Haverford College's Henry Joel Cadbury: Stand Up, Thrown Out

After the professor publicly decried the local anti-German hysteria surrounding World War I, Haverford College turned its back.

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Henry Joel Cadbury at Haverford College.The memory of public ridicule sticks with a person. It surely stuck with Henry Joel Cadbury, a professor of religion at Haverford College who lost his job in 1918 for criticizing the hysteria of World War I. In Cadbury’s case, however, the memory seems to have done lasting good.

Remembered for his gentle wit and self-effacing modesty, Cadbury went on to be a leader in civil rights and liberties, peace, and justice issues. He was a founder (in 1917) of the American Friends Service Committee, which he led through numerous triumphs and crises.

Still, the Haverford episode was pivotal. “Never again did he risk the accusation of speaking for the group unless he knew that the group was indeed with him,” wrote biographer Margaret Hope Bacon.

Born in Philadelphia’s Spring Garden section, Cadbury was part of the American branch of the same Quaker family famous in the United Kingdom for chocolate and social reform. Cadbury’s father, Joel, was an affluent dealer of plumbing supplies who also served on the boards of various Quaker institutions, including Friends Asylum (now Friends Hospital) and the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheyney University).

The youngest of six children, Cadbury divided his time growing up among the family home, Friends Charter School (then at 12th and Market streets), the Twelfth Street Meeting (where the family worshipped on Sundays) and Moorestown, N.J., where the family rented a house each summer.

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