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This Separation Forced upon Us: Philadelphia's Free Quakers and the Culture of Revolution

Despite their history of pacifism, Philadelphia Quakers were deeply entangled in the American Revolution. When a small number of disowned Friends came together in February 1781 to form a group they called "The Society of Friends Known by Some as the Free Quakers," they were motivated by the genuine desire for shared religious communion in keeping with the "fundamental Principals" of Quakerism -- but also by their shared support of Independence. Their organized dissent against the all-but-Loyalist Society of Friends was unprecedented, as was their appeal to Pennsylvania's radical Assembly for ongoing access to Friends' property on the basis of shared rights. When in 1784 the Free Quakers built a meeting house of their own, it embodied a set of newly intersecting cultural practices through its integration of Quaker traditional forms with an emerging early-national iconography. Drawing on a rich survival of primary documents -- including those housed in the Library's Marian S. Carson Collection -- this talk will explore the convergence of social, economic, political and religious factors that together shaped Philadelphia's Free Quakers as a movement and as a community. Can the contours of this smaller separation shed light on our understanding of the cultural upheavals of the Revolution itself? Speaker Biography: Susan Garfinkel is a staff fellow in the John W. Kluge Center. She is a specialist in the Library's Digital Reference Section.
Length: 01:05:55

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