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Lecture – “Prisoners of Congress: Philadelphia’s Quakers in Exile 1777-1778”

September 27, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

On Wednesday, September 27 at 7 PM, Norman E. Donoghue II will discuss his new book, Prisoners of Congress: Philadelphia’s Quakers in Exile at the Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor Center Auditorium. The event is free to attend but registration is required. Click here to register.

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 twenty men—seventeen of whom were Quakers—into exile, banishing them to Virginia, where they were held for a year.

Prisoners of Congress: Philadelphia’s Quakers in Exile, 1777-1778 (Penn State University Press, 2023) 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 United States against a pacifist religious group during the Revolutionary War era sheds new light on an essential aspect of American history. It will appeal to anyone interested in learning more about the nation’s founding.

Dr. Patrick Spero, the former Librarian & Director of the American Philosophical Society’s Library & Museum, has written of Ned’s book that it “brings to life one of the most important and compelling events of the American Revolution in Philadelphia” and that it is “an untold story of national significance.”

The talk will be held in-person only. Books will be available for purchase and a book signing with the author will be held after the talk.  This event is hosted by the David Center for the American Revolution at the American Philosophical Society.


September 27, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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Washington Crossing Historic Park
1112 River Road
Washington Crossing, PA 18977 United States
(215) 493-4076


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