Quakers believe that there is something of God in everybody and that each human being is of unique worth. This is why Quakers value all people equally, and oppose anything that may harm or threaten them. Quakers seek religious truth in inner experience, and place great reliance on conscience as the basis of morality.
These testimonies are to integrity, equality, simplicity, community, stewardship of the Earth, and peace.
Quaker, byname of Friend, member of the Society of Friends, or Friends church, a Christian group that stresses the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that rejects outward rites and an ordained ministry, and that has a long tradition of actively working for peace and opposing war.
Quakers have been a significant part of the movements for the abolition of slavery, to promote equal rights for women, and peace. They have also promoted education and the humane treatment of prisoners and the mentally ill, through the founding or reforming of various institutions.
The rigid, sterile Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had a deep fear of Quakers, citing dissent, heresy and work of the devil as reasons to persecute, imprison, and even kill Quakers arriving in their Puritan colony.
There are also Nontheist Quakers, whose spiritual practice does not rely on the existence of God. To differing extents, the Friends avoid creeds and hierarchical structures. In 2007, there were about 359,000 adult Quakers worldwide. In 2017, there were 377,557 adult Quakers, 49% of them in Africa.
There are about 75,000 Quakers in the U.S., but they have had, in many ways, an outsized impact on social equality. It all boils down to acting on Quaker values.
To become a Quaker, one needs to worship with a Quaker meeting and participate in its community life and decisions. It also helps to understand the origin of the Quaker movement and live into the experiences and actions that are important to Quakers.
In 1776, Quakers were prohibited from owning slaves, and 14 years later they petitioned the U.S. Congress for the abolition of slavery. As a primary Quaker belief is that all human beings are equal and worthy of respect, the fight for human rights has also extended to many other areas of society.
Renowned Underground Railroad “conductor” Harriet Tubman was known to point fugitives North to West Chester, West to Kennett Square or East to Delaware County and Philadelphia. Because of the strong support from Quakers in these areas, these routes were considered reasonably secure.
A Quaker school education is based on the beliefs and testimonies of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Quakers embrace the principles of tolerance, equality and spirituality. They believe the Inner Light, or God, is in each of us.
The twelve founding members included nine Quakers, and three pioneering Anglicans: Clarkson, Granville Sharp, and Philip Sansom. They were sympathetic to the religious revival that had predominantly nonconformist origins, but which sought wider non-denominational support for a "Great Awakening" amongst believers.
Thomas Clarkson, (born March 28, 1760, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, Eng. —died Sept. 26, 1846, Ipswich, Suffolk), abolitionist, one of the first effective publicists of the English movement against the slave trade and against slavery in the colonies.
The following year, Clarkson published his book 'History of the Abolition of the African Slave Trade' and, although his health was now failing, continued to campaign for the complete abolition of slavery. In 1833, parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act, which gave all slaves in the British empire their freedom.
In 1788, Clarkson published his Essay on the Impolicy of the African Slave Trade. Ultimatley, Clarkson's diligence and hard work led to health problems and he retired from the abolitionist campaign. He married Catherine Buck of Suffolk and had one son, Thomas, born in 1796.
Thomas Clarkson was a leading activist in Britain against the transatlantic slave trade. He helped found the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and was a main force in bringing about the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which legally ended British trade in enslaved Africans.
Clarkson's first job was as a travelling salesman for his parents' business, selling Paddington Bear toys. He later trained as a journalist with the Rotherham Advertiser, before also writing for the Rochdale Observer, Wolverhampton Express and Star, Lincolnshire Life, Shropshire Star and the Associated Kent Newspapers.
William Wilberforce, (born August 24, 1759, Hull, Yorkshire, England—died July 29, 1833, London), British politician and philanthropist who from 1787 was prominent in the struggle to abolish the slave trade and then to abolish slavery itself in British overseas possessions.
In 1789, Wilberforce gave a three hour speech against slavery in Parliament. In 1791, Wilberforce presented to the House of Commons another Bill to abolish the slave trade. He had the support of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, but the Bill was not passed. It was rejected by 163 votes to 88.
He was prone to stress-related illness, probably ulcerative colitis, and to combat a bout of this illness in February 1788, he started to use opium; he regularly used this to combat his intestinal disorders for the rest of his life. Following a further period of illness, Wilberforce resigned from politics in 1825.
The radical writer William Cobbett was among those who attacked what they saw as Wilberforce's hypocrisy in campaigning for better working conditions for slaves while British workers lived in terrible conditions at home. "Never have you done one single act, in favour of the labourers of this country", he wrote.