Loading Events

« All Events

Prisoners of Congress: Philadelphia’s Quakers in Exile, 1777-1778 (Hybrid)

July 30 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


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, published by Pennsylvania 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, Donoghue 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.

About the Speaker: Norman E. “Ned” Donoghue II is an independent scholar educated in our own West Chester public schools (Henderson class of 1962). He is a graduate of Williams College and Duke Law School. He practiced law for 34 years at an international firm in Philadelphia, then retired and joined the staff of The Philadelphia Orchestra as a fundraiser during their endowment campaign. As a volunteer professional, he served as a board member and officer of both We The People 200, Inc., the nonprofit which organized in 1987 the national celebration in Philadelphia of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution and also of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, a leading sustainer of emerging talent in the performing arts. He served the latter for over 40 years until his retirement in June. His research is primarily in the field of pacifism in Pennsylvania during the American Revolution.

This event will be held in hybrid format; please reserve your ticket and indicate virtually or in person at the West Chester Friends Meeting (425 N. High Street, West Chester, PA.) Light refreshments will be served at the in-person event, and Ned Donoghue will be available to sign books after his presentation. Prisoners of Congress will be available for purchase. All registered attendees will receive the Zoom link for virtual attendance the day before the event, as well as directions for parking and event FAQs.


July 30
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Tags:
, , , ,


West Chester Friends Meeting House
425 N. High Street
West Chester, 19380 United States
+ Google Map