Quaker Proposal

The Quaker movement to North America took place in the mid-seventeenth century to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Quakers were a different group from the Puritans and those distinctions caused considerable friction between the two groups. The conflict between the Puritan majority and the Quaker minority was the catalyst for the series of events that led to the creation of Pennsylvania by William Penn as a safe haven for Quakers within North America. The struggle to find respite from the Puritans, in a land colonized on the principles of religious freedom, was a defining moment in North American religious history.

In the northeast, due to the persecution of the Quakers largely within the city of Boston, there was a movement south to Rhode Island even before the Pennsylvania colony was founded. This occurred to retreat from the attacks that took place, including the killing of Mary Dyer on the Common for her Quaker beliefs. In the Massachusetts Bay Colony there was the strictest persecution against Quakers than was seen in any colonies outside of those in Plymouth and New Haven Connecticut, eventually hosting a number of laws which could result in the imprisonment, torture, and killing of accused Quakers.

The basis of the Quaker religion was the exact opposite of the response that was given to them, the ideas that were held were those of a God not only ruling over every person, but of an aspect of God within each individual. This belief led to the recognition of a need for respect for each individual, as well as a general opposition to violence and the idea of slavery. Quakers had a stronger belief in human rights and social welfare than that of the opposing Puritans was the basis of the conflicts throughout the early colonization of America. A number of early Quaker ministers were women, seeing them as equal under the eyes of Christ, and that each person was able to connect with God and Jesus Christ on a personal level, and that any individual could have a personal experience, connection, and conversation with higher beings.

The Quakers are still an active group today and their tendency to go against the mainstream is something consistent about their history. They were abolitionists, conscientious objectors, and women’s rights activists before larger social justice movements formed. The Quakers are a case of a truly successful secessionist group.

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