Joseph Downing’s View on the Idea of Independence

Joseph Downing was a Quaker which caused him to not support the War at its outbreak. This was mostly due to the fact that as a member of The Religious Society of Friends, otherwise known as Quakers, they were pacifists. 

The Drinker and Downing family come from a merchant background so during the events that we’re talking hold in the colonies he was impacted quite hard. The taxes on all the goods that were coming from the Empire, such as tea, glass, paper, etc. was hurting his business. This caused Joseph not to be fond of the British Crown or Parliament. After all the British were making it very hard for most merchants to make a proper living. 

The Townshend Duties effected the merchants to another degree. After the passage of the Townshend Duties, the colonies went into a massive boycott effort. This was so successful that merchants make in Britain lobbied Parliament to repeal the Townshend Duties. This although on the surface looks good Parliament would eventually keep the Tea tax part of the Townshend Duties and rebrand it the Tea Act. 

The Boston Massacre was a major story for almost every American. Joseph Downing would have most likely did not support the actions of either side. Sadly, though the marketing and telling of the stories were strongly biased towards the British being the aggressors. Even though both the British and Colonist were both being aggressive towards each other and even today we are not sure which side gave the order to fire. Due to all of this Joseph Downing probably sided with the Colonist. 

The Tea Act, passed in 1773, would allow the East Indian Company to ship their tea straight to the American Colonies. This was done to help the struggling East Indian Company, which was an integral part of the British Economy. The new Tea Act of 1773 was also boycotted even harder than the previous taxes. This would lead to the Boston Tea Party. 

Joseph Downing being a Quaker and a pacifist would not want any violence when it came to the taxes but never the less, he did not like the taxes what so ever. This was because he was a merchant and was not making nearly as much as he was before the taxation and eventual boycotts. 

After the repeal of the Tea Act due to the actions of the Tea Party and the boycotts that were happening all over the Colonies. Things were not all positive though because the British Parliament had decided to put their foot down and pass the Intolerable Acts. These included the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Administrative Justice Act, and the Quebec Act. The Boston Port Act would close Boston’s Harbor. This was a direct response to the Boston Tea Party. The Massachusetts Government Act was an Act to better regulating the government of the province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. The Administrative Justice Act was an act to the impartial administration of justice in the case of persons questioned for any acts done by them in the execution of the law, or for the suppression of riots and tumults, in the province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England. Finally, the Quebec Act would give all of the lands that were previously blocked to the American Colonists to the provisional government of Quebec. 

These Acts probably didn’t affect Joseph Downing, unlike other wealthier American Colonist. This was because didn’t have plans to go out west or to spectate the land and sell it to other people that we know of. He also didn’t live in Massachusetts who was affected heavily by the new Intolerable Acts. This is shown from most accounts of Joseph Downing he was unaffected by the new Intolerable Acts. 

Finally, Independence and The American Revolution. Joseph Downing as stated earlier is a Quaker and Pacifist so he didn’t enlist in the war for either side. Unlike his family members such as Elizabeth Drinker, who stayed neutral as best as she could, Joseph Downing had American ties. He would open his land and barn up to the American Soldiers as a Hospital. His property to this day still has dozens of American Soldiers buried there. So even though he did not partake or even want the fighting he did assist the Americans as best as he could. This would save him from being branded as a Loyalist as many Quakers how stayed neutral were. Eventually, he would be recognized as Patriot according to the Daughters of America. 

Sarah Drinker-Downing and the Imperial Crisis

A top-down approach to history has often been the norm.  It is, after all, the decisions of those at the top that have the most impact on historical events.  The goings-on of the common person surely cannot compare to the actions of those in power, whose decisions have clear consequences for nations.  The words of kings have more weight than the words of coopers.

This type of examination, however, ignores crucial viewpoints into the events, their causes, and their impact upon the common person.  The top-down view doesn’t fully explain why the decisions at the upper echelons upset the populace.  The top-down view doesn’t allow for an examination of how the decisions at the top funnel their way down, how the consequences of these decisions disrupt the lives of the working class, affects the purchases of the middle class, and forces the merchants to change their plans.  These events have just as much impact upon history as the decisions of the ruling classes.  Events in history are bottom-up as well as top-down.

The top-down view tends to promote the idea that Event A caused Event B which led to Event C. History, however, is not linear.  Event A caused events B through L, and B through L each propagated their own effects until we finally arrive at the event of principal interest, Event Double-Theta.  This is how the bottom-up perspective works:  As the events in question touch the lives of more and more people, it takes on more and more consequences.  Taking the analogy to its logical and cliché conclusion, history isn’t a straight line so much as it’s a handful of pebbles tossed into a pond, the ripples propagating out and interacting with one another.

It is, therefore, the bottom-up study of history that provides for a more complete understanding of events. History is not only the decisions made by kings, but also what happens to people.

Sarah Drinker-Downing, the eldest child of Henry and Elizabeth Drinker, was a child throughout most of the Imperial Crisis.  Born in 1761, Sarah turned 15 the year the American colonies declared independence.  Sarah, therefore, was coming of age as the pivotal events of her generation were occurring.  How did Sarah react to the events that would shape the world in the coming years?

Unfortunately Sarah was not the diarist her mother was.  All the information specific to Sarah available to me comes from her mother’s diary, which at the time was primarily focused upon Sarah’s schooling and some childhood illnesses.  Sarah’s voice has, unfortunately, been lost to history.  Any insight she may have had into the events surrounding her childhood was not recorded.

However, given what we know about her and her household, I feel comfortable in stating that Sarah Drinker did not view herself as one of the movers and shakers of the British Empire.  Being a child, she would have been aware that her voice, both literally and metaphorically, very small indeed, especially as a girl (again, both literally and metaphorically).  Children rarely view themselves as having a say in the greater world

Despite her family being fairly affluent, her household would have felt their own voices being similarly small due to the humility resulting from their Quaker beliefs.  At his most prideful moments, Sarah’s father Henry may have had a more elevated view of his place in the British Empire, but he certainly wouldn’t have viewed himself as being at the same level as Parliament and the king:  His position as an influential Philadelphia merchant placed him what is unquestionably an elevated position in society, but certainly not among the movers and shakers of the Empire.

Concerns about taxes and land

My main concern as, Henry Drinker a Quaker is the issue of land because I concerned about the expansion of the Colonies. My religious beliefs include pacifism which means I don’t participate in war or violence. If we continue to grow, we will require more land and resources which will lead to conflict with the Indians. I am gravely concerned about the rumors of massacres on the Frontier and the Quaker Council of Philadelphia have petitioned the British Government to end the skirmishing between the British Military and Indians. These battles end up causing innocent people to lose their lives due to both British and Indian atrocities. It is great that we won the Seven Year’s War and acquired new territory in Canada, but the Indigenous people still do pose an issue with their nomadic lifestyle. I own a large amount of land, at this point and would like to develop a lot of it but am wary of war’s impact upon my investment opportunity. There is tremendous opportunity due to our victory, but we need to figure out how to live harmoniously with the Indians. If I were in charge I would try to negotiate terms of expansion with the Indians. I would try to compensate them for their land or integrate them into our cities. We have products they want and need lets compensate them not fight and waste lives and resources on costly wars.

            I am not too concerned about taxes because I like the relatively peaceful society of Philadelphia. The Crown does a good job of maintaining the free trade routes across the Atlantic Ocean. I like the fact that the Colonial Government is generally allowed to pass its own legislation and taxes are low enough for me to maintain my lifestyle. I do see an issue of rising taxes on the horizon because the British Government has a lot of debt on its books and Colonists have not needed to pay for a lot of the wars and Colonial defense costs.

            T.H Green sees the American Revolution as a unique event that unified ordinary citizens into a fighting force that resisted the most powerful empire at the time. Then, successfully unified to create a state. In other words, the American Revolution was truly a revolution of the people, not dividing them by genders, geography or area. Millions of average men, women and children all came together to rise up and take their freedom by force. The French Revolution was a class war between the have’s and have not’s. The American unification is much more impressive because of limited communication technology. How did over one million people in the countryside and in the cities unite with horse back and shipping being the fastest modes of communication? Nowadays it is easy to get one million people to hashtag one idea. I can’t imagine getting one million people to do anything in tandem before the age of electronics. T.H Green’s examination of the ideas that founded America is centered around getting a mass of ordinary people to transcend their squabbles and unite to follow ideas of liberty.

            Next, Elliga Gould chronicles the spread of ideas in the American cities. I imagine he views the ideas spreading like a virus through the public. The ideas were concentrated in the cities then spread to rural areas over time with trade. Henry Drinker would be happy about the ideas of liberty as a teacher of philosophy and Quaker but dismayed with the thought of violence against the crown.

Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker

            Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker was a shining example of the Quaker plight throughout the American Revolution. The Quakers, while often loyal to England in ideation, were truly committed to peace and non-violence. As a people stubborn in their values, they were incongruent with the growing sentiment of revolution. While passive to both sides of the American Revolution, Elizabeth Drinker and fellow Quakers found themselves in much dispute with the revolutionaries whom expected the Quakers to support them in combat and conflict.

            The Drinker family had come from Ireland early in the 18th century to settle in the colonies. The Drinker Household was quite affluent thanks to the prominence of Henry (Elizabeth’s husband) as a merchant. Elizabeth and Henry had 5 children, all of whom enjoyed high socioeconomic status in their Philadelphia home. However, the Drinker family’s future became uncertain with rising dissent towards the English government, a government Henry had business arrangements with.  In 1777, Elizabeth’s husband Henry was exiled from Philadelphia to Virginia over his noncooperation with revolutionary efforts. Negotiating his return was Elizabeth’s first major clash with the local governance.

            Following Henry’s exile, Elizabeth sought audience with George and Martha Washington. While she was unable to conscript Washington’s aid in returning Henry, Elizabeth did obtain a permit to travel and meet Henry. Soon after reuniting in Virginia, both Drinkers were allowed to return to Philadelphia together. However, this was far from the last of Elizabeth’s problems with surrounding government figures.

            Until the end of the war Elizabeth fought a constant battle to retain her own property. British soldiers occupied Philadelphia and would often simply seize any necessary lodging or resources from the regular citizens. Drinker, having many such resources, would often find herself arguing her way out of having her livestock taken. While she couldn’t keep everything the soldiers tried taking, Elizabeth admirably warded off more than enough seizures to survive.

            Unable to catch a break, the Drinkers later found themselves in trouble with the returning American army. Having taken Philadelphia back from a government that over-imposed taxes, the Americans began over-imposing taxes and robbed Drinker of several livestock. Somehow, the Drinkers had been stepped on by both sides of the American conflict.

            The citizens of Philadelphia were not much kinder to the Quaker families. Due to their nonviolent beliefs, Quakers would not celebrate American combat victories. The Americans took this as an affront to their cause and would riot, causing much damage to the properties of Elizabeth Drinker and many other Quakers.

            All things considered, the Drinker family remained tough, and thanks to huge effort from Elizabeth much of the potential damage to them had been curtailed. Elizabeth, a nonviolent living in a time of war, managed to secure permission for her husband to return from exile, and was able to keep armed soldiers from seizing much of her property. The life of Elizabeth Drinker is a testament to all those who believe a peaceful resolution to exist concerning all problems.

            And of course, most notably is Elizabeth Drinker’s Diary. For the final 50 years of her life, Elizabeth kept a detailed record of not only her life, but the lives of many proximal Philadelphians. Henry’s affluence allowed her to dedicate herself to this preservation of American History. She filled the pages with an almanac-esque prerogative, her passages encompassing a rich variety of topics surrounding the life of the Philadelphian. The diary continues to be hailed as a paramount source of historical data surrounding the lives of late 18th century Philadelphians.

Introducing Joseph Downing

Joseph Downing apart of the Drinker Household based in Philadelphia. He was born June 20th, 1734. He would die October 7th, 1804. Joseph was the son of Thomas Downing and Thomazine Beer Downing. He was a landowner how didn’t serve in the Revolutionary War but did help and provide for the American Forces.

I will be representing Joseph Downing. My name is Matthew Ross I am a Second Semester Freshmen who is majoring in Chemistry. After Graduating from Shepherd I want to get my Ph.D. in Chemistry to be a Pharmaceutical Research Scientist. It might seem weird that I am taking such I high-level history class if it has nothing to do with my major and that would be true but I really enjoy history and the Professor who teach it.