The Quakers

By Hugh Barbour; J. William Frost | Go to book overview
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PEMBERTON, ISRAEL, JR. ( 19 May 1715, Philadelphia--22 April 1779, Philadelphia). Education: Penn Charter School, Philadelphia. Career: Merchant.

Israel Pemberton, Jr., was a most important religious-political leader of Pennsylvania Friends from the late 1740s until the time of the American Revolution. His father, Israel Pemberton, Sr., was a wealthy merchant, prominent politician, and devout Quaker whose three sons--Israel, James Jr., ( 1723- 1809), and John ( 1727- 1795) shared their father's abilities in business, serving in politics, and being strict Quakers. The Pembertons became the wealthiest family in Pennsylvania, making money in trade, farming, and land speculation. Israel, Jr., served as clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting from 1750 to 1759; James for eighteen years between 1761 and 1789; John became a minister in 1751.

Israel engaged in a wide range of philanthropic activities. He was a founder of the Pennsylvania Hospital, a fire company, a fire insurance company, a society to aid distressed blacks, and the American Philosophical Association. He also was clerk of the committee of Penn Charter School and promoted Quaker education. Israel and John Pemberton became early supporters of the revival of Discipline, strict pacifism, and antislavery. James served several terms in the Assembly and, after the Revolution, became a founder and then president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.

Israel Pemberton in 1739 opposed the Pennsylvania governor's request for funds for defense. He tried in 1744 to select more consistent Quakers than those proposed by Speaker John Kinsey to be Philadelphia's assemblymen. Israel was outraged when the Assembly in 1755 voted 60,000 for war, and he supported those who refused to pay the tax. He blamed the Proprietors for mistreating the Indians, opposed Pennsylvania's declaration of war against the Delawares, served as an observer at the negotiations at Easton in 1756, and became a leader in the Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians. Israel

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