Elias Hicks

As Light Is Sown

Some historic events become immense puzzles where the more one looks, the more forces one sees at play – and the harder it becomes to explain precisely what happened, much less why. The Salem witch trials in Massachusetts and the Watergate scandal in Washington are two examples. Yes, one can say that people were hanged or a United States president resigned, but these remain only the tip of the volcano in the collision of tectonic plates. In the Society of Friends, this would have to be what has become known as the Hicksite Separation, named after an elderly Friends minister from rural Long Island. In fairness, Elias Hicks (1748-1830) is more likely a victim than an instigator in the explosions that shattered American Quakerism. Technically, only Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Ohio, and Indiana yearly meetings, and their affiliated local meetings, divided, but the effects were far more pervasive. Friends could…

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