Synopsis: This paper illustrates and defines the plight of the Quakers and their impact on the American Revolution. Through documented research, this paper will also examine the history and existence of the Quakers during this revolutionary period.
The Quakers and the American Revolution
Like other civil wars, the American Revolution asked ordinary people to chose between two extraordinary positions. The Revolution forced competition among colonists' allegiances: to England and the King, to colonial homes and families, and even to religious convictions. To support the war was to refute the King, to oppose the war was to deny one's homeland. For Pennsylvania Quakers (members of the Society of Friends), decisions about whether to support or oppose the war were further complicated by the inherent conflict between two deeply held beliefs: their pacifist principles and their desire to protect and support the colony founded by William Penn (Carroll, 1970). Before the American Revolution even occurred, the middle-staters of Pennsylvania--the Quakers--were already in search of a place where they could be different and be, at least, quasi-independent. By its very nature, the Quakers provided an environment where people who would otherwise have been misfits and malcontents could flourish and achieve a modicum of what would then certainly have been termed “respectability” (The American Revolution, 1990). Unlike the many Loyalists who eventually fled the civil war, most Pennsylvania Quakers remained in the colonies only to find themselves subjected to the wartime passions of both sides. Quakers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere joined most colonists in opposing the British taxation policies of the 1760s and 1770s. The Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Duties of 1767 occasioned protests, including strict boycotts of British goods. As the poet Hannah Griffitts wrote, Quakers would "Stand firmly resolved & bid [English Minister George] Grenville to see/That rather than...
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