Eli Hampton journal  1843-1852
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Hampton journals are an excellent record of the spiritual concerns of a Quaker minister in the near aftermath of the great period of Quaker schisms. The entries are fairly regular, though not daily, and vary in length from brief notes ("attended meeting") to very long passages, nearly all on religious subjects. The attribution of the journal is based on the appearance on the front cover of the name Eli Hampton written in the hand of the author, and the presence within of a copy of a letter signed by Eli Hampton.

The periodic rise and fall in Hampton's mood and the insecurities he had in his ability to receive the Light are among the most interesting aspects of the journal. He often writes that he feels weighed down by the burden of spiritual duties and concerns, and by doubts about his own worth. Typical of many entries is the one for February 16th, 1848: "I felt destitute and forsaken by all both spiritually and temporally and at times ready to give out all hopes of overcoming these frailties of human nature."

Even when his spirits were raised, as after speaking at meeting, Hampton felt the weight of great emotions. "[A]t meting to day in a goodly frame of mind wherein I think I was blest with the presence of the devine master with this language in my mind; can it bee possible that the lord has chosen mee as an instrument to awaken others to a sence of their one duty in obidience to the law and testimony of devine light on their one understanding; for I know that I have nothing to bost of but my one infermaties which are great and many..." (1848 June 1). The burden of not speaking when having received the Light was also crushing to Hampton. Following a funeral, during which he felt compelled to speak, but held back, Hampton wrote: "I had to suffer like unto a little child that had just been corrected by its earthly parent and that through such severity that its hart was almost ready to burst with grief..." (1849 March 13).

The political and moral issues of the day occasionally figure in Hampton's diary. While not evincing any uncommonly strong zeal, Hampton was apparently an opponent of slavery and the use of "spiritous liquors." His reservations are clear, though: "the query arose in my mind what good has [the Antislavery] committee done I can see none in reallety" (1848 July 27). A particularly interesting incident occurred on August 13th, 1848, when Hampton and other members of the meeting attempted to attend the "colored meeting," but were barred from doing so by the congregation. He writes "not all their congrigation being preasant at that time [they] ware not willing to admit us in their meeting hous." Hampton and Friends slept under a nearby shed and "delivered our testimony amongst them I trust to good satisfaction."

Since Hampton's religious concerns permeate nearly every entry, the spiritual content of this diary has been only selectively indexed, with the longer or more thoroughly expressed entries noted.

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