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Dedication Stone of the Free Quaker Meeting House

Free Quaker Meeting House
Free Quaker Meeting House

The Free or "Fighting" Quakers were those disowned by their faith for supporting the American Revolution. Some fought or sold military supplies. Others were expelled for simply taking a loyalty oath to the new American government or holding some civil office.

In 1783, the Free Quakers opened their own meetinghouse, which still stands on the southwest corner of 5th and Arch streets.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the brick, two-story structure is seen from the outside. In the pediment near the roof-line is a dedication stone that can be read easily:

By General Subscription for the FREE QUAKERS
Erected in the YEAR of OUR LORD 1783 of the EMPIRE 8.

Perhaps, these militant patriots believed that the United States of America would become a great empire. They may have seen the 13 states as an empire since we were not yet a united nation. The U.S. Constitution was still five years in the future.

The last two Fighting Quakers to worship in the meetinghouse were Betsy (Ross) Claypoole and John Price Wetherill. In 1834 (Betsy was 82) the pair decided to close the place down. The venerable structure was in use as a warehouse for plumbing supplies in the 1950s when it was restored as part of the Independence Mall project.

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