Finding a Path of Virtue in a Revolutionary World

A. Glenn Crothers

in Quakers Living in the Lion's Mouth

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780813039732
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043142 | DOI:
Finding a Path of Virtue in a Revolutionary World

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This chapter examines how Friends' pacifism during the American Revolution, coupled with their decision to end slaveholding, led white Virginians to suspect Friends' patriotism. Following the example of Philadelphia Friends, Quakers in Virginia adhered closely to their pacifist beliefs, facing arrest and the distraint of property for refusing to serve in the Virginia militia. White Virginians' suspicions of Quaker disloyalty grew when local Friends offered support to the “Quaker exiles” (the Philadelphia Friends sent to Winchester for treason) and when Friends began emancipating their slaves contrary to state law in the midst of a war that imperilled slave property. Virginia Friends faced similar difficulties during the War of 1812, particularly when large numbers of African Americans ran to British lines during the invasion of Washington. Throughout both conflicts, the Society disowned those who failed to adhere to Quaker injunctions, believing that only by strict regulation of their own behavior could Friends act as the moral compass of the community.

Keywords: Quakers; Society of Friends; Revolutionary Virginia; American Revolution; War of 1812; Non-violence; Conscientious objectors; Antislavery; Runaway slaves; Alexandria, Virginia

Chapter.  13988 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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