The Free Quakers Reaffirming the Legacy of Conscience and Liberty (The Spiritual Journey of a Solitary People)

John H. Morgan

Abstract


The following exploration of the fundamentals of the Religious Society of Friends called Quakers will focus upon a lesser known tradition of the Quakers, namely that of the "Free Friends of Philadelphia" and their modern progeny, the Free Quakers of Indiana  These Free Quakers, as they are called, are those who chose to exercise their free right to follow their conscience in all things, a tradition reaching back to the 18th century in Philadelphia when a contingent of Friends chose to support the war against Britain.  A great deal is known about the programmed and unprogrammed traditions of the Religious Society of Friends, the former electing to have recorded ministers and formalized worship and the latter opting for no clergy and a preference for the mystical tradition of silent worship. Much less is known about the Free Quakers of Revolutionary Pennsylvania and the subsequent modern day Friends, their ideological progeny. In this brief essay, we intend to correct this common oversight in Quaker history.


Keywords


Quakers, Society of Friends, American Religious History, Inner Light, Peace, Justice, Simplicity, Free Quakers, Stewardship, mysticism

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