In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

128Quaker History valuable (though eccentric) neighbors, not threats to the local community. Without local support for prosecution court officials could not sustain an anti-Quaker campaign . The Quakers' experience thus demonstrates, yet again, the remarkable flexibility and cohesion that grew from early Massachusetts' intense localism. Because ofthe information it provides Chu's book will be of interest to specialists in Quaker history, but he has missed the opportunity to endow his story with broader significance. University of Colorado, BoulderVirginia DeJohn Anderson Quakers and Slavery: A Divided Spirit. By Jean R. Soderlund. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1985. xiii + 220 pp. $27.50. Once again the stereotype of the good Quaker—in this case the Quaker abolitionist —confronts the complex human realities of the historical past. Jean Soderlund's book examines the process which led Friends to become pioneers in the antislavery movement and how that process evolved at the monthly meeting level. Many early Friends who attained wealth, political influence and social status owned slaves and saw nothing wrong with the practice. Yet from colonial days a small minority of sensitive, concerned Friends found slavery incompatible with Quakerism. AU human beings were equal in the sight of God, they said, and none should be the slaves of others. When they spoke against slavery they were often ostracized. Some of them, like Benjamin Lay who made dramatic use of an animal bladder filled with sheep's blood, shocked and disgusted other members of the Society. Many of the leaders of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting were men of wealth who owned slaves. In time, however, the leadership of Friends shifted to a non-slaveholding element, and the official position on slavery changed from counseling against mistreatment to condemning all Friends who bought or sold slaves. By 1754 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting had condemned the practice of slaveholding itself among Friends. To some extent the change was part of a larger process of purifying Quakerism, a process which included stricter enforcement of the rules against marrying out of meeting and of living ostentatiously. Owning slaves was seen as part of such a lifestyle. While early Quaker abolitionists had concerns about educating the slaves and teaching them moral values, the more moderate Friends were primarily concerned with erasing sin from their own lives. Implementing the stricter antislavery position was not easy. Some meetings with a substantial slaveholding membership were slow to admit the wrongness of slavery. Rural Friends with large farms tended to hold slaves when free or indentured labor was hard to acquire. They tended to hold out longer than Philadelphia Friends who usually held slaves only as domestic servants. Jean Soderlund examines the antislavery history of four monthly meetings, providing a wealth of examples to show that any oversimplified account of Quaker abolitionism will not pass close scrutiny. Early Quaker abolitionism included a combination of genuine humanitarian concern , economic interest and religious conformity. Friends who freed their slaves sometimes provided for their welfare and attempted to determine their moral values as well. Yet many Friends accepted forced segregation and Quaker philanthropy was often resented by black recipients. Soderlund concludes that the gradualist, segregationist and paternalistic nature of Quaker abolitionism set the tone for the broader white antislavery movement in the United States. That tone prevailed from 1780 until the emergence of William Lloyd Garrison as a more radical abolitionist leader in 1833. While she gives no specific evidence for this interpretation, Soderlund's book is based on a wide variety of sources including meeting records, probate wills and inventories, and tax assessment lists. While Thomas Drake's pioneer study of Book Reviews129 Friends and the slavery issue provided a general overview which emphasized the contributions of individual Quaker abolitionists, Soderlund's work focuses on the very early history of Friends' involvement with slavery with special emphasis on Friends in the Delaware Valley. An appendix briefly explains Quaker organization and discipline while another describes the sources and methods used. This is a valuable addition to the history of early Quakerism and abolition which raises a number of important questions about how reform movements influence the broader social order. Wilmington CollegeLarry Gara A Question ofSurvival, Quakers in Australia in the Nineteenth Century. By William Nicolle...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 128-129
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.