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Quaker Studies







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The English Quaker and linen-draper Jonathan Dymond (1796-1828) is best known for his strong philosophic articulation of the testimony against war. The first American edition of Dymond’s work, though, was published not by Quakers but by a small group of activist-thinkers in north-eastern Connecticut, the Windham County Peace Society, which issued a thousand copies of Dymond’s The Applicability of the Pacific Principles of the New Testament to the Conduct of States in the spring of 1832. Dymond’s systematic moral philosophy extended into many corners of the burgeoning philanthropic movements in New England, most notably among Immediate Abolitionists, within the Peace movement and in support of the extension of women’s education. Numerous non-Quakers embraced and publicised his thought in this period: William Lloyd Garrison, the multi-religious family of George Benson Sr., famed Unitarian theologian William Ellery Channing, Unitarian Abolitionist Samuel J. May, Abolitionist editor Charles Burleigh, Thomas Grimké and his famous sisters Sarah and Angelina. Perhaps the most intriguing instance of this concerns white Abolitionist educator Prudence Crandall - a former Quaker herself - and the Black students attending the Canterbury Academy where she taught; they had access to chapters from Dymond’s Essays on the Principles of Morality prior to that book’s publication in the United States. This article focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of Dymond’s contention that Christianity must call forth moral consistency, coupled with his evident respect for women’s intellect. These features of his thought gave to this influential generation of New England Abolitionists a philosophical-religious base. This article expands the understanding of Dymond’s American impact past its obvious relevance in Garrisonian non-resistance to an appreciation of how his moral philosophy fitted the radical ethos of the 1830s.


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