Elizabeth Drinker and Her Diary

In the martial climate of August 1777, Henry Drinker was one of a score of prominent Philadelphia men banished to Virginia by the Continental Congress under suspicion of "aiding and abetting the cause of the enemy." The "Virginia Exiles" numbered 18 Quakers. These pacifists were unwilling "to join in carrying on war" and "refused to submit to the arbitrary injunctions and ordinances of men."

After her husband's exile, Elizabeth Drinker had to fend for her family while trying to forestall the quartering of her house by the occupying British Army. According to Drinker's journal entry of 10/24/1777, British Major General John Crammond "behav'd with much politeness" while asking billet for British officers. Drinker asked to be "excused" from the duty and was for a time. Finally, upon the Major's fourth entreaty which occurred two months after his first plea, Crammond was granted permission to lodge in the house. He brought with him three servants and a menagerie which included horses, turkeys, and sheep. Crammond, on the whole, behaved with "esteem" but did try Drinker's patience for staying "out so late almost every night."

In April 1778, a quartet of Quaker woman which included Elizabeth set out on a dangerous trip to the provisional capital of Lancaster seeking to petition the Pennsylvania Council into releasing their deported husbands. Along the way, the party dropped in on Valley Forge and bullied their way into an audience with George Washington who was having trouble of his own. There they met Martha Washington, "a sociable, pretty kind of woman" and supped with the General and his staff. Though the party had an "elegant dinner" Washington could do no more than supply a pass to Lancaster. Once in Lancaster, the women were denied an official hearing but learned their spouses had been scheduled to be brought back to Pennsylvania.


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