Evangelism, Feminism and Social Reform: Quaker Women Ministers and Holiness Revival

“In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action” (Hammarskjöld 122). Although Dag Hammarskjöld penned these words in the late twentieth century, his dictum would have been heartily embraced by Quaker women transformed by the revival spirit of the nineteenth century. A common presupposition among Quaker theologians and historians is that the influence of the Holiness Revival diluted the original radical insights of early Quakerism, and muted the historic Quaker concern for social reform.1 To be sure, some strands of Quaker revivalism evolved into fundamentalism, privatizing salvation and retreating from social concerns. But not all revivalism took that course. Within the mainstream of Quaker revivalism, the evidence is clear that the quest for personal holiness went hand-in-hand with a vision of a sanctified society. It is my contention that the interaction of Orthodox Quakerism with the Holiness Revival, beginning around 1860, unleashed a flood of creativity and energy in Quaker women that had been suppressed by a century of Quietism and a rigid legalism.2 The passive pietism of the eighteenth century that had shaped the self-concept of Quaker women ministers as merely submissive and lowly instruments was replaced with a dynamic and aggressive spirituality which was soon integrated with social and political activism. In particular, the implicit feminism of seventeenth-century Quakerism was enlarged and reinterpreted.

 

The Quaker Vision of Sexual Equality and the Doctrine of Woman’s Separate Sphere

One of the dominant cultural myths about women in the nineteenth century was the doctrine of “woman’s separate sphere.” According to this theory, society was divided into two separate domains: The domestic sphere of home and family, the domain of women; and the public sphere of work and politics, the domain of men (L. Nicholson 43). Quaker women were not generally as bound by the doctrine of separate spheres as women in the dominant culture. They had been nurtured on values and behavioral patterns, and molded by an historical tradition, that differed in at least one respect from those affecting women in other churches. In the area of ministry some of them had personally experienced the freedom to share that same sphere of influence and authority normally reserved for male clergy in other denominations. The Quaker vision of sexual equality was diametrically opposed to the doctrine of separate spheres. After the Civil War, when women became more visible in public life, the concept of woman’s separate sphere began to come under attack. Even though women lacked political power and few were trained in a profession or had access to higher education, they discovered that by joining forces and expanding domesticity into the political arena they could exert influence far beyond the narrow confines of home and family. The rise of feminism, or at the very least “proto-feminism,” is so pronounced in the latter half of the nineteenth century that it has been described by historians as the apex of the “feminization of American culture.”3 Gurneyite Quaker women in the post-bellum period both reflected and shaped this “feminization of culture.”4 Even evangelical, revivalist women, as I will show, became outspoken advocates of an egalitarian vision.

 

The position of women in the Society of Friends was visualized as being “side by side” with men. This phrase spoken by Mary W. Thomas at the Richmond Conference in 1887 and echoed by George Gillett, a delegate to Richmond from London Yearly Meeting, clearly denotes a horizontal position of equality and mutuality, not an auxiliary or subordinate one (Proceedings 93, 127, 128). And the principle extended beyond the spiritual realm to include not only preaching and teaching, but also an “equal place” and “equal voice” in “church councils and deliberations.” Nor was the “side by side” vision restricted only to the church, but was rather an extension of the Quaker concept of equality, unity, and consensus within marriage: “As in the counsels between a truly united husband and wife, the one advises and suggests probably as often as the other, and nothing is ever done until both are agreed, so should it be in the church” (Harris 739). To be sure, this statement by a Holiness advocate, Helen B. Harris, is an idealistic picture, but it was a clearly articulated ideal, and revival inspired Gurneyite women during this era made a visible attempt to bring reality into harmony with the original Quaker vision.

 

The Holiness Revival and the Awakening of Quaker Women

Until the publication of Thomas Hamm’s The Transformation of Quakerism in 1988, historians of religion had paid little attention to the profound influence of the Holiness revival upon Orthodox Quakerism. Hamm’s work provides an excellent analysis of this significant gap within the historiography of Quakerism. However, I feel that Hamm has minimized the role that Gurneyite Quaker women, influenced by the Holiness revival, have played both in reinterpreting Quaker tradition and in shaping the culture of that era. Hannah Whitall Smith, for instance, one of the most prominent women of this era, is given only a few lines in Hamm’s book.5 And Hamm’s conclusions that “most Gurneyite women were, at best, their husbands’ partners” and “even partnerships were the exception rather than the rule,” (47) while carefully qualified, nevertheless tend to promote a misleading impression. While the women in this survey do not represent the majority of Gurneyite women, they are among the important exceptions, and represent the many revivalist women who were not content to live “in their husbands’ shadows” and were willing to challenge conventional notions about women’s roles (Hamm 47). The Hicksite women, whom Hamm contrasts with Gurneyite women as “battling their way into pursuits hitherto exclusively male” (47), were only the visible minority as well. This paper hopes to correct the common misconception that Quaker feminists of the nineteenth century were exclusively Hicksite women.

 

Neither the First nor the Second Great Awakening in America had much direct influence on Quakerism, yet the Holiness Revival by the late nineteenth century had spawned a revolution within the Society that altered its structures and reshaped its theology.6 Certain characteristics of the Holiness Movement seemed to resonate within American Quakerism. One of these was women’s freedom to preach. Although the influence of the Holiness Movement is often blamed for extinguishing the ministry of Quaker women, an examination of the period from 1860 to 1900 reveals quite the opposite. In all facets of the Holiness Movement of the nineteenth century one of the most consistent themes was the ministry of women (Dayton Heritage 96–98). In fact, Quaker women found that the Holiness Movement not only echoed their normally solitary voice in that arena, but they also found the movement to be a practical vehicle to extend their ministry beyond the bounds of Quakerism into the larger culture.

 

Elizabeth Comstock, for example, describes how she was inspired by Elizabeth Fry as a child, yet was hesitant to forge any new paths in a complacent Society whose vision had narrowed:

 

When the duties and responsibilities of a minister rested upon me, like most others in our Society I devoted my attention to the meetings of Friends, chiefly. The thought was often present of the poor, the outcast, the wanderers, the prisoners, accompanied by a wish that Friends would labour with such. There was a shrinking from walking in a new track, from entering upon a path that I had not herd of any Friends engaging in, this side the Atlantic.

 

At a Sabbath School Conference of Friends in Cincinnati in 1867, however, she received in a mystical way the commission “Go work in My vineyard” (Hare 255). That night she had an experience which she describes as “entering into solemn covenant with my Heavenly Father, henceforth to dedicate myself to Him and to His service in this direction [to labor among the poor and oppressed], as he was pleased to open the way before me” (Hare 256). “The way” gradually opened for her to engage in almost every reform activity of that era, and she gained national prominence for her work with the “Freedmen,” the ex-slaves who fled into Kansas after the Civil War. She became so identified with the refugees that her husband quipped that he was afraid she was “getting a prejudice against white people” (Hare 429). The holiness emphasis on women’s gifts and virtues, and its defense of women’s preaching proved to be a congenial environment for the renewed aspirations and broadening visions of Gurneyite Quaker women.7

 

The sense of a gradual constriction of women withing the society before the revival was not just Comstock’s perspective, but was echoed by other women as well. Rhoda Coffin, a minister from Indiana, admitted that before 1860 men so thoroughly dominated all organizational efforts within her Yearly Meeting that “The voice of a woman in church action was rarely heard in expression of a personal opinion” (Johnson, Rhoda M. Coffin 215). She perceived that most women Friends in Indiana Yearly Meeting had become passive and deferred to the men. She aptly described them as “. . . earnest, but timid, . . . and fearful to take hold and step out into a new field” (Johnson, Rhoda M. Coffin 215). She was keenly aware that revivalism had kindled a fire within the women but its effects would quickly dwindle if the women were not organized for action. “Something must be done,” she wrote, or “. . . the church and the world would be deprived of this vast amount of spiritual energy” (Johnson, Rhoda M. Coffin 215).

 

The beginning of revival in Indiana yearly Meeting can be traced to a prayer meeting in the Coffins’ home that resulted in a request to hold an unprecedented evening meeting for worship for young Friends.8 During ths meeting both Charles and Rhoda, along with hundreds of others, spoke publicly for the first time. Rhoda describes their purpose as “. . . avowing our allegiance to Christ” and “publicly to enlist in His service” (Johnson, Rhoda M. Coffin 81). She claims that as a result of that experience, “I was loosed and set free, and I came out of that Meeting with a heart full of love to God, and a spirit to do His will” (Johnson, Rhoda M. Coffin 81).9 Motivated by that revival experience in 1860, Rhoda began to “do His will” by organizing a women’s Home Mission Association of Friends. By 1866 she and a small group of women devised a format for the embryonic organization. Their proposal was so novel at this time that the women prepared for opposition. They felt the need to call upon Elizabeth Comstock, a respected minister in Canada Yearly Meeting, to appoint the meeting, and even she was hesitant and feared censure from the elders. Rhoda, however, proceeded despite the fear she was “about to break the rules of the Church” (Johnson, Rhoda M. Coffin 217). When the meeting convened she found 700 women assembled. The work quickly flourished. Prayer meetings were begun, Sunday Schools organized, jails, prisons and poor houses visited, tracts distributed and new meetings started by the women.

 

In 1869 Rhoda resigned the presidency of the Women’s Home Mission Association and directed her energy into even broader reform activities that became increasingly characterized by their focus on the afflicted and victimized women outcasts of society, such as criminals and prostitutes.

 

Besides the ministry of women, another strong component of the Holiness Movement which resonated with Quakers was its emphasis on direct, firsthand experience of God. Quaker women had long been taught to trust their religious experience, which often was framed in the form of a mystical communication. Such direct experience might even contradict received traditions. The mystical experience of sanctification, the most distinguishing characteristic of the Holiness Movement, had several variations among the Gurneyite women in this study, but it was always a specific experience that could be pinpointed in time and space, and often the climax of a personal struggle. The women generally described their experience as either a consecration, a sanctification, a baptism of the Holy Spirit, or becoming “fully saved” and committed to God, and it usually included the dedication of their “tongue and talents” to some particular calling, moral duty, or social vision.

 

Drusilla Wilson, a leading minister of Western Yearly Meeting and president of the Kansas Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), describes her sanctification in this way: “I gave myself wholly to the Lord, all that I have, all that I ever expect to have, my time, my talents, my tongue, my all. . . . I was filled with the Spirit and experienced a real baptism of the Holy Ghost” (Wilson 30–31).10 Although Elizabeth Comstock’s and Rhoda Coffin’s divine encounters, described above, are not labeled “sanctification” experiences, they contain the same elements of total commitment or “entire consecration” as Wilson’s. Comstock dedicates herself to the Lord in a “solemn covenant” which results in complete confidence and assurance as she attests: “. . . the words, ‘I have set before thee an open door,’ have been sounded in my ear. No man can shut it” (Hare 255). These experiences contain the elements of the three-step process of sanctification as described by Methodist evangelist Phoebe Palmer, considered the founder of the Holiness Movement: consecration, faith, and testimony (White 136). Palmer also taught that entire consecration guaranteed entire sanctification (White 140). The experiences also contain the primary element of the Keswickian variety of sanctification which emphasized endowment of power for service.

 

While for some women their consecration and sanctification occurred in one experience, Esther Frame’s sanctification appeared to be a two-stage process: first she consecrated herself to God and then, a short time later, she was sanctified. Her first experience, which she called her “consecration,” was the most dramatic and mystical. She kept hearing the voice of the Lord saying, “Preach My Gospel!” And she responded,

 

How can I, Lord? My health is so poor, and here are my two little girls who must have my care; I love Thee and am willing to work in the Sabbath School. I am a woman and I cannot preach. I am so timid, and Thou knowest how I shrink from it; but all the answer I could hear was this: “Preach my Gospel!”

 

Her struggle continued for some time until one day she saw a vision in which,

the lower pit opened and the smoke of the torment of the lost came up before me and all the smoke had tongues and cried out, “If you had done your duty I would have been saved, but now I am lost.” Then for the first time I said: “yea, Lord, I will go if it takes my life; I do not see any way, but as fast as the way opens I will follow.”

 

At this point she “felt some relieved,” but not yet at complete peace (42). Shortly thereafter the Frames sold their home and prepared to move to Indiana where they felt called to begin their ministry. Under the stress of packing, and with her children grieving by her side, Esther was suddenly aware of the frightening prospect of leaving a life of comfort and security and moving into an unknown future. At that point she “lays all upon the altar,” all her material possessions, her husband, her children, and her parents, and then last of all, herself, and can finally say with complete assurance that she “was wholly sanctified and filled with the spirit.”11

 

The experience of sanctification, in spite of its formularistic expression, contained within it a dynamism that moved its recipient beyond the comfort zone of personal salvation by a call to action on behalf of others. Many Quakers defended the revival as a return to primitive Quakerism, and indeed the restorationist impulse seemed strong, as it harkened back to the evangelistic and practical mysticism of George Fox and his followers, a return to a time when Quaker women preachers often defied convention and found themselves in the vanguard of a revolutionary movement.

 

The Holiness Movement, therefore, with its Methodist emphasis on “entire sanctification” became a catalyst for many Quaker women, infusing them with a spunk and independence that propelled them into active evangelism and led them to explore new avenues of social reform and, as we shall see, reactivated a dormant feminism.12

 

The Rise of Feminism in Gurneyite Quakerism

In the two Gurneyite journals published during this period—the Christian Worker, the organ of holiness Friends, and the Friends’ Review, also revival influenced, but with strong ties to Orthodox Quakerism—the ministry of women became a common theme. Both journals published numerous articles on “women worthies” (both Quaker and non-Quaker), eloquently reminded readers of the distinct role of women in Quakerism, and kept readers informed of the current debate on women’s roles in other churches. Both journals consistently elevated the role of women, but by 1888 the Christian Worker took a stronger feminist position. In April of that year the Christian worker included a report on the women’s Convention of Washington, D.C. This historic international gathering of women symbolized the alliance of the suffrage movement and the women’s Christian Temperance Union as it celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. The Christian Worker offered a positive report on the meeting, including an implicit endorsement of suffrage, still a radical social issue:

 

A notable meeting of last week, was the Woman’s convention at Washington, D.C. It was composed of many of the most distinguished women of the age, both of our own and foreign countries. . . . Most prominent among American women were Julia Ward Howe, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances A. Willard, Mary A. Livermore, and Lucy Stone Blackwell. . . . The fourth day was given to women suffrage. The public press seemed at the beginning of the convention to make light of it, but gave proper report as a rule before it was through. Some who went to the meeting at first to sneer, remained to praise. It was a successful convention [my emphasis].

 

(Christian Worker, 18: 163)

 

The Friends’ Review also contained a report on this meeting, describing it as “extremely interesting” (570). The Review, however, did not mention the issueof suffrage, nor include the name of the suffrage leaders, as did the Christian Worker, which called them “distinguished.” In fact, the tone of the Friends’ Review suggests it had misgivings about this alliance between the suffrage organization and the WCTU as this critique shows:

 

For efficiency in these [the reforms of temperance, social purity and peace], we must look much less to heterogeneous conclaves like this International Council, than to organizations having a Gospel foundation; such as the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Earnestly desiring that the Christian element may never grow weaker in that body. . . .

 

(Friends’ Rev. 41: 570)

 

The Christian Worker viewed suffrage as a legitimate reform, whereas in the Friends’ Review the issue is noticeably absent; the Christian Worker offered an enthusiastic response, while the Friends’ Review appeared to have reservations about this new “heterogeneous” organization.

 

Both journals, however, regularly reaffirmed women’s equality in the church. Dr. William Nicholson, first clerk of Kansas Yearly Meeting was an especially strong advocate for women. Aroused by an editorial he had read about the subordinate position of women in the Methodist Episcopal church, he points out that “as a fact of Church history . . . Friends discovered woman more than two centuries ago, and gave her the position to which she is entitled in the Church . . .” (Nicholson, Dr. Wm. 334). He continues:

 

Some of the most successful evangelists amongst the Friends are women and their services are sought and highly appreciated by many ministers of Churches whose rules or usages, do not permit the ordination of women to the ministry. This is, of course, a practical condemnation of these rules or usages, and a tacit admission of the loss which these Churches sustain by preventing the exercise of those spiritual gifts bestowed upon their own women.

 

Another article advances beyond the usual defense of “spiritual equality” to include both authority and freedom. The writer begins with the rhetorical question he claims people are asking in almost all the churches concerning women: “Why should she not preach? Why should she not be given all the liberty, and be clothed with all the authority, that appertains to man in this sacred office?” (Christian Worker 18:66). His unequivocal response is that Quakers have demonstrated for more than two hundred years that no reason exists as to why she should not. And then for emphasis he acknowledges that “Our gains [in the Society of Friends] in life and numbers during the last quarterof a century, have been largely due to the preaching of women.”13 Such a claim could not have been voiced at any previous era in Quaker history other than its beginnings, and probably has not been heard since.

 

In June 1888 Helen B. Harris, a holiness advocate and close friend of Hannah Whitall Smith, wrote a two-part article for the Friends’ Review on “Woman in the Church,” in which she employed some strong feminist rhetoric to make her points.14 She writes, for example, that the majority of Christian women have been

 

repressed beyond what one would have thought possible, always under the rule of priestly masculine authority and often of masculine assumption and tyranny, one shudders to think of the suppressed inspirations and quenched lights, and distressed, puzzled, agonized souls that have suffered from this false state of things down the centuries, and in many churches are suffering still!

 

She did not feel that Friends were beyond reproach in this matter either. Reminding Friends that one of their “great illuminations,” the equal relations of the sexes, led to “the great company of ‘woman publishers’ among early Quakers,” she asserts that “since those days of power the testimony to woman’s ministry has never theoretically fallen to the ground, but it has been maintained sometimes in brightness, sometimes also in much weakness.” She maintains that Friends were strongest when women were most visible, and in decline when women’s work was “almost nominal” .

 

The one area in which she felt reform was needed among Friends was in church administration. She asks the rhetorical question whether in the “conduct of church affairs” even in “our favored Society” women were not again “reduced to a condition of subserviency?” The separate women’s and men’s business meetings as originally instituted had degenerated, from her perspective, to the point where the women’s meetings were “anomalous,” dealing only with trivial issues, while the men’s meetings considered the important issues and made all the decisions. The women, who did not even have the power of veto, were left to “sweetly submit” (740). She felt the remedy for this inconsistency in Quaker practice would be to appoint joint sessions of men and women within the Yearly Meetings. Such proposals were being voiced frequently, and had been adopted by some Meetings. At the Richmond conference in 1887 some of the Yearly Meetings had adopted the policy of appointing an equal number of men and women delegates to the next general conference.

 

Evangelism and Women’s Equality

An equally outspoken advocate for women’s equality was the holiness evangelist Esther Frame. Esther had been converted and first called to preach in a Methodist Episcopal church but sensed ambiguity and, at times, hostility toward her calling (Frame and Frame 38). She desired to be a part of a church where equality was an explicit principle and was led to join the Salem (Iowa) Meeting of Friends (39). The elders were quite perplexed as to why a “singing Methodist” would desire to join the Friends Meeting. Even though her initial interview was hardly encouraging, she persisted until she was finally accepted for membership (41). She became a dynamic and effective evangelist and was successful in dispelling much prejudice against women’s preaching throughout the Midwest. Her preaching included specific sermons on “the equality of men and women,” which one report from South Bend, Indiana in 1894 described as “a very able argument and sermon . . . completely exploding the ‘weaker vessel’ and masculine superiority notions so long cherished by mankind” (Frame and Frame 485). Her advocacy of women’s preaching was never muted and she often disarmed her opponents with her sense of humor. She continued to battle prejudice into the twentieth century. She seemed to thrive on holding meetings in areas of strong conservatism, such as the South. For example, on an evangelistic tour through Florida in 1903, her husband Nathan writes that,

 

there was much prejudice here among professors against women preaching. A Baptist deacon warned the members of the Baptist Church against attending our meetings because we were Quakers and endorsed women preaching. He declared if he should go to the meeting he would be partaker of the woman’s sins. Esther sent him word that he would have enough of his own sins to answer for.

 

Although Esther and Nathan were an evangelistic team, newspaper clippings often alluded to the fact that Esther played the leading role and Nathan the supporting one: “The teaching and preaching of Nathan T. Frame was strong and logical; but, perhaps his greatest strength and ability was manifest to support his wife in her masterly efforts, to supplement her arguments with practical application” .

 

Esther not only fought prejudice against women’s preaching in other denominations, but she also constantly reminded Friends to be faithful to their testimony concerning equality. Perhaps coming from Methodism, she was especially sensitive to how easily women’s gains could also be lost. The Methodist Episcopal Church revoked women’s license to preach in 1880 (Rowe 60–72)

 

For example, when the “woman question” came up at the General conference of Friend in Richmond in 1887, and some wished to sidestep the issue, Esther responded:

 

John Henry Douglas said we do not want the woman question raised, but we do want the woman question, and there is no doubt that in this we need more saving, real, personal salvation, being born of the Spirit, washed, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost, and walking with God; there is not any one subject that we need to leave before the world more than the privileges the Gospel brings to womankind, and I feel the importance of our maintaining that principle of making no difference between man and woman. We scarcely realize this necessity until we go out into the world and see how women are held in bondage. As I have been in the South land, I have seen many women, qualified and refined, who might be a power in the world, and as I looked into those congregations last summer, into their bright, intelligent faces, I thought very much as I did when I stood by the Niagara Falls. I said, “What a waste of power!” And so I uphold the standard of woman. Women must work; and how any of those in the south land are longing for this! I do not think we have any testimony to lower in the least, but I believe that we ought to hoist them still higher in the breeze; our influence and spiritual worship and all of those things that I might testify of before you this morning.

 

(Proceedings 89–91)

 

Note how Esther’s passionate advocacy for women’s equality is linked with her holiness rhetoric “personal salvation, being born of the spirit, washed, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost.” Esther viewed women’s equality as a vital component of the Gospel, and aspect of truth which she felt Friends had been given as a special testimony to maintain. Having been drawn to Friends for their egalitarian vision, she would not let them hedge on this “doctrine.”

 

From Holiness to Social Reform

For Mary W. Thomas, a highly respected minister from Baltimore Yearly Meeting, and sister of Hannah Whitall Smith, it was the holiness emphasis on biblical literalism that prepared the ground for her radical social ethic.15 Mary’s literalism, however, did not lead to obscurantism, but rather to an identification with the poor and oppressed. Mary’s literal interpretation of the teachings of Christ, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, was reinforced for her after reading Tolstoi’s My Religion (Flexner 245). She experimented with applying Jesus’ commands in her own contest. For example, she began giving money to every beggar who came by. Naturally they began coming in streams to her door until her husband, James, could no longer tolerate it, and begged her to show some common sense. Mary’s daughter, Helen Flexner, in recalling this episode in her autobiography, reports the following response by her mother:

 

The Society of Friends has always held that Christians should obey the teaching of Christ literally. Tolstoi is doing in Russia only what we are trying to do here. Christ commanded us to give to him that asketh. He did not tell us to take thought for the consequences in this world. Had Jesus what thee calls common sense, James?

 

(245–246)16

 

Mary not only gave them money but used the occasion for exhortation. She would often remind them that Christ had died to save them from their sins, and would kneel down and pray with them (Flexner 245–246). Helen, in reflecting on her mother’s motivation, writes that her mother made a constant effort “to live by a counsel of perfection” (247). She marveled at her mother’s continual efforts to translate her beliefs into concrete actions.

 

Mary’s literal reading of Jesus’ words was also, in effect, a feminist reading, for in her study of scripture she gained insight into Jesus’ affirmation of women and his sympathy toward exploited and afflicted women, particularly prostitutes. Even though Victorian women were not supposed to be aware of the issue of prostitution (they always spoke of it in euphemistic terms), evangelical women like Mary W. Thomas, Rhoda Coffin, Elizabeth Comstock, Hannah Whitall Smith, and Drusilla Wilson all became interested in the reform of prostitutes, and in so doing affirmed their solidarity with all exploited women. Their avid concern for prostitutes, whom they saw as victims more than sinners, suggests that they viewed them as symbols of women’s vulnerability within a male-dominated society.

 

Another example of Mary’s compulsion to take action against injustice toward women can be illustrated by her sense of a call to attend sessions of the Magistrates’ Court in which women were tried. Being the only woman in the courtroom, besides the defendant, she felt her presence would remind the judge that he was responsible “to the feminine half of the community even though it possessed no political power” (Flexner 108). Whether or not her presence ever mitigated the outcome for these women cannot be known, but it opened Mary’s eyes to the unfair laws against her sex and led her to agitate for change in the laws of the State of Maryland that were biased against women (Flexner 109).

 

Rhoda M. Coffin was Mary Thomas’ counterpart among Western Friends. Like Mary, she was an upper-middle-class woman whose husband was also a prominent leader among Friends.17 Charles Coffin was a pioneer in banking in Richmond, Indiana and a noted philanthropist. He provided much of the financial backing for Rhoda’s projects. Although Hamm in The Transformation of Quakerism portrays Rhoda as a woman in her husband’s shadow, her accomplishments and contributions to social reform were at least equal to if not greater than his (47). Charles Coffin’s sister, Mary Coffin Johnson, published separate biographical accounts of her brother and her sister-in-law. She published Rhoda’s memoirs first in 1910, and a biography of Charles in 1923.18 Rhoda also has the distinction of being included in the History of Woman Suffrage, where her pioneer work in prison reform for women was viewed as an important contribution to the struggle for women’s rights. Rhoda is credited with being the founder of the first state prison exclusively for women, the Women’s Prison and Girls’ Reformatory at Indianapolis, Indiana (History III: 970–971). When it first opened in 1873, its management was vested in a board of men with a subordinate board of women and a woman superintendent. By 1877 Rhoda had managed to have a bill passed in the Indiana State Legislature placing the entire management of the prison in the hands of women. An article in the Friends’ Review about this prison concluded by stating the remarkable fact of its being run totally by women and with obvious pride emphasized that “all the principal officers in it are not only women, but members of the Society of Friends, as is also the President of the Board of Managers, Mrs. Rhoda M. Coffin” (31: 219). The Friends’ Review alludes to the fact that Rhoda’s prison work was viewed not only as an advancement in prison reform but also as a significant victory for women.

 

Prison reform was a characteristic interest of feminist women, including the most radical, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton’s reformist ideology was cast in explicitly feminist terms as she explained how “fear, coercion, and punishment are the masculine remedies for moral weakness.” She contended that when women had a voice in making prison policies great changes would take place, such as “cheerful surroundings, inspiring influences, and the education of moral and intellectual faculties” (Banner 165). Stanton’s reform ideology paralleled Coffin’s, who believed that even the worst prisoner was capable of reform. She had a special concern for women convicts, and said in an address before the Annual Meeting of the National Prison Congress in 1884 that a woman cannot be reformed until “hope is kindled and her self-respect in a measure established” (Johnson Rhoda M. Coffin 181). Her prison work was instrumental in promoting a sense of sisterhood with women of all classes and conditions. Rhoda and her associates in prison work were not hesitant to show their solidarity with these women, and their compassion for them, by physical contact. Neither hand holding, hugging or kissing was beneath them. Rhoda describes the first woman inmate to be brought to the Women’s prison, a “murderess” in shackles, named Sallie Hubbard. Sarah J. Smith, Rhoda’s partner in prison reform, immediately took off the shackles, took the prisoner in her arms, kissed her on her forehead and said: “I receive thee as my child and will be a mother, and I know thou wilt be a good daughter, let us pray, and ask heaven to help us.” She then took her to a neatly furnished room, with curtains and a pot of flowers in the window. Sallie Hubbard, transformed by love, became a model prisoner (Johnson Rhoda M. Coffin 156). No doubt some sentimentalism has crept into these accounts in the retelling, but nonetheless, the underlying basis of their actions was the belief in the value and dignity of every human being, even the most debased criminal.

 

The Transition from Reform to Suffrage

Rhoda Coffin was a member and a recorded minister of the Eighth Street Friends Meeting in Richmond, a meeting that evolved from the prayer meeting in the Coffin home that sparked the revival of 1860. This group of Gurneyite Quakers aroused much opposition at first, as they were considered too progressive. According to Rhoda’s biographer, Mary Johnson, this meeting also spawned the “memorable revival of 1869.” a holiness revival in which “hundreds were brought to a full acceptance of new life” (87).19 By 1886 the Eighth Street Friends Meeting had become even more progressive; the State convention of the Indiana Woman Suffrage society was held in its meeting house under the auspices of the American Woman Suffrage Association. Among the speakers were leading suffragists, Lucy Stone, Zarelda G. Wallace, and Dr. Mary Frame Thomas (a Quaker turned Methodist) (History V: 614).

 

Rhoda’s conversion to woman suffrage occurred around 1880 when she realized that despite the broad influence women could wield in society, without political power they would always be at a disadvantage. The catalyst for this insight came during her work to reform insane asylums. She was especially interested in the treatment of emotionally disturbed women. In this cause she enlisted the help of Dr. Mary Frame Thomas, who perhaps played a role in her decision to advocate suffrage. The context for her conversion to suffrage was the result of the frustration and powerlessness she experienced in trying to secure a woman physician to have charge of the female patients at the Hospital for the insane at Indianapolis. After vying with several male bureaucrats on the matter and eventually the Governor, she confesses: “I came out of that contest a full- fledged woman suffragist. If a vote was necessary before I could succeed in getting a woman physician to care for the helpless of my sex, I decided that I must have a vote” (Johnson Rhoda M. Coffin 206). Rhoda, like many women reformers at that time, realized that without political equality women would always be hampered in their efforts to reform society. I would suggest that she went far beyond the stereotype of the upperclass woman philanthropist in that her goal was not to dispense charity but to change social structures. Quaker Women and the Radicalization of the WCTU Frances Willard, in her autobiography, Glimpses of Fifty Years, describes a minor episode that occurred at a WCTU convention in Fall 1881 which in retrospect symbolized the subsequent transformation of the WCTU. At this convention Willard proposed the “Do-everything policy” which included a committee on equal franchise. Present as a visitor on this occasion was Susan B. Anthony, who after being introduced by a delegate was “publically kissed by an enthusiastic Quaker lady from the West” (Willard 380). Anthony’s presence and her affirmation by an unnamed Quaker woman could be interpreted as a demonstration of support among Quaker women to the cause of equality. The episode became a vivid symbol of the gradual alliance between theconservative women and the more radical women’s rights activists personified by Susan B. Anthony. The action was remembered by Willard as a prologue of what was soon to come. The next year the WCTU officially endorsed woman suffrage and allied itself with the National Woman Suffrage Association (Willard 380).20

Besides Anthony, Hannah Whitall Smith was also an important like between the WCTU and the suffrage movement. Smith and Willard were close friends, were rooted in the Holiness Movement and shared almost identical social agendas that developed along similar lines (both embraced socialism and joined the labor movement in their later life). By 1881, Smith, Willard, and Susan B. Anthony had formed a warm working relationship.21 In a letter to her daughter, Hannah describes a visit from Anthony, along with Willard and a group of temperance women. She relates that Susan B. Anthony “a grand suffrage woman and a grand woman’s woman came in, and we had a most delightful and uniting time. It is such a pleasure to meet all sorts of people and feel the unity of the Spirit” (Smith to Daughter XI: 1. 1881).

 

In 1882 Hannah made her first public speech for women’s suffrage. She describes the experience in a letter to her sister:

 

Sally, I tell thee it was fun. And I took my audience too. I could see the women nudging each other all over the room, as I made some home thrusts. Our Temperance ladies said I surpassed myself. I am going to try it again sometime; and I put it on the religion of Christ which I said put gunpowder under all forms of bondage and slavery. How the heads did nod at that! I guess they were glad to have a little Christianity thrown in.

 

(Smith to Sally I: 25. 1882)

 

Although Hannah was clearly aware that she could win audience approval by presenting feminist arguments using Christian themes, she was not merely being facetious, but was firmly convinced that suffrage was a Christian cause. In relating this same speech to her daughter, she describes how she came to her convictions:

 

In my speech I said I had come to the advocacy of this reform by the way of the gospel, that Christ came to break every yoke and set free all that were bound, and that I wanted to follow in his steps and share in His work. I said the gospel did not arbitrarily upset the existing order of things, but it put a mine under all wrong and oppression that finally blew it up. And that therefore women were made free by the working out of the principles of Christ who had declared there is neither male nor female in Him.

 

(Smith to Daughter I: 29. 1882)

 

An excerpt from another of Hannah’s letters demonstrates how similar the rhetoric of the WCTU had become to the more radical feminists, even to the degree of challenging conventional glorification of marriage:

 

I wish thee could have heard some of our women. Two new ones [women] have been developed during the past year—two grand good women, whose lives had been lived in a little narrow circle with no scope for their gifts, until our WCTU came along and gave them an outlet. . . . Neither of them are married—they were not willing to go into slavery, they declare, let it be ever so gilded.

 

(Smith to Daughter X: 12. 1882)

 

Writing again to her daughter, she expands passionately on this theme and gives her some practical advice:

 

I am thoroughly roused on the subject for I have had so many cases of grievous oppression of men over their wives lately that my blood boils with indignation. And before thee is married I want to have thy position as the equal of thy husband settled on a legal basis. The moment one looks into the subject at all it seems utterly incomprehensible how we women could have endured it as patiently as we have. Literally and truly up to within a very few years women have been simply slaves. And some women say they like it! Ugh! It is one of the worst vices of slavery that its victims are contented with their lot! Nothing but the vote will set us at liberty but that will, for then we shall be not only women, but human beings as well. Now we are nothing but women.

 

(Smith to Daughter I: 29. 1882)

 

Hannah recognized that suffrage was a direct attack on women’s separate and subordinate sphere. Even though the benefits to women predicted by the suffrage crusaders were highly overrated, and little actually changed socially or culturally for women, it was nonetheless a necessary and major breakthrough that for many women changed forever their perception of themselves and their sphere.

 

Hannah, fortunately, was able to convert her own husband to suffrage at one of her “Suffrage lunches.”22 She writes to her daughter: “I am so thankful father was fully converted by our Suffrage lunch, or I really do not know what his three ‘women folks’ would have done to him” (Smith to Daughter III: 22. 1882). One wonders if he was intellectually convinced or merely intimidated by his three “women folks”?

 

Conclusion

For many Quaker women the holiness revival became a step on the path to both a new spiritual freedom and a deeper social awareness. For some women such as Hannah Whitall Smith it served as a bridge to the cosmological dimensions of Christianity. In a letter to Mrs. Anna Shipley in 1876, she writes:

 

[I] feel myself to have got out into a limitless ocean of the love of God that overflows all things. . . . “God is love,” comprises my whole system of ethics. I find that every soul that has traveled on this highway of holiness for any length of time, has invariably cut lose [sic] from its old moorings.

 

(Logan Pearsall Smith 120)

 

Not only Hannah Whitall Smith, but the many nineteenth century Quaker women who traveled with her on this “highway of holiness” did indeed “cut loose from their old moorings.” Motivated by an ethic of love, and impelled by the dynamism of evangelical revivalism, they extended the Gospel into a vast arena of social reform and dealt with some of the most pressing social problems of their era, such as alcoholism, poverty, the homeless, prostitution, criminal behavior, and racial and sexual discrimination. Their interaction with the Holiness Movement did not narrow their perspective, but broadened it to include active involvement in work for social justice. In fact, by the 1880’s many Quaker women, from Holiness to Hicksite, became allies in the cause of woman suffrage, an issue that even then was so politically radical it took almost 40 more years to implement.

 

Thus 1860 to 1900 emerges as an era that produced, through the conduit of revivalism, a remarkable number of prominent Quaker women in the long-standing tradition of the “Publick Friend,” defined as one “who expressed his or her faith by preaching to and attempting to convert and reform the larger society” (Stoneburner and Stoneburner xv).

 

While the subjects chosen for this research were among the most prominent Gurneyite women of their time, they represent many less visible women who might also be included if sufficient information about their lives could be uncovered through further research, for example: Irena Beard, Allie Bergman, Alida Clark, Ruth Murray, Mary Moon Meredith, Lida Romick, Sarah J. Smith, Sarah Street, Caroline Talbot, Hannah Tatum, and Esther Tuttle Pritchard. (Mary H. Rogers, Hulda Rees, and Sarah F. Smiley were well-known holiness evangelists who were excluded from this study because they left the Society of Friends and were absorbed into other denominations.)

 

The women chosen as the prime examples to support the thesis of this paper were those who were fortunate enough to have biographers record their life-work and publish their letters and papers; Drusilla Wilson, Esther Frame, Rhoda Coffin, Mary W. Thomas, and Hannah Whitall Smith. (Helen Balkwill Harris is the one exception. She had no biographer, but published numerous pamphlets and articles of her own during her lifetime.) All of the biographies were compiled and written by persons at a time when the Holiness Movement was moving not only in more radical directions, but also downward socioeconomically, and had lost its broad cultural impact. Therefore one might suspect that their biographers would edit their writings to portray them at a distance from a movement that had fallen into disrepute among many mainstream Quakers. In the biographies of Coffin, Thomas, and Comstock one finds occasional allusions to the Holiness Movement, but little to suggest the broad impact of the Movement within Quakerism in that period. Even in the memoirs of the Frames, whose holiness ties are beyond dispute, references to both the experience and the doctrine of sanctification are surprisingly sparse. In fact, while Esther’s sanctification is mentioned, Nathan’s is noticeably absent. Only one subject, Hannah Whitall Smith, published an autobiography, and it is in that work that one finds the only direct references to and analysis of the Holiness Movement.

 

Thus, while the evidence is compelling that the subjects of this study were indeed reformers and feminists, for some of the women their identification with the holiness revival may continue t be debated. Coffin and Thomas are not generally viewed as holiness advocates, and Comstock’s alignment with the movement has been questioned. These three women were included in this research on the basis of their close association with Quaker revivalism from its beginnings in 1860, which this author maintains was a continuous manifestation of the broader holiness revival in America. The fact that all three also traveled in the same circles as Hannah Whitall Smith, whose influence was pervasive, lends further justification to their inclusion in this study. Both Charles and Rhoda Coffin were ardent admirers of Hannah Whitall Smith and were most anxious to have her join Indiana Yearly Meeting, where they felt she could be placed “in a field of great usefulness. Just such teaching as thou gives is much needed,” wrote Charles to Hannah in 1881 (C. F. Coffin to Smith, 12: 30. 1881). Thomas is included based on the evidence of her strong belief in the holiness doctrine of faith healing and the reference to her “complete and final consecration to God, from which there could never be any turning back” (Flexner 33), which this author maintains is a reference to her sanctification experience. In addition, her strong identification with her forceful and persuasive sister, Hannah, as well as her close friendship with Helen Balkwill Harris, would place Thomas in intimate contact with leading holiness figures.

 

Coffin, Thomas and Comstock all had some type of second experience as has been noted, but whether these were actually sanctification experiences remains open to interpretation. Some historians might argue that unless a person has a well-documented sanctification experience they should not be included in the holiness category. But while the experience of sanctification was generally instantaneous and unequivocal, it was not exclusively so. John Wesley himself preached Christian Perfection, a separate experience fo grace which he called “entire sanctification,” yet never claimed it for himself. Hannah Whitall Smith, whose holiness ties are beyond question, also sought it, but never claimed it as an instantaneous experience. She concluded that in spite of numerous trips to the altar, she never received any special “blessing.” “A knowledge of the truth was all the blessing I ever received; and although at first I was somewhat disappointed, I came in time to see that a knowledge of the truth was all the ‘blessing’ I needed” (Autobiography 287–288). She concluded that instantaneous sanctification in “true Methodist fashion” occurred in those of an emotional nature, e.g. her husband, Robert, but others of a more rational nature experienced the truth intellectually. And to emphasize and clarify her point she added, “in both cases the truth was the same, and it was the truth, not the emotion, that set the soul free.”

 

Notes

* Research for this paper was funded by the Wesleyan/Holiness Study Project, Asbury Theological Seminary, through a grant from the Pew Charitable Trust. The writer also wishes to acknowledge her indebtedness to Susie Stanley for her helpful comments and critiques in the preparation of this paper.

 

1 Rufus M. Jones was probably the first to articulate this perspective, attributing the change to a growing belief in premillenialism; see, for example, Rufus M. Jones, The Trail of Life in the Middle Years (N.Y.: Macmillan, 1934) 55–58. Thomas D. Hamm also alludes to this, but admits that the relationship between the Holiness revival and social reform is complex. See Hamm 163.

 

2 Of course, in all periods of Quaker history women arose who were exceptions. Among th Hicksites, reform-minded women abounded, motivated by both religious duties and enlightenment principles. Some Orthodox Quaker women were also involved in ante-bellum reform, particularly the abolition of slavery, but many of the early abolitionist Quaker women left the society of Friends because of its social conservatism, e.g., Laura Haviland and Amanda Way. Both returned after the revival had made significant inroads. My main contention is that revivalism became a strong force that mobilized large numbers of Orthodox women for active work.

 

3 See Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977) and Barbara Leslie Epstein, The Politics of Domesticity (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 1981).

 

4 Gurneyite Quakers were Orthodox Quakers who followed the teachings of the English Quaker reformer, Joseph John Gurney (1788-1847). His views were generally equated with “evangelicalism” in the sense that he emphasized the inspiration of the Bible and its authority, and a belief in a personal conversion experience. In addition, and of crucial importance to this study, he separated the experience of justification and sanctification, thus realigning Quaker “perfectionism” with Wesleyan theology.

 

5 Hamm defends his exclusion of Smith on the premise that since she left the Society of Friends in Philadelphia and moved to England by 1872, she was thus not an important figure in the Quaker revival (201n). Actually she did not move to England until 1888, but had resigned from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting much earlier, in 1859 (Henry 35; Minear 52). Her departure from Friends was only temporary, however, and according to a recent biography by Marie Henry, Smith began once again to attend Friends meetings by the 1870’s, and was “welcomed back with no hard feelings” (68). During this same period she conducted her famous evangelistic services in England and was at the height of her popularity as a holiness leader. In 1881 she requested membership in Indiana Yearly Meeting and stated unequivocally that, “I believe myself to be throughly (sic) convinced of all essential Quaker views; and I do not think I should ever be likely to teach anything contrary to them” (Smith to the Committee of White Water Monthly Meeting, 9 Jan. 1882). In spite of Charles and Rhoda Coffin’s strong support, her request was denied because of her belief in “restitution.” (Correspondence between the Coffins and Smith concerning her request for membership can be found in the Hannah Whitall Smith Collection, Box 1, Folder 15, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky.) In 1886 she was officially reunited with Friends through Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Numerous references to her continuing association with leading Friends during the 1870s can be cited. For example, Walter Robson, a leading English Quaker who visited America in 1877, documents her very active presence among Quakers at that time. Even though she was not officially a member, she attended Indiana Yearly Meeting, and Robson mentions her speaking at Friends’ gatherings on numerous occasions (Bronner 85, 87, 89–91, 93). He notes specifically that she was his companion at a Quaker revival meeting led by David Updegraff and John Henry Douglas (Bronner 89–91). In addition, Robson stayed at her home while visiting Philadelphia, and documents a “parlour meeting” she hosted that was attended by some fifty Friends, including many who were “deeply intellectual” (Bronner 141–4).

 

6 Hamm separates the Quaker Revival into two distinct movements, the “Renewal Movement” (1850-1870) and the Holiness Revival (1867–1880) (36–97). While he admits to some overlap he firmly contends that the earlier revivals were not, in fact, “holiness revivals.” However, with the preponderance of holiness themes in both Charles Finney and the Oberlin Perfectionists, and the widespread impact of Phoebe Palmer’s “Meetings for the Promotion of Holiness,” I would contend along with Timothy L. Smith (113) and Melvin Easterday Dieter (58–59) that the dominant idea within revivalism from t he 1840s to the end of the century was the doctrine of Christian Perfection, the main tenet of holiness theology; and that Quaker revivalism from its beginnings in 1860, and perhaps even earlier, had its roots in the Holiness Movement. Smith pinpoints the climax of the holiness revival in the awakening of 1858 in New York and traces its subsequent spread into every Protestant denomination (63–79). To be sure, the earlier revivals were more moderate in tone and were characterized by an ecumenical spirit not found in the later, mor diverse expressions of holiness. During the 1870s the revivals became increasingly controversial, not only among Quakers but other denominations, and gradually led to schisms and a withdrawal from the mainstream of evangelical Protestantism.

 

7 For some of the women in this study, it is difficult to determine precisely how closely they were aligned with the Holiness Movement. All of the women remained essentially Quaker, while incorporating varying degrees of holiness theology into their beliefs. In Hare, for example, we find that Elizabeth Comstock attended “meetings for seekers after holiness” (300), was attracted to the “Higher Life Movement” (305), was billed with Hannah Whitall Smith for joint meetings in London (318), was associated with Dwight L. Moody and preached from his pulpit (333), was invited to speak at holiness camp meetings (358). She clearly had strong connections to the Movement even though her holiness views “defy classification” as noted by Hamm (80). The difficulty in classification stems from the fact that the holiness revival was never a monolithic movement, but claimed adherents from a wide spectrum of theological positions. For example, the Bowdoin College philosopher, Thomas Upham, who was sanctified in 1839 in one of Phoebe Palmer’s Holiness meetings, combined Holiness theology with Transcendentalism and Quietism. His popular writings resonated with classical mysticism, and his affinity for Quietism (he wrote a biography of Madame Guyon in 1848) undoubtedly struck a chord among traditional Quakers. The attraction of Upham’s mystical expression of Holiness may be one explanation for the initial openness to the Holiness Movement among Orthodox Friends.

 

8 For a description of this revival see Johnson and Coffin (115–118) and Johnson (80–87).

 

9 Although Coffin does not use the term “sanctification” her description contains the elements of the experience: consecration for service, love of God, spiritual power, and the crucial element of public testimony (White 136–140). Her description reflects the concept of “sanctification” as taught by the Oberlin Perfectionists, “perfect trust and consecration, the experience of ‘the fullness of the love of Christ'” rather than the emphasis on sinlessness (Smith 104).

 

10 Wilson’s sanctification occurred in 1867 at age 52. Even before this time she and her husband had been engaged in work with orphans and Freedmen. I do not intend to give the mistaken impression that the women in this study had no social conscience prior to a second religious experience, but rather that the experience intensified their activism as it strengthened their self- confidence, propelling them in new directions that often included an emerging feminism. In 1873 Wilson ventured into political activism as a leader of the “Women’s Crusade” in Kansas and became the second president of the Kansas WCTU (Wilson 49). She continued her “public work” until a year before her death at 93 (56–7).

 

11 It should be noted that Esther’s experience is described using the precise “altar theology” made popular by the Methodist revivalist, Phoebe Palmer, generally considered to be the founder of the Holiness Movement (White 247).

 

12 Susie Stanley has explored in depth the experience of sanctification and its relationship to empowerment in women in “Empowered Foremothers: Wesleyan/Holiness women Speak to Today’s Christian Feminists,” Wesleyan Theological Journal, forthcoming.

 

13 This article had no by-line, but as the lead article one may speculate it came from the hand of the editor, Calvin Pritchard, a strong holiness advocate.

 

14 Helen Balkwill Harris was a colorful and controversial figure within Quakerism. Like her close friend Hannah Whitall Smith, she both embraced the Holiness Movement and also exhibited liberal and modernist tendencies. She was an English Friend who embarked on a two-year evangelistic visit to America in 1877. In 1879 she submitted to water baptism, was recalled to England and resigned from Friends (Hamm 130). A year later, in 1880, she married the prominent Quaker biblical scholar J. Rendel Harris and returned to the United States with him. In 1885 her husband accepted a teaching post at Haverford College and in 1903 he became the first director of the Woodbrooke Quaker study center in England. It is uncertain when she officially rejoined Quakers, but by the time she wrote the article quoted above (1888), she could speak of “our Society” (740) and clearly considered herself to be a part of it. From 1904 until her death in 1914 she lived at Woodbrooke (Evans, n.p.).

 

15 Mary’s biblical literalism was not always consistent. For example, while she believed in faith healing, she did not believe God would punish people eternally in a literal Hell. She believed in “restitution” as did Hannah W. Smith and Elizabeth Comstock, among others. A belief in faith healing was a strong component of the Holiness Movement, but “restitution” was generally viewed as a heresy; however, it occasionally surfaced in holiness circles as the logical extension of God’s perfect love.

 

16 One must assume, of course, that this conversation was a recollection of Helen’s and may not be Mary’s exact words.

 

17 All but two of the women in this study, Esther Frame and Drusilla Wilson, were obviously well- to-do, and the fact that a disproportionate number of these women came from the upper middle classes corresponds to the strata of society in which the Holiness Movement initially emerged.

 

18 See Mary Coffin Johnson, Rhoda M. Coffin, and Mary C. Johnson and P. B. Coffin, eds., Charles F. Coffin.

 

19 This “great revival” is also described in some detail by the Frames, who apparently played an important role in its development. According to Nathan Frame, Charles Coffin was out of town when the revival began, but when he returned the Frames passed on the mantle of leadership to him (75–79).

 

20 At the time of Anthony’s affirmation Willard also writes that a group of conservative women withdrew in alarm.

 

21 It is worth observing that Smith’s involvement in the suffrage movement coincided with her attempt to officially reunite with Quakers (1881). Her suffrage views, however, though socially radical, were never mentioned as an issue among those who opposed her membership. At this time the controversy over the doctrine of “restitution” was a major focus of attention in Yearly Meetings across the country. While this belief was blocking her membership, it did not appear to prevent her from working with and among Gurneyite Friends. In a letter to her daughter dated Dec. 12, 1882, she writes that “Dr. Rhoads most unaccountably endorsed this action [the position taken by New York Yearly Meeting that Restitution views were not to be tolerated]; and yet he is glad to tolerate my help in his First day school [her emphasis].” See Hannah W. Smith to Daughter, X:12. 1882.

 

22 Hannah’s sister, Mary W. Thomas, also became an advocate of suffrage through Hannah’s influence. From all indications, however, Mary’s husband James remained opposed to suffrage. See Hannah W. Smith to Daughter, II:11. 1882 and IV:14. 1882 and Flexner 281–282.

 

Works Cited

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Christian Worker 18 (1888): 66, 163.

 

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