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A Free Reading Passage on the Quakers for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 26

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The Quakers are a referenced topic in the Regions of the British Colonies topic in Period 2 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.


George Fox

George Fox


The Quakers, also known as the Religious Society of Friends, emerged in England during the mid-17th century. Founded by George Fox, the Quakers believed in the concept of an “inner light”—a divine presence within each individual that guided their spiritual and moral decisions. This belief in personal revelation and direct communication with God distinguished them from other Christian denominations and led to practices that emphasized simplicity, equality, and peace.


Quakers rejected formal religious rituals, clergy, and the hierarchical structure of the established Church of England, which often led to persecution and imprisonment in their homeland. Seeking a place where they could practice their faith freely, many Quakers emigrated to the American colonies. One of the most significant figures in this migration was William Penn, a prominent Quaker who founded the colony of Pennsylvania.


William Penn

William Penn

In 1681, King Charles II granted William Penn a charter for land in the New World as a repayment of a debt owed to Penn’s father. Penn envisioned Pennsylvania as a “Holy Experiment,” a place where religious tolerance, democratic governance, and fair treatment of Indigenous peoples could flourish. The colony’s Frame of Government included provisions for freedom of worship and equal rights, attracting a diverse population and setting a precedent for religious liberty in America.


Pennsylvania quickly became a haven for Quakers and other religious minorities. Penn himself ensured that the colony maintained peaceful relations with the Native American tribes in the region by negotiating treaties and purchasing land fairly, which was in stark contrast to the often violent and coercive practices of other colonies.


The Quakers’ impact on the American colonies extended beyond Pennsylvania. Their commitment to social justice and equality led them to advocate for the abolition of slavery, fair treatment of Native Americans, and the rights of women. In New Jersey, Quakers were instrumental in the early settlement and governance of the colony. Their influence also spread to Rhode Island and North Carolina, where they established communities based on their egalitarian principles.


Quaker meetings, or gatherings for worship, were characterized by silent meditation, during which participants would speak only if they felt moved by the inner light. This practice reflected their belief in the equality of all people before God and reinforced their commitment to simplicity and humility.

Throughout the colonial period and beyond, Quakers played a crucial role in the social and political development of the American colonies. Their emphasis on pacifism, integrity, and community service left a lasting legacy, influencing various social reform movements, including the abolitionist movement and the fight for women’s suffrage.



PRINTABLE READING PASSAGE ON QUAKERS

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Quakers FREE Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video about the Quakers?






The Regions of British Colonies

Period 2

AP U.S. History




Quakers



#GeorgeFox #Pennsylvannia #Quakers #WilliamPenn

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 26

8

0

0

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