Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rev. William Smith vs The Quakers

Reverend William Smith, D.D. (1727-1803)
portrait by Gilbert Stuart, oil on canvas
Rev. Dr. William Smith was born at Aberdeen, Scotland, to Thomas and Elizabeth (Duncan) Smith. He attended the University of Aberdeen. In 1753, Smith wrote a pamphlet outlining his thoughts about education. The book fell into the hands of Benjamin Franklin, who asked Smith to come to Philadelphia and teach at the newly established academy there (now the University of Pennsylvania). In 1755 Smith became the first provost of the school. He held the post until 1779.
Smith was an Anglican priest and, together with William Moore, was briefly jailed in 1758 for his criticism of the military policy in the Quaker-run colony. Indeed, during the French and Indian War, Smith published two anti-Quaker pamphlets that advocated the disenfranchisement of all Quakers, who were, at the time, the political elite in Pennsylvania. Pacifist beliefs made Quakers in government reluctant to provide funds for defense. Consequently, anti-Quaker sentiment ran high, especially in the backcountry which suffered frequent raids from Indians allied with the French. Smith's second pamphlet, A Brief View of the Conduct of Pennsylvania, For the Year 1755 went so far as to suggest that while one way of "ridding our Assembly of Quakers” would be to require an oath, “another way of getting rid of them" would be "by cutting their Throats.” Smith's virulent attacks on Quakers alienated him from Franklin, who was closely allied with the Pennsylvania Assembly.
(Source: Wikipedia)