Non-Resistance Society

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The New England Non-Resistance Society was an American peace group. It was founded at a special peace convention organized by William Lloyd Garrison, in Boston in September 1838.[1] It was one of the more radical of the many organizations he founded, adopting a Declaration of Sentiments of which he was the principal author, pledging themselves to deny the validity of social distinctions based on race, nationality or gender",[2] refusing obedience to human governments, and opposing even individual acts of self-defense.[3] The Society rejected loyalty to any human government; one historian has described the Non-Resistance Society's "basic outlook as that of philosophical anarchism".[4][5]

The declaration was signed by 44 people, of whom 20 were women. Maria Chapman became the editor of its publication, The Non-Resistant ,[3] which started publication in 1839. The first annual meeting was held in Philadelphia, Sept 24-27, 1839. Members of the Non-Resistance Society included, in addition to Garrison and Chapman, Henry Clarke Wright, Adin Ballou, Amasa Walker, Stephen Foster[4] and Sarah and Angelina Grimké.[6]

The Non-Resistance Society held its last meeting in 1849.[4]

The organization has been considered by one historian to be a "relatively exclusive vehicle of the radical [Boston] upper class"[7]


  1. ^ Peter Brock Pacifism in the United States, from the Colonial era to the First World War. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1968. (pp. 539–42)
  2. ^ Walters, Ronald G. American Reformers: 1815 - 1860. New York: Hill and Wang, 1997 ISBN 978-0-8090-0130-9 p. 120 Google Books
  3. ^ a b Yellin, Jean Fagan, and John C. Van Horne. The Abolitionist Sisterhood: Women's Political Culture in Antebellum America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-8014-2728-2
  4. ^ a b c Reichert, William O.,"The Philosophical Anarchism of Adin Ballou", Huntington Library Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4 (August 1964), (pp. 357–374).
  5. ^ "...Ballou was a lecturer for temperance and the American Anti-Slavery Society, as well as president of the pacifist and Christian anarchist New England Non-Resistance Society." Calhoun, Craig. The Roots of Radicalism: Tradition, the Public Sphere, and Early Nineteenth-Century Social Movements. University of Chicago Press, 2012 ISBN 0226090841 (p. 372).
  6. ^ Curti, Merle E., "Non-Resistance in New England", The New England Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 1 (January 1929), pp. 34–57.
  7. ^ Hansen, Debra Gold. Strained Sisterhood: Gender and Class in the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0-87023-848-2 p. 105 Google Books