Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Hicksite-Orthodox Agitation

Two Anonymous Pamphlets

from shortly before

the 1827 Hicksite-Orthodox Separation

illustrating the tensions among Philadelphia Quakers

edited for Quaker Heritage Press by Larry Kuenning

These two pamphlets, typed from copies in the editor's possession, are offered as evidence of what the opposing factions within Quakerism were saying about each other just before the great separation of 1827-28.

It is very important to observe that both pamphlets were published anonymously. The "Letter from Anna Braithwaite" is no exception, for it was not published by Anna Braithwaite herself, and by far the greater part of it consists of annotations by an anonymous editor. Both pamphlets display their anonymity in the publication data offered on the title page. Where it was customary to state, between the city and the year of publication, that a book or pamphlet was "printed by" a particular printer or "printed for" someone who had ordered or paid for it, these pamphlets substitute a pair of odd evasions. The one says it was "printed for the compiler," who apparently preferred not to be named. The other, more oddly yet, says it was "printed for the reader," thus changing the customary phrase to mean that it was printed for the benefit of the reader; obviously it was not printed by order of most of its readers, who would have known nothing about it until it was distributed.

The reason for these evasive expressions is best understood by consulting the 1806 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Rules of Discipline. The anonymous publishers of these pamphlets were probably guilty of violating three sections of the discipline: those on "Books," on "Charity and Unity," and on "Defamation and Detraction":

All three of these infractions were to be dealt with by the Monthly Meeting to which the erring member belonged, and if no admission of wrongdoing was forthcoming, the violators were to be "testified against" by their meetings. This was standard Quaker terminology for disownment, or being publicly repudiated as no longer members of the Society of Friends.

Those who published these pamphlets apparently knew that they were vulnerable to discipline on all these counts. Readers should therefore beware of taking either side's allegations about the other side at face value.

(This page last modified 6/22/2014.)