Among the reasons for Quaker decline, let me suggest

Relocation to the West, especially, wasn’t the only reason Dover Friends Meeting in New Hampshire declined in the 1800s. Here are a few other factors.

  1. Being Quaker can be hard work. Not just a Sunday thing. Things like honesty.
  2. Tightening of personal discipline in the mid-1700s. The marriage restrictions definitely cut into membership.
  3. Plainness in clothing, design, and possessions. That is, personal expression.
  4. Employment and other business ethics. Refusal to take oaths kept Friends out of some professions, such as the law, and bankruptcy was a disownable offense.
  5. No “vain entertainments.” And thus, no music, dancing, fiction, theater, paintings, card playing, horse racing, or gambling.
  6. Pacifism during the Revolutionary and Civil wars, plus withdrawal from political offices in the 1760s.
  7. The separations that split the Society of Friends into factions from the 1820s on.
  8. Aversion to emotion, starting with anger.
  9. Emerging restrictions on alcohol and tobacco. Being “disguised by hard liquor” was a big problem on the frontier.
  10. Even the appearance of wrongdoing could be an offense. And all that led to deadly quaintness.

Not that these quite apply today. Still, they could prompt a book in themselves. For now, you’ll have to consider Quaking Dover for the story. Order your copy at your favorite bookstore. Or request it at your public library.

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