Pennsylvania Legislator Explains Quaker War Funding Position

On , Pennsylvania assemblyman David Lloyd wrote to the governor about his recent request for money to raise a military force so that the British army could invade Canada:

We are very sensible that our gracious sovereign the Queen, has been at a vast expense upon the designs which the governor is pleased to mention, and were it not that the raising money to hire men to fight or kill one another is matter of conscience to us and against our religious principles, we should not be wanting, according to our small abilities, to contribute to those designs.

May it please the Governor, though we cannot for conscience sake comply with the furnishing a supply for such a defense as you propose, yet in point of gratitude of the Queen for her great and many favors to us, we have resolved to raise a present of five hundred pounds, which we humbly hope she will be pleased to accept as a testimony of our unfeigned loyalty, and thankful acknowledgments of her grace and clemency towards us and the rest of her subjects, and though the meanness of the present be such as is unworthy favor of her acceptance (which indeed is caused not through want of good will and loyal affection, but by inability and poverty occasioned by great losses, late taxes misapplied, lowness of the staple commodities of the country, great damp upon trade and our neighbors’ non-compliance with the queen’s proclamation for reducing the coin), yet we hope she will be graciously pleased to regard the hearty and cordial affections of us her poor subjects instead of a present of value, and to prevent misapplication thereof; we have agreed that it shall be accounted part of the Queen’s revenue.

We are sorry New Castle should be in such danger as your speech intimates, but are very apprehensive that if the vice admiral were more diligent in obliging the men of war allowed by the Queen for that purpose to scour the coasts of those robbers, both they at New Castle, and those here who depend on such protection would be better satisfied, and did not a compliance with their request fall under the same objection as your other proposal, we should next to that give it the preference, and have complied to the utmost with their expectation.

This dodge of responding to requests for military funding by instead giving money to the crown generically was a sort of wink-and-nod way the Quaker-dominated Assembly stayed within the letter of the law of their pacifist doctrine while at the same time not overly risking the wrath of the mother country. In this case, the governor refused to approve the bill to give this “present” to the Queen. He later complained:

The Queen having honored me with her commands that this Province should furnish out 150 men for its expedition against Canada, I called an Assembly and demanded £4,000; they being all Quakers, after much delay resolved, nemine contradicente [unanimously], that it was contrary to their religious principles to hire men to kill one another. I told some of them the Queen did not hire men to kill one another, but to destroy her enemies. One of them answered the Assembly understood English. After I had tried all ways to bring them to reason they again resolved, nemine contradicente, that they could not directly or indirectly raise money for an expedition to Canada, but they had voted the Queen £500 as a token of their respect, etc., and that the money should be put into a safe hand till they were satisfied from England it should not be employed for the use of war. I told them the Queen did not want such a sum, but being a pious and good woman perhaps she might give it to the clergy sent hither for the propagation of the Gospel; one of them answered that was worse than the other, on which arose a debate in the Assembly whether they should give money or not, since it might be employed for the use of war, or against their future establishment, and after much wise debate it was carried in the affirmative by one voice only. Their number is 26. They are entirely governed by their speaker, one David Lloyd.