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George M. Justice Memorandums, 1825-1861


Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

George Middleton Justice (1792-1862), a prominent Quaker and successful Philadelphia merchant, was the son of George and Phebe Justice, members of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of the Northern District. In 1816 he married Esther Syng Bunting (1795-1883), daughter of Philip and Elizabeth Bunting also members of PMM- ND. George and Esther's children were Alfred Bunting, Philip S., Elizabeth, Rudulph, George, and Caroline Justice. George M. Justice strongly allied with the Hicksite branch. He served as an Elder at Green Street Monthly Meeting as well as on the Representative and Indian Committees of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Although committed to the Society, he expressed doubts about some of its policies including the role of Elders and the practices of disowning members for marrying non-members and for working outside the Society of Friends towards the abolition of slavery. He was strongly against slavery and feared that bloodshed would be its result. Justice also served on the Board of the Public Schools in Philadelphia from 1836 to 1841 and was a members of its first Committee on High School. An enthusiastic amateur astronomer, he contributed his observations to the newspapers and donated his telescope to establish a public observatory.

George M. Justice was a Philadelphia merchant and important Hicksite Quaker. Beginning in 1825, he kept four volumes of memorandum reflecting his thoughts on religion, the Hicksite Separation and its aftermath in Philadelphia, family information, astronomy, slavery, and other topics such as slavery and finance. Volume 4 includes letters, clippings and other materials, some pasted in and some inserted between the pages which mainly deal with the death of his son Rudulph. Justice was a member of the Representative Committee and the Indian Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. He was an elder at Green Street Monthly Meeting although he expressed doubts about the usefulness of elders and some aspects of the Discipline such as disowning members for marrying out.

Gift of Carol Grugan, Acc. 2016.024

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
Susanna Morikawa
Finding Aid Date
February 2017

Collection Inventory

Vol. 1 , 1825-1827. 1 volumes.
Scope and Contents

The volume begins with his family history and reminiscences of his life, including his early business dealings and the effect of the War of 1812. Following, he wrote about miscellaneous topics including the visit of Elias Hicks to Philadelphia, dealing with deaths, travels, and deep concern about divisions in the Society of Friends. Names of some of the participants cut out of the text.

Physical Description

1 volumes

Vol. 2, 1827-1830. 1 volumes.
Scope and Contents

Descriptions of the events of the Separation. He wrote a report of the sequence in the Green Street Meeting which was laid down by the Orthodox and became a Hicksite monthly meeting. He transcribes the disownments of himself and his wife Esther by Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of the Northern District. He describes the lawsuit concerning the Western burial ground and other details of the Separation. He has inserted clippings of his writings published in The Aurora. Also some personal notes.

Physical Description

1 volumes

Vol. 3, 1830-1836. 1 volumes.
Scope and Contents

Justice takes on more responsibility in the Meeting although he is uncomfortable about disowning members and especially disagrees with disowning for marrying out of unity. Examining the records, he finds family information about his ancestors, the Middletons. As an amateur astronomer, he describes the appearance of the Aurora Borealis in 1833. He became a director of the public schools, and clippings of his published remarks are glued into the book.

Physical Description

1 volumes

Vol. 4, 1837-1861.
Scope and Contents

In April 1837, Justice and a neighbor found a newborn in the alley adjacent to his house. He took it to the Philadelphia Almshouse, naming the boy Oscar Bruce. Subsequently he writes about the financial crisis. The Aurora Borealis was visible for many nights in 1837, but the slavery issue was gripping the nation. While not doubting that enslaved people will eventually be free, he fears for a sea of blood. He witnessed an exhibition of hypnotism ("Animal Magnetism), and declined to serve as an elder for Green Street Monthly Meeting. In 5 month 1838, violence struck Philadelphia as Pennsylvania Hall and the Shelter were set afire. He remarks that he has never participated in anti-slavery organizations, being fearful of violence. In 1840 as a member of the Joint Indian Committee (Hicksite) he and his wife traveled to visit the Seneca in New York State. In 1841 another bank panic. Letters from the American Philosophical and Public Schools inserted. Met with President Tyler on behave of the Seneca. Lucretia Mott spoke at the burial of his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Bunting, 7mo 1841. In 1842, more financial crisis and dissention in Society of Friends concerning support of the Anti-Slavery efforts with the result that Isaac T. Hopper and Charles Marriott were disowned. In March 1843 his son Rudulph, an active member of the Philadelphia Junior Anti-Slavery Society died, his death announced by Lucretia Mott. Sympathy notes from prominent Friends pasted into the volume including Jane Johnson,Deborah Wharton, Dillwyn Parrish. The end of the volume records his sorrow as friends and family die. The final entry is by his daughter, E. J. Pike.

Green Street Monthly Meeting.

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