Embracing “the Oppressor as Well as the Oppressed”

A. Glenn Crothers

in Quakers Living in the Lion's Mouth

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780813039732
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043142 | DOI:
Embracing “the Oppressor as Well as the Oppressed”

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Chapter 4 explores northern Virginia Friends' antislavery efforts before 1830 and the reasons they adopted deferential and gradualist tactics, including colonization. Friends condemned slavery because they believed all people possessed an “inward light,” but this same belief led them to embrace moral suasion to appeal to slaveholders' conscience. Friends' growing attachment to the region also encouraged them to embrace a deferential approach and avoid alienating their white neighbors. Influenced by Revolutionary ideology and worried about Virginia's declining economy after 1815, some slaveholders supported Friends' antislavery efforts. However, Gabriel's Rebellion in 1801 and Nat Turner's revolt in 1831 revealed the limits of white Virginians' commitment to ending slavery and their willingness to impose legal and political constraints on Quaker activism.

Keywords: Quakers; Society of Friends; Early National Virginia; Antislavery; Gradualism; Colonization; Education; Gabriel's Rebellion; Nat Turner

Chapter.  12732 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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