Atlantic Mobilities and the Defiance of the Early Quakers

In: Journal of Early Modern History
Carla Gardina Pestana University of California Los Angeles Los Angeles, California USA

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By the mid-1650s, the Quakers participated in an astounding campaign to spread the news of their movement. Bent on convincing everyone, they traveled through Europe, the Mediterranean, and the English Atlantic colonies. This missionary campaign was unusual in that individual converts made the decision to travel of their own accord and they did so extensively for over a decade. This travel was unstructured, even chaotic, and yet it had a major impact by spreading convincement far and wide. Quaker mobility increased the number and the spread of adherents, establishing widely scattered communities of Friends. In response to Quaker success, in the mid-1660s English authorities tried to adapt coerced transportation to rid communities of Quakers. This effort revealed a “moral economy of transportation,” in which moves to dispatch individuals were judged and, at times, resisted. Both the movement of Quakers and the efforts of officials depended upon new routes of travel and practices of coerced migration, indicative of changes in the movement of peoples that the seventeenth century witnessed.

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