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Quakers Living in the Lion's Mouth

The Society of Friends in Northern Virginia, 1730-1865

A. Glenn Crothers

Publication Year: 2012

This examination of a Quaker community in northern Virginia, between its first settlement in 1730 and the end of the Civil War, explores how an antislavery, pacifist, and equalitarian religious minority maintained its ideals and campaigned for social justice in a society that violated those values on a daily basis.

By tracing the evolution of white Virginians’ attitudes toward the Quaker community, Glenn Crothers exposes the increasing hostility Quakers faced as the sectional crisis deepened, revealing how a border region like northern Virginia looked increasingly to the Deep South for its cultural values and social and economic ties.

Although this is an examination of a small community over time, the work deals with larger historical issues, such as how religious values are formed and evolve among a group and how these beliefs shape behavior even in the face of increasing hostility and isolation.

As one of the most thorough studies of a pre–Civil War southern religious community of any kind, Quakers Living in the Lion’s Mouth provides a fresh understanding of the diversity of southern culture as well as the diversity of viewpoints among anti-slavery activists.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Series: Southern Dissent


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Table of Contents

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Dissent in America is an old and perpetually relevant topic. Dissenters simultaneously reflect and refute the nation’s values. And since the beginning of America they have often acted on religious conviction. Based on their interpretation of the Bible, Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams, during the 1630s, challenged authority...

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pp. xiii-xv

Sixteen years ago, in what seems like a different life, I came across a marine insurance policy issued by the Alexandria Marine Insurance Company— no. 2157—archived in the Virginia Historical Society. The policy insured thirty slaves valued at nine thousand dollars transported from Alexandria to New Orleans on the...

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Prologue: Quakers Living in the Lion’s Mouth

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pp. 1-7

In December 1754, just as the Seven Years’ War erupted in North America, Quaker minister Samuel Fothergill ventured across the Blue Ridge Mountains to visit Friends recently settled in the lower Shenandoah Valley. A “traveling Friend” from England who paid visits to Quaker religious meetings throughout Great...

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1. Friends Come to Northern Virginia

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pp. 8-37

In December 1754, just as the Seven Years’ War erupted in North America, Quaker minister Samuel Fothergill ventured across the Blue Ridge Mountains to visit Friends recently settled in the lower Shenandoah Valley. A “traveling Friend” from England who paid visits to Quaker religious meetings throughout Great...

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2. Finding a Path of Virtue in a Revolutionary World

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pp. 38-71

In early September 1777, the Revolutionary War was not going well for the new United States. The British army controlled the country’s two largest ports, New York City and Philadelphia, and the Continental Army seemed unable to halt its advance. The British occupation of Philadelphia provoked widespread alarm in Pennsylvania......

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3. The “Worldly Cares and Business” of Friends

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pp. 72-105

In late January 1827, Thomas Irwin, “one of the oldest and most intelligent merchants” in Alexandria, passed away at the age of sixty-five. Born in Ireland, he migrated to Philadelphia in 1784, arriving in Alexandria in his mid-twenties in 1789. Two years later, he married into a respected local family and...

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4. Embracing “the Oppressor as Well as the Oppressed”: Quaker Antislavery before 1830

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pp. 106-135

In April 1827, the Alexandria Gazette published the first of eleven articles that announced the creation of the Benevolent Society of Alexandria for Ameliorating and Improving the Condition of the People of Color and bemoaned the consequences...

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5. Internal Revolutions: The Hicksite Schism and Its Consequences

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pp. 136-169

In February 1837, a visiting Quaker minister styling himself “a poor illiterate mechanic” rose in the Goose Creek Meeting House and delivered an impassioned sermon about “the present unsettled state of the Society of Friends.” Ten...

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6. Strengthening the Bonds of Fellowship: The Domestic and Public Lives of Quaker Women

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pp. 170-203

One Sunday in July 1857, Rebecca K. Williams, the clerk of the Fairfax women’s meeting, attended a particularly “favored” meeting. Minister Miriam Gover and her traveling companion, Williams’s aunt, Susan Walker, had returned to Fairfax after a...

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7. A “Nest of Abolitionists”: Antislavery Goals and Southern Identities

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pp. 204-236

In 1860, Philadelphia Quaker Dillwyn Parrish, accompanied by fellow Friend Edward Hopper and their wives, toured Niagara Falls. While they sat on the banks of the Niagara River, “a colored man” approached the group and “enquired if ” Parrish “was from Loudoun Co. Va.” When Parrish replied that...

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8. “The Union Forever”: Northern Virginia Quakers in the Civil War

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pp. 237-271

In December 1859, Mary S. Lippincott, a Philadelphia Quaker teacher and minister, learned that Friends in “Louden County” believed “they will be ordered to leave the State.” Six weeks earlier, John Brown had launched his raid on Harpers...

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Epilogue: Conflicting Paths of Virtue in Nineteenth-Century America

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pp. 272-278

“Doing good,” writes columnist Nicholas Kristof, “is harder than it looks.” The Quakers of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century northern Virginia would have concurred. For over one hundred years, they worked to implement their Christian principles in their daily lives, both as a sign of the power of the inward...


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pp. 279-322


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pp. 323-354


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pp. 355-372

About the Author, Further Reading

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p. 373

E-ISBN-13: 9780813042220
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813039732
Print-ISBN-10: 0813039738

Page Count: 380
Illustrations: 2 maps, 10 figures
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Southern Dissent
Series Editor Byline: Stanley Harrold and Randall M. Miller See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 796384800
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Quakers Living in the Lion's Mouth

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Quakers -- Virginia, Northern -- History -- 18th century.
  • Quakers -- Virginia, Northern -- History -- 19th century.
  • Society of Friends -- Virginia, Northern -- History.
  • Dissenters -- Virginia, Northern -- History.
  • Pacifism -- Virginia, Northern -- History.
  • Antislavery movements -- Virginia, Northern -- History.
  • Quaker women -- Virginia, Northern -- History.
  • Religious pluralism -- Virginia, Northern -- History.
  • Whites -- Virginia, Northern -- Attitudes -- History.
  • Virginia, Northern -- Social conditions.
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