Philadelphia, 12 mo. 19th, 1822. Ink holograph manuscript, 4 pages on 2 leaves, roughly 10 x 8.25 inches, approx. 725 words. Some early spotting and light staining; some splits along old folds; in good condition, quite legible. Item #19275
A contemporary copy of an account of a pivotal moment leading up to the 1827 Hicksite separation of American Friends. The Long Island Quaker Hicks had been preaching a radical theology suggestive of Perfectionism, lately among Friends in Delaware, and had come to Philadelphia to preach at the Green Street Meeting; Friends from what were to become the Orthodox Philadelphia meetings attempted to elder Hicks, having heard reports that Hicks had preached “that Jesus Christ was not the son of God till after the babtism [sic] of John and the descent of the Holy Ghost and that he was no more than a man,” and that Hicks “then endeavor’d to show that by attending to that stone cut out of the mountain without hands, or the seed in man it would make man equal with God saying for that stone in man was the entire God.” The open letter here alludes to having agreed to meet Hicks and finding him among his supporters at the Green Street Meetinghouse, of that “when assembled a mixed company being collected the Elders could not in this manner enter into a business which they consider’d of a nature not to be investigated in any other way than in a select, and private opportunity. . . . we feet [sic, for feel] it a duty to declare that we cannot have religious unity with thy conduct on the doctrines thou art charged with promulgating.” (Hicks would argue that he fell under the care of the New York Yearly Meeting rather than that of the Philadelphia meetings.) This letter was published in the columns of the Friend, 2nd month 9 (i.e., February 9), 1828, as part of an ongoing series on the circumstances leading up to the separations of 1827; given the class differences (broadly understood) between the established orthodox Friends and the more rural, populist Hicksites, it seems possible that a contemporary Hicksite had kept this fair copy made perhaps by a Friend to make up for lack of access to a printed version. (The tradition among 19th century American Friends of circulating significant texts in manuscript seems fairly well established, at least in this cataloger’s experiences; cf. the visions of Thomas Say and of Joseph Hoag.) Old folds and tears repairs at an early date with adhesive paper, obscuring a few letters.