Friendly patriotism : British Quakerism and the Imperial nation, 1890-1910
In the arc of the years 1890 to 1910, British Quakers wrestled almost continually and inconclusively over the question of the Society of Friends' right relationship to the State, to the Empire, to politics, and to government. Conflicting pressures toward respectability and radicalism repeatedly tested the Society's loyalties to the Imperial nation and to its heritage of Dissent. It is in this period of what came to be known as the 'Quaker Renaissance' that I have located the emergence of what I call 'Friendly patriotism' - a complex set of attitudes by which public - spirited Quakers attempted to straddle multiple identities. Radical Dissenter and Evangelical Nonconformist; Christian Prophet and Subject of Empire - the 'Friendly patriot' of the period struggled to be true to sometimes wildly divergent traditions and impulses in his desire to embody an ideal of 'Christian citizenship'. No longer a 'Peculiar People', no longer relegated to a social or economic periphery, Quakers had been self-consciously integrating themselves into the mainstream of British life with enviable speed and success. At the close of the nineteenth century, the Society of Friends developed an acute sense of a special Quaker mission to improve the public culture of the day. What were perceived as the Society's unique spiritual and ethical testimonies were to become the essential ingredients of a national and international regeneration. The health of the Emprie rested, in part, with the capacity of civic-minded Friends to commit themselves to its care. Quakerism began to view itself not simply as being integrated into British public life, but integral to its further development. The welfare of the State became intimately linked to the effectiveness of Quaker participation in its political institutions. In this thesis, I have chosen to focus upon three of the most vivid expressions of the social and poltiical feeling within the Society of Friends which I have called 'Friendly patriotism'. The Quaker response to the Nonconformist campaign against the 1902 Education Act, the Quaker approach to international relations within the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European peace movement, and the Quaker crusade on behalf of Anglo-German friendship before the First World War revealed the Society's eagerness to interpret and re-interpret its extraordinary heritage of pacificsm and social responsibility in the light of the requirements of the new century. The outward turning of the Evangelical spirit, the firm conviction of Quakerism's unique message for both the churches and the governments of the world, and the profund belief in the Society of Friends' responsibility for the spiritual well-being of the Empire are reflected in each of these dimensions of the Society's life during the period. This work attempts to lift Quaker historiography out of the inevitable parochialism of 'in-house' denominational scholarship in which it has long been mired, and place a critical moment in the history of the Society of Friends within the context of a broader intellectual and cultural framework.