Elias Hicks and Lucretia Mott

The History of Woman Suffrage (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, editors, ) has a chapter on Lucretia Mott based on a eulogy by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Here are some excerpts that concern the influence on her from Quaker reformer Elias Hicks:

In our last conflict with Great Britain, Elias Hicks called the attention of “Friends” to a faithful support of their testimony against war and injustice, desiring them to maintain their Christian liberties against encroachment of the secular powers, laws haying been enacted levying taxes for the support of the war. At one meeting there was considerable altercation; as some Friends who refused payment had been distrained some three or four fold more than the tax demanded, while others complied, paid the tax, and justified themselves in so doing. On this point his mind was deeply exercised and he labored to encourage Friends to faithfulness to exalt their testimonies for the Prince of Peace.

Elias Hicks preached against slavery both in Maryland and Virginia. He says of a meeting in Baltimore that he especially addressed slave-holders. Further, he opposed the use of slave-grown goods. At a meeting in Providence, R.I., he said he was moved to show the great and essential difference there is between the righteousness of man comprehended in his laws, customs, and traditions, and the righteousness of God which is comprehended in pure, impartial, unchangeable justice, They who continue this traffic, and enrich themselves, by the labor of these deeply oppressed Africans, violate these plain principles of justice, and no cunning sophistical reasoning in the wisdom of this world can justify them, or silence the convictions of conscience.

Some other Friends were much opposed to the use of slave products, but the Society in general “had no concern” on this point. Lucretia Mott used “free goods,” and thought that Elias’ preaching such extreme doctrines on all these practical reforms, had their effect in the division. To refuse to pay taxes, or to use any “slave produce,” involved more immediate and serious difficulties, than any theoretical views of the hereafter, and even Friends may be pardoned for feeling some interest in their own pecuniary independence. To see their furniture, cattle, houses, lands, all swept away for exorbitant taxes, seemed worse than paying a moderate one to start with. From these quotations from the great reformer and religious leader, we see how fully Mrs. Mott accepted his principles; not because they were his principles, for she called no man master, but because she felt them to be true. In her diary she says:

My sympathy was early enlisted for the poor slave by the class-books read in our schools, and the pictures of the slave-ship, as published by Clarkson. The ministry of Elias Hicks and others on the subject of the unrequited labor of slaves, and their example in refusing the products of slave labor, all had effect in awakening a strong feeling in their behalf.

The cause of Peace has had a share of my efforts; leading to the ultra non-resistance ground; that no Christian can consistently uphold a government based on the sword, or relying on that as an ultimate resort.

But the millions of down-trodden slaves in our land being the most oppressed class, I have felt bound to plead their cause, in season and out of season, to endeavor to put my soul in their souls’ stead, and to aid in every right effort for their immediate emancipation. This duty was impressed upon me at the time I consecrated myself to that Gospel which anoints to “preach deliverance to the captive,” to “set at liberty them that are bruised.” From that time the duty of abstinence, as far as practicable, from slave-grown products was so clear that I resolved to make the effort “to provide things honest” in this respect. Since then, our family has been supplied with free labor, groceries, and to some extent, with cotton goods unstained by slavery.