Monday, August 6, 2012

August 06, 2012

American Protestants and the French and Indian War

Lately I have included the Anabaptists and Quaker more in my studies, and I learned some very interesting things about the French and Indian War of the 1750s and 60s. (Up until a few years ago I did not know that the “French” and the “Indians” were not the opposing sides; they fought together against the English). Most of my ancestors were in this country by that time and must have participated in one way or another. What religion a man belonged to would dictate whether or not he would fight or would assist in any way.

In 1750s America, Louisiana was controlled by the French, as was “New France” (Canada). The rest of the land (that which had already been settled) belonged to the English. Spain had a small but formidable hold on Florida and also ruled Mexico and Cuba. The English and French started squabbling about territory. Various Native American tribes supported the French Catholics, while many French Protestant, German, and Scots-Irish immigrants fought for England. What a tangled web they wove! 

Lutherans, Reformed, and Presbyterians saw no hindrance with going to war. They believed it was their duty, and their names swelled the rosters. The Quakers, Amish, and Mennonites, however, were pacifists, and had to make decisions on how they might help without contributing to bloodshed. Some agreed to furnish supplies while still maintaining neutrality (such as the Mennonites) but some saw even this act as helping to bring about death (such as the Quakers). Thus America, which had become a Protestant melting pot, was suddenly reminded of the cavernous differences between denominations. 

I found these differences quite interesting, as I have Lutheran and Reformed ancestors who almost certainly would have participated in the French and Indian War. It makes one wonder why they, too, did not protest the war on conscientious grounds. I wonder if it was in part because they feared the domination of Catholic France, while the Anabaptists and Quakers did not have this historical fear. 

Perhaps, having suffered great persecution in the past, Reformed and Lutheran men felt they needed to fight so they might prevent a major enemy presence in Protestant America. Yet the Anabaptists, too, had been persecuted in the past, so that seems irrelevant. It probably boiled down to how strict each confession of faith happened to be. Mainstream Christians have historically gone to war, but Anabaptists, Quakers, and Mennonites have kept even more strictly to Scripture and have refused to fight in many instances.

The French and Indian War is spoken of far too little, though during this frontier time it was perhaps the most important conflict and was responsible for determining which nations would possess what land in the future.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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