War Comes to Quaker Pennsylvania, 1682-1756

War Comes to Quaker Pennsylvania, 1682-1756

War Comes to Quaker Pennsylvania, 1682-1756

War Comes to Quaker Pennsylvania, 1682-1756

Excerpt

This is the story of a unique experiment in world history--the resolution of an influential and gifted group of people to found a state dedicated to an inflexible opposition to war and violence. It is also the story, alas, of the dissolution of that ideal under the impact of the inevitable reaction. The state was the province of Pennsylvania; the people were the Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers. The forces of reaction were profit seeking and politics nearby and the clash of rival empires in a worldwide arena.

After two hundred years it is easy to point out the frailties of men who clung with one hand to this ideal of a possible Christian state, yet embraced with the other the expedients made necessary by worldliness. Their experiment in brotherhood depended for success on firm adherence to their ideals, but the easy profit they derived from rapidly expanding trade made them increasingly interested in material values. Added to these worldly interests of the Quakers themselves were the influence of all the practical-minded opponents of the ideal and the force of imperialistic ambitions.

Surprisingly enough, the "Holy Experiment" of Penn and his followers found a favorable climate for three-fourths of a century before its total collapse. Even though the British and French opened a long series of wars for the mastery of North America early in this period, the province was spared complete . . .

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