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Friends and Strangers

The Making of a Creole Culture in Colonial Pennsylvania

By John Smolenski

Publication Year: 2012

In its early years, William Penn's "Peaceable Kingdom" was anything but. Pennsylvania's governing institutions were faced with daunting challenges: Native Americans proved far less docile than Penn had hoped, the colony's non-English settlers were loath to accept Quaker authority, and Friends themselves were divided by grievous factional struggles. Yet out of this chaos emerged a colony hailed by contemporary and modern observers alike as the most liberal, tolerant, and harmonious in British America.

In Friends and Strangers, John Smolenski argues that Pennsylvania's early history can best be understood through the lens of creolization—the process by which Old World habits, values, and practices were transformed in a New World setting. Unable simply to transplant English political and legal traditions across the Atlantic, Quaker leaders gradually forged a creole civic culture that secured Quaker authority in an increasingly diverse colony. By mythologizing the colony's early settlement and casting Friends as the ideal guardians of its uniquely free and peaceful society, they succeeded in establishing a shared civic culture in which Quaker dominance seemed natural and just.

The first history of Pennsylvania's founding in more than forty years, Friends and Strangers offers a provocative new look at the transfer of English culture to North America. Setting Pennsylvania in the context of the broader Atlantic phenomenon of creolization, Smolenski's account of the Quaker colony's origins reveals the vital role this process played in creating early American society.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Early American Studies

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Dedication Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: The Origins of Quaker Pennsylvania

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pp. 1-11

The term ‘‘creole’’ has a convoluted, even checkered, genealogy. It originated in sixteenth-century Latin America, where Portuguese and Spanish writers used the terms crioulo and criollo respectively to refer to individuals born in the Americas. Its meaning evolved over time. ...

Part I: Beginnings

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Chapter 1. Quakerism’s English Roots

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pp. 15-57

The popular account of the origin of the Society of Friends is a familiar tale. This story centers on George Fox. A visionary prodigy, Fox had pursued a spiritual calling since childhood, searching out other religious ‘‘seekers’’ and mystical kindred spirits. After much spiritual travail...

Part II: Disorder

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Chapter 2. William Penn Settles His Colony: The Problem of Legitimacy in Early Pennsylvania

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pp. 61-103

Though William Penn may have been, as one of his biographers has asserted, a reckless and negligent businessman, he was, nonetheless, a businessman.1 One of his chief concerns as he prepared to set sail across the Atlantic in late 1681 was the advertising and promotion of Pennsylvania. ...

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Chapter 3. Words and Things: Contesting Civic Identity in Early Pennsylvania

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pp. 104-148

From May to August 1685, William Penn sent a series of letters to Pennsylvania conveying his increasing frustration at the course of events in his American colony. They addressed three major themes. First, he worried about the growing reputation of lawlessness in the colony, noting...

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Chapter 4. ‘‘Bastard Quakers’’ in America: The Keithian Schism and the Creation of Creole Quakerism in Early Pennsylvania

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pp. 149-177

By 25 August 1692, Philadelphia’s justices had had enough of George Keith. What had begun as a conflict among ministers within the Quaker Meeting over the nature of Christ’s incarnate and resurrected body had escalated, leading Keith to public criticism not just of the Meeting but...

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Chapter 5. Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, I: Life on the Colonial Borderlands

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pp. 178-212

Robert Suder had bad news. The Anglican clergyman’s 1698 report home described a colony in disarray. Desperate to hold on to their power, Pennsylvania’s ruling Quakers worked to undermine their Anglican opponents at every turn. One poor soul even claimed that Friends held...

Part III: Triumph

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Chapter 6. Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, II: The Founding of Pennsylvania

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pp. 215-248

By 1709, William Penn had reached a state of utter despair about the fate of his American colony. Political opponents like David Lloyd stood firm in their perverse opposition to him at every turn. Worse, voters repeatedly rewarded Lloyd’s behavior. What governor, he asked his secretary...

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Chapter 7. The Parables of Pennsylvania Politics: The Power of Quaker Mythology

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pp. 249-285

On October 1, 1726, supporters of Sir William Keith, erstwhile lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, gathered in honor of his election to the provincial Assembly. The celebration grew raucous; Keith’s followers staged bonfires, while ships anchored along the Delaware fired their guns...

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Conclusion: Caleb Pusey, Miller Philosopher and Man of Letters

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pp. 286-296

On 25 February 1727, Caleb Pusey died in his home in Marlboro Township, Chester County. He was seventy-six. Pusey left 200 acres of land and other financial legacies to various children, stepchildren, grandchildren, and nephews. He also left behind his final unfinished literary project...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. 297-299


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pp. 301-386


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pp. 387-396


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pp. 397-401

E-ISBN-13: 9780812207248
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812222036

Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Early American Studies