By William J. Frost
Using a large choice of sources--laws, complaints, church documents, sermons, political tracts, diaries, newspapers, and executive records--Frost lines the improvement of spiritual freedom in Pennsylvania from the founding of the colony as much as global conflict II.
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Extra info for A Perfect Freedom: Religious Liberty in Pennsylvania
The first element of natural law was the right of self-preservation. 36 An individual might have the right to sacrifice his life to a religious belief, but the state could not cause people to sacrifice their lives and property for a belief that the majority did not accept. Quakers had not been conspicuous followers of the Gospel. They PACIFISM AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY 37 had used the fruits of early arrival, hard work, and speculation to amass wealth. Such wealth tempted foreign powers, because the Friends would not defend it by military means.
Except for Penn, all the colony's governors after 1688 were non-Quaker, and beginning with Lieutenant Governor Blackwell (1688), each executive recommended to the assembly the creation of a militia and appropriations for fortifications. In 1693 the assembly's bill to create a militia passed through a second reading, but was defeated on the third reading. The assembly in 1696, 1709, and 1711 voted funds only in response to 29 30 A PERFECT FREEDOM specific commands from the English government, but never as much as was requested and not for direct military expenses.
Until 1714 the assembly and governor could not agree, and when a law did pass in Pennsylvania it was disallowed in England as potentially interfering with the rights of property. 66 For fifteen years after 1715 there was no discussion of a bill entitling religious societies to own land. In 1730 the issue again became important, and involved Anglican and dissenters' property rights, only this time the conflict was with the Baptists. Originally, in 1695, Baptists and Presbyterians worshiped together in Philadelphia but, growing in strength, the Presbyterians managed to gain control of the building and insisted on using it alone.