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September 18 1838: Split from American Peace Society; Group committed to ‘radical social change without violence’

The Lokashakti Encyclopedia of Nonviolence, Peace & Social Justice has an overview of the origins and history of the group. William Lloyd Garrison wrote the Constitution and Declaration of Sentiments, establishing the group as one of the earliest adopters of Christian anarchism.

Members of the group included: Adin Ballou, Amos Bronson Alcott, C.C. Burleigh, Maria Weston Chapman, Stephen Symonds Foster, Abby Kelley, Mary Johnson, Samuel May, Parker Pillsbury, William P. Powell, Sarah Southwick, Thankful Southwick, Hannah Stickney, Anne Weston, Henry C. Wright.

Excerpts from the Declaration of Sentiments:

Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity only as we love all other lands. The interests, rights, liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us than are those of the whole human race. Hence, we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury.

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We register our testimony, not only against all wars, whether offensive or defensive, but all prepations for war; against every naval ship, every arsenal, every fortification; against the militia system and a standing army; against all military chieftains and soldiers; against all monuments commemorative of victory over a fallen foe, all trophies won in battle, all celebrations in honor of military or naval exploits; against all appropriations for the defence of a nation by force and arms, on the part of any legislative body; against every edict of government requiring of its subjects military service. Hence, we deem it unlawful to bear arms, or to hold a military office.

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We […] voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly honors, and stations of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat in the legislature or on the bench, neither can we elect others to act as our substitutes in any such capacity.

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The history of mankind is crowded with evidence proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration; that the sinful disposition of men can be subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated from earth only by goodness; […] that there is great security in being gentle, harmless, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy; […] Hence, as a measure of sound policy—of safety to property, life, and liberty—of public quietude and private enjoyment—[…] we cordially adopt the non-resistance principle; being confident that it provides for all possible consequences, will ensure all things needful to us, is armed with omnipotent power, and must ultimately triumph over every assailing force.

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We expect to prevail through the foolishness of preaching—striving to commend ourselves unto every man’s conscience […] From the press, we shall promulgate our sentiments as widely as practicable. We shall endeavour to secure the co-operation of all persons, of whatever name or sect. The triumphant progress of the cause of Temperance and Abolition in our land, through the instrumentality of benevolent and voluntary associations, encourages us to combine our own means and efforts for the promotion of a still greater cause. Hence, we shall employ lecturers, circulate tracts and publications, form societies, and petition our State and national governments, in relation to the subject of Universal Peace. It will be our leading object to devise ways and means for effecting a radical change in the views, feelings, and practices of society, respecting the sinfulness of war and the treatment of enemies.