This book investigates the historical context, meaning, and expression of early Quaker pacifism in England and its colonies. Weddle focuses primarily on one historical moment - King Philip's War, which broke out in 1675 between English settlers and Indians in New England. Among the settlers were Quakers, adherents of the movement that had gathered by 1652 out of the religious and social turmoil of the English Civil War. King Philip's War confronted the New England Quakers with the practical need to define the parameters of their peace testimony - to test their principles and to choose how they would respond to violence. The Quaker governors of Rhode Island, for example, had to reconcile their beliefs with the need to provide for the common defense. Others had to reconcile their peace principles with such concerns as seeking refuge in garrisons, collecting taxes for war, carrying guns for self-defense as they worked in the fields, and serving in the militia. Indeed, Weddle has uncovered records of many Quakers engaged in or abetting acts of violence, thus debunking the traditional historiography of Quakers as saintly pacifists.
Weddle shows that Quaker pacifism existed as a doctrinal position before the 1660 crackdown on religious sectarians, but that it was a radical theological position rather than a pragmatic strategy. She thus convincingly refutes the Marxist argument that Quakers acted from economic and political, and not religious motives. She examines in detail how the Quakers' theology worked - how, for example, their interpretation of certain biblical passages affected their politics - and traces the evolution of the concept of pacifism from a doctrine that was essentially about protecting the state of one's own soul to one concerned with the consequences of violence to other human beings.
Meredith Baldwin Weddle is an independent scholar who has taught at Yale, the State University of New York at Purchase, and Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria.
PART ONE - THE PEACE TESTIMONY ; 1. And the Shout of a King is Amongst Us ; 2. A Killinge Instrument We May Neither Forme, Nor Beare: The Peace Testimony ; 3. Fire at the Mast: The Practice of Peace ; PART TWO - NEW ENGLAND ; 4. Bold Boyes and Blasphemers: Quakers in New England ; 5. The Habitation of the Hunted-Christ: Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations ; 6. Times of Motion and Danger: Reacting to the Fear of War, 1667-1673 ; 7. Fighting Against the Minde of God: The 1673 Exemption ; 8. Sin and Flesh: The New England Tribes: Englishmen and Indians ; PART THREE - WAR ; . 9. Midnight Shrieks and Soul-Amazing Moanes: The Rhode Island Government and King Philip's War ; 10. A Bulit Out of Everi Bush: War, Continued ; 11. To Looke to Our Selfes: Ascribing Motives to a Quaker Government in Wartime ; 12. Witnesses to the Life of Innocency: A Testimony from the Rhode Island Quakers ; 13. Run the Hazard: The Individual Quaker in King Philip's War ; 14. The Rectification of the Heart: Around the Periphery of War ; 15. All Things Have Their Beginnings ; APPENDIX 1. THE 1660 DECLARATION ; APPENDIX 2. THE 1673 EXEMPTION ; APPENDIX 3. A TESTIMONY FROM US IN SCORN CALLED QUAKERS ; APPENDIX 4. THE TASTE OF THE WORLD IN OUR OWN MOUTHS: PROBLEMS OF HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION