Haverford College Quaker and Special Collections
The “Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures” was established in 1756 by a group of eminent Quakers in Philadelphia following months of horrific violence between settlers and Native Americans on the Pennsylvania frontier. Self-consciously contrasting themselves with the British army, the militia, and the more militant representatives of the proprietary government, the leaders of the Friendly Association sought to establish peaceful relations with the Delaware Indians and other nearby tribes, and thereby prove the effectiveness of Quaker pacifism.
The Friendly Association was a private initiative, without the official sanction of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, but it quickly assumed a prominent role in many of the most important controversies of the day. Israel Pemberton and the other leaders of the Association sought to represent the interests of the Delaware in their ongoing dispute with the Pennsylvania government over the so-called “walking purchase.” They monitored and participated in a series of treaty negotiations in the late 1750s and early 1760s, and eventually their disputes with the proprietary government became one element in a broad Quaker campaign to establish royal government and rescind the colonial charter.
The Friendly Association papers contain hundreds of unique and detailed accounts of behind-the-scenes treaty negotiations; historical documents dating back to the early years of Pennsylvania related to Indian affairs; the correspondence of Pemberton and others relating to fund-raising and the exigencies of Pennsylvania politics; and missives from Indian leaders, transcribed or otherwise transmitted by an intricate network of Indian “go-betweens” who maintained almost constant contact with the Association.
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Preservation of the Friendly Association Papers is being supported in part by a Federal Save America's Treasures grant administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities.