Lunch at the Library: "Prisoners of Congress: Philadelphia’s Quakers in Exile, 1777-1778" with Norman E. 'Ned' Donoghue II

12:00 - 1:00 p.m. ET

Please register here to attend in person or livestream.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 

12:00 - 1:00 p.m. ET

Benjamin Franklin Hall

427 Chestnut St.

Philadelphia, PA 19106.

book cover and headshot

In-person registration for this event is now closed. Livestream the event here.

In 1777, Congress labeled Quakers who would not take up arms in support of the War of Independence as “the most Dangerous Enemies America knows” and ordered Pennsylvania and Delaware to apprehend them. In response, Keystone State officials sent twenty men—seventeen of whom were Quakers—into exile, banishing them to Virginia, where they were held for a year.

Prisoners of Congress: Philadelphia's Quakers in Exile, 1777-1778 (Penn State University Press, 2023) reconstructs this moment in American history through the experiences of four families: the Drinkers, the Fishers, the Pembertons, and the Gilpins. Identifying them as the new nation’s first political prisoners, Norman E. Donoghue II relates how the Quakers, once the preeminent power in Pennsylvania and an integral constituency of the colonies and early republic, came to be reviled by patriots who saw refusal to fight the English as borderline sedition.

Surprising, vital, and vividly told, this narrative of political and literal warfare waged by the United States against a pacifist religious group during the Revolutionary War era sheds new light on an essential aspect of American history. It will appeal to anyone interested in learning more about the nation’s founding.

Dr. Patrick Spero, the former Librarian & Director of the American Philosophical Society's Library & Museum, has written of Ned’s book that it “brings to life one of the most important and compelling events of the American Revolution in Philadelphia” and that it is “an untold story of national significance.” 

This event will take place on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. ET in Benjamin Franklin Hall and will also be livestreamed.


This event is free to attend but registration is required. Please register to attend in-person and online.


Lunch will be provided to those attending in person.


Can't make it? Want to catch it again? Join us on Wednesday, September 27 at 7:00 p.m. ET for a lecture at Washington Crossing Historic Park. Details here.

Norman E. "Ned" Donoghue II is an independent scholar educated at Williams College and Duke Law School. He has had a varied career. He practiced law for 34 years at an international firm in Philadelphia, then joined the staff of The Philadelphia Orchestra as a fundraiser during their endowment campaign. As a volunteer professional, he served as a board member and officer of both We The People 200, Inc., the nonprofit which organized in 1987 the national celebration in Philadelphia of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution and also the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, a leading sustainer of emerging talent in the performing arts. He served the latter for over 40 years until his retirement last month. His research is primarily in the field of pacifism in Pennsylvania during the American Revolution.

More events

9:00 a.m. ET
9:00a.m. - 6:00 p.m. ET
12:00 p. m. - 4:00 p.m ET