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Pacifism in the United States

Pacifism in the United States: From the Colonial Era to the First World War

Copyright Date: 1968
Pages: 1018
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    Pacifism in the United States
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    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7837-6
    Subjects: Philosophy
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface (pp. vii-ix)
    P. de B. B.
  3. Table of Contents (pp. xi-2)
  4. Introduction (pp. 3-18)

    On the North American continent pacifism, the renunciation of war by the individual, represented at first a transplantation into these new and open territories of an attitude that had originated among religious groups in the European homeland. Antimilitarism and the refusal to participate personally in any warlike activity formed, as it were, part of the intellectual baggage brought over the ocean by emigrants from their midst. The attempt to maintain these ideas, the transmutations and accretions that resulted from life in a new and often strange environment, and the eventual widening of the ideal of peace held by these sects...

  5. Part One: Pacifism in Colonial America and the American Revolution
    • Chapter 1 The Society of Friends in the Colonial Period outside Pennsylvania (pp. 21-80)

      The peace testimony of the colonial Quakers was, we have seen, as much an outgrowth of the parent society in Britain as were the other elements of the faith, which the “First Publishers of Truth” brought with them on their journey across the ocean. This Anglo-American Quaker connection remained lively and close well into the nineteenth century. Yet, despite the manifold similarities in belief and practice, the peace witness of the colonial Quakers was never an exact reflection of that of Friends back in Britain, for in this New World the Quaker pioneers, like their fellow citizens of other faiths,...

    • Chapter 2 The Pacifist as Magistrate: The Holy Experiment in Quaker Pennsylvania (pp. 81-132)

      William Penn’s colony on the banks of the Delaware was intended to be a “Holy Experiment” in the wilderness, a Quaker Eden almost, set down in the forests of a new and scarcely explored continent. Hopes were high at the beginning that here at last God’s children, after fighting valiantly in the Lamb’s War back in the Old World, might establish a peaceable kingdom where Friends could dwell in amity with each other and with the rest of the world. And that world too, it was still believed, would eventually be won over to the Quaker faith. Pennsylvania, as the...

    • Chapter 3 Quaker Pennsylvania: The Crisis of 1756 and Its Aftermath (pp. 133-158)

      The death in 1750 of John Kinsey—clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting for the previous twenty years, speaker of the Pennsylvania assembly since 1739, and chief justice of the provincial supreme court after 1743—symbolized the passing of an epoch: the era of close integration of the affairs of meetinghouse and political assembly. True, Kinsey had engaged in some rather dubious financial transactions during his lifetime, including misappropriation of public funds¹ (conduct that was, indeed, not at all uncommon for a British politician reared in the age of Walpole yet was extremely unseemly for a Quaker dignitary). Nevertheless, Kinsey was,...

    • Chapter 4 The German Peace Sects in Colonial America (pp. 159-182)

      The earliest settlers in the New World who held pacifist views¹ were probably Dutch Mennonites, who are known to have been living on Manhattan (then part of New Netherland) in the early 1640’s. Others are reported on Long Island in the next decade. “However, no record of an organized congregation from this early time has been found, and no permanent settlement was made by them.”²

      A second venture involving Dutch Mennonites, although even more short-lived, has left a greater trace in the records. This is the settlement founded by the Dutchman Pieter Cornells Plockhoy (ca. 1620-1700), a member of the...

    • Chapter 5 Quakers and the American Revolution (pp. 183-258)

      For all but one of the English-speaking provinces of the North American mainland the Revolutionary War brought the transition from colonial status to independence. This change was at first opposed officially by the Society of Friends and by a considerable proportion of those who remained members. Their opposition was based upon two grounds. First, and most fundamental, was Friends’ rejection of the method of war and their personal objection to taking part in it, which prevented them from giving support to a cause that was being pressed by resort to arms. All those who remained in the Society, after it...

    • Chapter 6 The Smaller Peace Sects in the American Revolution (pp. 259-284)

      The outbreak of hostilities between the British government and the American colonists marked the commencement of a time of troubles for the German peace sectaries as well as for their fellow Quaker pacifists. Both were loath to compromise their loyalty to the Crown, an attitude that brought down on them accusations—in most cases unwarranted—of Toryism. But the religious pacifism of the Society of Friends, many of whom were city dwellers with a cosmopolitan culture, took a more militant, political character than that of the simple German-speaking farmers out in the rural counties, who wished to live withdrawn from...

    • Chapter 7 The Peace Testimony of the Early American Moravians: An Ambiguous Witness (pp. 285-330)

      The Moravians emerged from somewhat the same Pietist milieu as the Dunkers. The episcopacy that they claimed derived from a church—the Unity of Czech Brethren orUnitas Fratrum—that had acknowledged back in the fifteenth century the pacifist and antistateWeltan-schauungof the sixteenth-century Anabaptists and Mennonites (al though it subsequently accommodated its political and social outlook more closely to that prevailing in society at large).¹ Like the Mennonites and Dunkers and Schwenkfelders, the first Moravians to reach America and their founder, Count von Zinzendorf, were Germans, and the church long retained the German language among its members; this...

  6. Part Two: The Peace Sects from the American Revolution to the Civil War
    • Chapter 8 The Quaker Peace Testimony, 1783-1861 (pp. 333-388)

      Seventy-eight years passed between the end of the Revolutionary War and the outbreak of the war between the states. These years saw immense changes in every aspect of the new nation’s affairs. Economic life was revolutionized; political institutions and parties were molded and remolded; social customs were transformed; new and vital intellectual trends sprang up among the educated; the religion of all classes was swept by the fires of revival and the cold winds of skepticism. Inside the three major American peace sects important developments were taking place, too. Some were beneficial to the health and well-being of these groups;...

    • Chapter 9 The Witness of the Non-Quaker Peace Sects, 1783-1861 (pp. 389-446)

      Quakers, as we noted in previous chapters, have always been assiduous record keepers. Their archives, from the local monthly meetings right up to the various yearly meetings, present to the researcher an almost frightening mass of material (even though there was, of course, considerable uniformity of conduct over the decades). However, official documents of different types by no means exhaust the sources available to writers on Quaker history. Equally, and sometimes more, revealing are the various personal records which Friends, simple and highly cultured alike, have left in the form of journals and memoirs. These were produced in large numbers...

  7. Part Three: Pacifism in the American Peace Movement before the Civil War
    • Chapter 10 The Pioneers: Dodge and Worcester (pp. 449-481)

      An organized peace movement on the American continent dates from the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars.¹ Before 1815 the pacifist position had been almost entirely confined to the peace sects: Quakers, Mennonites, Dunkers, and several smaller bodies. Outside these groups, it is true, an isolated individual in one of the other churches would very occasionally raise his voice in protest against all Christian participation in war; during the Revolutionary War, too, as shown in an earlier chapter, there have come to light cases involving conscientious objectors against militia service who had no affiliation with any of the pacifist sects. But...

    • Chapter 11 The American Peace Society: The First Decade (pp. 482-522)

      The foundation in 1828 of an American Peace Society uniting in some form of loose association the diverse groups which had been active over the last decade and a half marks a new stage in the development of the peace movement. It coincides, too, with a change in the leading figures that directed its work. Worcester retired in the same year, and Dodge had already made his important contribution by that date. The regional societies that they had founded now became merely sections of the national organization—national, however, mainly in name, for New England continued to be the center...

    • Chapter 12 The Genesis of the Garrisonian Formula: No-Government and Nonresistance (pp. 523-558)

      The first generation of American peace men, the absolute pacifists as much as the relativists, were on the whole a socially respectable group of people. This did not mean that they did not come in for their fair share of abuse, that they were not accused of subversion and of lack of patriotism and did not have to suffer a certain amount of inconvenience on this account. But they were, as we have seen, almost to a man solid citizens, upholders of the existing political and social order, protagonists of civil government insofar as it did not infringe upon the...

    • Chapter 13 The New England Non-Resistance Society (pp. 559-584)

      The founding of the New England Non-Resistance Society in September 1838 marked a dividing line in the history of the American peace movement. The radicals now had their own organization and the possibility of developing their ideas free from interference from the more conservative sections of the movement. The Society flourished for several years, attracting the allegiance of some of the most talented intellects of New England and a number of the most devoted spirits in its reform circles. Soon, however, the movement began to lose momentum, and by mid-century the Society had ceased to function altogether. Yet, during the...

    • Chapter 14 The Ideology of the New England Non-Resistance Society (pp. 585-615)

      The Declaration of Sentiments, which Garrison wrote for the new Society at the Boston Peace Convention of September 1838, had been a foundation manifesto rather than a systematic apologia for the creed of nonresistance as conceived by its New England adherents. It was, like so much that came from Garrison’s pen, highly charged with emotion and written to meet the needs of the moment. Although he composed a number of articles in behalf of nonresistance, Garrison in fact added little to the development of its ideology. For this aspect of the movement we must turn to the works of several...

    • Chapter 15 The Moderate Pacifists and the League of Universal Brotherhood (pp. 616-666)

      The adoption by the American Peace Society in 1837 of a pacifistic platform in respect to international war had not prevented the pacifists from dividing on the issue of the use of physical force in the domestic arena. The dissidents, who refused to recognize the validity of state and civil government so long as they had the slightest connection with coercive power, had broken away to form their New England Non-Resistance Society. This left wing within the peace movement had succeeded in attracting, as we have seen, some of the most energetic and single-minded, some of the most saintly, and...

    • Chapter 16 The Ebbing of the Pacifist Impulse (pp. 667-686)

      The Compromise of 1850, not the firing at Fort Sumter, finally brought down the old-time pacifist movement in the United States. Not only did the decade which followed the Compromise witness a rising tide of militancy in the North (for, if the people as a whole were very far from wishing civil war, yet feeling in the North was slowly swinging over in favor of antislavery and against the South); but the conflict which we have observed already existing within the pacifist movement itself between the demands of the abolitionist cause and the promotion of peace and conciliation also became...

  8. Part Four: Pacifism in the American Civil War
    • Chapter 17 The Civil War and the Antebellum Pacifists (pp. 689-712)

      The outbreak of hostilities between North and South in April 1861 faced the older peace movement with a crisis of conscience of the first magnitude. The friends of peace supporting a war—this seemed to make a mockery of what they had been preaching year in, year out over the previous half century. And yet for many reasons, quite apart from the pressure of public opinion on a small minority in the direction of conformity, peace workers of varying views were drawn toward a full or at least qualified endorsement of the Unionist war effort.

      In the first place, the...

    • Chapter 18 The Quakers in the Civil War (pp. 713-779)

      The story of the Quakers during the Civil War period has been told on more than one occasion. Edward Needles Wright, for instance, devoted the greater part of his study onConscientious Objectors in the Civil War(1931)¹ to the stand of the Society of Friends, while back at the end of the last century the Quaker minister, Fernando G. Cartland, compiled an artless yet moving account of the trials and tribulations of Friends under the Confederacy with the titleSouthern Heroes(1895). That there were many Friends who took the traditional conscientious objector position of their Society and that...

    • Chapter 19 Mennonites and Brethren in the Civil War (pp. 780-821)

      In the Civil War the Quaker peace testimony had continued to follow the traditional pattern. It stressed as before not merely the duty of a Christian conscience to suffer for the faith but also the rights of that conscience over against the state. It represented in its most considered form an assertion as much of civil rights as of religious obligation. The peace sects of German origin, on the other hand, remained loyal to their concept of pacifism with its careful demarcation between the world and its ways and the community of Christ’s followers. Defense of the rights of man...

    • Chapter 20 Religious Pacifism outside the Major Historic Peace Sects, 1861-1865 (pp. 822-866)

      Conscientious objection and religious pacifism during the Civil War, especially in the Northern states, was by no means confined to Quakers, Mennonites, or Brethren, or a tiny remnant left over from the prewar nonsectarian pacifist movement. In addition to the three major historic peace sects, we find a number of other denominations at that time whose members as a whole, or most of whose leaders, took a pacifist position. Sharing a common war resistance, they yet differed widely in theology, organization, social composition, and general outlook on the world. There also existed a few isolated conscientious objectors unaffiliated to any...

  9. Part Five: Pacifism between the Civil War and the First World War
    • Chapter 21 The Quaker Peace Testimony, 1865-1914 (pp. 869-888)

      Almost half a century elapsed between Appomattox and the firing of the guns of August 1914. Although the war in Europe appeared to have its roots in events remote from the North American continent, it involved the United States as an active combatant within three years of its outbreak. The First World War ultimately proved to be a landmark in American history, almost as much as it did in the history of the rest of the world. Within the narrower limits of the peace movement, too, we find that 1914 marked for both its pacifist and nonpacifist wings a turning...

    • Chapter 22 Non-Quaker Sectarian Pacifism in an Era of Peace, 1865-1914 (pp. 889-919)

      Among the Mennonites of the postbellum era the old established communities of Pennsylvania and Virginia, along with their daughter colonies in the Midwest and the Canadian settlements in Ontario, continued to pursue their agrarian way of life as a people apart, separated from their fellow citizens not only by a different religious ethos but by the barriers of language and culture. Even so, new forces were at work: German began very slowly to give way before English; wealth accumulated over the years by these frugal farmers brought new demands for the amenities provided by the outside world; the younger generation...

    • Chapter 23 The Reemergence of Nonsectarian Pacifism (pp. 920-940)

      If the Civil War had found the traditional peace sects unprepared for the ordeal, pacifism outside the peace sects had virtually ceased to exist as an organized movement even before the firing started. The slavery issue had finally dealt it a fatal blow: only a few scattered individuals salvaged their private consciences from the movement’s wreckage. Most peace workers, radicals and conservatives alike, had been swept along—some reluctantly, others eagerly—in the wave of war enthusiasm that had engulfed the Northern states, at least for a time. The bankruptcy of pacifism, indeed of the whole peace movement, at the...

  10. Conclusion (pp. 943-948)

    Pacifism in North America grew out of European roots. In the course of several centuries, however, it developed characteristics of its own. It acquired an autonomous existence, so that, although there continued to be some interconnection between the peace sectaries of the two continents and, even more, between nonsectarian peace workers on each side of the Atlantic from the first decade of the nineteenth century onward, pacifist thought and practice took on some of the coloring of its native American environment. It ceased to represent merely a reflection of, an overflow from, modes of thought and feeling that had matured...

  11. Bibliography (pp. 949-984)
  12. Index (pp. 985-1005)