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Friends Meeting HouseThe Religious Society of Friends, frequently known as Quakers, began in England during the 1650's under the leadership of a Yorkshire tailor named George Fox. The movement took its members from the ranks of the Church of England that grew dissatisfied with its corrupt, and often politically oriented leaders and doctrine. Persecution from a Puritan dominated government and an intolerant crown motivated many Quakers to abandon land and position in England, Ireland, and Wales and begin again in America.

Seeing the use of repetitive ritual and ceremony as fundamentally evil, Friends created a society carefully avoiding these practices. Rather than wedding ceremonies, public marriages were held in private homes or meeting houses, and consisted of a personal declaration of affection between the couple. Baptism in any form, and the sacrament known as Communion, were not practiced. It was considered a breach of discipline for any member to attend a ceremony sponsored by another denomination, even if the wedding or funeral involved a close family member. The child of two Quaker parents was accepted as a member by birthright and all the events of his life were recorded. However, a child born to one parent in good standing and one disowned parent had no birthright. Even if the second parent was later reinstated, the child still had to be sponsored for membership. It was important, therefore, to keep meticulously accurate records of births, marriages, movements, disownments, and reinstatements.
Every monthly meeting had two copies of the Book of Discipline, one each for the Men's and Women's Meetings. This book, also called The Rules of Discipline, specified in detail how Friends should conduct their daily affairs. Violations of discipline ran the full spectrum of human behavior. Many forms of diversion and entertainment common in those days were forbidden to Friends, including music, singing, dancing, social gatherings of young members beyond the hours of early evening, associating socially with members of other societies, horse racing, betting, games of chance, hawking, and fox hunting. Alcohol was not forbidden, but drinking to excess, operating a tavern or frequenting "houses of diversion" were serious causes for discipline. Selling alcohol to the Indians was considered the most serious liquor related offense.

Friends believed that the use of the names of days and months was a vulgar practice because the origin of many of these names could be traced back to pagan gods, such as the Viking god Thor for Thursday, or deified rulers, such as Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus and Octavian. Consequently, Friends numbered their days and months (i.e. the 16th day of the 10th month).

Near the heart of Quaker discipline was the avoidance of human conflict. Anger, arguing, harsh language directed at another individual, and fighting were causes for condemnation, as was the support or encouragement of these activities. Quakers were not permitted to engage in military or naval operations, fill requisitions or transport food or supplies for the military, produce or supply firearms for military use, pay money to military authorities for any reason or render any form of aid or comfort to either side of an armed conflict. Active members of a Monthly Meeting were exempt from military service by legislation until after the French and Indian War. Following this conflict, new legislation mandated service in the militia for every young man of military age. Failure to enroll, refusal to take the Oath of Allegiance, or absence on muster days was punishable by a stiff fine amounting to as much as 20 pounds for each offense. Drill or muster days were held each month and each day missed incurred an additional fine, which the Society forbade its members to pay. This resulted in forced confiscation and auction of personal property. Household furniture, farm equipment, cash, personal items of gold and silver, and livestock were seized and sold at the nearest town. Friends with means and property could afford the loss, but subsistence farmers were in danger of losing everything. The choice for these men was between insolvency and disownment.