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Persecution Of The Quakers In England Led To Their Sympathy Towards The Slaves In America

2079 words - 9 pages

New branches of Christianity formed during the seventeenth century, many of the branches started to refuse to pay tithes to the English Church. One of the new branches of Christianity, the Quakers, or Society of Friends, were among those who refused to pay which led to the persecution for their beliefs. Many groups of people have been persecuted for various reasons throughout history, some because of their religion like the Quakers in the seventeenth century. Others because of their race; like African Americans starting at least in the seventeenth century until the Civil Rights Movement. Due to persecution, groups of people allied together to help each other receive the rights and freedom they deserved. Members of the Quaker Church are an example of such cooperation. Quakers helped many African American slaves seek freedom out of the sympathy they felt for the people, due to their own history of persecution two centuries prior to the Civil War.
George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, held new beliefs that would cause the religion problems from its beginning. Fox was born in 1642 in the English Midlands in the town of Leicestershire, where as a young man he strived to “live a life of purity and love.” Like Muhammad in Islam, he believed that he had an experience that “opened him to the knowledge that the love and power of god were available to all people without the help of priests, ministers, or outward sacraments.” Quakers read the Bible constantly and were able to quote it in their daily lives and in their writings. William Penn once wrote on their continuous reading of the Bible, “We believe the scriptures to contain a declaration of the mind and will of God, in and to those ages in which they were written, being given forth by the Holy Ghost moving in the hearts of holy men of God.”
Persecution was a common occurrence for Quakers during the seventeenth century. In England there were at least a tenth of the fifty-thousand Friends in prison during the restoration of the English monarchy and it was a time of severe persecution for twenty years. The Quakers would be jailed for offenses such as “interrupting a pastor in his pulpit,” specific acts of blasphemy; “contempt of court” and “disturbance of the peace,” as well as “refusal to tithes or take oaths.” However, the English Commonwealth scarcely attacked the Friends unless they interrupted other groups, unlike New England. Finally, under the reign of William and Mary, the Quaker persecution ended in England with the Toleration Act of 1689.
Quakers were not just persecuted in England, there was persecution present in New England. Even though Quakers had already encountered persecution in England prior to their move to New England, the persecution in America was much worse. In New England, authorities held the belief that the Friends were going to destroy civil government which led to attempts at keeping traveling ministers away. In Massachusetts a law was enacted against...

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