Quakers in American History

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11974

You've probably heard the term, "movers and shakers," people who influence events and cultures. Now, read about the Quakers, a religious sect whose quiet influence has helped mold American attitudes!


United States

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Take a look at this drawing from the General Collections of the Library of Congress. Who are the people in the drawing and what are they doing?

They held an entire colony in early America, and they have played important roles in building the United States, yet the Quakers remain a humble and elusive people.

The name "Quaker" actually started out as a slur thrown at them by their bitter opponents in pre-colonial England, but they embraced the term over the centuries. They got that name because the believers would supposedly "quake" and move around energetically with spiritual inspiration during religious services. The Quakers are more properly known as the "Society of Friends," and although their numbers remain quite small, they have had an outsized influence on American history and values.

  1. First, gather some information about the early history of this Christian denomination. As you read the article, George Fox First friend, courtesy of Christianity Today, about the early history of the Society of Friends, write down information and ideas to answer the following questions:
    • When and where did George Fox live?
    • What was he looking for? What did he claim to find?
    • What was the public response to Fox's claims?
  1. Gather the answers to the questions above, and share your findings with your parent or teacher. Then, reflect on the following questions and discuss them together:
    • What was the religious climate like in England in George Fox's time?
    • What events were taking place in the Americas during the same era?
    • What American people or places do you associate with Quakers?

Fox's religious sect would not remain confined to England very long, and even though the numbers of Quakers would grow only slowly, the impact of Fox's ideas would be felt for centuries to come.

In the Got It? section, take a closer look at some of the ways in which the Society of Friends influenced American government and society.

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