"Society of Friends" and Society (The )

3, 4, 5

Students will research 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.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five to Fifty Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • describe and evaluate contributions of Quakers to American life.
  • explain how the beliefs and actions of the Quakers helped to further the common good and democratic values.
  • Practice (Handout One)
  • Core Democratic Values (Handout Two)


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students what they would do if they were not allowed to practice their religion and were even punished because of it. Would they consider moving to another country? Would they try to help the people who mistreated them?

  2. Using print sources or the Internet, ask the learners to research the Society of Friends (Quakers) to obtain basic information about their founding, coming to the New World, beliefs and practices. Remind the learners that, while the Quakers were created in 1652, the group still exists today. After a sufficient amount of time has been provided for the research, ask for the information learners have found.

  3. Introduce the initial Quaker movement into the new land. Talk about why they came and what happened to them when they got here (see Bibliographical References for background information).

  4. Distribute copies of Practice (Handout One). Read it and discuss together.

  5. Distribute copies of Core Democratic Values (Handout Two). Have the students 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?

  6. Put the term philanthropy on the chalkboard. Explain that it is the giving of one's time, talent or treasure for the sake of another or for the common good. Do the actions of the Society of Friends constitute examples of philanthropy? How? Is acting philanthropically good for the community or nation? Ask students to orally evaluate the consequences of Quaker beliefs, values and actions on American life.


Students' contributions to research information, as well as making the connections to the Core Democratic Values, may be used as assessments.

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.