Israel Pemberton: King of the Quakers

Israel Pemberton: King of the Quakers

Israel Pemberton: King of the Quakers

Israel Pemberton: King of the Quakers

Excerpt

From the time of its founding in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, Pennsylvania made rapid gains in population and wealth, becoming within eighty years the third most populous as well as one of the wealthiest of the English colonies. As the population increased, the percentage of Quakers, who had founded the colony, steadily diminished, until they became a minority group early in the eighteenth century. However, chiefly because of the unwavering support the Quakers received from the Germans, their political leadership was never successfully challenged before 1756.

Then came the French and Indian War with serious repercussions for a province long controlled by pacifists. The war which terminated seventy-five years of peaceful relations with the Indians was a sad experience for the Quakers who refused to admit that their pacifism and failure to provide means of defense had placed the Province at the mercy of the French and Indians. Instead they attempted to fasten the blame for the Indian war upon the Proprietors for alleged land frauds but without success. Hoping to restore peace and recover their lost leadership, the pacifists organized an association for regaining the friendship of the Indians. In this, their efforts were rewarded with some success but in the long run failed in finding a basis for peace with the Indians. Although followed with much diligence, their endeavors to solve the Indian problem in its larger aspects were in advance of the time and almost doomed to certain failure.

With the advent of the American Revolution most of the leaders of the Society of Friends were unsympathetic toward the revolutionary movement and many quite openly labored to prevent independence. The pressure which they brought to bear upon Quakers who wished to support the Revolution caused them to be condemned by the Patriots. Subjected to considerable suffering for their pacifism and political views during the war, Friends found release in the thought that they were martyrs to the cause of "truth. . . ."

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