This paper explores the plight of radical Christians in Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. Pennsylvania, up until the American Revolution, was governed by Quakers, and home to people of many denominational backgrounds, including various Anabaptist sects, such as the Amish, Mennonites, and Brethren. Both Quakers and Anabaptists adhered to the most conservative interpretation of Jesus’s teachings on not resisting an evil person (Matthew 5:38-42) and the swearing of oaths (Matthew 5:33-37). When Protestant revolutionaries took over the Pennsylvania government during the War, they required all residents of Pennsylvania to take an oath of allegiance to the Colony. The Quakers and Anabaptists, because of their conscientious objection to the War and to swearing oaths, refused to do so. The revolutionaries, as a result, treated them as if they were the worst of traitors. The irony, however, is that religious freedom was one of the causes for which they fought. As a supplement, it further explores how conscientious objectors were treated in future wars, in order to show that events such as this set a precedent for the way America has interpreted religious freedom. In order to truly study history, both sides of a given issue must be examined, whether they be positive or negative.


Kevan D. Keane is a graduate student at Liberty University in the Master of Arts in History program. His primary areas of research include Colonial America, the Atlantic World, the American Revolution, and the History of Christianity. He currently resides in Lynchburg, VA, with his wife and three children.

Kevan D. Keane

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