisoners. Some ministers traveled widely to set up new meetings, preach against slavery and other social evils and to improve the discipline of members. John Woolman (1720-1770) from Mount Holly, NJ, was one example.

1800-1900 -- The Age Of Schism

The 1800s were a time of schism in the Society of Friends. Different authors attribute this to different motivations but most thought it due to the divergence between evangelism vs mysticism or interiority. The first split came in Philadelphia. Philadelphia-based Friends had “done well”, having succeeded in the finance, shoe, iron and chocolate industries. They had access to educational opportunities and cosmopolitan exposure. Some owned slaves.

Elias Hicks (1748-1830), a Quaker farmer from Long Island, was a strong abolitionist and challenged wealthy Friends and the use of slave labor. He also emphasized the primacy of the Inward Guide, urged Friends to live apart, opposed public education, and opposed the construction of the Erie Canal and a railroad system. There were also complaints that the organizational center in Philadelphia made it difficult for Friends from more rural areas to participate in governance. The discord came to a head in 1827 when Philadelphia elders tried to forbid Hicks from preaching. By then, he was an aged, powerful minister, backed by a Minute from his home meeting.

The Hicksite Friends moved from the Fourth and Arch Street Meetinghouse after Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1827, the “Great Separation”. Meetings in the area, including ours, began to split, as did meetings in Baltimore, New York, Ohio and Indiana. London Yearly Meeting rejected the Hicksite yearly meetings. [For information on how this affected our Meeting, see History of Haverford Friends Meeting.] The Hicksite’s emphasis on the Inward Light allowed for a wide variety of theological opinion so that no further significant divisions occurred among them.

Those that remained at Fourth and Arch came to be known as Orthodox, tended to favor a more authoritarian position, with greater control of individuals, and with greater emphasis on scripture, even to the point of primacy over the Inward Light. The Orthodox also were generally the urban elite and tended to be the Elders within meetings. One British group of about 300, the Beaconites, even believed the Inward Light to be delusional. They split off in the 1830s and faded away.

In the 1840s and 1850s, the Orthodox Yearly Meetings split again over the role of the Inward Light. Joseph John Gurney, a banker from Norwich, England and brother of Elizabeth Fry, supported his sister in her efforts to abolish capital punishment and improve prison conditions. He was a Quaker minister who traveled internationally, speaking against slavery and capital punishment and for peace. He began to see Quakerism as part of the true Christian church and, unlike the Quietists, was willing to work with other groups to achieve political and societal reforms. In the 1850s and 1860s, many English Quakers abandoned plain dress, plain speech and endogamy (requirement to marry within the faith). While traveling and ministering in the United States, Gurney became concerned that Friends no longer considered the Bible important enough. He stressed that salvation was through faith in Christ and not just the Inward Light and that the Inward Light was to help Friends read the scripture correctly. His followers were called Gruneyites.

John Wilbur, of Rhode Island, taught at a Quaker school there and was a minister. When he traveled to England from 1831-1833, he became concerned that Orthodox Friends there had responded to Hick’s heterodoxy by abandoning the guidance of the Inward Light in favor of acceptance of the Bible, without the inward experience of the Holy Spirit taking priority over the text of the Bible. When Wilbur expressed these opinions, New England Yearly Meeting overwhelmingly opposed him. In 1838, it ordered his South Kingston Monthly Meeting to discipline him. When it refused, the Rhode Island Quarterly Meeting laid down the South Kingston Monthly Meeting and attached its members to Greenwich Monthly Meeting, which disowned Wilbur in 1843. In 1844, New England Yearly Meeting split over this unusual treatment of Wilbur. In 1846, New York Yearly Meeting split between Wilburites and Gurneyites, followed by Ohio, Indiana, and Baltimore in 1854. At this point, Ohio had three yearly meetings - Hicksite, Gurneyite and Wilburite. Most Arch Street Friends felt they were part of the Wilburite group but Philadelphia Yearly Meeting somewhat skirted the issue by refusing to engage in any correspondence about this matter.

These groups developed Friends Boarding Schools - the Wilburites had Westtown, Barnesville, and Scattergood, the Gurneyites had Haverford, Earlham and Guilford. The Evangelical Gurneyites, more outwardly directed toward the Bible, missions and evangelical beliefs, favored Biblical study and theological preparation, so transformed their schools into colleges.

In 1842, Indiana Yearly Meeting split for 10 years over the commitment of some Friends there to oppose slavery even if it involved breaking the law.

After the Civil War, there was a great revival of Christian evangelism, with traveling revival shows sweeping the nation, especially the Midwest. They preached a gospel of Justification, Sanctification, the Second Coming of Christ and Faith Healing. Quakers who became evangelists and evangelists who became Quakers held revival meetings, mainly in Gurneyite Quaker meeting houses. This was a powerful force, causing the Indiana Gurneyite Yearly Meeting to grow 50% in 9 years. They introduced hymn singing, calls to prayer, personal testimonies and occasional shouts of hallelujah and amen during worship. Some of the newcomers had difficulty adjusting to silent prayer and some congregations asked these evangelists to become permanent ministers, conducting a Protestant-type programmed worship service. This began in 1875 and by 1900 most American Gurneyite Yearly Meetings had pastors.

Not everyone accepted this change. In 1877 in Iowa and ending in 1904 in North Carolina, some meetings and members left the evangelical movement and joined with the Wilburites to form the group Conservative Friends.

The Revivalist/Gurneyite evangelical wing split again, into a modernist Renewal wing that was more “world-accepting” with a somewhat questioning attitude toward the Bible and a fundamentalist Revival wing of Biblical literalists, which still depended on revivalist methods, were wary of the world and its ways, and more guarded about wider alliances. They believed in conversion, a first blessing, and on the second blessing, called sanctification. The Revivalist wing split again, over the issue of water baptism, and yet again over the issue of speaking in tongues.

The Renewalist Gurneyite wing became more dominant after this point, helped by the writings and work of Rufus Jones (1867-1948). The American Yearly Meeting began to meet every five years, as the Five Years Meeting (FYM), later becoming Friends United Meeting (FUM). Ohio did not join FYM/FUM but joined other yearly meetings that left FYM and FUM to form the Evangelical Friends International (EFI). Both of these groups continue today, with a strong emphasis on evangelism and mission work, with associated monthly meetings in several continents. Especially prominent are Friends in Kenya, where one-third of the world’s Quakers live. There are also significant numbers in Bolivia and Peru.

The Hicksites had a minor small-scale schism over structure and discipline but not doctrine. A ‘Progressive” group broke away, pursuing a more radical political agenda over slave-holding and women’s rights. Others pursued this agenda from within. Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) co-founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, which was interracial and interdenominational. She traveled to England to attend the World Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840 but was denied a seat because she was a woman. She returned home and, with other women, mainly Quakers, organized the Seneca Falls Convention for women’s rights in 1848. She also advocated peaceful non-resistance, Native American rights, temperance and prison reform. She called for a more rational reading of the Bible and use of scholarship to understand it. By 1900, the Hicksites could best be described as Liberal Yearly Meetings and their members had dropped most Quaker peculiarities. They formed an association called Friends General Conference in 1900.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the population of Evangelicals had dropped to about 14,000. They saw that other Christians who dressed and spoke “normally” seemed no less spiritual. After 1850, gravestones were allowed, Friends were allowed to marry outside the faith (but in a meeting house) in 1860, and plain dress and speech became optional in 1861. In 1895, both Evangelical and Liberal views were represented at the Manchester Conference. The Liberal revisioning movement continued to grow. Its leading architect, John Wilhelm Rowntree met Rufus Jones while on vacation. They became close friends and advocates, organizing Conferences and summer schools and urging changes that they hoped would reinvigorate the Society of Friends and bring it back to its mystical roots. The Haverford Summer School of 1900 was a similar turning point between factions of Quakerism.

1900-1955 -- Unity and Renewal

1900 seemed like a turning point to many people of the world. The mighty juggernaut of industrialization had swept Europe and the United States, leaving an oppressed working class in its wake and a restlessness that ranged from the rise of the union movement to anarchist movements assassinating world leaders. However, the world’s people yearned for peace, resulting in the Hague conferences of 1899 and 1907. The movement produced prominent supporters like Alfred Nobel, Bertha von Suttner, and Andrew Carnegie. In 1901 Orthodox and Hicksite Friends also jointly organized a conference for world peace.

However, the government officials attending these conferences considered them a sham and were busily rearming for what seemed to be the inevitable next war. Captain A.T. Mahan, president of the United States Naval War College, wrote The Influence of Sea Power on History, published in 1890, concluding that the master of the seas is the master of the situation. This led to a naval armament race in Europe, spurred by the desire of Kaiser Wilhelm to have as great a navy as his uncle Edward VII (1841-1910) of Britain and his son George V (1865-1936).

The tidal changes in the world since the mid-1800s - swift industrialization and westward expansion, population growth, especially of immigrants, and the move from a largely agrarian society to the development of large urban areas, and more universal and longer education, led to changes in the Society of Friends. The primacy and unpredictability of nature over the fate of rural man seemed less prominent in the lives of those in cities and was replaced by the uncertainties caused by human endeavor. Science came to be seen as the most dependable source of knowledge. Many Quakers, faced with these changes and seeing that care of the disadvantaged was now beyond the scope of care by meetings alone, became primarily intellectual and humanitarian in outlook. The forces within Quakerism expanded from just mysticism and evangelism to include humanism and rationalism. The old separations within Quakerism began to seem less important.

In 1913, a group of Philadelphia young adults from each branch began to meet regularly. In 1914, they issued a document stating that it was a matter of authority, not doctrine, that caused the Hicksite-Orthodox separation. In 1917 members of both Arch and Race Street Yearly Meetings united with members of Five Years Meeting (renamed Friends United Meeting) to organize the American Friends Service Committee to provide service options for conscientious objectors in World War I and then to carry out peace programs and feeding programs. In the 1930s, AFSC provided work and food for starving miners in Appalachia and British Quakers did the same for their miners. Friends helped with food and supplies during the Spanish Civil War. During and after World War II, AFSC provided aid to those devastated by the war in Europe and Asia, work for which AFSC received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.

Women from both yearly meetings worked together for suffrage and peace. Joint establishment of the Friends Neighborhood Guild in 1879, Pendle Hill in 1930, Friends Council on Education in 1932,and the Friends Committee on National Legislation in 1943 further strengthened the connections between the Hicksite and Orthodox branches. In the 1930s and 1940s the two Philadelphia Yearly Meetings merged a number of committees. In the autumn of 1946 Philadelphia General Meeting was held, combining both branches, though they each met separately the following spring. In 1950, a joint committee was formed to develop a common Faith & Practice, which was completed n 1954. It was published in 1954 and in 1955 a unified Philadelphia Yearly Meeting occurred at Arch Street Meeting House. Friends in Canada and other parts of the United States soon followed suit.

1955 - Present -- Modern Quakerism

Since reunification, Friends continue peace and social justice work. Friends United Meeting and Evangelical United Friends are continuing their missionary efforts internationally. United States Quakers have been active in resistance to war, especially the Vietnam war, and helping conscientious objectors. They continue to be active in seeking justice and economic improvement for minorities and disadvantaged peoples. Friends have also established continuing care institutions in several areas, including Foulkeways, Medford Leas and Kendal in our area.