Friends and Strangers
The Making of a Creole Culture in Colonial Pennsylvania
Early American Studies
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
416 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm, 15 illus.
- ISBN: 9780812222036
- Published: May 2012
In its early years, William Penn's "Peaceable Kingdom" was anything but. Pennsylvania's governing institutions were faced with daunting challenges: Native Americans proved far less docile than Penn had hoped, the colony's non-English settlers were loath to accept Quaker authority, and Friends themselves were divided by grievous factional struggles. Yet out of this chaos emerged a colony hailed by contemporary and modern observers alike as the most liberal, tolerant, and harmonious in British America.
In Friends and Strangers, John Smolenski argues that Pennsylvania's early history can best be understood through the lens of creolization—the process by which Old World habits, values, and practices were transformed in a New World setting. Unable simply to transplant English political and legal traditions across the Atlantic, Quaker leaders gradually forged a creole civic culture that secured Quaker authority in an increasingly diverse colony. By mythologizing the colony's early settlement and casting Friends as the ideal guardians of its uniquely free and peaceful society, they succeeded in establishing a shared civic culture in which Quaker dominance seemed natural and just.
The first history of Pennsylvania's founding in more than forty years, Friends and Strangers offers a provocative new look at the transfer of English culture to North America. Setting Pennsylvania in the context of the broader Atlantic phenomenon of creolization, Smolenski's account of the Quaker colony's origins reveals the vital role this process played in creating early American society.
"In Friends and Strangers, John Smolenski balances the need for a fresh narrative of early Pennsylvania with a subtle analysis of the emergence of a 'creole culture.' His book forces us to think both about the parallel experiences of Anglo- and Latin America, and about white and black encounters, while also setting the stage for a reconsideration of the classic question of 'Americanization.'"—John L. Brooke, author of The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844
"An excellent retelling of the political history of an extraordinary colonial experiment. . . . Focusing on creolization allows Smolenski to root Pennsylvania politics in Quaker culture while also providing the basis for useful comparisons with the experiences of other charter groups in the colonial Atlantic."—Journal of American History
"John Smolenski's refreshing Friends and Strangers gives us a Pennsylvania all the more vibrant for being made in America. Here, real Quakers, unsure and often disputatious, grappled with each other and with Indians to shape the unexpectedly creole colony Pennsylvania had become by 1720, usually against William Penn's wishes. Smolenski's Pennsylvania is far more interesting, notably more American, and even more compelling than Edward Hick's idealized 'Peaceable Kingdom' paintings of the 1830s ever conveyed. Friends and Strangers brings a wonderful realism to early Pennsylvania's surprisingly bumptious history."—Jon Butler, Yale University