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of the Province of Pensylvania,” he wrote in his diary in October 1774. “[T]he
whole House dined with Us, making near 100 Guests in the whole “ a most
elegant Entertainment. A Sentiment was given, ˜May the Sword of the Parent
never be Stain™d with the Blood of her Children.™” Adams noted that “Two or
3 broadbrims, over against me at Table “ one of em said this is not a Toast but
a Prayer, come let us join in it “ and they took their Glasses accordingly.”102
It is hard to know precisely Adams™s thoughts on this scene. It may be that
he was commenting on the antiquated Pennsylvania laws against toasting and,
perhaps, the subtle hypocrisy of cloaking a toast in a prayer; or possibly the
Quaker support for the Revolutionary cause.
With such eminent men visiting their own city, Philadelphia Quakers were
not about to let the opportunity to exert their in¬‚uence pass them by. The
Massachusetts Baptists, who had been undertaking a nonviolent campaign of
their own for religious freedom in Massachusetts, appealed to the Quakers to
confront the Massachusetts delegates on their behalf about the restriction of
their religious freedoms in that colony.103 After the delegates had convened,
98 Silas Deane to Elizabeth Deane, August 31, 1774, Delegates, 1: 16.
99 Ibid., September 19, 1774, Delegates, 1: 84.
100 Ibid., September 3, 1774, Delegates, 1: 23.
101 James Duane to Robert Livingston, January 5, 1776, Delegates, 3: 34.
102 John Adams™s Diary, October 20, 1774, Delegates, 1: 221.
103 In her study of the rise of Baptists in the South, Christine Leigh Heyrman ¬nds that Baptists were
greatly in¬‚uenced by Quaker practice, to the point of emulating them in dress, deportment,
and meeting style. See Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt (New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1997). For more on the Baptists™ civil disobedience in Massachusetts, see McLoughlin,
“Massive Civil Disobedience.”
228 The Political Quakerism of John Dickinson

Adams and a number of other men from Massachusetts were summoned to
appear before a committee of Quakers, headed by Israel Pemberton, meeting
in Carpenter™s Hall. Here Friends took the delegates to task because “the laws
of New England, and particularly of Massachusetts, were inconsistent with
[liberty of conscience], for they not only compelled men to pay to the building of
churches and support of ministers, but to go to some known religious assembly
on ¬rst days, etc.”104 Bernard Bailyn includes this event in his chapter on the
“Contagion of Liberty,” calling it “an extraordinary episode, demonstrating
vividly the mutual reinforcement that took place in the Revolution between the
struggles for civil and religious liberty.”105 But in Pennsylvania history, this
episode was nothing very extraordinary. The “great number of Quakers seated
at the long table with their broad brimmed beavers on their heads” were simply
doing what they had always done “ treating in a solemn manner with a person
or group whom they hoped to convince of their principles and to persuade to
amend their ways to be “as they were in Pennsylvania.”106 It demonstrated to
the Revolutionary leaders that the Quakers were persistent and aggressive in
exerting what pressure they could to mold society in their image.
As America moved toward civil war with Great Britain, the political leaders
were anxious that the colonists unite and show support for the American
cause. They were eagerly attentive to the tenor of popular opinion in each
colony. At this crucial moment, the delegates looked to the behavior of the
Quaker population as a barometer with which to gauge the patriotic sentiment
of the whole country. With Quakers known for their caution and desire to
preserve peace, the delegates felt they could be sure the colonists were united
and ready for resistance when Quakers joined the cause. Indicative of the
Quakers™ continued ambivalence toward resistance, John Adams observed that
there was “a most laudable Zeal, and an excellent Spirit, which every Day
increases, especially in this City. The Quakers had a General Meeting here
last Sunday, and are deeply affected with the Complexion of the Times. They
have recommended it to all their People to renounce Tea.”107 The ¬rst battles
of the war brought a wave of patriotism and support from even many of the
“stiff Quakers” who had earlier opposed the resistance.108 In June of 1775,
the Pennsylvania Assembly, still more than half Quaker, recommended the
formation of a Military Association for the protection of the city.109
Throughout the spring and summer of that year, one delegate after another
remarked incredulously on the general enthusiasm for the coming con¬‚ict, with
Quaker activity as the chief indicator. Joseph Hewes surely exaggerated when

104 John Adams quoted in Theodore Thayer, Israel Pemberton, King of the Quakers (Philadelphia:
Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1943), 209.
105 Bernard Bailyn, “Contagion of Liberty,” in Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
(Cambridge: Belknap Press, Harvard University, 1967), 268.
106 John Adams quoted in Thayer, Israel Pemberton, 209.
107 John Adams to William Tudor, September 29, 1774, Delegates, 1: 130.
108 Christopher Marshall quoted in Thayer, Pennsylvania Politics, 165.
109 PA, 8: 7237“7240; Thayer, Pennsylvania Politics, 166.
“Dickinsonian Politics” in the American Revolution 229

he wrote that “All the Quakers except a few of the old Rigid ones have taken up
arms.” “[T]here is not one Company,” he explained more realistically, “with-
out several of these people in it, and I am told one or two of the Companies are
composed entirely of Quakers.”110 Congressman Richard Caswell compared
Pennsylvania to other colonies, writing, “Here a Greater Martial Spirit prevails
if possible, than I have been describing in Virginia & Maryland.” His proof
was that “there are Several Companies of Quakers only.” Moreover, they were
enrolling “promiscuously” in other companies and rumor had it that “they will
in a few days have 3000 Men under Arms ready to defend their Liberties.”111
Silas Deane was impressed by the “high Spirits” in the city, evinced by the fact
that “the very Quakers have taken Arms, & imbodied themselves, & exercise
many of them Twice every Day.” “[B]ut,” he added cautiously, as though the
“¬ghting Quakers” were the secret weapon of the rebel army, “let no hint of
this, get into the public papers.”112
But if these accounts are to be trusted, it would have been hard indeed to
hide the preparations underway. In addition to the large numbers of Quakers
forming into militias, several of the most celebrated Revolutionary military and
political leaders were either Friends, or had very close ties to them, including,
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Wharton, Jr., Christopher Marshall, Thomas Mif-
¬‚in, Samuel Meredith, Owen and Clement Biddle, Samuel Morris, Jr., Thomas
Paine, Nathanael Greene, and Timothy Matlack. Quakers, together with the
rest of the city, “Seem Animated with one soul & Spirit for the most Vigorous
defence of American rights & Liberty.”113 With this demonstration of sup-
port from Quakers indicating the level of commitment of America as a whole
to the cause, the delegates were encouraged that Great Britain would have to
acknowledge them as a formidable enemy. Roger Sherman wrote con¬dently to
Joseph Trumbull: “you may be sure we are in earnest, when [Quakers] handle
a Musquet.”114
But more than just serving as a barometer for popular sentiment, Quakers
were a concern to the delegates for other and contradictory reasons. In the
mid-1770s, Friends still held considerable political, economic, and social in¬‚u-
ence over Pennsylvania. On the one hand, those ¬ghting against the Americans
recognized this in¬‚uence as a signi¬cant force. A spy for the British reported in
June of 1775 that “[t]here was a general review of the militia of this City this
day . . . among them there was some Company of Quackers: this example (of
the quackers) will have a great effect over all the Country people.”115 Similarly,
Hessian of¬cer Johann Heinrichs wrote that “[t]hose true Americans who take

110 Joseph Hewes to Samuel Johnston, May 11, 1775, Delegates, 1: 342.
111 Richard Caswell to William Caswell, May 11, 1775, Delegates, 1: 340.
112 Silas Deane to John Trumbull, May 12, 1775, Delegates, 25: 553.
113 Eliphalet Dyer to Joseph Trumbull, May 18, 1775, Delegates, 1: 357. On the religious af¬liation
of the radicals, see Ryerson, “Political Mobilization,” 578“81.
114 A Delegate in Congress to a Correspondent in London August 24, 1775, Delegates, 1: 705.
115 Gilbert Barkly to Grey Cooper, June 7, 1775, in Geoffrey Seed, “A British Spy in Philadelphia,”
PMHB vol. 85 (1961), 3“37, 10.
230 The Political Quakerism of John Dickinson

the greatest part [in the Revolution], are the famous Quakers. The most cele-
brated, the ¬rst ones in entire Pennsylvania and Philadelphia and Boston, are,
properly speaking, the heads of the Rebellion.”116 The rebel army, in both its
good and bad attributes, was seemingly in¬‚uenced by Quaker behavior that
Heinrichs found distasteful. The soldiers™ “bravery is surprisingly enhanced by
the enthusiasm engendered by falsehood and vagaries, which are drilled into
them, so that it requires but time and leadership to make them formidable.”
But their weakness was also a Quaker by-product: “[T]he great thing wanting
with them is subordination; for their very spirit of independence is detrimen-
tal to them; as Hans cannot concede that Peter, who is his neighbour should
command him.”117
This spirit of independence that Heinrichs observed was native to Pennsyl-
vania. Gordon Wood notes the interesting development within the Pennsyl-
vania political culture in the years leading to the Revolution. “It is ironic,”
he writes, “that both the Revolution and the rhetoric should have been so
violently extreme in Pennsylvania.” But as Wood hints at last, it was not so
very ironic that the freedoms of Pennsylvania would result in a heightened
revolutionary sentiment in that province. “By its blend of natural rusticity and
Quaker simplicity,” writes Wood, “Pennsylvania had become the epitome of
all that was good in the New World; . . . it was to America what America was
to the rest of the world “ a peculiar “land of freedom.” “Its very elements
of freedom,” Wood concludes, “bred a revolutionary situation.”118 The “very
elements” of Pennsylvania to which Wood is referring were endemic in Penn-
sylvania political culture. In the ¬rst seventy years of the colony™s life, Quakers
had cultivated a culture of dissent and resistance to what they perceived to
be arbitrary authority that spread well beyond the bounds of their immedi-
ate Society and party to permeate the entire political culture of the colony. It
was this radical dissenting culture that led to Benjamin Franklin™s campaign
for royal government, and which was now manifesting itself against the royal
government. It is no surprise, considering the extreme culture of dissent and
resistance that the Quakers fostered in their government, that many of the
most radical Revolutionaries would emerge from Pennsylvania. What Quakers
had wanted to instill was Christian morality, unity, ¬delity to government, and
peaceful dissent. What they wanted were John Dickinsons; what they got were
Benjamin Franklins and Thomas Paines.119
This oppositional energy could and did work in favor of the American cause,
but, despite the highly visible military demonstrations of some Quakers and

116 Johann Heinrichs, “Extracts from the Letter-Book of Captain Johann Heinrichs of the Hessian
Jager Corps, 1778“1780,” PMHB vol. 22, no. 2 (1898), 137“70, 137“38.
¨
117 Ibid., 139.
118 Wood, Creation of the American Republic, 85“86.
119 See also R. R. Palmer, who writes: “Quaker individualism and rational abstraction com-
bined to produce in [Paine] the pure type of cosmopolitan revolutionary,” in “Tom Paine:
Victim of the Rights of Man,” PMHB vol. 66, no 2 (1942), 161“175, 169. It should be
noted, however, that Palmer con¬‚ates Quakerism and Puritanism. See also fn. 145 in this
chapter.
“Dickinsonian Politics” in the American Revolution 231

their apparent unanimity in the Assembly, it was clear to none yet exactly
where Friends as a body stood on the question of war and independence. Nor
was it clear to supporters of the war exactly how Quakers might use their sub-
stantial power of in¬‚uence in this complicated political struggle. While most
of the delegates celebrated the Quakers™ example and leadership in the early
preparations for the con¬‚ict, others, such as Joseph Hewes, were leery that
Quakers were the leaders of a capricious oppositional fervor that might easily
turn in any direction. “A military spirit has diffused itself in an extraordinary
manner thro™ this Province,” wrote Hewes. “[I]t is said a Majority of the Quak-
ers have taken up Arms certain it is that many in this City have done it, some
of which are Of¬cers and appear in Uniform. This strong current of opposition
to ministerial measures in some instances bordering on licentiousness calls for
the most prudent and temperate deliberations of the Congress.”120
In the early phase of the con¬‚ict during the taxation controversies when the
imbalance seemed to favor the crown and weight needed to be thrown behind
American rights, economic sanctions and other protests seemed reasonable and
appropriate to Friends. At this point, Quaker protest appeared to be a species
of Whiggism. By the mid-1770s, PYM, led by those who were inclined to with-
draw, was enacting its role as trimmer and shifting its weight to the other side
of the ship, away from resistance to preserve constitutional status quo. The re-
sult was the ¬rst real separation in the history of Quakerism, based on the
divisions that began in the 1750s. A radical group calling themselves “Free
Quakers” discarded the peace testimony by taking up arms and broke with
PYM. Also known as the “Fighting Quakers,” it was these Friends whose mil-
itary preparations the delegates were watching with such interest. Philadelphia
Yearly Meeting declared in 1776: “Under af¬‚iction and sorrow we painfully
feel, for the deviation of some, who have made profession with us, from our
peaceable principles.”121 Accordingly, the Free Quakers were read out of PYM,
and they formed their own society in 1781.122 Several members then went on
to earn distinguished records in military leadership.
Because of PYM™s resistance to violence, eventually people articulated the
distinction between Quakers and Whigs that hinged on their paci¬sm. Across
the Atlantic in 1780, Horace Walpole said, “I am a settled Whig; for if one
thinks, one must before my age have ¬xed one™s creed by the lamp of one™s
own reason: but I have much Quakerism in my composition, and prefer peace
to doctrines.”123 As the con¬‚ict advanced, the Revolutionary leaders ceased to
120 Joseph Hewes to Samuel Johnston, May 23, 1775, Delegates, 397.
121 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Minutes, 21st of the 9th mo. 1776, HQC.
122 Isaac Sharpless, The Quakers in the Revolution (1902); Facsimile (Honolulu: University Press
of the Paci¬c, 2002), 209.
123 Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann, April 17, 1780, in W. S. Lewis et al., eds., Horace
Walpole™s Correspondence (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1971), 25: 40. In a letter
to Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris makes a similar, though less charitable distinction,
identifying Samuel Howel[l?], a powerful merchant, as “A Quaker who would have been a
Whig, if he had not been afraid” (Morris to Hamilton, January 27, 1784. The Papers of
Alexander Hamilton, Harold C. Syrett, et al., eds. [New York: Colombia University Press,
1967], 3: 498“503. 500).
232 The Political Quakerism of John Dickinson

generalize Friends by the example of those who would ¬ght and began char-
acterizing them by the ones who would not. Indeed, it was the case that most
Quakers were now more concerned with preserving their province of Penn-
sylvania than resisting British policy, and they attempted to quell the growing
radicalism among their countrymen.124 Since the early 1770s, PYM had begun
to publicize its concerns much more broadly and forcefully than before. For
example, leaders sent an epistle to New York Friends encouraging them to
maintain their peaceful principles, “since by doing so might in¬‚uence others to
follow a more peaceful course.”125 And they sent epistles and testimonies in
the same vein to the other colonies.126
One of the most notable Quaker-informed products of the period was writ-
ten by Joseph Galloway. His 1774 Plan of Union seems to represent a tra-
ditional Quaker stance on the con¬‚ict. Galloway, like Dickinson and PYM
Quakers, was intent on preserving the relationship with Britain. In his Plan,
he proposed a new governmental structure for the colonies that would unite
it more ¬rmly with Britain. Among other features of this new government, it
would give Americans representation in Parliament, but it would also make
the colonies clearly subordinate to Britain. Although the colonists would retain
some authority over local matters, the executive and upper house appointed by
the king would keep them ¬rmly under British control. After Galloway™s pro-
posal was rejected by Congress, he soon left Pennsylvania to support the British
in New York. This would seem to be the most likely path for conscientious
Quakers to take.
There were remaining Quakers and their ilk who, thinking like Dickinson,
were neither reluctant to defend their rights as Americans, nor, like the Free
Quakers, quick to take up arms. John Jones, a New York physician and John
Dickinson™s cousin, was one of these.127 Jones expressed his opinion to Dickin-
son on the proper course to pursue during the con¬‚ict. He desired “the recon-
ciliation between England & her Colonies, upon . . . constitutional principles,”
because those “unin¬‚uenced by party or sel¬sh views” know that “preserve[ing]
that union . . . alone must constitute our political salvation.” At the moment,
however, he felt “an equal mixture of shame & indignation at the contemptible
part which our own Province has exhibited to the world.” Accordingly, he laid
out to Dickinson “the thing which is right.” Sending delegates to Congress and

124 Mekeel, The Relation of the Quakers to the American Revolution, 85.
125 Ibid., 47.
126 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Meeting for Sufferings Minutes, 1771“80, FHL.
127 Dr. John Jones was the preeminent American surgeon in the colonies and early Republic, instru-
mental in organizing the medical department of the Continental Army during the Revolution,
attended to Washington, and was at Franklin™s deathbed. Charles A. Gliozzo, “John Jones,”
American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 12: 214“16. He
is described as a “pious, almost a primitive Quaker” by J. H. Powell, and also as a Quaker
in Gliosso™s entry, but the Dictionary of Quaker Biography in the Haverford College Quaker
Collection notes without elaboration that he was disowned. See also J. H. Powell, ¬nding aid,
item 360, JDP/LCP.
“Dickinsonian Politics” in the American Revolution 233

“strictly adher[ing] to” nonimportation was right; obstructing these measures
was not. Equally wrong, however, were the “ignorant hotheaded Demagogues,
whose highest views extended no farther than leading a mob round the City.”
All parties should unite, he said, “in opposing such shameful violence.” He
looked to Dickinson to solve the problem: “[H]appy the man who cou™d chalk
out a system of Legislative policy which would preserve to England her just
Authority, & secure to Americans the rights of Englishmen. Labour at it my
Dear Sir!”128
The year 1775 was a pivotal one for the cause “ as Dickinson™s stance
remained the same, the world around him turned. As he put it himself, his
principles and creed had not changed “a single Iota” since the con¬‚ict began.
“I have never had & now have not any Idea of Happiness for these Colonies for
several ages to come, but in a State of Dependence upon & subordination to
our Parent State.”129 He was still in fundamental, though not total agreement
with most Friends. In February, congressional delegate and speaker of the
Pennsylvania Assembly Edward Biddle wrote, “We are all in Confusion. The
Quakers are moving Heaven & Earth to defeat the Measures of the Congress
& introduce a Submission to Parliamt.”130 In this year, as the nation and
Philadelphia were precariously balanced between peace and war, Dickinson™s
job as trimmer was the most delicate it would be.
Perhaps the best example of Dickinson™s political philosophy and his stance
as trimmer during this period is his authorship of two apparently opposing
documents that appeared on consecutive days in 1775 “ The Olive Branch
Petition, issued by Congress on July 5, and the Declaration for the Causes and
Necessity of Taking up Arms, issued the sixth. The Olive Branch Petition is the
best known of his efforts at reconciliation. A reluctant and impatient Congress
appointed a committee to draft a plea to the crown. John Jay produced a draft
with harsh language and threats of rebellion, but it was Dickinson™s version,
proclaiming the colonies™ suffering and their loyalty to the king and placing
the blame for the controversy with the king™s ministers, that was adopted
and submitted.131 The king, of course, dismissed the petition, and the war
proceeded.
We must not forget, however, that Dickinson was not a Quaker; he was
not a rigid paci¬st in the most basic sense of rejecting all violence in every
circumstance. He believed in the “lawfulness of defensive war.” He strove
for the best outcome, but prepared for the worst, continuing to press for
reconciliation, even as he prepared for war. In June he had become the chairman
of the Committee on Public Safety and in that capacity organized a company


128 John Jones to John Dickinson, March 20, 1775, Incoming Correspondence, Sept. 22, 1759 “
June 23, 1782, JDP/LCP.
129 John Dickinson, “Notes for a Speech in Congress,” May 23, 1775, Delegates, 1: 378.
130 Edward Biddle to Jonathan Pott, February 25, 1775, Delegates, 1: 315.
131 John Jay, draft of the Olive Branch Petition, 1775, in Government Documents, Revolution and
Early National Period, 1765“1788, JDP/LCP.
234 The Political Quakerism of John Dickinson

of Associators, the ¬rst battalion of troops raised in Philadelphia, of which he
was the colonel.132
Accordingly, the next day, after approving the Olive Branch Petition,
Congress issued A Declaration for Taking Up Arms. Various drafts were pro-
duced in a tense collaboration between Thomas Jefferson and Dickinson. One
added ¬ery and aggressive tones, promising a formidable threat from America
and a prolonged war. The other used language that was mild and conciliatory.
While logic would seem to suggest that Jefferson would have penned the more
bellicose lines and, indeed, he later claimed to have written them, the historical
record proved him wrong when the draft with the harsher language was found
in Dickinson™s papers in Dickinson™s own hand.133 And on closer inspection,
Dickinson™s authorship of these portions actually makes more sense. Dickinson
was trying to avert war; Jefferson was, if not in favor of it, then at least not
opposed. Thus Dickinson, unlike Jefferson, had a motive to write a declaration
that would give the British pause. His tack was to produce such “apprehen-
sions” in England that they might “procure Relief of all our Grievances.”134
There is thus a continuity of purpose between the Olive Branch Petition and
the Declaration that belies the super¬cial impression either that Jefferson wrote
the Declaration or Dickinson had come to support rebellion.
Probably with the Olive Branch Petition in mind, some of his colleagues
began to murmur unfavorably. “Mr Dickinson the Pensylvania farmer as he
is Called in his Writings,” said Congressman Eliphalet Dyer, “is lately most
bitter against us & Indeavours to make every ill Impression upon the Congress
against us but I may say he is not very highly Esteemd in Congress.”135 In the
same vein as the Petition, on November 9 Dickinson wrote the document that
would become the single biggest hindrance to the Revolutionary movement “
the Instructions of the Pennsylvania Assembly to the Delegates in Congress,
which restricted this central-most colony to pursuing reconciliation and no
more.136 “He has taken,” observed Dyer, “a part very different from what I
believe was expected from the Country in general or from his Constituents.”137
Misunderstanding Dickinson™s principles, he would later write, “tho™ a whig
in principle . . . his nerves were weak.”138

132 “John Dickinson,” in Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution (Washington, DC: Center of Mil-
itary History, U.S. Army, 1987), 82“84, 83.
133 It does not appear that Dickinson and Jefferson sat down together to write this, as the term
collaboration would imply. Rather they seem to have only reviewed one another™s drafts. For a
fuller discussion of the genesis of this document, see Julian P. Boyd, “The Disputed Authorship
of The Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms, 1775,” PMHB vol. 74
(1950), 51“73. A close comparison of the drafts can be found in Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The
Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1950), 1: 187“219.
134 Dickinson, “Notes for a Speech in Congress,” May 23, 1775, Delegates, 1: 372.
135 Eliphalet Dyer to William Judd, July 23, 1775, Delegates, 1: 654.
136 “John Dickinson™s Proposed Instructions of Pennsylvania Assembly to the Delegates in
Congress,” Nov. 9, 1775, Delegates, 2: 319“21.
137 Eliphalet Dyer to William Judd, July 23, 1775, Delegates, 1: 654.
138 “Copy of a paper drawn up by Joseph Reed for W. Henry Drayton” (1774), Maria Dickinson
Logan Collection, HSP.
“Dickinsonian Politics” in the American Revolution 235

Last Resistance to Revolution, 1776
By the advent of 1776, Pennsylvania was the locus of the American Revolu-
tion. Although there were other colonies uncertain about the decision to revolt,
it was in great part this colony on which a declaration of independence and
success of the Revolution depended. The year began with a ¬‚urry of activ-
ity. In Congress, Dickinson authored a myriad of instructions, proposals, and
speeches for negotiations with Britain.139 The delegates to Congress were soon
abuzz about Dickinson, “the eldest Colonel” in Pennsylvania who “cheerfully”
stepped forward and “insisted on his right to command” a detachment being
sent to New York to meet the British.140 As Dickinson had said in 1775,
preparations for war “must go pari passu with Measure of Reconciliation.”141
At the same time, a print war that would have major implications for the
progress of the cause was taking place in Pennsylvania. First, on January 8,
Thomas Paine published Common Sense. Within days, on January 20, PYM
responded with a testimony addressed to the “people in general” of America.142
If there were any lingering doubt about where Quakers as a body stood on the
issue of war and independence, this resolved it. The purpose of the Testi-
mony was for Friends to explain their position on religious duty, government,
and revolution, to present a model for non-Friends to follow and to absolve
themselves of any complicity with one side or another. Quoting from The
History of the Rise, Increase, and Progress, of the Christian People Called
Quakers (1722) by William Sewell, they explained their understanding of the
government as a sacred institution and how man ought therefore to relate
to it:

It hath ever been our judgment and principle, since we were called to profess the Light of
Christ Jesus, manifested in our consciences unto this day that the setting up, and putting
down kings and governments, is God™s peculiar prerogative; for causes best known to
himself: and that it is not our business, to have any hand or contrivance therein; nor to
be busybodies above our station, much less to plot and contrive the ruin, or overturn
of any of them, but to pray for the king, and safety of our nation, and good of all
men; that we may live a peaceable and quiet life, in all godliness and honesty; under the
government which God is pleased to set over us.143

139 These include the Grievances and Resolves of Congress, the ¬rst Petition to the King, and the
Letter to the Inhabitants of Quebec.
140 Joseph Hewes to Samuel Johnston, February 13, 1776, Delegates, 3: 247; and John Hancock
to George Washington, Feb. 12, 1776, Delegates, 3: 236. Others to comment on or soon
after February 13 were John Adams to John Trumbull; John Adams to Abigail Adams; Josiah
Bartlett to John Langdon; John Hancock to Thomas Cushing; Robert Morris to Charles Lee,
Delegates, 3: 241“44, 267.

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