My personal impression is that Quakers, like all abolitionists, enthusiastically took part in the mental preparation of the Civil War. But when the War came they were perplexed and most of them opted out of it. But this abrupt change of  view couldn't work well, indeed a third of the young men joined Lincoln's army. On the other hand, Quakers were rigorous enough to disown those young men and thus lost a lot of their followers.

Is this historically correct?

What would it mean for actual politics - the tendencies to get a new civil war after the election?

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Comment by Keith Saylor on 12th mo. 29, 2020 at 2:05pm

I forgot to add, Whittier's reference to Mezentius and his struggle with Turnus in the Aeneid by Virgil is very powerful.

Comment by Kirby Urner on 1st mo. 18, 2021 at 5:19pm

The research I've done suggests many middle class antebellum Quakers were annoyed by abolitionists, who before the Civil War were called "immediatists". They wanted some immediate solution.

Many meetings considered immediatists to be a type of ranter, especially if they ranted in meeting a lot.  Slavery was perfectly legal at the time and whereas it was right and proper for Quakers amongst themselves to not own slaves, and to disown each other for so doing, telling other white people, not Quakers, how to live their lives, was considered too "in your face" and bad for public relations, i.e. Quakers would get a bad name if too obstreperous.

Your average Quaker burgher was more likely to favor some "gradual" solution such as exporting all slaves to Liberia.  Seriously, that was a rather popular form of futurism many Americans embraced. The solution to slavery would be to send all the slaves back to Africa.  Later, some Black [1] civil rights activists, such Stokely Carmichael, would see this as an attractive option for some people.

Now of course many Quakers were immediatists and we all learn about the Underground Railroad, and celebrate the few Quakers who took part in it. With the wisdom of hindsight, we see they were the ones with the brightest inner lights.

I'd say more Quakers accepted their lot as an outcast minority, looked on with suspicion as possible terrorists, given they disapproved of slavery. Quakers left the south in droves, heading for the midwest, where they could start over and found their own schools (e.g. Earlham College).

Today, an abolitionist is someone against nuke weapons, the manufacture, stockpiling, and planning for use of same (not to mention actual use, of course). Those who want to start kicking in doors looking for these illegal weapons, held by faithless cowards against God, are the new "immediatists" and are often considered ranters by many in the middle class.

[1] by Black I refer to ethnicity or set of ethnicities, not to any "race" (a silly idea, I feel intellectually superior to people who think in terms of "races" I have to confess).

[ thought we could edit comments for 15 minutes -- reposting to fix a couple typos ]

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