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Prisoners of Congress: Philadelphia’s Quakers in Exile, 1777-1778

From the publisher:

In 1777, Congress labeled Quakers who would not take up arms in support of the War of Independence as “the most Dangerous Enemies America knows” and ordered Pennsylvania and Delaware to apprehend them. In response, Keystone State officials sent 20 men―17 of whom were Quakers―into exile, banishing them to Virginia, where they were held for a year.

Prisoners of Congress reconstructs this moment in American history through the experiences of four families: the Drinkers, the Fishers, the Pembertons and the Gilpins. Identifying them as the new nation’s first political prisoners, Norman E. Donoghue II relates how the Quakers, once the preeminent power in Pennsylvania and an integral constituency of the colonies and early republic, came to be reviled by patriots who saw refusal to fight the English as borderline sedition.

Surprising, vital and vividly told, this narrative of political and literal warfare waged by the U.S. against a pacifist religious group during the Revolutionary War era sheds new light on an essential aspect of American history.