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Book Reviews Edited by Thomas D. Hamm Quaker Crosscurrents: ThreeHundred Years ofFriends in theNew York Yearly Meetings. Ed. by Hugh Barbour, Christopher Densmore, Elizabeth H. Moger, Nancy C. Sorel, Alson D. Van Wagner, and Arthur J. Worrall. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995. xxix + 432 pp. Maps, illustrations , table, appendix, glossary, notes, bibliography, and index. Paper: $19.95; cloth: $59.95 Quaker Crosscurrents, dedicated to the proposition that committees can write history, lists six editors, forty-seven authors of different sections (if I counted right), with the last chapter on recent events mentioning eighteen people. Hugh Barbour was primarily responsible for six chapters and Christopher Densmore and Arthur Worrall credited with three each, but the whole book appears a genuinely collaborative effort. Amazingly, in spite ofthe scissors andpaste effects visible in some places, the book is a success, providing ourbest accountofanyyearly meeting and also illustrating major themes in Quaker, New York, and American history. Considering thatthere has been no previous general history of these yearly meetings and the scattered nature of the sources, the editors deserve praise for persuading experts on different facets ofthe story to write and then managing to weld their accounts into a coherent account. The focus extends from the 1 650s to the present and encompasses all the monthly and yearly meetings that once were or are now centered in New York state, including northern New Jersey, Vermont, parts ofMichigan and Canada, as well as Long Island, urban downstate, rural and city upstate, and new university town meetings. Their geographic diversity allowed New York Quakers to play a role in frontier settlement, westward migration, the ErieCanal, thebeginnings ofindustrialism, andresponses tourbanAmerica. Quaker reformers helped create the New York public school system, penitentiaries, asylums, the Seneca Falls declaration on women's rights and the modern peace movement. They wrote the first graded series of schoolbooks and still maintain several schools. They actively supported Indian rights, moral purity, antislavery, reconstruction, labor unions, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, CPS camps, and the anti-Vietnam War movement. It would be difficult to find a major reform impulse ignored by New York Friends, even when—like abolition and same sex marriage— tensions over tactics and goals threatened or caused schisms. Proponents of all the major currents ofQuaker thought appeared in New York—quietisi, rationalist, Hicksite, Gurneyite, Progressive, pastoral, non-programmed, holiness, mystical, liberal, universalist and fundamentalist. Indeed, it Book Reviews61 sometimes seems as ifthe onlyelement linking New York Friends was their claim to be authentic Quakers and intolerance of others making a similar assertion. The result of such diversity since 1827 has been numerical decline, but—in spite ofthis—an unanticipated continuing influence on the wider society. In their post-1900 gradual repudiation of evangelism and pastoralism and embrace ofunprogrammed worship, mysticism and liberalism , New York Friends may be more united today than at any time since the early nineteenth century. The book is most valuable as a reference tool, for it contains massive amounts of information on prominent individuals, social movements, theological changes, schism and reunification. For the first time we can assess the contributions of the Wood family—James, Carolena, L. Hollingsworth—in Bible and missionary societies, the transition from evangelicalism to liberalism, the creation of the Five Years' Meeting and AFSC, and domestic and foreign relief work. There are biographical sketches of famous Friends including Elias Hicks, Thomas Eddy, John Griscom, Susan B. Anthony, and Bayard Rustin. I found more interesting the vignettes of less well-known Friends—Elizabeth Chandler (18071834 ), an editor and writer of abolitionist essays; Elizabeth Comstock (1 8 1 5-1 891), a social reformer and early advocate ofreconciliation among different branches ofQuakerism; Joseph Tallcot (1768-1853), schoolmaster and, like Lindley Murray, aprolific writer oftextbooks; John J. Cornell, a Hicksite minister who early abandoned a quietist theory ofthe ministry without becoming a liberal; and Kenneth Morgan (1908- ), who introduced insights from Eastern religions, We learn how prosaic were George Fox's communications to the Spiritualists 150 years after his death. Even on well-known topics there are important new insights. For example, few Quaker members ofmanumission groups laterjoined abolitionist societies; revivalism in NYYM did not arise spontaneously but was imported through Midwestern ministers; the numerical decline ofthe...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 60-62
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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