Society of Friends

3, 4, 5

We look at the Society of Friends/Quakers and describe how this group promoted the common good. The Quakers pushed for religious freedom and freedom of choice, which are Core Democratic Values. As a group, they formed organizations to promote social change in the areas of slavery, prison conditions, poverty, Native American affairs and other social causes.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session

Describe and explain how the beliefs and actions of the Quakers helped to further the common good and democratic values.

  • copies of Practices (handout)
  • copies of Core Democratic Values (handout)


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Give this background: There are many religions and religious practices in our world, and people feel strongly to practice what they believe. This can create conflict when people practice differently. Sometimes peole are mistreated or disrespected for their religious practices because of misunderstanding or even persecution. People come to the U.S. for many reasons, and one reason for some is "religious freedom." This is because they are not allowed to practice their religion in their home country. The U.S. protects people who live where it isn't safe to practice their religion. 

  2. Break into teams to look online for information about the Society of Friends (Quakers):

    • What do they believe?
    • Why did they come to America?
    • What did they do in the name of their beliefs to improve the common good?
  3. Distribute copies of the handout Practices. Read it and discuss together.

  4. Distribute copies of the handout Core Democratic Values and compare the contributions of the Friends to the Core Democratic Values. Which ones are similar? Can it be said that the beliefs and actions of the Quakers helped to further the common good? How did the actions of the Friends show respect for others?

  5. Are the actions of the Society of Friends examples of philanthropy? (Giving time, talent, and treasure for the common good). How?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe important events in the growth and maturation of the civil society sector in the nation.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.6 Make a connection between fundamental democratic principles and philanthropy.