Quaker Roots

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Germantown: 1683-1688

Who was living in Germantown from its founding in 1683 to the publication of the petition against slavery in 1688? Who was German, who was Mennonite, who was English, who was Quaker? Where did people worship? What did people argue about? What were the fractious issues of the time? I hope the answers to these questions will give contextual background to the 1688 petition against slavery. My last posting questioned the assumption that this petition was written by "convinced Quakers." My sources, particularly Eschelman's history of the German-Swiss in Pennsylvania and Learned's biography of Pastorius, suggested that the authors of the anti-slavery petition were, on the contrary, German Mennonites who had a less than harmonious relationship with the Quakers. This week I've continued to read Learned, and also found some Mennonite articles printed in the Mennonite Quarterly Review. This posting will be mostly a compilation of facts and raw data.

1681: Penn publishes his "Account," inviting Quaker and Mennonite communities in Holland and the Rhine to his land in the New World, Pennsylvania. (5,000 acres for 100 pounds)

Krefelders purchase land in Pennsylvania
March 10-12, 1683: Jan Strepers (Reformed from Kaldenkirchen), Dirck Sipman (Krefeld Mennonite from Krefeld) and Jacob Telner* (ex-Mennonite Quaker Preacher from Krefeld) each purchase 5,000 acres for a total of 15,000. This purchase established "an economic framework for the famous contingent of mostly Quaker emigrants from Krefeld to Pennsylvania" (Ruth, 313).
Also: Govert Ramke (Mennonite, never emigrated) purchased 1000 acres; Lenart Arets, 1000 acres; Jacob Isaac van Bebber (Mennonite, emigrated in 1684), 1000 acres); op den Graff brothers bought 2000 of Telner's 5000 in June 1683.
*Jacob Telner had visited Pennsylvania from 1678-1681 and was influential in initiating the Krefelders' purchase of lands. He was also a passionate and controversial Quaker preacher, who at times criticized George Fox.

Frankfurt Company/German Society purchase land in Pennsylvania:
April 2, 1683: Francis Daniel Pastorius given the power of attorney to act as the agent for the Frankfurt Company. He becomes the "de facto agent to the Pennsylvania government for both Frankfurt and Krefeld groupings" (Ruth, 316)
May/June, 1683: Pastorius buys 15,000 acres for the Frankfurt company (purchase made through Benjamin Furly)

Arrival in Pennsylvania:
August 20, 1683: Pastorius arrives in Philadelphia with 9 others: Jacob Shumacher, Georg Wertmüller, Isaac, Marieke, Abraham and Jacob Dilbeck, Thomas Gasper, Conrad Backer and Frances Simon (English maid).** Pastorius builds a cave-cabin in Philadelphia, where he lives for the next year or so.

October 6, 1683: Krefelders arrive in Pennsylvania. They choose a location for Germantown and begin to build a settlement.

October 12, 1683: William Penn issues a warrant for the Krefelders and German Company for 6,000 acres on the East Side of the Schuylkill River. This land is divided equally among the Krefelders and German Company. (12,000 set aside for "new Franconia; probably intended for members of the Frankfurt Company--High Germans (as opposed to the more Low-German Krefelders--who never arrived. The rest of the 'purchased' acreage was not warranted.)

The families in Germantown (by Lot), Winter 1683 (Ruth, J. "A Christian Settlement 'In Antiquam Silvam.' 1983: Mennonite Quarterly Review, Vol. VII 4, 307-338):

(East side of the Street)
1. Peter Keurlis (Reformed): Jan Strepers' brother in law, would eventually keep a tavern in the village
2. Thones Kunders (Baptized Mennonite, now Quaker): soon-to-be host of the Quaker Meeting at Germantown. Also brother-in-law of Jan Strepers
3. Jan and Mercken Lensen (Mennonite)
4. Lenart Arets: brother in law of Jan Strepers
5. Reiner Theissen: brother in law of Jan Strepers
6. Jan Lukens
7. Abrahan Tunes

(West side)
1. Jan Strepers (absent)
2. Dirck op den Graff (petition signer)
3. Herman op den Graff
4. Abraham op den Graff (petition signer)
5. Jan Siemens: brother in law for Lukens and Tunes (would die after less than two years)
6. Paul Wulff

7. Johannes Bleickers

Overall, a total of about 44 people
Note: Pastorius resided at his cave-cabin in Philadelphia from 1683-1684/5 before moving to Germantown.

Later arrivals:
At least 10 more Mennonite families arrived from 1683-73, including
Hendrick Sellen (from Krefeld)
Willem Ruttinghuysen (from Holland; moved from New York)
Dirck Keyser (from Holland; moved from New York)

From a letter written in 1690 about Germantown, cited in H. Bender's "Germantown Mennonite Church," 1933: "I came to a German village near Philadelphia, where among others, I heard Jacob Telner, a German Quaker, preaching. The village consists of 44 families, 28 of whom are Quakers, the other 16 of the Reformed Church, among whom I spoke to those who had been received as member of the Lutherans, Mennonites and Baptists, who are very much opposed to Quakerism, and therefore lovingly meet every Sunday when a Menist, Dirck Keyser from Amsterdam, reads a sermon from a book by Jobst Harmensen" (230).

Worship in Germantown: Until a church was built in 1686, worship meetings took place in the house of Thones Kunders.

Relations among settlers: Ruth reports that "early Pennsylvania, with its new mix of eager Quaker entrepreneurs, diffident Swedish farmers and diligent German weavers, proved quarrelsome and disorderly" (321).

John Ruth on the anti-slavery petition: "One of the irritations felt in Germantown produced a now-famous protest against slavery, signed by Gerrit Hendricks (a Kriegsheimer who was making plans to build a mill), Pastorius and two of the Krefeld op den Graff brothers. It was meant not so much for the general public as for the Quakers themselves, to be considered in the local meeting for discipline. Its statement that many emigrants had been nervous lest ships they had sighted on their trans-oceanic voyage turn out to be slave-hunting "Turks" was reminiscent of an incident in Pastorius' own crossing" (321).
--This is key information, and I'd like to find the sources that Ruth used for this passage. He does not mention the incident notably again. It reconfirms the Eschelman and Learned sources that claim a great deal of argumentation between Quakers and non-Quakers in Germantown and Philadelphia. Still, Ruth does not answer some of my questions. At one point, he refers to the op den Graffs and Hendricks as "ex-Mennonite Quakers," but here he implies that the do not belong to the Quaker category--or that there was a faction of Quakers with whom they dissagreed, perhaps. Basically, my questions of the religious associations of the petition writers will have to be further examined in more texts.

Random Notes:
**Ruth writes the following passage about Pastorius, which is worth discussing: "Since Pastorius and two of the Krefelders would later raise a protest against the holding of slaves in Pennsylvania, it is of interest to note here that Claypoole, merchant and fur-trader, close acquaintance of fellow-Quakers Penn and George Fox, was trying hard just at this moment to buy good Negro servants to clear the woods on property he himself had purchased in Pennsylvania. He desired slaves who would not be difficult and was willing to accept a man and a woman, since he had recently heard it said that a Negro man without a woman might become "surly," thus making prolems for the family who owned them. As for Pastorius himself , we read with some amazement that his contract with the Frankfurt Company included the stipulation that he was to oversee the ownership of any slaves who might be part of the Frankfurt property. This casts an interesting light on his famous "protest" of 1688, five years later, shared by three ex-Mennonite Quakers from Krefeld and Kriegsheim" (316).

My reaction to this passage: Interesting material, but I don't think it discredits Pastorius in the way Ruth may like. Regarding Ruth: he wrote his paper in 1983 and presented his work at the Krefeld Mennonite Church in Krefeld, Germany in honor of the 300th year anniversary of the Krefeld-Germantown migration. His paper was also published in the American Mennonite Quarterly Review, and often critiques the scholarship of Marion Learned, who wrote in 1908 for the 225th anniversary of the founding of Germantown (Ruth also admits indebtedness to Learned's research, however). Ruth writes, "Learned...had a cultural axe to grind and a thesis: that Pastorius was 'the founder of Germantown.' Overall, Ruth seems rather eager to downplay Pastorius's role and credibility. (another ex: "It was really the industriousness of the 'Krefelders" that carved Germantown out of the PA forest and made it the only such compact village to appear in the Colony. Why then is Francis Daniel Pastorius so often called the founder of Germantown--this agent whose influence over the decisions of his own "Frankfurt Company" was so small that he could never get them to send him any settlers?..." (319)).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Who were the authors of the 1688 Anti-slavery Petition?

Were they Quakers? Mennonites? What was the relationship between Quakers and Mennonites in early Germantown?

One text I've just read by H. Frank Eschelman, "Swiss and German Settlers of Penna.," (pub. 1917) makes me wonder. He writes, "Kaufmann tells us in his book and page 127 that in 1688 the Mennonites of Germantown sent their protest against slavery to the Friends quarterly meeting. This was the first known public protest in America against human slavery. It is not improper to notice that in 1712 the Assembly of PA moved by a big petition passed an Act against slavery. How different might have been the history of America if these early protests of the Mennonite Brethren and the pious pioneers of Pennsylvania had been heeded."

This passage questions some essential assumptions that I, (and as far as I know, most Quakers) have made about the 1688 Petition: that the authors were "convinced Friends," working within the context of a Quaker meeting. Eschelman frames the history in a different context: the German Mennonites were a distinct non-Quaker entity, and the 1688 petition derived from Mennonite, and not Quaker, minds.

Yet there are other important questions one must ask about this passage: 1. Who is Kaufmann? (and where does Eschelman get his infomation?) and 2. Who is Eschelman? What is his background? He is obviously partial to the Mennonites, and counts them as his "brethren," implying that he, too, is a Mennonite and that this book may be intended to illustrate the glorious past of his "people." A passage from the Introduction reinforces this supposition: "It may be very truthfully said that the pioneer Swiss and Germans...have done as much for America and have lived as nobly, and have upheld the pure religion and gospel, of our nation as faithfully as the "witch-burning" Puritans ever did...They were looked upon with jealousy by other people settled among them..." A rather shocking statement! (At least to me...)

So obviously, Eschelman's intentions must be noted and taken into account, but his information should not be discarded-- just balanced with other sources. He also writes some interesting information about the relationship between the Mennonites and Quakers in Germantown.

Take into consideration this next part:

"1693: The Germans Adhere to Fletcher; and do not side with the Quakers. Because the Quakers would not heed the demands from Great Britain to organize a military in 1692, William Penn's Government was taken out of his hands and Benjamin Fletcher of New York was made military Governor of PA. While the Germans were against anything warlike as well as the Quakers, they were glad of an opportunity to take sides against the Quakers when they had a chance, because the Quakers put them to much inconvenience and expense on account of being foreigners...Francis Daniel Pastorius, the leader of the German colony, accepted the office of Justice of the Peace and showed his willingness to break away from the Quakers and help Fletcher. These and other events show that the Germans took the opportunity of Fletcher's presence to show their dissatisfaction with the Quakers."

Again, Eschelman emphasizes the difference between Mennonites and Quakers, and illustrates their relationship as ideologically similar, but practically antagonistic. Yet what do other sources say? How is the Quaker-Mennonite relationship described and identified by other historians?

One text that provided a less opinionated account of this period was "The Life of Francis Daniel Pastorius" by Marion Dexter Learned. Written in 1908, it is based on primary sources--texts written by Pastorius or legal texts from Pennsylvania and Germany. It documents Pastorius's before and after he founded the colony of Germantown. It also shows the progressively intertwined relationship between Quakers and Mennonites.

Learned writes that William Penn made trips to Holland and Germany in 1671 and 1677, and that Quaker missionaries such as William Ames, William Caton, Stephen Crisp and others were "quietly winning new believers in Holland and Germany by making more or less systematic propaganda among the Mennonite communities" (104). In 1981, Penn made an offer to all Quaker and Mennonite communities of Holland and the Rhine to move to his newly acquired territory in Pennsylvania. On April 2, 1683, Pastorius was officially given "the care and Administration of all their Estate, lands and Rights which they lawfully obtained there of William Penn." In May/June 1683, Pastorius bought 15,000 acres of land for the Frankfurt company (110) and sailed for Pennsylvania on June 6, 1683, ahead of most German immigrants.

This early beginning shows the Mennonites as being connected to, but separate from, the Quakers. But what happened in the new colony of Germantown? Who lived there? Only Germans, or English as well? Certainly not very many people--they would have all known each other very well, and been familiar with each other's beliefs and backgrounds. My next posting will go more in depth about the makeup of Germantown in 1683-1688 based on Learned's text, keeping in mind the questions that began this posting: what did it mean to be a Quaker or a Mennonite at this time, and what was the relationship between the two groups?

Friday, October 07, 2005

An Introduction: This blog is the online companion to my senior thesis on the 17th century Quaker Anti-slavery movement in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

A quick background on me: I am a senior at Columbia University in New York, originally from Philadelphia. I am currently completing a double major in Religion and Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, but for my thesis I've decided to do research on a topic a bit more close to home--literally. From 2nd-12th grade I attended Germantown Friends School, a Quaker school founded in 1845. The school was established by the Germantown Monthly Meeting, which has a much longer history. Quakers arrived in Germantown in 1683 and the Germantown Meeting (at that time a subset of the larger Abington Monthly Meeting) was founded the same year.

Just five years later, in 1688, four Germantown Friends--Garret Hendericks, Derick up de Graeff, Francis Daniell Pastorius and Abraham up den Graef--wrote a protest against slavery, which was delivered at the Abington Montly Meeting later that year. The motion, which was deemed "too weighty" for the Monthly Meeting, was deferred to the consideration of the Quarterly Meeting at Philadelphia, where it was again deferred for the same reasons, this time to the Yearly Meeting. At the Yearly Meeting, the petition was "adjudjed not to be so proper for this Meeting to give a Positive Judgment in the Case, It having so General a Relation to many other Parts, and therefore at present they forbear it."

My thesis research will focus on the creation of--and reactions to--this document, which played an important and fascinating role in the history of the Quaker tradition and the American anti-Slavery movement. It is a highly-cited document, but scholarly research on its creation, authors and direct consequences have been minimal. So I hope my research may add to the current understanding of the roots of the Anti-Slavery movement in America, and its relationship to the Quaker community, which later became synonymous with anti-slavery sentiments. I will ask, among others, the following questions:

-Who are the authors of the 1688 Anti-Slavery protest, and where did they come from? What is their connection to the Quaker tradition? Are they Quaker converts? Were they accepted by the wider Philadelphia Quaker community? When did they immigrate to Pennsylvania and why? What else have they written? (Note: It is my understanding that the authors are all German or Dutch immigrants, who were closely connected to the Mennonite church. I am thus interested in exploring the German/Dutch-American connection, and perhaps translating relevant German documents; also, I presume there were probably questions about the authors' place in the Quaker community, both in terms of their ancestry and previous religious affiliations. How accepted were they? Was the "Quakerness" questioned? How was "Quakerness" or, in a more general sense "Americanness" (if there was such an emergent identity) posited in this place populated virtually only by immigrants?)

-What rationale do the authors use to defend their anti-slavery position? What type of language to they use? Do they appeal to Christian ideals? How do they frame their position?

-What were the reactions from the Quaker community to this document? What reverberations did the discussion of slavery have within the Quaker community, and how did the anti-slavery movement eventually become an ideal synonymous with the Quaker tradition? (Note: In order to answer this question I will be examining the minutes from the Abington and Philadephia meetings, where this issue was discussed.)

-How has this document been used throughout history to provide a narrative for the American anti-slavery movement and the Quaker tradition at-large? It is often hailed as evidence of the first anti-slavery sentiment in America. As such, it can be utilized as a celebratory point upon which to build a larger, comprehensive history. Over the years, have certain aspects of the petition been emphasized or supressed? What can these evolving histories tell us about how the same text can be used selectively through time? (Note: The original document opposes "Christians" and "Turks." Turks are posited as the accepted exampe of immoral action, but the authors then argue that Christians have actually done worse than the Turks, in bringing "negers...against their will and consent..." This is a time-specific construction, and I wonder how later readers reacted to, or ignored, this aspect of the document (or whether they read the document at all; had it just become a point of reference?). I am also interested in how Quaker history was constructed. As I wrote before, this anti-slavery petition was initially rejected by the Yearly Meeting, but the Quakers later became associated with the anti-slavery movement. Do Quaker historians ignore the initial rejection of anti-slavery action in favor of a less complex narrative? How do later Quakers tell the story of their tradition's anti-slavery past?)

Overall, I hope this blog will serve two function:
-first, to help me organize my thoughts, compile my resources, and construct a comprehensive and useful thesis.
-second, to provide a resource for other people interested in Quakerism in America or Anti-slavery history (or people who are just curious). I will post links to relevant websites and documents, so browsers can follow my narrative and create their own.

Additionally, I welcome any comments or suggestions from anyone, particularly if you know of resources that I have yet to discover!