The Great Schism: A Divide Among Quakers and Its Impact on the Middletown Friends Preparative Meeting in Pennsylvania Public

This thesis analyzes the Middletown Preparative Meeting in Middletown Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, during the Quaker schism of 1827. The religious separation spurred the formation of two Quaker branches known as the Orthodox and the Hicksites. The project was completed through a detailed examination of letters, diaries, and meeting records housed at Swarthmore College’s Friends Historical Library. My purpose is to investigate how the religious separation impacted the friends and families who lived in the community during the schism. I approached this project by uncovering primary source documents produced between 1810 and 1830 related to the community of Middletown Township and the Quaker separation. Then I reviewed each document to construct an understanding of how residents reacted to the religious separation, how communication between meeting members was affected, and who were the primary community leaders during that time period. Then I extended my research to secondary sources related to the Quaker schism to compare the events of the Middletown Preparative Meeting with other Quaker meetings in the United States. Together, they reveal the stories, emotions, and difficulties that emerged as a result of the actions taken by the Quaker religion. The study concluded that harsh and damaging rhetoric was expressed both verbally and in writing between meeting members during the Quaker separation. Members of the Hicksite branch of Quakerism expressed their opinions in public more often than Orthodox Quakers. Due to the sudden impact of the separation, many meeting members did not know how to react to the religious changes. The hierarchical decision shocked older meeting members who were not prepared to take a side on the argument. Two key leaders, Sarah Emlen and Minshall Painter, emerged as community leaders during the religious separation. Although the community leaders represented opposing sides of the argument, they both maintained a strong stance on their positions. After the Quaker separation was formally incorporated into the religion, members of the Orthodox and Hicksite branches eventually learned to live amongst one another.