Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 June 2019
John Dickinson (1732–1809) was a Founder of the United States whose jurisprudence was greatly influenced by Quakerism. Although he never joined the Religious Society of Friends, Dickinson adopted the basic tenets of their religion, particularly the belief in the Light of Christ in the conscience, which caused them to consider all people spiritually equal, regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic status. The strong and outspoken Quaker women in Dickinson’s life—his mother, wife, daughters, and a range of other female friends and relatives—influenced him to advocate for women in his legal practice and in his work to found the nation. Among the leading Founders, Dickinson was the only one to press for women’s rights, making him an early feminist.