From The Hicksites To The Progressive Friends: The Rural Roots Of Perfectionism And Social Reform Among North American Friends

Document Type


Publication Date


Published In

Quaker Studies


In the 1840s and 1850s, North American Friends endured a series of localized separations. This paper examines the Progressive Friends separations in Genesee Yearly Meeting in 1848, centered in the 'burned-over district' of New York State, and in Western Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Hicksite) in 1852-53. Both separations had roots in the controversy among Friends over appropriate anti-slavery activities and both challenged the existing structures of the Religious Society of Friends. These separations were both radical and rural, and mark a distinct change from the earlier deference of Friends towards the leadership of London and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings.