Liberty and Conscience A Documentary History of Conscientious Objectors in America through the Civil War


While conscientious objection in the twentieth century has been well documented, there has been surprisingly little study of its long history in America's early conflicts. Peter Brock, one of the foremost historians of American pacifism, seeks to remedy this oversight by presenting a rich and varied collection of documents, many drawn from obscure sources, that shed new light on American religious and military history. These include legal findings, church and meeting proceedings, appeals by non-conformists to government authorities, and illuminating excerpts from personal journals.One of the most striking features to emerge from these documents is the critical role of religion in the history of American pacifism. Brock finds that virtually all who refused military service in this period were inspired by religious convictions, with Quakers frequently being the most ardent dissenters. A dramatic, powerful portrait of early American pacifism, Liberty and Conscience presents not only the thought and practice of the objectors themselves, but also the response of the authorities and the general public.

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