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May 11, 2012

Lecture in Jeffersonville to explore Quaker pacifist dilemma

JEFFERSONVILLE —  Abraham Lincoln once wrote about the perplexity of opposing both war and slavery.

“Your people — the Friends — have had, and are having, a very great trial,” he wrote in an 1864 letter to a Quaker friend. “On principle, and faith, opposed to both war and oppression, they can only practically oppose oppression by war. In this hard dilemma, some have chosen one horn, and some the other.”

A. Glenn Crothers, director of research at the Filson Historical Society, explores that hard dilemma of Quaker pacifist in Civil War America during the final of a three-part lecture series slated to take place in Jeffersonville this week. The event is at noon Wednesday at Jeffersonville’s Carnegie Library, 129 E. Court Ave.

Crothers said he plans to draw a comparison between Quakers living in the Ohio Valley and those living in the Potomac Valley. It’s an interesting distinction because, those in the Potomac region were pacifist and oppose to slavery, but living under confederate rule, he said. Ohio Valley quakers, on the other hand, helped runaway slaves via the Underground Railroad and many — about 60 percent of the men — even joined the Union Army.

“Everyone opposed it but how far do you go” became the question among the faithful, he said.

The event is a part of a Filson series called “Our Shared History.” In March and April, lectures focused on George Rogers Clark and the Great Steamboat Era. 

The library, formerly home to the Remnant Trust, has been empty since April 2009 — that is until this recent lecture series started in March.

In a past interview, Tom Lindley, president of the Jeffersonville Carnegie Library Foundation board, said officials are still looking for something more permanent for the building, particularly a public use that stresses intellectual and academic purpose.

Our Shared History is co-sponsored by The Filson Historical Society, The Paul Ogle Foundation and the library foundation. For reservations or information on any programming, please call The Filson at 502-635-5083 or register online at


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