"Rememb'ring Our Time and Work Is the Lords": The Experiences of Quakers on the Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania Frontier

"Rememb'ring Our Time and Work Is the Lords": The Experiences of Quakers on the Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania Frontier

"Rememb'ring Our Time and Work Is the Lords": The Experiences of Quakers on the Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania Frontier

"Rememb'ring Our Time and Work Is the Lords": The Experiences of Quakers on the Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania Frontier

Synopsis

Pennsylvania's role in the development of American culture and society has received an increasing amount of attention in the past two decades, as the tercentenary celebrations of the founding of the province led to a reexamination of the colony and state's contributions to the ethnic and religious diversity of modern America. With increasing pluralism, however, the religious group that was most prominent in the establishment of the province - the Society of Friends, or Quakers - declined in its impact and importance.

Excerpt

Pennsylvania's role in the development of American culture and society has received an increasing amount of attention throughout the past quarter century, as the tercentenary celebrations of the founding of the province led to a reexamination of the colony and state’s contributions to the ethnic and religious diversity of modern America. With increasing pluralism, however, the religious group that was most prominent in the establishment of the province—the Society of Friends, or Quakers— declined in its impact and importance. This book, by focusing on the activities of Exeter Monthly Meeting of Friends, based in Berks County, Pennsylvania, will examine how changes in the world around them affected backcountry Quakers.

Religion was the primary motive in the establishment of Pennsylvania. William Penn made sure that freedom of worship was not only a religious principle, but he guaranteed this right in the various frames of government drafted and adopted during the early years of the province. Owing to the appeal of religious freedom, Penn’s colony attracted a broader diversity of settlers than any other. With this promise, too, Penn intended to prove that a multiplicity of religious groups could coexist, relatively peacefully, with the result that the province of Pennsylvania itself indeed became a model for the pluralistic future of the American nation.

Key to the growth of Penn’s colony were the beliefs of the Society of Friends. William Penn had converted to Quakerism while a student at Oxford, despite the opposition of his father, Admiral Sir William Penn. Preferring unstructured worship to ritual, the Quakers believed that God inspired all people directly through the “inner light.” No minister or priest was necessary for a person to accept God’s grace; religious faith was something that was personal and individual. Evolving from this rejection of religious authority was an emphasis on pacifism, a refusal to swear oaths, and a desire to live simple, uncomplicated lives. in addition, through . . .

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