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77 Barclay, Anarchy, 41.
78 Martin Luther King, Jr., “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” in Nonviolence in America, 211.
79 Ibid., 213.
80 Dymond, Essays on the Principles of Morality, 326.
81 D™Emilio, Lost Prophet, 238, 231.
82 Ibid., 239.
83 David McReynolds quoted in D™Emilio, Lost Prophet, 236.
Persistence of Quaker Constitutionalism 333

the “gospel of freedom.”84 He described the process, the steps, one must take
to bring one™s case before the people: “(1) collection of the facts to determine
whether injustices are alive; (2) negotiation; (3) self-puri¬cation; and (4) direct
action.” Their “very bodies” would be presented “as a means of laying our case
before the conscience of the local and the national community.”85 Recognizing
the performative aspect of this sort of protest, he explained that the disobe-
dience “seeks to dramatize the issue.” The resulting “constructive, nonviolent
tension,” he continued, “is necessary for growth” within the community.86 He
addressed the usual misconception by outsiders that had attended all Quaker
civil disobedience “ that this behavior was a sort of antinomianism, a rejection
of civil law in favor of some internal, private law. “At ¬rst glance,” he acknowl-
edged, “it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws.” He
explained to his readers how to distinguish between just and unjust laws.87 Fol-
lowing Barclay, who assured King Charles II of his ¬delity to the government,
he continued, “In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law” clandes-
tinely. “That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do
so openly, lovingly . . . and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit
that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who
willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience
of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect
for law.”88
The American Friends Service Committee found this letter to be “an eloquent
statement of the nonviolent approach to the restructuring of our social order”
and linked it with early Quakers, who were “led by conscience to practice
civil disobedience as a witness to the supremacy of God™s commands over
the dictates of men.”89 The Society of Friends could not have written a better
statement of their traditional theologico-political philosophy themselves. Thus,
in May of 1963, Quakers once again became the “First Publishers of Truth”
when they released the ¬rst 50,000 copies of King™s letter to the world.90
84 Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham City Jail, 3
85 Ibid., 4.
86 Ibid., 5.
87 Ibid., 6“7.
88 Ibid., 7
89 Colin W. Bell, preface to ibid.
90 S. Jonathan Bass, Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Martin Luther King, Jr., Eight White Religious
Leaders, and the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 2001), 141.
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