Gospel Order among Friends: Colonial Violence and the Peace Testimony in Quaker Pennsylvania, 1681-1722
Goode, Michael J.
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This dissertation examines the development of gospel order and the Quaker peace testimony within the political and cultural milieu of Pennsylvania during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. My project uses Quaker peace discourse as a lens to explore the negotiation of colonial violence in early America. Rather than viewing Quaker peace discourse in isolation, I contend that it cannot be understood apart from the violence that underpinned the European settlement of Pennsylvania. Provincial Quakers were heavily implicated in slavery and the Atlantic slave trade, and their refusal to establish a militia and promptly remit war taxes to the Crown galvanized non-Quaker opposition in the colony and attracted the opprobrium of royalist officials. The cultural construction of Pennsylvania on Native lands also set off a contest for power in which neither Indians nor Friends could dominate the other. “Gospel Order among Friends” argues that the Quaker intimacy with colonial violence touched off a serious debate among Friends about the social, cultural, and religious meanings of peace. Provincial Quakers struggled to limit the economy of violence operating within their households, and by extension, for the colony at large. I use the term “gospel order” to describe the moral language provincial Friends employed to negotiate their collective relationship to violence. Quaker debates over gospel order culminated in the Keithian schism, one of the most serious religious and political controversies to engulf early Pennsylvania. My project treats slavery, settler-Indian conflict, and imperial warfare as interrelated forms of colonial violence and challenges the historical tendency to view peace rhetoric in isolation from the broader Anglo-American discourse on violence and social order.