by James Pinkney Pleasant Bell
Publisher James Bell was moved to print these various meeting notes and announcements since his mother’s family were members of the Society of Friends. As Bell states,
“…sometimes in my early childhood I attended their meetings for worship, held in the old Meetinghouse at Golansville, in Caroline County, Va., and still retaining a love for tliese good people, I have for some time past contemplated publishing a book giving an account of their religious belief, and manner of conducting their meetings.Through a member of the Society of Friends, in Richmond, Va., I have obtained extracts from some of their old Minute books, which I hope will be of interest to my readers; I also make extracts from The Southern Friend (a religious journal published in Richmond during the Civil War)…The Friends not only liberated their own slaves, but also used every effort for the abolition of slavery. They did not allow their members to hire a slave, or take the position of overseer of slaves. The Quakers in North Carolina and Virginia were at one time a large body, but the bitter feeling against them, because of their anti-slavery views caused them to seek homes in the free States, and soon many of the meetings were so depleted that they had to be “laid down.” Doubtless many of my readers in the Western States will say, as they read these pages, “Yes, my ancestors came from Virginia.”
Bell’s collection of information sheds light on religious history in the United States, the impact of the Civil War, and how various Christian denominations used their beliefs to fight against or support the inhumane practice of slavery.