Slavery and the Meetinghouse

Slavery and the Meetinghouse

The Quakers and the Abolitionist Dilemma, 1820-1865
Ryan P. Jordan
Distribution: World
Publication date: 03/28/2007
Format: Hardback 8 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-34860-9
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Ryan P. Jordan explores the limits of religious dissent in antebellum America, and reminds us of the difficulties facing reformers who tried peacefully to end slavery. In the years before the Civil War, the Society of Friends opposed the abolitionist campaign for an immediate end to slavery and considered abolitionists within the church as heterodox radicals seeking to destroy civil and religious liberty. In response, many Quaker abolitionists began to build "comeouter" institutions where social and legal inequalities could be freely discussed, and where church members could fuse religious worship with social activism. The conflict between the Quakers and the Abolitionists highlights the dilemma of liberal religion within a slaveholding republic.

Author Bio

Ryan P. Jordan is Visiting Assistant Professor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.


“Impressive. As someone who has worked with most of the materials Jordan has used, I am struck by his thorough, thoughtful, and incisive use of them. The prose is smooth, even, and readable. I do not agree with all of his conclusions, but he argues his case well and raises questions about Quakers and anti—slavery that are a major contribution to American religious and reform history.”
 — Thomas A. Hamm, Earlham College

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Quakers, Slavery, and the "Peaceable Kingdom"
1. Quaker Gradualists and the Challenge of Abolitionism
2. Slavery, Religious Liberty, and the "Political" Abolitionism of the Indiana Anti-Slavery Friends
3. Friends and the "Children of Africa": Quaker Abolitionists Confront the Negro Pew
4. "Progressive" Friends and the Government of God
5. Quaker Pacifism and Civil Disobedience in the Antebellum Period
Conclusion: "Fighting Quakers," Abolitionists, and the Civil War