Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform

Quakers in the Crosshairs: The Early Paxton Debate

After the march on Germantown, Paxton leader Matthew Smith published Declaration and Remonstrance in 1764. Following him, other pamphleteers shaped public opinion, appropriating a variety of symbols from eighteenth-century material culture—especially masks and looking-glasses—and responding to one another anonymously and through pseudonyms.

Paxton leaders and sympathizers appealed to the prejudices against Philadelphia Quakers and fears of frontier violence. Whereas critics challenged the Paxtons on rational, legal, and economic grounds, apologists conjured scenes of frontier violence to telescope the threat of Indian warfare.

Apologists particularly assailed Friends, whom they characterized as opportunistic, or, worse, immoral, in their Indian-dealing. Citing stories of Friends enlisting in the Philadelphia militia during the Paxton march, critics charged that Friends would violate the Peace Testimony, to promote peace and active oppose war, on behalf of Indians, but not their fellow settlers.

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