Synopses & Reviews
Early American Quakers have long been perceived as retiring separatists, but in Holy Nation
Sarah Crabtree transforms our historical understanding of the sect by drawing on the sermons, diaries, and correspondence of Quakers themselves. Situating Quakerism within the larger intellectual and religious undercurrents of the Atlantic World, Crabtree shows how Quakers forged a paradoxical sense of their place in the world as militant warriors fighting for peace. She argues that during the turbulent Age of Revolution and Reaction, the Religious Society of Friends forged a andldquo;holy nation,andrdquo; a transnational community of like-minded believers committed first and foremost to divine law and to one another. Declaring themselves citizens of their own nation served to underscore the decidedly un
holy nature of the nation-state, worldly governments, and profane laws. As a result, campaigns of persecution against the Friends escalated as those in power moved to declare Quakers aliens and traitors to their home countries.
Holy Nation convincingly shows that ideals and actions were inseparable for the Society of Friends, yielding an account of Quakerism that is simultaneously a history of the faith and its adherents and a history of its confrontations with the wider world. Ultimately, Crabtree argues, the conflicts experienced between obligations of church and state that Quakers faced can illuminate similar contemporary struggles.
"The mid-Atlantic colonies of 18th-century America were home to a remarkable diversity of immigrants Germans, Quakers, Moravians, Englishmen and French, among others. In this exhaustively researched and elegantly written study, Princeton historian Silver asks how all the Europeans lived side by side. The answer, Silver says, is that they were solidified into a single people during the Seven Years' War in the 1750s by the fear of Indian attack. The motley Europeans morphed into white people, defined in opposition to Indians. (An intriguing appendix reveals that colonial newspapers tended to use the adjective 'white' to describe people principally during bouts of Indian war.) But not everyone with pale skin became part of this new people the most fascinating sections of the book explore why some European settlers, such as Quakers (who were accused of betraying white people's interests), were excluded from the collective. Silver also shows how fears of Indian menace were taken up during the Revolution: patriots shored up a distinctive American identity and claimed that the British were engaging in Indian-like atrocities, such as scalping and cannibalism. Silver's study will change the way scholars think about whiteness and will reshape our understanding of how 13 distinct colonies were knit together into one nation. 13 illus., 2 maps." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The colonial communities of eighteenth-century America were perhaps the most racially, ethnically, and religiously mixed societies on earth. Lutherans and Presbyterians, Quakers, Catholics, and Covenentors, the Irish, the German, the French, the Welsh--groups that rarely intermingled in Europe--were thrown together when they confronted the American countryside. Rather than embracing the inescapable and ever-increasing diversity, the European settler communities had their very existence threatened by the tensions and fears among their own groups. Only through "Indian-hating"--in both military and rhetorical forms--could the splintered colonists find a common ground.In potent, graceful prose that sensitively unearths the social complexity and tangled history of colonial relations, Peter Silver gives us an astonishingly vivid picture of eighteenth-century America. He straddles cultural history, political history, social history, and ethnohistory to offer groundbreaking insights into the seminal forces that continue to shape the United States today.
'With remarkable literary skill, Peter Silver . . . provokes hard thinking about the basic themes of our history."Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy
'\'\\\'With remarkable literary skill, Peter Silver . . . provokes hard thinking about the basic themes of our history.\\\"Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy
Relying on meticulous original archival research, historian Peter Silver uncovers a fearful and vibrant early America in which Lutherans and Presbyterians, Quakers, Catholics and Covenanters, Irish, German, French, and Welsh all sought to lay claim to a daunting countryside. Such groups had rarely intermingled in Europe, and the divisions between them only grew'"until, with the arrival of the Seven Years" War, thousands of country people were forced to flee from Indian attack.
Silver reveals in vivid and often chilling detail how easily a rhetoric of fear can incite entire populations to violence. He shows how it was only through the shared experience of fearing and hating Indians that these Europeans, once irreconcilable, were finally united under the ideal of religious and ethnic tolerance that has since defined the best in American life.
"No recent work of history...has presented such a distinctive--and beautifully resonant--authorial voice."--John Demos, Yale University
In this investigation of Quakers in early America, Sarah Crabtree elaborates on the tensions caused by Quakersand#8217; conception of themselves as people beholden not to states but to Christ. Quakers were no less than a triple threat to their governments because they claimed loyalties above and beyond the state, resisted the military strategies that were used to bolster the state, and became political activists pushing for reform. In resisting both the compulsion and the exercise of state power, Quakers put forth alternative definitions of nation and citizenand#151;and yet, many Quakers often found themselves drawn to political and social reform efforts that required recognizing and engaging with nations and states. Crabtree argues that the resulting conflicts between obligations to church and state illuminate similar contemporary conflicts.
About the Author
Peter Silver is an assistant professor of history at Princeton University. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
Part I: Combat, 1754andndash;89
1. Zion in Crisis: Friends as the Israel of Oldand#160;
2. Lamb-Like Warriors: The Quakersandrsquo; Church Militant
Part II: Compromise, 1779andndash;1809
3. Walled Gardens: Friendsandrsquo; Schools
Part III: Concession, 1793andndash;1826
4. The Still, Small Voice: Quaker Activism
5. The Whole World My Country: A Cosmopolitan Society
Conclusion: At Peace with the World, at War with Itself