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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Shakers And The War

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 4 August 2004
Source:
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Article taken from the Western Star, November 7, 1861.

To the Editor and the Star: In your paper of October 24th, there appeared a communication over the signatures of a Committee said to have been appointed to make collections of blankets and other donations for the volunteers from Warren County. I could but notice that of all who declined to contribute, none were named excepting the Shakers, and they were referred to, not incidentally, but with design and purpose, and by the aid of italics, special attention was directed to their case.
It might be asked, why were the Shakers thus singled out, and all others left unnoticed? I see no reasonable answer to the question. The time has been when the public, less enlightened, and less tolerant than now, might have been aroused to deeds of violence by such a missive, from so respectable a source as the Committee above referred to; and even now, without timely word, this might be but the beginning of a series of charges which would ultimately in some lawless proceeding by the less enlightened portions of society. It is a well known principle of the Shakers to turn the other cheek when smitten, and that their sanctuary shall not be stained by the "price of blood," and whilst they do not appear to give as much material aid as others, to the prosecution of war, not because they are not loyal to the Government, but simply and solely because the prosecution of the war is contrary to every principle and tenet of their religious belief; yet they humanely do as much otherwise to benefit society as any other portion of community of equal number and ability of the commonwealth. And if, (which is probably the case) it requires all the blankets in their possession, to cover the naked and destitute orphan children they have received from the world and are raising, together with widows and others, is it just, that they should be singled out and italicized to the public as refusing to aid suffering humanity? I think the committee will upon second thought agree that it is not.
The societies of the Shakers are not forward to display their good and charitable deeds to the world, but they were not behind their neighbors in aid to "bleeding Kansas," and starving Ireland. And within the past three months the society of Shakers in Kentucky has suffered by the reason of the loyalty of its members, not a little from the depredations of the forces of the society at Union Village may be required for the relief of their brethren in Kentucky no one can tell. Besides, it is well known by many, and should not have been overlooked by the Committee, that the Shakers have in fact aided the Government more than all the rest of Turtlecreek Township.
It is the opinion of the writer, (without referring to the figures for proof) that they have given enough to equip every soldier who has left the Township for the reason of war, yet it is coolly insinuated, to their prejudice with the public, that they are wanting in sympathy for our suffering volunteers--which is not true.
Within the last half century, many persons who had become entitled to and were receiving pensions from the Government, have united themselves to the Shakers, and in almost every instance the Society has declined to receive their pensions, and taken upon itself the burden of their support; and this, together with the maintenance of maimed solders and others, who might have been made a county charge, would, doubtless, as before said, have equipped and armed every one who has gone from this Township to the field of battle.
It is possible, but hardly probable, that the respectable and intelligent committee could have been ignorant of these facts. And surely a people who are too conscientious to receive money from the Government for services rendered in shedding blood, ought to be allowed the poor privilege of following their own conscientious scruples, whether they be well or ill founded, as to the manner they can best aid in sustaining the Government and relieving the distress of the suffering portion of the community. It is to be remembered that our armies are in the field to support a Government which has for its basic liberty of conscience and freedom of opinion, and it certainly is no time now to bring public prejudice to bear upon those who, restrained by religious convictions from entering upon war--like measures, have yet an inalienable right to that liberty of conscience without which our free institutions could not exist. The Shakers are known to be a loyal, moral, tax-paying people, from whose doors none are turned empty away. Would not the Committee be better employed in ferreting out those of their near neighbors, who have no conscientious scruples on the subject, and who through selfish motives keep their stalwart sons from going to defense of their country? Let an enlightened public judge.
A SUBSCRIBER


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