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Walking in the Way of PeaceQuaker Pacifism in the Seventeenth Century$
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Meredith Baldwin Weddle

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195131383

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019513138X.001.0001

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“Fighting Against the Minde of God”

“Fighting Against the Minde of God”

The 1673 Exemption

(p.122) 7 “Fighting Against the Minde of God”
Walking in the Way of Peace

Meredith Baldwin Weddle

Oxford University Press

In an emergency session responding to the Dutch recapture of New York, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted the 1673 Exemption, exempting any self‐identified pacifist from military service on the basis of conscience. It provided, too, for alternative service, but it also excused those for whom even alternative service would violate their consciences. The legislature, expressing local conditions, traditions, and needs, gave several arguments to support its excusing those unable to fight or train for reasons of conscience. The justifications pointed to Rhode Island's own liberty of conscience; then pointed to the Hebrew scripture, wherein God excused certain classes of people from fighting in his wars. The legislature cited the example of the king, who also did not require all to fight, and referred to other “implied” arguments.

Keywords:   alternative service, conscience, Dutch, exemption, implied arguments, king, liberty, military service, New York, scripture

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