7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pennsylvania, 1756: Quaker Strivings for Peace amidst the French and Indian War

Israel Pemberton Jr, caricatured as "King Wampum," in a political cartoon
 mocking the Quaker government of Pennsylvania. By H. Dawkins, 1764.
Bc 612 D32a, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
The novel I’m currently finishing takes place in 1756, and delves into Pennsylvania’s greatly deteriorating relationship with the province’s Indian tribes, as well as the effort that Philadelphia Quakers put forth to bring about peace.

The French and Indian War (1754–1763), known as the Seven Years’ War in Europe, isn’t nearly as renowned as the Revolutionary War, but it was a pivotal point in American history. The French controlled Canada and had their sights set on what is now the U.S. Midwest. They hoped to thwart English expansion to the west, especially in Pennsylvania, and tried to prevent the English from buying land that belonged to the provinces tribes—primarily the Lenape (called the Delaware by European settlers), the Susquehannock, and the Shawanese.

The Lenape were already devastated by the loss of their lands in eastern Pennsylvania, particularly the infamous Walking Purchase in 1737. The tribe’s continued gross mistreatment by Pennsylvania’s government and settlers then impelled them to ally with the French and turn the frontier to the north and west of Philadelphia into “a theatre of bloodshed.”

While the non-Quaker population called for the raising of a militia for self-defense, the pacifistic Friends (Quakers) in the Pennsylvania Assembly refused. This political struggle finally ended in May 1756 when six prominent Friends resigned from the Assembly, allowing Pennsylvania to fully embrace military defenses.

To address the violence on the frontier in their own way, Friends in Philadelphia formed the Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures, under the leadership of Israel Pemberton Jr., a former assemblyman. This group worked tirelessly to forge peace with the Lenape through treating them with respect and love, working to compensate them for their losses, and acting as a liaison between the tribe and the government. The Friendly Association continued to meet with the Lenape and the Six Nations (who controlled the Lenape) throughout the French and Indian War period, providing needed provisions and assisting with multiple peace treaties, some of which were more successful than others.

In 1758, Pennsylvania passed an act that created provincial stores to provide supplies to the Indians at reasonable prices. In addition, profit from the stores’ sales would go toward the cost of schoolmasters for the Indians and other tribal expenses. The Friendly Association offered its support, hoping that the stores would benefit the tribes, but various problems developed over the next few years. After the outbreak of Pontiac’s War (1763), the stores closed.

Quaker support of the Friendly Association dwindled in the early 1760s, and, after Pontiac’s War, so did Quaker influence in Indian affairs. The British Ministry now forbid those who had no official capacity to engage with the Indians, and while Israel Pemberton and other Friendly Association leaders were still quite concerned for the Lenape’s welfare, many Friends became discouraged by the group’s inadequate results and stopped contributing funds. Eventually the group was no longer able to carry out its mission and stopped meeting.

Over the years since, the Friendly Association has garnered both praise and criticism from historians, depending on their viewpoint. Many have concluded that whatever the outcome, the group no doubt had the tribes’ interests in mind and truly hoped to bring about peace during a very turbulent time. Amid a horrible war, they gave many Indians some renewed confidence in the English (who quite honestly didn’t deserve it), and their influence with the Lenape people helped pave the way for peace treaties with other tribes. 

Still, the Friendly Association couldn’t fix what the Pennsylvania government had destroyed and had no intention of mending. In spite of the group’s inability to accomplish all it hoped to, there is no doubt that the Friendly Association had its successes as well. The group did what it could to alleviate suffering, and one can only wonder how many other lives would have been claimed during the war—both Indian and white—had it not been for their dedication.


  1. I love this article, Christy. As a Pennsylvania girl, I appreciate learning more about its history. Thanks for posting this!

    1. Thank you, Cynthia! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  2. The Quakers were a remarkable people in many ways. Many people know only the Quakers of today, which are a far cry from these 18th Century Quakers.

    1. I've found so much inspiration in my research of 18th-century Friends. They were indeed remarkable, and some Friends today are as well. Thanks for commenting, Pegg!

    2. My grandma was raised Quaker and my great-grandma stayed with the Friends, but Grandma left. Some Meetings - not all - no longer acknowledge Jesus Christ as savior. Sad.


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