Text :  Françoise Rochet 

Illustration : Gratianne Garcia 

Who both thank the Quakers of France who answered their questions.   

The middle colonies :

his heroes and their religions

"Governments, like clocks, start from the movement that men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are also ruined. That is why governments depend more on men than men in governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad; if it is sick, they will heal it. But, if men are bad, let the government never be so good, they will strive to distort it and spoil it in turn. » 

William Penn 

Préambule Frame of Government, 1682 

America has served as a land of refuge for minority religious groups.

It is marked by two great religious utopias: the Puritans and the Quakers who saw in this New World the chance to build a society according to their beliefs and ideals.

But if the approach is identical, the utopias are absolutely different.

We have seen that the Puritans built an orthodox and intolerant "New Jerusalem" in New England.


The Quakers, after rejections and wanderings will finally find a land and in turn welcome other churches, beliefs and sects.

Until the 1680s, England did not have a definite colonial policy.

It grants charters and rights to shipping companies.

But it also offers rights to individuals: proprietary colony. The mechanism is simple.

The Crown grants a charter and territory to a group of courtiers (or a family) for services to the Crown.

In exchange, the Lords Proprietors incurred the cost of colonization. They govern, even if the settlers remain subjects of the monarch, and take care of populating their territory. The Crown extends its influence beyond the seas without spending anything.

The Owner does not usually go to his colony.

William Penn, who himself stayed on his estate from October 1682 to August 1684, offers an unusual case.


So here's the history of Pennsylvania.


It was to William Penn, a Quaker, that the region owed its prosperity in 1682 when he founded the first Quaker state. As early as 1681, he drew up a constitution, the Frame of Government, which would ensure the colony valuable institutional stability.


A singular man, destined for a life as a courtier at the court of the Stuarts, he chose to convert to a religion that advocated humility and simplicity.

This son of Admiral Penn, who had made Jamaica the hub of the black slave trade, had received the area from Charles II as reparation for a debt to the Penn family.

His ambition was to build a state that would correspond to his Quaker ideal, namely a tolerant, non-violent and pacifist state.

He decided to attract immigrants of various beliefs and nationalities

William Penn wanted to make Pennsylvania more humane, by abolishing the death penalty for theft and guaranteeing freedom of worship.


In addition, he wanted to maintain fair and balanced relations with the Indians. He signed agreements with them that were scrupulously observed and that maintained peace in the region.


The colony, smoothly, developed rapidly and Philadelphia was the ardent heart of it prospered thanks to the Quakers, men of serious and balanced manners, with their talents and philosophy to carry out commercial enterprises.


The region was particularly promising. It turned out to be rich in land and pastures. Soon, with the know-how of migrants, Germans, farms will form the backbone of the state economy, producing a wide variety of crops. The main commodities are dairy products, corn, cattle and calves, poultry and eggs, a multiple variety of fruits, sweet corn, potatoes, maple syrup and later... Christmas trees!

Philadelphia is the "City of Brotherly Love" from the Greek Φιλαδέλφια


It was the first city built according to the "checkerboard plan", which will become the model par excellence of American urban planning. For the first time in the New World, streets were designated by numbers, from that date, making it the first modern realization of alphanumeric urban nomenclature.

This city was the capital whose Constitution (Frame of Government, 1682) guaranteed freedom of conscience and worship as well as political rights to anyone who believed in one God. Each co-religionist paid the tax only for his own church.

In return, there were duties and prohibitions: Sunday rest had to be respected and blasphemy was punishable.

This city, masterpiece of its founder, will be until the War of Independence the lighthouse of the Colonies with Boston. On the eve of the Revolution, and this from 1760, Philadelphia will be the second most important city in the British world after London.


This city is considered a Hotbed of Enlightenment in the Colonies.

It was even a center of revolutionary thought under the leadership of Benjamin Franklin, born in Boston in 1706, and attracted by the spirit of tolerance of Pennsylvania. Spirit quite the opposite of his hometown, intolerant and sectarian.

Its action is considerable... and we will talk about it again when we talk about the War of Independence.

However, let us remember that under his leadership, the city was endowed with a library, the Library Company of Philadelphia, a University, a Society of Philosophy, a school of law, medicine and anatomy, a hospital. But also a company of firefighters, banks and even an Academy of Fine Arts.

Ideas spread in the eighteenth century thanks to the press.

Philadelphia became the main publishing center of the Thirteen Colonies: the first newspaper, The American Weekly Mercury, appeared in 1719. The Pennsylvania Gazette (1723) played a major role during the American Revolution.

In 1739 the first anti-slavery treaty was published and the city became, along with Boston, one of the anti-slavery centers of the country.

Philadelphia will be the provisional capital of the young republic before the creation of Washington.



Who are these Quakers?  

The Religious Society of Friends or Quakers (1662) is a movement


religious founded in England in the seventeenth century by dissidents of the Anglican Church, including a certain George Fox (1624-1691

They call each other "Friends" and "Friends" in reference to the Gospel of John:

"You, you are my friends if you do what I command you." (John 15:14).

The Society of Friends refuses to bear the title of church, in a very hierarchical world. Quakers are few in number (50,000 at most in the middle of the seventeenth century) and are distinguished by their sobriety, pacifism, egalitarianism (especially between men and women) and their penchant for martyrdom. They tutor their neighbor, never take off their hats, neither to greet nor out of deference, and refuse to bear arms as if to take the oath.


• The Society of Friends differs from most other groups of Christianity by the absence of a creed and any hierarchical structure. For Quakers, religious belief belongs to the personal sphere and everyone is free to believe.

However, the concept of "inner light" is shared by all.

• This personal Light is therefore an opening to the world and offers a spirit of tolerance towards others. Quakers emphasize honesty, simplicity and sobriety.

• The Quakers were, at the end of the eighteenth century, the first to take coordinated and systematic action against the slave trade. Their community in Pennsylvania decided, in 1774, to exclude from its bosom all those who practiced the trade. They will be the spokesmen of abolitionism.

Convinced that war is an affront to God's will, Quakers are still pacifists.

• They make helping the poorest another priority.

• Their main focus has been on helping the victims of wars.

• Although they were pacifists, the fact remained that they were found on the battlefields as doctors, nurses, rescuers, and stewards.

• They came to the aid of the victims of Nazism and all those persecuted.


In 1947, the Quakers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


As for the sobriquet "Quaker" could come from "trembling" (to quake) before the name of God. 


This colony has welcomed diverse peoples since the seventeenth century: in addition to Swedes (The ephemeral New Sweden - Nya Sverige) already settled in the region, it welcomed German Mennonites or Anabaptists, Moravian brothers, Alsatian Amish, Scottish Presbyterians, Irish Baptists, Welsh and German Lutherans, Reformed, Catholics, Herrnhutters or Moravian Brothers, Pietists, Seventh-day Baptists, Dunkers, Presbyterians, Freemasons, Separatists, Freethinkers, Jews, Mohammedans, and Pagans.


Such a degree of religious pluralism was rare in the eighteenth century and it was in this climate of religious tolerance that encouraged the economy and trade.

The ephemeral New Sweden - Nya Sverige 


The Swedes founded Fort Christina in 1638 on the banks of the Delaware River near present-day Wilmington.

This small colony will live for twenty years and twelve expeditions will leave Sweden with settlers and goods for the colony.

This colony settled along the west bank of the river with the "purchase" of land from the Susquehannocks or Minquas, and the Lenape, two groups with whom the Scandinavians maintained good relations without any real armed conflict.

However, the colony never really managed to develop.

New Sweden was finally conquered in 1655 by the Dutch.

At the time of the Dutch conquest, New Sweden had a population of about 600 settlers and forty soldiers. A century later, however, a thousand settlers from Pennsylvania and Delaware, descendants of this small population, will still speak Swedish.


Delaware (1638) Founded by the Swedes as New Sweden.

Conquered by the Dutch in 1655 and absorbed into New Netherland. Conquered by the English in 1664 (with New Netherland).

Included in the Pennsylvania Charter of 1682.

Detached from Pennsylvania in 1704.

Some Quaker personalities 


Albert Baez (1912–2007) was a Mexican-American physicist. He is known for his significant contributions to the early developments of X-ray microscopes as well as X-ray telescopes.

He is the father of singers Joan Baez and Mimi Fariña.

During the 1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War, its capabilities were called upon for the arms race. Peaceful in nature, he turned down several offers from the arms industry, preferring to devote his career to education and humanitarian causes.


Joan Baez (1941-)

Beyond her musical career, she is faithful to her father's commitments.

His life is made up of struggles for humanitarian causes, human rights.

Peaceful at heart, she becomes the muse against the war in Vietnam...

She also campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty:

James Dean, the unforgettable actor of the Fury of Life.


In this excerpt, we see him pacifist and not responding to provocations.

Richard Nixon, the impeached president... who had committed himself to Vietnam...

Announcement of the end of the war in Vietnam. "We have today concluded an agreement to end the warand bring peace with honor in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia" at the Paris Conference, January 23, 1973.

Quaker Oats, a Quaker company? 


Contrary to what its famous logo suggests, the Quaker Oats brand is not owned by Quakers and was not created by Quakers.

Known worldwide for its breakfast cereals, it was created in the nineteenth century by two Americans who wanted to capitalize on the image of integrity conveyed by the movement.

And now let's find the books of Mrs. Diana Gabaldon!  


Les Quakers  


Once the Frasers settled at Fraser's Ridge, they were in contact with Quakers present in North Carolina in T5:


• Hermon Husband is a former Quaker: Claire and Jamie meet him for the 1st time at Jocasta's wedding. He lived less than two days on horseback from Fraser's Ridge, he was a chief regulator, printed and distributed seditious pamphlets throughout North Carolina. He was expelled from his local Quaker group, the "friends" do not appreciate his activities which they consider an incitement to violence. Husband during a visit to the Ridge, explains to Jamie the origin of the "Society of Friends" with George Fox founder of the movement in England and James Nayler a deeply devoted member. (CH19)


• There are Quakers among Claire's many patients:


* The Hansen, a particularly large Quaker family, does not live far from the Ridge

* At Woolam's Creek, located at the foot of Fraser's Ridge, the Woolam family owned the mill and part of the land on the other side of the torrent. Ian spends time at Woolam's Creek attracted by girls and Jamie prefers it with these virtuous girls rather than with young Indian women with lascivious looks.


In T7:


• The annual meeting of the Quakers in Philadelphia decided that they were for the motherland, (loyalists) Dr. Denzell (Denny) Hunter and his sister Rachel tell William that they are for independence "freedom, that of the individual as well as that of the country is a gift from God." Dr. Hunter will join the Continental Army as a doctor and will be excluded with his sister from the community of "friends".

• Dr. Hunter and Rachel treat William in a Quaker family's home in Oak Grove, Rachel explains what Quakers are (CH39)


In T8:


• Claire is with Dr. Hunter and her sister Rachel to treat the wounded of the Continental Army: at Fort Ticonderoga, at the Battle of Saratoga and at Valley Forge near Philadelphia where the Army of the Continentals took up winter quarters and at the Battle of Monmouth.

• Quaker wedding of Dottie/Denny and Ian/Rachel at a Methodist church in Philadelphia.

• Claire, Jamie and Ian are close to the Hunters and understand their philosophy.

• On a small Quaker farm, after meeting General Washington, Colonel Fraser was promoted to general of the Continental Army. Sylvia Hardman, Quaker with her daughters Prudence and Chasteté treat for two days Jamie immobilized with a stuck back.


Pennsylvania Philadelphia  


Claire, Jamie, the Fraser clan and the Grey family spent some time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

• Claire and Jamie because they want to go to Scotland to bring Ian back to his mother and to bring Jamie's press back to America and their search for a boat has led them to go through there, also to get closer to Fergus and Marsali who live there.

• Ian because he follows Jamie

• Fergus and Marsali: settled as printers in Philadelphia with Jamie's financial help in a beautiful brick house thinking they would be safer in a city where public opinion is getting closer to their beliefs. ( CH 87).

• Lord John Grey, was a secret agent and ambassador for the British Army, his brother Colonel Harold Grey, Duke of Pardloe (Hal) commanded a regiment and William Captain in the Royal Army was stationed there as a prisoner of war.





•       Brodin, Pierre, Les Quakers en Amérique du Nord au XVIIe siècle et au début du XVIIIe, Paris, Dervy-Livres, 1985 [1935].

•       Dommen Edouard, Les Quakers , Paris, Editions du Cerf, 1990 

• Louis, Jeanne-Henriette and Héron, Jean-Olivier, William Penn and the Quakers. They invented the New World, Paris, Gallimard, "Découvertes", 1990.

• Van Ruymbeke, Bertrand, America before the United States. Une Histoire de l'Amérique anglaise, 1497-1776, Paris, Flammarion, collection "Au fil de l'histoire", 2013

•       Van Etten Henry, George fox et les Quakers, Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1953.

« I have asked for this radio and television time tonight, for the purpose of announcing that we, today, have concluded an agreement to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia. The following statement is being issued at this moment in Washington and Hanoi : ''At 12.30 Paris time today, January 23 1973, the agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam was initialed by Doctor Henry Kissinger on behalf of the United States and special advisor Lê Duc To on behalf of the democratic republic of Vietnam. The agreement will be formally signed by the parties participating in the Paris conference on Vietnam on January 27, 1973, at the International Conference Center in Paris. The cease-fire will take effect at 24.00 Greenwich Mean Time January 27, 1973. »