Review Of "Walking In The Way Of Peace: Quaker Pacifism In The Seventeenth Century" By M. B. Weddle

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Weddle has revised a good dissertation into an excellent book useful for students of Colonial New England, 17th-century Quakers, and peace and conflict studies. She demonstrates that revisionist interpretation of Quaker peace testimony as a quietist response to the Fifth Monarchy revolt against Charles II is simplistic. Instead, pacifism originated early in the 1650s as an individual's quest for obedience to God, but remained ill defined. After background chapters on Britain, Weddle proves her case by showing various Quaker responses to King Philip's War. Friends, who dominated government in Rhode Island, passed a law in 1673 allowing exemption from military service for religious reasons. When the war came after 1675, Friends applied the peace testimony in diverse ways. They aided white refugees but not Native Americans. Some men refused to bear arms but served as watchmen, and there were Quaker officers and soldiers who fought and were killed in battle. Even when refusing to fight, Quaker magistrates saw their duty to the King as vigorously prosecuting what they defined as a just war. To impose pacifism would have been infringing on others' religious liberty. The book is well written and exhaustively documented; Weddle has a real gift for detailed analysis of recalcitrant sources. Highly recommended for advanced undergraduates and above.


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