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Although John Dickinson was never a convinced member of the Society of
Friends, he was what Quakers call a “fellow traveler.” With both parents being
Friends in good standing, he was born a “birthright Quaker” in 1732 and raised
in a Quaker household. Although his father™s relationship to the Society became
remote, he was never disowned. His mother continued a devout Quaker her
whole life. Dickinson himself was always very aware of and interested in his
family heritage.43 In 1770 he married into one of the most prominent Quaker
families in the colonies. His wife, Mary (Polly) Norris, was the daughter of

41 Franklin™s Quaker persona in France is well-known. See, most recently, Gordon Wood, The
Americanization of Benjamin Franklin (New York: Penguin, 2004), 180, 181. Also see Alfred
Owen Aldridge, Franklin and His Contemporaries (New York: New York University Press,
1957), 59“60; Verner W. Crane, Benjamin Franklin and a Rising People (Boston: Little, Brown,
1954), 174; David Schoenbrun, Triumph in Paris: The Exploits of Benjamin Franklin (New
York: Harper & Row, 1976), 95.
42 Edward Everett Hale, Franklin in France (Boston: Roberts Bros., 1887“88), 90.
43 Flower, John Dickinson, Conservative Revolutionary, 1.
190 Quaker Constitutionalism in Theory and Practice

Isaac Norris, Jr., and was herself a paragon of Quaker virtue. Dickinson™s entire
immediate family, his wife and two daughters, were much stricter Quakers than
his parents had been.44
In his younger days, Dickinson™s Quaker leanings were not as apparent or
as fully developed as they would become in his later years. As a young man, he
refused any af¬liation with the Society of Friends, including marrying “under
the care of the meeting,” as Quaker Discipline dictated. His stubbornness on
this point occasioned a rift between him and his bride-to-be that illuminates his
thoughts about religion at the time. In a letter to his future sister-in-law, Dickin-
son spelled out his reasons for resisting the supervision of Friends and his views
on organized religion. At ¬rst, he seemed to have a dislike of Quakerism in par-
ticular, writing that Mary “has been brought up, I fear, with such a Veneration
for the Society of Friends, as teaches one to revere all its Rules as equally invi-
olable.” Dickinson was troubled by his conviction that Mary™s judgment had
been skewed by not thinking for herself and rather, that “by always conversing
with people who think & speak in one way,” she had become complacent “
and, in effect, brainwashed “ by having “the same sentiments perpetually
repeated to [her], & therefore believe[ing] them to be universally right.” But as
he explained his views further, it became clear that Dickinson was not objecting
to the principles of Friends per se, but rather to conducting one™s life accord-
ing the “the Rules of a private Society” instead of a general understanding of
“Virtue & Honor.” “[I]f an Act is not contrary to the Laws of Virtue or of our
Country,” he asked, “can any Rule of a particular Society, however positive it
may be, make that act improper or dishonourable?” Therefore, he reasoned, a
civil marriage should be suf¬cient to satisfy Mary™s sense of propriety. “Let her
only determine to consider,” Dickinson pleaded to her sister, “the Reason of
any opinions inculcated by Education, and she will distinguish between those
essential to Virtue & Piety, and those merely arbitrary & derived only from
Rules of private Men.”45 Perhaps it was this argument to reject the “rules of
men” in favor of a higher understanding of moral law gained from one™s own
or collective understanding “ very Quakerly itself “ that convinced Mary. She
and John were eventually married in a civil ceremony (but with a Quaker-style
marriage certi¬cate46 ), for which she was disowned by her meeting. Not much
later, however, Mary returned to her meeting and was reinstated after she for-
mally apologized for her transgression from the Discipline.47 From that point
she remained a member in good standing.
But Dickinson™s sympathy with Quakerism would emerge clearly over the
years as he, according to one observer, “became much more of a Friend than

44 Ibid., 148.
45 Draft of letter from John Dickinson to Sarah (Sally) Norris [1769], Ser. I. a. Correspondence,
1762“1808, RRL/HSP.
46 In the Maria Dickinson Logan Collection, HSP.
47 Philadelphia Monthly Meeting Minutes, 12th mo, 28th day 1770, FHL.
Political Schism and Rise of John Dickinson 191

formerly.”48 There was an evident progression in his thought and behavior
from someone who functioned on the spiritual outskirts of the Society of
Friends to a man who embraced Quakerism in almost every aspect of his
life. So much of a Friend did he become that by 1789 a family acquaintance
suspected that he would not approve of a non-Quaker husband for his daugh-
ter.49 Not surprisingly, the turning point in his adherence to Quakerism seems
to have been at the Revolution. Before the Revolution, for example, he saw a
clear distinction between religion and politics, writing, “Religion and Govern-
ment are certainly very different Things, instituted for different Ends” and they
should be “kept distinct and apart.”50 After the war, and what must have been
a traumatic time personally and professionally, he gradually accepted more
Quaker tenets until he was among the most serious and publicly demonstra-
tive among Friends. This in itself is telling, since, as we shall see, it was his
Quakerism that caused much of his travail during this period. Nevertheless, he
wrote after the Revolution that “[t]here is a Relation between the Principles of
Religion and the Principles of Civil Society.”51
Those unfamiliar with Quakerism ¬nd the idea of an “attender” or “fellow
traveler” a perplexing one, and this lack of understanding of Quaker culture has
occasioned much confusion on the part of scholars about Dickinson™s religious
proclivities, namely, whether he was a member of the Society of Friends.52 He
was not. He never joined the Quaker meeting. In 1807 he wrote to Reverend
Samuel Miller, “I am not, and probably never shall be united to any religious
Society, because each of them as a Society, hold principles which I cannot
adopt.”53
What is important in de¬ning Dickinson™s religion is that, unlike most reli-
gious groups, Quakers had a very ¬‚uid community in which individuals were
accepted into their midst or rejected based on their behavior and beliefs more
than their of¬cial status as recorded members. Friends and their friends moved
constantly between grace and disgrace, and the line between who was and who

48 Susanna Dillwyn to her father, September 20, 1789, quoted in Flower, John Dickinson, Con-
servative Revolutionary, 273.
49 Ibid.
50 Dickinson writing as “A. B.” Pennsylvania Journal, May 12, 1768.
51 John Dickinson, notes on government, n.d., Ser. I. b. Political, 1774“1807, n.d., RRL/HSP.
52 Quakers and non-Quakers alike have perpetuated the myth of Dickinson as a convinced Friend
for centuries. His contemporaries, including John Adams and Benjamin Rush, believed him to
be a Friend. See Bernard Knollenberg, “John Dickinson vs. John Adams,” 107; and Benjamin
Rush to John Armstrong, March 19, 1783, in L. H. Butter¬eld, ed., The Letters of Benjamin
Rush (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951), 1: 294“97. One of the earliest incidents
of this mistake appearing in the historiography is in William Wade Hinshaw The Encyclopedia
of American Quaker Genealogy (Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brothers, Inc, 1938), 505. Isaac
Sharpless names him among the Quaker politicians in Political Leaders, 224“43. Bernhard
Knollenberg corrects this misperception in “John Dickinson vs. John Adams,” 142.
53 John Dickinson to Samuel Miller, 8th mo. 10th day 1807, Ser I. a. Correspondence, 1762“1808,
RRL/HSP.
192 Quaker Constitutionalism in Theory and Practice

was not a Quaker was decidedly blurry. James Bringhurst expressed a com-
mon understanding among Friends: “I am not for con¬ning [all real Christian
followers] within the limits of our Society[,] believing they are amongst vari-
ous religious societies who endeavour to act consistent with all the knowledge
receiv™d and so far I believe are right.”54 There was a formal membership pro-
cedure, but beyond that, there were no rituals performed on a daily basis that
demarcated members from attenders of the meeting. When no records exist
about the formal membership application of an individual, we can consult the
minutes of the meeting for business, in which usually only full members were
recorded. There were, however, many people such as Dickinson whose name
never appeared in the minutes, but who were more Quakerly than many con-
vinced members. These people, who adopted most theological tenets, customs,
and principles of the Society without joining, were embraced by Quakers as
one of their own. They were something less than full members, but something
more than merely “ethnic Quakers.” This is the mold into which Dickinson
¬t. True to all fellow travelers, as we shall see, he chose what he liked from
Quakerism and rejected other aspects. For Dickinson, there was one main tenet
he could not accept. As he wrote the year before his death, “I am on all proper
occasions an advocate for the lawfulness of defensive war. This principle has
prevented me from union with Friends.”55 We should note, however, that this
was the same position held by a number of prominent Quakers when Dickin-
son entered Pennsylvania politics, including his father-in-law, Isaac Norris, Jr.,
who was never disowned by the meeting. And the peace testimony, as we have
seen, encompassed much more than simply war. It was a way of moving in the
world.
Without an understanding of the language and practice of Quakerism, it
is dif¬cult to recognize Dickinson™s expression of them in his public political
works, in which he was reserved (one might say politic); but it is hard to over-
look his af¬nity for them in his private writings and personal deportment. His
writings are suffused with religion as an organizing theme and a means for
discerning the way to civil happiness. Although his interest in religion was ecu-
menical, his inclinations were not; they were mainly, though not exclusively,
Quaker. He wrote about “the Light that Lighteth every Man that cometh into
the World”; about being “holy in all manner of conversation”; and he collected
newspapers clippings such as “SOME REMARKS, On SILENT WORSHIP or DEVOTION;
Seriously recommended to mankind universally for their most weighty con-
sideration.” He also demonstrated the unique ability of Quaker thinkers to
combine an abiding piety with a fascination with and promotion of scien-
ti¬c enquiry. His essay A Fragment, published for “the religious instruction


54 James Bringhurst to Jeremiah Wadsworth, 1st mo. 21st day 1801, Bringhurst Letters, FHL.
55 John Dickinson to Tench Coxe, January 24, 1807, quoted in Flower, John Dickinson, Conser-
vative Revolutionary, 301.
Political Schism and Rise of John Dickinson 193

of youth,” was steeped not only in Quakerly language but used religion to
explain the latest and most important scienti¬c principles.56
Over the years his outward behavior changed as well to mirror that of hon-
ored Friends, such as Anthony Benezet and the Pembertons. He adopted the
testimony of plainness, including in his speech “ using “thee” and “thou,”
taking an af¬rmation instead of an oath when he assumed the presidencies
of Delaware and Pennsylvania, and using the traditional Quaker practice of
naming the days and months by number “ and thereby made a public statement
of his af¬liation.57 James Bringhurst observed in 1799 that “he has now taken
up the cross so far as to use the plain language to all people & is diligent in
attending our religious Meetings for worship.”58 Indeed, Dickinson believed
that although “Christianity is an active, affectionate, & social Religion,” in
order to ful¬ll our “Duties to our fellow creatures[, i]t therefore requires sep-
aration from them, tho enjoining ˜that we be not conformable to the vain
fashions & Usages of the World [Rom. 12.2.].™” Dickinson worried, however,
that some Friends might have taken these testimonies too far: “In following
[the testimonies],” he cautioned, “the utmost Attention is necessary, least dis-
tinction from others by plainness of Manners & Customs assume the place of
Virtues, and become snares.” Others too had made this criticism of Quakers
throughout the decades. Yet he ultimately believed that Quaker testimonies
“may be exceedingly bene¬cial, by promoting ˜moderation™ in ourselves and
others, & especially in young persons.”59
In addition to adopting the testimonies and attending meeting several times
a week, he also assumed many of the main Quaker causes as his own, such
as abolitionism, prison reform, education, and opposition to the establishment
of theaters. For example, his “desire to prevent a continuance of slavery” was
strong enough that in 1777 he provided for the manumission of his slaves.
Recollecting the occasion, a witness noted that “his conviction of duty, on this
subject, was so strong, that it seemed to him ˜The recording Angel stood ready
to make Record against him in Heaven, had he neglected it.™”60 Bringhurst
hoped that in this regard Dickinson would undertake “an exertion of his Tal-
ents & in¬‚uence with others in high places in the World, such as General
Washington, etc. who yet hold the black people as Slaves, as his own exam-
ple would preach loudly to them.”61 And, indeed, as president of Delaware,

56 John Dickinson, manuscript notes for A Fragment (1796), Ser. I. e. Miscellaneous, 1761“1804,
n.d., RRL/HSP.
57 Flower, John Dickinson, Conservative Revolutionary, 200“01.
58 James Bringhurst to Thomas Pole, 26th of the 7th mo, 1799; and to Elizabeth Coggeshall, 8th
of the 10th mo. 1799. Bringhurst Letters, FHL.
59 John Dickinson, religious notes, n.d., Ser. I. e. Miscellaneous, 1761“1804, n.d. RRL/HSP. The
crossed out portion is Dickinson™s mistaken addition to Romans 12. 2. The language is typical
of what is found in Quaker journals of the period.
60 John Dickinson, May 12, 1777, Ser. I. e. Miscellaneous, 1761“1804, n.d., RRL/HSP.
61 James Bringhurst to Thomas Pole, 26th of the 7th mo, 1799. Bringhurst Letters, FHL.
194 Quaker Constitutionalism in Theory and Practice

Dickinson drafted a bill for the gradual emancipation of slaves, and he protested
it more vehemently than others in the Constitutional Convention.62 Prominent
Friend Warner Mif¬‚in wrote approvingly to Dickinson in 1786, praising his
testimony of plainness and af¬rming the Quaker belief that it is more impor-
tant to act like a Quaker than to become one in name: “in as much as thou
hast been favoured to do so much toward unfettering thy self from the delusive
entanglements of Temporal and Uncertain Riches, may thou be strengthened
and encouraged, (I don™t mean to come to bear the name of a Quaker[;] this
the least of my concern for thee).”63 There were, of course, still some Friends
who wistfully imagined what “a vigilant advancer of [Quaker causes] into
execution” Dickinson would be “[i]f thou wast became a member of [the]
Society.”64
By the end of his life, Dickinson had begun to proselytize in the style “ that
is to say, cordially but ¬rmly “ of the most devout Quakers of his time such
as George Churchman, Robert Pleasants, and James Bringhurst, who implored
powerful ¬gures including Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Patrick
Henry to adopt Quaker concerns as an example to others. In an 1801 letter to
Thomas Jefferson, for example, Dickinson wrote, “My Belief is unhesitating,
that by his superintending Providence a Period greatly favorable is commencing
in the destiny of the Human Race. That he may be pleased to honor thee as
an Instrument for advancing his gracious purpose and that he may be thy
Guide and Protector, is the ardent wish . . . of thy affectionate Friend.”65 When
Dickinson died in 1808, he was buried in the cemetery of Wilmington Friends
Meeting.66
In discussing Dickinson™s political thought, there is no argument here that
he adhered strictly to all tenets of traditional religious or political Quakerism,

62 John Dickinson, “An Act for the gradual Abolition of Slavery,” Logan Papers, n.d., vol. 30,
HSP.
63 Warner Mif¬‚in to John Dickinson, 8th mo. 11th day 1786, Ser. I. a. Correspondence, 1762“
1808, RRL/HSP.
64 Ann Emlen, Jr., to John Dickinson, December 21, 1787, quoted in Sharpless, Political Leaders,
238“39.
65 John Dickinson to Thomas Jefferson, 21st of the 2nd mo., 1801, Ser. I. a. Correspondence,
1762“1808, RRL/HSP.
66 The work that describes Dickinson™s Quaker connections most thoroughly and begins to make
a case for the interpretation of his political thought as part of his Friendly beliefs is Frederick
Tolles™s “John Dickinson and the Quakers,” 67“88. Although many cite the importance of
Quakerism in Dickinson™s life, says Tolles, “no one has ever tried to say with exactness just
what that Quaker in¬‚uence was or just how it expressed itself in his thought and action” (67).
Tolles has made the best attempt to date to assess this in¬‚uence, and my interpretation agrees
with his; nevertheless, he did not venture to explore the deeper meaning of Quaker political
thought that animated Dickinson™s intellect. Only a few historians have followed in this vein “
of identifying Dickinson™s Quakerism but they too neglect analysis. In his Pamphlets of the
American Revolution, 1750“1776. vol. 1 (Cambridge, MA: The Belkap Press of Harvard Uni-
versity, 1965), Bernard Bailyn cites Tolles, agreeing with him about the in¬‚uence of Quakerism
on Dickinson™s thought, but then proceeds to analyze it strictly in terms of Whig republicanism
(660“67).
Political Schism and Rise of John Dickinson 195

especially in his early years. He was indeed “too large a man to be bound in
his opinions by [Quaker] practices.”67 Likewise, many of his beliefs toward
the end of his life were commensurate with those of the other Founders and
not uniquely Quaker. There are, however, a number of principles and concerns
he espoused that were found almost exclusively among Friends. But as much
as the speci¬c doctrines he held, what makes his political theory Quaker are
the processes and methods he advocated and practiced. In most instances, even
when he appeared to be spiritually distant from Friends, he nevertheless held to
a traditional mode of Quaker political theory and practice that he had imbibed
from the culture around him. During the 1760s, he would step to the fore of
Pennsylvania and then national politics to become the Quakers™ most visible
spokesman for their political principles.


The Campaign for Royal Government
Since 1757 a controversy had been brewing between the Assembly and the
Proprietary, one which would for the ¬rst time accentuate the three strains of
Quaker-informed politics in Pennsylvania. Known as the campaign for royal
government, for many reasons, this controversy would become more extreme
than previous disputes.68 Antagonism between the Proprietary and the Assem-
bly had always been present and growing, especially in the late 1750s as defense
and ¬nance issues became more pressing. The immediate issue concerned the
Assembly™s contention that Thomas Penn™s land should be taxed and that
he should share the burden of the public revenue. Governor Andrew Hamil-
ton insisted that he would approve no laws to that effect except by royal
order. Meanwhile Penn, resentful of the Assembly™s control of the provincial
purse, instructed Hamilton to interfere with the Assembly™s power to raise
funds through taxes and interest on loans until the governor received a veto
power over their expenditure of money. With its source of income gone, the
Assembly™s existing funds dried up quickly, and by 1763, Penn thought it
would simply acquiesce to his demands. But it did not. Instead it launched
its most vehement attack against the proprietor in Pennsylvania history. The
Assembly™s goal became not just to subvert the authority of the governor and
manipulate the proprietor as in the past. This time it sought to overthrow
the government entirely, abolish their charter, and replace them both with a
royal government. The matter ultimately turned on a question that would come


67 Still´ and Ford, Life and Writings, 1: 304.
e
68 For the sake of focusing on the issue of constitutionalism and Dickinson™s philosophy, what
follows is a simpli¬cation of this episode in Pennsylvania history. The complexities of motive
and action in both the Assembly and the electorate have been addressed in detail elsewhere. See
James H. Hutson, “The Campaign to Make Pennsylvania a Royal Province, 1764“1770, Part I,”
PMHB vol. 94 (1970), 427“63; Hutson, Pennsylvania Politics; Marietta, The Reformation of
American Quakerism; David L. Jacobson, “John Dickinson™s Fight against Royal Government,
1964,” WMQ 3rd ser., vol. 19, no. 1 (1962), 64“85, 64.
196 Quaker Constitutionalism in Theory and Practice

to the fore again during the Revolution “ which constitution should Quakers
privilege? Their local provincial constitution, or the Imperial British one?
Popular sentiment against the campaign and Quakerism, fueled in part by the
Paxton incident, quickly heated up.69 “Nothing else than a King™s government
will now suit the stomach of a Quaker politician,” wrote an opponent of it.
This author seems to have a fairly clear vision of the new radicalism of the
Quaker Party:
Not that you love his Majesty neither . . . many who now push for a King™s government,
have never paid a farthing of a tax for the King™s use . . . But whether it proceeds from
a love to his Majesty, from a hatred of the Proprietor, from some hopes of keeping the
people under a Quaker-yoke for ever by this scheme, or from a desire to throw down
the whole fabric together, if you must fall, “ whatever the motive, “ you are determined
on having a King™s government.70

Other writers came out in defense of the plan. “The Quakers, when they found
Life, Liberty and Property were no longer secure under a P”“y Government,
did, from a perfect Con¬dence in their Sovereign, unite in petitioning for a
Royal Government.”71 What neither side recognized was that the Society of
Friends was not the originator of the campaign nor were most individual
Friends proponents of it.
The campaign for royal government was, in fact, a signi¬cant departure from
traditional Quaker political practice. At times when situations were tense, the
idea of resorting to a royal government had been bantered about, but it was
essentially empty talk. Friends had never seriously entertained the possibility of
putting their fate into royal hands. On the contrary, for example, when word
got out that Penn, in his frustration with the Assembly in 1704, was considering
selling Pennsylvania to the crown, the idea was met with opposition from
the Assembly.72 Likewise, when later proprietary governors had ambitions
toward a royal governorship in Pennsylvania, Quakers resisted.73 They were
afraid of losing their privileges under the crown, but it was more than that.
The extent of Quaker resistance had always remained within the bounds of
their own constitution. They con¬dently denied their proprietor his rights,
evaded royal commands, and petitioned for the removal of their governors.74
But it was not within their purview either ideologically or constitutionally to
overthrow their entire government. Despite this tradition of privileging their

69 See Beeman, Varieties of Political Experience, 241“42.
70 Williamson, The Plain Dealer, 9“10.
71 An Address to the Rev. Alison, the Rev. Mr. Ewing, and others, Trustees of the Corporation
for the Relief of Presbyterian Ministers, their Widows and Children: Being a Vindication of
the Quakers from the Aspersions of the said Trustees in their Letter published in the London
Chronicle, No. 1223, By a Lover of Truth (Philadelphia, 1765), 15.
72 See PWP, 4: 257, 381.
73 Tully, Forming American Politics, 260“61.
74 They attempted this most recently in 1742 and in 1755 Isaac Norris wrote in his letterbook that
“nothing will unite ye different Branches of ye Legislature but a removal of [Governor Robert
Hunter Morris].” Isaac Norris Letterbook, Nov. 27, 1755, 93, HSP.
Political Schism and Rise of John Dickinson 197

local constitution, in the 1740s with Kinsey™s extreme politics, Richard Peters
could write prophetically: “It is my sincere opinion that the managers of the
Opposition wou™d resign their All than give up their Power, & wou™d rather
see the Governmt. in the Hands of the Crown than the Pro[prietors]. And
on the other hand some People would rather give up the Constitution than
have the Quakers in the Legislation.”75 In one stroke, Peters predicted the two
biggest events in late-eighteenth century Pennsylvania constitutional history “
the move for a royal government in 1764 and the abolishment of the Charter
of Privileges, accomplished by Revolutionaries in 1776.
Despite popular conceptions and the continued Quaker domination of the
Assembly, the Society of Friends as a body was moving farther away from
the political scene. Beginning with that powerful epistle in 1756, they had
attempted to dissociate themselves from the dissenting culture that it had cre-
ated and that was now moving forward without it. The move for royal govern-
ment was the most salient example of the dissemination of the Quaker ethic
and the incident that accentuated a temporary break between the Society of
Friends and the Quaker Party. The Party at this time was led by two men, Ben-
jamin Franklin and lapsed Quaker Joseph Galloway.76 The ¬rst man prominent
Quaker Israel Pemberton considered to be a danger to Quakerism, and the sec-
ond he called “a weak & bad man.”77 The move for a royal government was,
in some ways, the logical culmination of Quaker dissent, but it was nothing
most Quakers ultimately advocated.
Initially, however, there was a difference of opinion within the Society on
which way to go “ with the Quaker Party as it was now manifest or with a
more traditional Quaker political practice. The split among Friends on this
issue, both in and out of of¬ce, ran to a great degree along generational lines.
Early on in the controversy, many older members, including weighty Friends
on both sides of the Atlantic, took the traditional view of Quaker politics and
opposed the petition. Among these were Isaac Norris, Israel Pemberton, John
Fothergill, and David Barclay. So vehemently did Norris object to the petition
that he resigned over it “ twice. Meanwhile, similar to twenty years earlier when
“the young fry of Quakers” were making “insolent rude Speeches . . . against all
in Authority, the King not excepted,” now a young “Set of Hotspurs” favored
the petition.78 It is important to note, however, that for a time many Quakers
in good standing, tempted by the radicalism of the leaders, believed that a
change of government was their best chance for securing religious liberty “
always their main concern. At ¬rst, members of the Assembly found Franklin™s
proposal appealing.79 Moreover, early on in the controversy, most Friends

75 Richard Peters Letterbook, 353“56, HSP.
76 Galloway was a birthright Friend but had left the Society and gravitated toward Anglicanism.
See Newcomb, Franklin and Galloway, 22.
77 Hutson, Pennsylvania Politics, 166; Israel Pemberton quoted in Marietta, The Reformation of
American Quakerism, 202.
78 Richard Peters Letterbook, 17, HSP; and Norris, quoted in Hutson, Pennsylvania Politics, 156.
79 Hutson, Pennsylvania Politics, 137.
198 Quaker Constitutionalism in Theory and Practice

understood that the issue was complex and they moderated their criticisms
of Friends who disagreed with them.80 Ultimately, however, PYM came out
against the change, urging London Meeting for Sufferings not to support the
petition either. Finally, most Friends rejected the Franklin-Galloway plan.81
A key ¬gure in their decision was John Dickinson. In the debate, he was
typical of the portion of the Assembly that opposed the petition with one
notable exception “ his age.82 At age 32, Dickinson sided ¬rmly with the
traditional position held by older Friends. After 1766 he would take over as

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