Founded in the mid seventeeth century by Anglican dissenter George Fox, the Religious Society of Friends quickly jumped the pond & became a fixture in the burgeoning Mid Atlantic colonies. In 1682 William Penn founded Pennsylvania specifically as a haven for Quakers & other religious dissenters.
Philadelphia’s Germantown congregation was among the first established & would play a critical role in establishing the values of the colonies & the Republic that superseded them. In 1688, led by Francis Daniel Pastorius, the Germantown congregation united with local Mennonites to draft the Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery. Based on the Biblical “Golden Rule”, it held slavery a slight against God & petitioned colonial authorities to abolish it. The document sparked a dialogue within the Pennsylvania Colony that would transform it into a bastion of abolitionism. In 1780 Pennsylvania became the second state in the young republic to abolish slavery. Though thought lost for over a century, the Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery was rediscovered in 1844 & used as a rallying point in the final push to end the practice its creators so abhorred.
Shortly after the Civil War, in 1868, the present Germantown Friends Meeting House was constructed. Clean lines, simple materials, & light filled rooms reflected the spartan character of its congregation. It remains in use by that congregation today. Best bit? All that history!
More information on the Germantown Friends Meeting House here.
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