The Seeds of Activism
“The Calico! O the Calico!” Wrote Anne Cooper in 1762. “I think tobacco and tea and calico may all be set down with the keeping of negroes, all one as bad as another.”
Anne Whitall Cooper Diary, 18,iii. 1762, Haverford.
“May we look upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions. Holding treasures in the self-pleasing spirit is a strong plant, the fruit whereof ripens fast. A day of outward distress is coming and Divine Love calls for us to prepare against it.”
John Woolman, Journal,
By Louis Thomas Jones, 1914
Part I, chapter III “Western Migration”
It may be asked: Why did the Quakers migrate from the South in
such numbers? The answer to this question has a direct bearing upon the history
of the Quakers in
For many years there had been forces at work within the Society of Friends which had made the holding of slaves not only incompatible with membership in the order, but had also rendered the institution of slavery extremely repugnant to the Quaker mind.(36) As the slave power seized with a firmer grasp the economic control of the South, the Quakers there, most of whom were agriculturists with small holdings, were thrown into unbearable competition with cheap slave labor, and at the same time were held in contempt, because of their objection to the holding of “property in man”, by those in authority. Numerous Quaker ministers, among them the well-known John Woolman, had traveled throughout the South, pointing out to their brethren the danger of their position. The whole situation came to a climax in 1803 and in the following manner.
Zachariah Dicks, a prominent minister
in the Society of Friends and supposed to have the gift of prophecy, appeared
at the Bush River Meeting in South Carolina and began to warn the Friends of a
terrible “internecine war”, which was to come upon America because of slavery
“within the lives of children then living.” He there raised his voice in
prophetic utterance and said: “Oh,
Thus were the two sides of the Ohio Valley peopled with those who in derision were early called Quakers, and who were now to struggle with the social, economic, and political problems peculiar to the two regions.(38) Moreover, when the sons and daughters of these same pioneers once again loaded their heavy wagons and moved off to the westward they came directly to Iowa. Here upon the soil of the first free State west of the Mississippi River the lines from the North and the South converged; the varied habits of life, traits of character, manners, customs, and beliefs were to be moulded and fashioned together; and out of the combination was to come that which to-day is characterized as “Western Quakerism”.”
28- Weeks’s Southern Quakers and Slavery, p. 85.
32- Weeks’s Southern Quakers and Slavery, pp. 96-125.
30- Quoted in Ramsey’s Annals of Tennessee, p. 95.
32-Weeks’s Southern Quakers and Slavery, p. 252.
33- Weeks’s Southern Quakers and Slavery, p. 253.
“The migration of the Quakers
into this new land of promise began even before 1787. Stragglers from