The title of Richard Godbeer, World of Trouble: A Philadelphia Quaker Family’s Journey Through the American Revolution (2019) reads a bit dry. However, the story content is fascinating and well written. Based on deep research, this is history for the general reader and, particularly, for Quaker readers
This is the true story of one wealthy merchant Quaker family before, during, and after the Revolutionary War in Philadelphia. It describes the politics, Quaker community life, and the home domestic life as values and relationships changed under the influence of revolutionary events. The Godbeer description of the family’s central role in the development of the Boston Tea Party events in Philadelphia is griping. This is a Quaker page-turner.
Quakers: This book is all about Quakers and provides a revealing perspective on life as a wealthy Quaker family in the 18th century British colony and U.S. The evolving views of the Quaker family from colonists to U.S. citizens was difficult for them emotionally and politically. They groped in the fog of events to position themselves for their business interests and their social interests.
From this story, one draws a conclusion that prominent, wealthy Quakers, like others in their social class, were substantially conservative and reluctant to express views harmful to the prevailing government and public opinion. They acted within their view of integrity, as they negotiated the cross purposes with public sentiment.
The changing understanding of patriotism and loyalty to a country slipped from a universalism of interest within the British empire to a narrower colony and then inter-colony parochialism in their loyalties in the Quaker community. This gravitation from the universal to the local is akin to the current Quaker dilemma of a transforming understanding of loyalty to a nation into loyalty to the international community and earth.
- How do Quakers teach Quaker youth about the scope and content of loyalty to political entities?
- Do Quaker testimonies provide guidance in clarifying changing loyalties?
- What is the role of Quaker leaders in assisting Quakers in the management of their loyalties?
Richard Godbeer, World of Trouble: A Philadelphia Quaker Family’s Journey Through the American Revolution (2019)