Journal of Negro History, 21, 151-213. (1936)
This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.
The case of a Mulatto woman, who had applied for membership with Friends, came before the meeting: a committee had been appointed to visit her, and reported their satisfaction as to her convincement but thought it unsafe to receive her on account of her colour! After much discussion it was at last concluded to refer the matter to the Quarterly Meeting. How hard it is to overcome old prejudices. (70)
The Quarterly Meeting adopted the following course:
From Rahway and Plainfield Monthly Meeting, we are informed that Cynthia Myers, a Mulatto
woman, had applied to be received into membership with them, had been visited by a committee
from their meeting, who made a favorable report respecting her, yet as they could not fully unite
in judgment in her case, it was referred to this Meeting where claiming our solid attention, and
many friends expressing their sentiments thereon, it was thought best to refer it to the Yearly
Meeting as friends here could not unite in the propriety of receiving The (sic) without the
concurrence of that meeting (71)
The Yearly Meeting appointed a committee to consider the question, to which both women
Friends and visitors from other parts were admitted. Their report made in writing and accepted
by the Yearly Meeting stated:
"We are united in believing that our Discipline already established relative to receiving persons
into membership is not limited with respect to Nation or Colour" and it recommended that
applicants for membership should be investigated as to their views and practices and when
satisfied monthly meetings "may in their freedom receive such with propriety without respect of
persons or colour. (72)
The minutes of Rahway and Plainfield Monthly Meeting show that in the next month Cynthia
Miers case was resumed, and in the following month she was received into membership.
The formal records of this Yearly Meeting decision can be supplemented by fuller references in
Journals of contemporary Friends. John Hunt, who served on the committee, speaks of the
decision as having been held back twenty Years though there had never been anything to prevent.
There was that felt which raised the testimony in this respect, over all opposition, although the spirit of prejudice which had been imbibed on account of colour, had kept it back above twenty years within which time, [many or] divers black and mulatto people have requested to have a right among Friends, but till now have been [rejected and] put by, on account of their colour. (73)
Among those who spoke in favor of admission were two foreign Friends, Martha Routh from
England and Jean de Marsillac from France. Martha Routh described the event as follows
At this season the further consideration of admitting black people into membership with friends, was revived; and a large committee was appointed wherein concerned women friends were admitted. Their weighty deliberations felt to me evidently owned of Truth; the result whereof was, that no distinction of colour should be an objection when such as requested to be joined to us, appeared to be convinced of the principle we profess. This being spread before the Yearly Meeting was united in, without a dissenting voice. (74)
Stephen Grellet, the French Quaker who later became well known, was then a young man of twenty-three and was attending the annual meeting for the first time, having just joined the Society. He wrote in his characteristic evangelical language:
The Yearly Meeting came to the conclusion that any people of colour, becoming convinced of our principles, and making application to be received as members of our society, ought to be treated as white persons, without any distinction on account of colour, seeing that there is none with god, who has made all nations of the earth of one blood and that Jesus Christ has died for all, and is the saviour of all who believe in Him, of whatever colour or nation they may be. (75)
Evidently there had been other cases of Negro applicants and evidently these also had been
delayed for many years. I do not find, however, records of many Negro members immediately
accepted on the basis of the Yearly Meeting ruling. (76) that was, however, embodied in the
Book of Discipline. for nearly a century the Discipline had been a manuscript publication kept in
the hands of one member of each Monthly Meeting. But in this same year, arrangements were
made for printing it, and so in the first printed printed form of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Discipline (1797) the outcome of the decision on Cynthia Myers was embodied in a paragraph
under "Convinced Persons" ending "The said meetings are at liberty to receive such (persons) into
membership, without respect to nation or color." This paragraph remained in the Discipline not
only until the separation of 1828 but in each branch of Friends in every edition nearly a century
longer. (77) In 1925 and 1927 the two Philadelphia Yearly Meetings issued independently of
each an extensively revised book. And in each of these the historic phrase disappeared, more by
accident, I think, than by intention. There has certainly never been an official reversal of policy.
A very similar case to that of Cynthia Myers in Rahway brought the question of Negro
membership before the Yearly Meeting of North Carolina. The minutes are available to me in
detail, kindly copied for me by Professor A.I. Newlin of Guilford College from the manuscript
minutes of the respective meetings preserved in the vault at the College. "Isaac Linager, a mixed
coloured man," requested membership at the June, 1798, session of Deep River Monthly
Meeting, which referred it to the New Garden Quarterly Meeting held the same month. This in
turn referred it to the Yearly Meeting, which, meeting at Little River in Perquimons County on
"10 mo. 30th, 1798," referred it to the consideration of the Committee appointed to consider the
State of the Society. This Committee recommended the following day "that it be recommended
to said Quarterly Meeting to attend to the Discipline in that respect without distinction of color.
And the Meeting, after a time of weighty deliberation thereon, agree that it be laid over for
further consideration until next Yearly Meeting." Next year it was laid over again, but in 1800 the
Yearly Meeting minuted,
The Reference from New Garden Quarter respecting receiving persons of color into Membership coming before this and after a time of conference thereon, it is the Judgment of this meeting that the Discipline is fully sufficient in respect to receiving members and Friends recommended to strictly attend thereto.
This minute is quoted successively in the Quarterly and Monthly Meeting involved and finally "the
Monthly Meeting of Deep River held the 1st of the 6th month, 1801," records that "Isaac
Linnegar being under the care of this meeting for some time and now requests to be joined in
membership, which this meeting grants and received him accordingly."
The admission of Negroes in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was not always a matter of course after
the adoption of the definite policy of 1796. At least the more vigorous anti-slavery leaders
thought it was not. In the late '30's these radicals within the Society became somewhat vocal on
the subject. Of course, they kind other complaints against their fellow members and against the
official act of the Society. In several Yearly Meetings activity of Friends in abolition societies
was frowned upon by pronunciamentos, by dropping abolitionist members from important
committees, and by closing meeting houses to abolition gatherings. But in the practice of the
"Negro pew" and in the practical exclusion of Negroes from membership the abolitionists thought
they found among Friends a painful social prejudice against the Negro.
These criticisms were felt very strongly by such persons as William Bassett of Lynn, and the
Grimke sisters, and they were willing to bring the matter to the attention of sympathetic members
of the Society of Friends in Great Britain. They hoped English Friends who were more
abolitionist could bring pressure to bear that would correct these inconsistencies in American
Quakerism. To secure exact information Sarah Grimke wrote to her Negro friend Sarah Douglass
of Philadelphia, who also wrote to William Bassett. The information was furnished to Elizabeth
Pease at Darlington, England, where in 1840 it was partly printed, "not published," without using
any names, in the pamphlet Society of Friends in the United States; Their Views of the
Anti-slavery Question, and Treatment of the People of Colour. Both Bassett and Sarah Grimke
had written in 1837 protests on the same general subjects to their fellow Quakers in America.
The latter was never published; (78) for the former Bassett was reproved by the Meeting for
Sufferings and at its instigation finally disowned in 1840. (79)
Although the definite request was made for information "whether any rule exists or any document
could be cited to prove that the colour of the skin excludes form membership in any meetings,"
(80) little evidence was available to substantiate such a criticism of Friends. The English
pamphlet quotes two instances from "a letter received from a highly respectable corespondent in
*** a Female of Colour who has been for years convinced of the principles of Friends, - has adopted their dress and language, and goes to their Meetings constantly, - has been advised not to apply to be received into Membership, as she would be rejected. This advice has been given in tenderness, to spare here feelings...
An aged man, of undoubted piety, who had lived many years in the family of an Elder of ***
Meeting requested to be received into membership. He was rejected. An Overseer of that told,
told *** that the only reason was because he was colored; for his character, as a religious man,
was unquestioned, and he was fully convinced of our principles. The thing was done privately,
and elicited no condemnation that I know of. (81)
Sarah M. Grimke, after mentioning the few colored members of whom she knows, all some years
before her time, adds, "I do not think the present generation have or would receive a colored
member. I have heard it assigned as a reason that of course no white member would marry them
and then if they infringed the Discipline they must be disowned." (82)
Joseph Sturge, who visited the United States in 1841, was disappointed in what he found among
Friends and described Philadelphia as the "metropolis of prejudice against colour, of
Anti-Abolition feeling among Friends, as well as others." (83)
A few months earlier when the conservative Philadelphia Friend published a description of the
social equality accorded to colored people in London the editor was taken to task by readers for
his "indiscretion," as though he had intended "to hold it up as an example for imitation among"
American Friends. He promptly disavowed any such intention, stating his belief "that one of the
greatest mistakes committed by the anti-slavery people is the mixing up with the abolition
question the warfare against what they are pleased to call prejudices in regard to the coloured
race. The great object, it is our settled judgment, should be the extirpation of slavery, striking at
the root; leaving those minor appendages to time, and the gradual but certain effects of
advancing light and knowledge." (84)
The policy of Philadelphia Friends in this matter was publicly criticized in 1843. At the
Anti-Slavery Convention held in London Arnold Buffum, himself a Friend from Rhoad Island,
gave the impression in a speech that:
...the discipline of the Society of Friends was unfavorable to the reception of coloured persons into membership. At the subsequent sitting, he tried to shift the charge from the Society in general, to the Society in Philadelphia; and declared that a coloured person, whom he named, had been refused admission among Friends in this city, because she was black.... He further stated the applications for membership from coloured persons to be numerous, and that there was no instance of any being received.
Thus at least he was reported in a vigorous denial published by P. R. in the Friend. (85) He was
evidently mistaken. Grace Douglass, to whom he referred, had never made application for
admission in Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. Only one Negro applicant in Philadelphia had been
rejected in more than forty years and that was because he was not convinced of the principles
held by the Society. On the other hand, in several places colored persons had been members of
the Society and they were esteemed and in some cases appointed to services in the church. (86)
That the objection of Friends to recognition of Negroes was neither recent nor confined to
Philadelphia is shown by a nearly contemporary writer, probably Nathan Kite. (87) Speaking of
Moses Brown of Rhode Island and of his desire to give Negroes equality with whites, he cites
three instances among Friends of prejudice against them. The first is the story of a colored man, a
member of a meeting in New England, whose gift in the ministry the leaders of his meeting
refused to recognize. He declared, "You will not receive my testimony, then I am authorized to
tell you that no testimony bearer shall arise amongst you while the present heads of your meeting
are living." This prophecy of the colored man was strictly fulfilled. (88) The second instance is
told as follows:
About forty years ago [i.e., about 1810] James Alford, a colored man of clean life and blameless conversation, made application to a meeting not far distant from Philadelphia, to be received into membership. One of the members of that meeting strongly influenced by the prejudice of colour, was very much opposed to such a request being granted. Whilst the case was undecided, he met James Alford, and commenced a conversation with him. He told James that the doctrines of the Society of Friends celled for perfection; and then with contempt and bitterness, added, "What does thee know of perfection, James?" In the true spirit of Christian humility, James made in his answer, a beautiful confession of the Quaker doctrine on that subject. "I cannot say much of perfection - but I think I have been convinced of that, which if faithfully followed will lead to perfection."
The third instance is reported by William Williams (1763-1824) of a conversation he had whilst
staying in the house of a Friend in Virginia on the admission of Negroes into membership in the
Society. Not only his hosts but even his own travelling companion was opposed to their
admission, though the latter was converted by a dream which he had that same night. (89) From
Ohio we have a nearly contemporary statement on the attitude of Friends there. On 5 mo. 17,
1819, Richard Smith, an English applicant for membership in Mount Pleasant Monthly Meeting,
in describing his interview with the committee sent to investigate him, tells how he asked a
counter question: "It came with force upon my mind to ask them whether Black People were
admitted in Friends Society. The answer they returned was that some of their members were
opposed to it, but those only that were prejudiced against them by Education." (90)
Rejection from membership was probably rarely made explicitly because of color. Applicants
would be privately discouraged from making formal request for admission to the Society. Their
cases would be indefinitely delayed. Or other grounds for rejection were assigned. Thus we are
told that among Southern Friends "after the Civil War there were a number of applications for
Membership from colored men, but they seem to have been rejected because of an insufficient
knowledge of Friends' principles." (91)
Writing in the middle of 1839, Samuel J. Levick of Philadelphia refers to a colored man who had
applied to his own meeting for membership with Friends and had been refused. The man had
accordingly called together a group of others of the same race and they met every first day at the
house of one of them on William Street in Kensington. (92)
In 1888 the question was raised in the columns of the Intelligencer and Journal, organ of the
Hicksite body of Friends, whether on principle a Negro was admissible to membership in the
Society. The editor replies in the affirmative but he can only refer to a single instance, and that
before the Separation of 1827, namely in 1814. His invitation to his readers to mention other
instances elicits only one other case, which was also some sixty-five years before. Evidently
there had been very few instances in that group of Friends at that period. As the editor himself
Of course the principles of Friends are altogether too catholic to permit the idea of exclusion on account of color, though we are conscious how much of hesitation and prejudice there might be in applying them to particular cases. (93)
Of all Negro members in American Quakerism it will never be possible to make an at all
adequate list. The following instances are of cases interesting in themselves, significant enough
to be left on record, and suggestive of other cases forgotten. (94) My purpose in recording them
is to call attention to the original printed materials about them and to invite others to add to the
list as their knowledge permits. In many cases membership in an official sense is uncertain. Many
Negroes who were not members dressed in Quaker garb, or as Mary Pryer relates in 1798,
"Some of the plain Friends have their black servants dressed as Friends.(95)
In the marriages on record at Dover Monthly Meeting, New Hampshire, occurs an entry on
November 23, 1774, of Caesar Sankey and Sarah Sharp of Dover. (96) As the groom's name
suggests, they were colored persons. The names of their parents, usual in Quaker marriage
certificates, are here omitted. The bride signs with her mark. The inclusion of their marriage in
the Quaker list does not, as we have seen, prove that they were members, but doubt on this
score is removed by a later entry (2 mo. 22nd, 1777) on the meeting records that "Seser Sanke"
was disowned for "going into the [Revolutionary] war." Formerly he was a slave belonging to
James Neal of Kittery, Maine, who manumitted him. In 1777 his owner wrote, "I some years
since permitted him to go and labor for himself, although his wages was given to me. I purposed
and have since applied the same to his use in purchasing a piece of land with a house in Berwick
on Oak Hill for which a deed is taken in his name." (97)
"Bobbie" Peters, who came with Jesse Baily, Sr., from Dinwiddie County, Virginia, to Ohio in
1811, was one of the many free Negroes whom Friends brought with them to escape from the
slave-ridden South. He was especially well known as a cook. It is said that he was the only
colored man who was ever a member of Stillwater Quarterly Meeting. For a time he was
caretaker of the Meeting House at Barnesville, Ohio. In his later declining years the meeting
cared for him and finally in the forties buried him in the Stillwater Friends' burying ground. (98)
In 1794 Henry Hull speaks of a woman of color that he met in a meeting in Greene, near
Winthrop, Maine, "the first of the African race I had taken by the hand as a member of our
"Sally" Antone, remembered by some of the oldest living members of the meeting at New
Bedford, Mass., to which she belonged, was a colored woman. In the printed list of Names of
Members composing New Bedford Monthly Meeting of Friends, 4th mo. 15, 1875 her name
appears as Sarah Antone and her address as New Bedford.
At Lynn, Mass., a capable teacher, Bernice Grandison, was very many years a member of the
Friends' Meeting. She died a few years ago.
Hannah Conn, a domestic for many years in the Hopkins family of Haddonfield, New Jersey,
"joined Friends, and sometimes spoke in meeting." (100) A receipt entered in 1843 and signed by
her mark (101) speaks of her as "Hannah Conn, colored woman, widow and relict of Thomas
Conn, late of the County of Gloucester."
At New Garden in Indiana in 1842 Christopher Healy met, as he writes to his wife, "a colored
man, a member of our Society, one hundred and six years old." He was nearly blind. (102)
Emily Rodman Williams was accepted a member of the Monthly Meeting of Friends of
Philadelphia for the Western District "on 4 mo. 15, 1891," and remained a member and constant
attender until her death in the 6th month, 1910. She dressed in the old fashioned Quaker garb
and occasionally spoke in meeting.
David and Grace Mapps were received into memberships with Friends at Little Egg Harbor
Meeting, New Jersey, in the 7th month, 1799, and became very respected members of the
Society. David Mapps occupation was chiefly that of mariner at Green Rank, New Jersey. He
also owned a farm there from which in later life he retired and took a house in Tuckerton. Their
home was well known for its hospitality. They had a few extra rooms at which visiting Friends
usually stayed. David Mapps served his meeting as member of the School Committee and
overseer. His wife died December 16, 1833, aged about 69 years.(103) He married again in 1835,
"by the help of a magistrate," but was retained in membership. The date of David's death I have
not ascertained from the records. It is said to have occurred in 1835. His will at least is dated in
An instance of his Quaker fidelity is narrated by a modern local historian from tradition as
follows, referring to the nearby village of Batso with its iron forge (1767-1848):
The next owner of Batso was Colonel William Richards, who had served with distinction in the war and was a personal friend of George Washington. Under the management of Colonel Richards the industries of the place prospered greatly. During the war of 1812 he successfully handled several large munition contracts for the U. S. government.
An incident of that time is worth relating.
The Colonel had finished an order for 50 tons of cannon shot which were to be delivered at New York. The only vessel in the river available for this service was a 60-ton schooner, owned and managed by a colored man, named David Mapps who with a crew of his own race, traded regularly between New York and Little Egg Harbor. David was a Quaker and stuck to the tenets of his faith like brick dust to a bar of soap. Proceeding to the wharf where the schooner lay, Colonel Richards called the dusky skipper on deck.
"David," said he, "I have a freight for you, one that will pay you well."
"And what may it be" queried David.
"I want you to take a load of cannon balls to New York as soon as wind and tide will get yell there," said the Colonel.
"Did thee say cannon balls?" asked friend Mapps.
"Yes," replied the Colonel, "they are for the defense of the country and the government needs them."
"I'd like to oblige thee," was David's mild but firm rejoinder, "but I cannot carry thy devil's pills that were made to kill people."
No argument could change his decision and Colonel Richards was obliged to find other means of transportation for his devil's pills." (104)
Toward the end of 1817 the Journal of Joseph Hoag records during a visitation of meetings in South Jersey: "We had a satisfactory meeting at The Bank, where we staid the night with David Mapes, a coloured man who is a respectable Friend." (105)
In 1818 William Williams of Tennessee writes:
Had a meeting at Lower Great Egg Harbor; and after meeting rode twenty-seven miles to David
Maps'. He and his wife are both colored people and are possessed of good talents, and he is a
men of considerable property, and much business. They are both members of our Society, and are
useful in their places; and my mind felt as much comforted under their roof, as in any house,
since I had left home; so that while I was with them, I was brought to think of the power of truth.
It not only changes and alters a person's conduct, but as it were, in appearance, is able to change
the Ethiopian's skin, so that black and white, as to the thoughts of colour, appear as one in the
truth. Here we met our friends, Mary Witchel and Mary James, from Pennsylvania, who had
appointed a meeting near here, in a house which our friend David Maps had built for the use of
his neighbours, as a school house and meeting house.(106)
Mildred Ratcliffe tells in her journal of staying in their house "on 3rd mo. 20, 1820," and of
holding a meeting at the school house nearby, next day. Whether on account of their prosperity
or because of their kindness to her she decided "that God is no respecter of persons." (107)
On May 8th, 1820, Charles Osborn, later famous as an anti-slavery editor, wrote in his diary:
We rode twenty seven miles [from Galloway] to the house of David Mapp, a man of color. He
and his wife are respectable members of our society. They are well settled, and are in the way of
entertaining Friends travelling in truth's service. They have no c hildren of their own, yet have
several in family, children and laborers, all people of color, and who appeared to be well ordered.
Marks of industry and neatness appear in their affairs, which, with their kind attention to their
friends, render their abo de a comfortable stage for Friends to put up at, as they are passing
through the parts.
Third-day, 9th - We had a meeting in a school and meeting house, near David Mapps." (108)
During his long visit in America the aged English minister Thomas Shillitoe spent several days,
late in 1827, in this district. He writes:
Third-day, we proceeded to the township of Washington, near the Mullicus river and took up our
abode with David Mapps and his kind wife, both coloured people, and members of our religious
Society: we attended an indulged meeting in a new meeting house, about three miles from our
quarters at a place called Bridge Port.
Fourth-day morning, we left the comfortable residence of our kind friend David Mapps, who
accompanied me to Little Egg Harbor.
Fifth-day, we attended meeting at Tucker's Town .... after meeting accompanied by our kind
friend David Mapps we rode; to Barnagat, where there is a small settlement of Friends....
Sixth-day morning .... it appeared right for us to proceed on our journey; we accordingly did,
accompanied by D. Mapps, whose services this day we found to be of great use to us, our road
being through much of a wilderness country, and so very intricate, it was with great difficulty we
made our port before it was dark. " (109)
Among the anecdotes told of Isaac T. Hopper (1771-1852) the following without date refers to
David Maps and his wife as the only colored members of the Yearly Meeting:
On the occasion of the annual gathering in Philadelphia they came with other members of the
Society to share the hospitality of his (i.e. Isaac T. Hopper's) house. A question arose in the
family whether Friends of white complexion would object to eating with them. "Leave that to
me," said the master of the household. Accordingly when the time arrived, he announced it thus:
"Friends, dinner is now ready. David Maps and his wife will come with me; and as I like to have
all accommodated, those who object to dining with them can wait till they have done." The
guests smiled, and all seated themselves at the table. (110)
In spite of the statement above that David Mapps had no children (111) I think he had both a son
and a daughter who with his second wife, Anna Douglass Mapps, were heirs to a considerable
property. Grace A. Mapps, his daughter, was a highly educated woman, perhaps the first colored
woman to graduate from a bona fide collect, which she did from McGrawville, New York, in
1852. Like her step-mother, she became a teacher. In 1853 she was principle of the Girls'
Department of the Friends' high school, "The Institute for Coloured Youth," where she remained
until 1864, when she resigned to care care of her mother, who lived in Burlington, New Jersey.
She died in 1891. She is said to have been able to teach Greek. Contributions from her pen were
published in the Anglo-African Magazine for 1859.
A family (112) with a long and distinguished history and including several individuals closely
attached to Friends begins with Cyrus Bustill (1732 - 1806.) Born at Burlington, New Jersey, son
of the white lawyer Samuel Bustill (113) and one of his slaves, he learned the trade of a baker
from the Quaker baker Thomas Prior. His faithful service in supplying the American troops "in
baking all the flour used at the port of Burlington" for a period during the Revolutionary War is
officially attested. He subsequently moved to Philadelphia, where he conducted a baking business
at 56 Arch Street. In 1797 he retired from business, built a house at Third and Green Streets and
opened a school there.
His association with Quakerism is shown by the manner of both his marriage and his burial. In
Philadelphia he and his family attended meeting (after 1804 at Arch Street.) He adopted the
Quaker garb and speech. He was an early member of the Free African Society. Although he was
one of the first to release the funds that he had given to it to use in starting St. Thomas' African
Episcopal Church, in 1792, there is no reason to suppose that he joined the latter. In 1799 he was
still am member of the Free African Society.
His wife, Elizabeth Morey, or Morrey, was not a Negro, but the daughter of Richard Morrey and
Englishman and of a Delaware Indian maiden named Satterthwait. The children, therefore, were
part Indian and one of them at least was regarded as an Indian Quaker. The descendants have
regarded them as Negroes. The names of eight are given, of which some are mentioned below.
Elizabeth Morey was herself inclined to Quakerism, having been for several years a maid servant
in the employ of Nicholas and Sarah Waln, influential Friends in Philadelphia. Their letter of
testimony to her character is extant, "dated 4 mo. 20, 1773."
The oldest daughter of Cyrus Bustill was named Ruth. She married William Douglass of Bristol,
Pennsylvania. It was apparently a daughter of theirs named Anna, born in 1801, who married
David Mapps of Little Egg Harbor and long survived him, living in later life in Burlington and
teaching in a private school there.
Jeremiah Bowser, a Philadelphia Negro, is said to have been a member of the Society of Friends,
probably of the meeting at Fourth and Green Streets. His descendants are not members of the
Society. He was son-in-law of Cyrus Bustill having married Rachel Bustill, the third child. He
was a steward on one of the Liverpool lines.
The firth child of Cyrus Bustill was Grace. She is said to have conducted in Philadelphia next
door to her father "a Quaker millinery store." Her husband, Robert Douglass, was a member, in
fact one of the founders in 1807, of the First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. But
she is explicitly referred to as a member of the Society of Friends. A letter she wrote to the first
minister of the church, Rev. John Gloucester in 1819, advising simplicity in life and dress, is
published in the semi-centenial history of the church. (114) She died March, 1842.
Two children of Robert and Grace (Bustill) Douglass are mentioned in the account of the Bustill
family. One was Robert, Jr., a portrait painter. concerning the other the account says:
His sister, Sarah Douglass, was much better known as she taught school for 60 years. Possessing
the peculiar characteristics of her early training, she followed her mother and her maternal
grandmother as a Friend. She attended the Ninth and Spruce Meeting third-day mornings. It was
the same attended by Lucretia Mott and her brother. There were all well acquainted. Writing (to
Joseph C. Bustill) June 11, 1878, she says, "I thank thee for thy sympathy," and closes with
"Fare the well. Affectionately thine, S.M. Douglass. Even at that advanced age, she wrote all the
long letters herself in the beautiful, clear, graceful style peculiarly her own.
Mrs. Douglass was a member of the Anti-Slavery Women of the United States, who assembled in
the convention at New York in 1837 as related by Nell in his Colored Patriots of the Revolution.
In 1853, Mrs. S.M. Douglass had charge of the Preparatory Department of the Institute for
Colored Youth. She came from a family of means and had been privately tutored. She was highly
capable as a lecturer in Physiology and Hygiene.
To this statement confirmatory accounts may be added. In writing about the famous Grimke
sister, Catherine H. Birney says, "The Society (of Friends) never counted among it members
many colored persons. There were, however, a few in Philadelphia all educated and belong to
the best of their class. Among them was a most excellent woman, Sarah Douglass, to whom
Sarah and Angelina Grimke became much attached, and with whom Sarah kept up a
correspondence for nearly thirty years." (115)