|Arch Street Meetinghouse in Philadelphia. |
Meetinghouses' only furnishings are benches.
|"The Presence in the Midst" by J. Doyle Penrose, 1916|
This has been a popular painting among Quakers,
representing the ideal of Quaker silent worship.
Friends' commitment to living peacefully with all, opposing any kind of violence, is well known.
William Penn's colony was founded on the principles of peaceful co-existence and non-violence. All people who would commit to those principles were welcomed into the colony. "Now let us see what love can do," Penn wrote, and his words are invoked by modern-day Quakers working to end the causes of war as well as domestic violence, human trafficking, and capital punishment.
|Penn's Treaty with the Indians at Shackamoxon|
by Benjamin West, 1772
Simplicity was outwardly manifested in Friends' dress and speech, as explained above. More importantly, Friends' commitment to simplicity was a commitment to not taking more than one needed so there would be plenty of everything to go around. Friends saw simplicity as the antidote for the greed and ostentatious displays of the upper classes that deprived so many others of decent lives.
|Germantown (Philadelphia) Friends Meeting issued the|
earliest protest against slavery in America, 1688
If you are a Muskingum County researcher with Quaker roots in Virginia and the Carolinas, you should know your ancestors probably emigrated to Ohio because of slavery. Surprising as it might be, some early American Quakers were slave owners. Eventually, they realized the evil of slavery and so began to free their slaves. In response, the state legislatures made manumission a felony, and large segments of those states' Quaker populations opted to take themselves, and any slaves they might own, to Ohio in the Northwest Territory where slavery was outlawed.
Next blog: Sources for Researching Your Quaker Ancestors
*In the United States, there are 3 distinct branches of Quakerism. "Unprogrammed Friends" worship in the manner of the first Friends, while the other two branches ("programmed Friends") have a designated minister to lead worship which includes music. They also call their places of worship "churches", a term never used by unprogrammed Friends, whose places of worship are always called meetinghouses.