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BOOK REVIEWS TLĀ· Hicksite Separation: A Sociological Analysis of Religious Schism in Early Nineteenth-Century America. By Robert W. Doherty. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. 1967. vii, 157 pages. 87.50. This tract successfully illustrates the application of social theory and social statistics to history. An "essay in the sociology of religion," according to its historian-author (p. v), its title is much broader than its subject. Doherty with student help collected data on Friends in Philadelphia and in Delaware and Chester Counties, aiming at 1817-1827. The theoretical framework, expounded in the opening chapter, is the old sect-church continuum of Ernst Troeltsch, interspersed with ideas of status, alienation, and upward mobility, much too long ignored by historians. Unseasoned by examples, the exposition is hard going. Next comes "the story," perhaps the most stimulating sketch of the Separation by an outsider, but better put first. The author is familiar with the literature but not with the practice, or such statements as "The Society lacked any institutional means for resolving conflicts" (p. 22) would be related more to the evolution of the business meeting. His laudable attempts to relate the Quakerism of 1815-1830 to its social background suffer from no excessive quantification , but rather from such vague statements as "Orthodoxy was in the air" (p. 73) and "Both Quaker belief and organization helped provoke attitudes and opinions which caused recurrent periods of crisis" (pp. 21-22). At the primary level of generalization we face the diverse history of eight American yearly meetings, all apparently subject to the same social tensions. I like the suggestion that anti-Orthodoxy was heterogeneous, like other forms of Jacksonian reform. The assertion of Norman Ware over forty years ago, that much of the reformers' energies arose as recoil from the regimentation of a collectivizing economy, still is worth testing on Hicksites. I also like the caveat, "Universal tendencies may well explain the potential for separation but they will not explain why such a separation actually took place" (p. 25). This applies to the statistical research of this ninety-page essay, which sharpens our understanding of the potential. The remaining four short chapters, previously published and substantially revised, show statistical evidence fitting the social theories. But Troeltsch's concept of sect and church, designed to explain the beginnings of religious groups in the European Continental milieu, is less useful for a denomination no longer a sect. Liston Pope's twenty-one-eharacteristic description of the Carolina millhand sect does not fit Quakerism in 1827. The sect has a propertyless membership, Pope says, but only a quarter of the Philadelphia Hicksites-to-be (and 18% of their opponents) had no real estate, in the undated list on pp. 109-129 (note 7, 52 Book Reviews53 p. 98). All the non-urban Quakers, pp. 130-139, had property. Karl Mannheim's concepts in Ideology and Utopia, not mentioned in the bibliographical essay, might be more useful. I am happy to see quantitative evidence presented to refine the "intuitions" of "traditional historians" using "written evidence" (pp. 90-91, 151). The author has not, however, used his own standard that "both evidence and the bases for its interpretation must be clearly presented" (p. 93). He does not explain how he chose random samples (pp. 72, 99). Leaders and active participants should be precisely defined, e.g. those traveling certain distances on religious affairs might be considered active participants. To include all for whom evidence can be found (p. 97, note 4) skews the result. To establish the wealth of individuals Doherty used not only poor-tax records but also probated wills for periods presumably ranging from 1828 to 1867. If the picture is not a snapshot the data are not comparable. Conclusions about the length of possession of wealth, about personal and family ties as reasons for choosing sides, are based on common sense, not statistics. Except for the mortgages, 1794-1845, none of the data in the appendixes is dated, although p. 99, note 11, shows that Delaware County data are for 1905-10, while Chester County data are for 1827. Dates are important, for every factor, even occupation, changed within the decade. Doherty concludes that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 52-54
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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