Decision Activity: David Cooper, October 1776

Decision Activity – David Cooper

Woodbury, New Jersey, October, 1776

“These times will try many.” As a Quaker, I am a pacifist, and I abhor war. Though we have tried to remain neutral in the current conflict, the war has been brought to our doorsteps as George Washington and the Continental Army retreat through New Jersey. Having lived in Philadelphia for several years, I moved to Woodbury in West Jersey.

My younger brother, John, is a Patriot and caught up in the revolutionary fervor. He served on the Provincial Congress of New Jersey, was the author of the New Jersey Constitution of 1776, and is a member of the Second Continental Congress, which adopted the Declaration of Independence.

The Society of Friends has decided to disown any Quaker who participates as any “Insurrections, Conspiracies, & illegal assemblies.” As a result of his participation in the American Revolution, the Society of Friends has ultimately decided to disown my brother John, effectively removing him from our faith. John’s “ground of action and that of his relations was different, and a coolness ensued, until too much of an estrangement took place.” My brother and I were “as nearly united as perhaps two brothers ever were,” but I fear the Revolutionary War will is tearing us apart. 

What should David Cooper do as his relationship with his brother frays under the stress of the American Revolution? Be sure to provide reasoning for your response.

A. The Society of Friends warned John not to get involved in the Revolution. What he did is unforgivable and I will not attempt to reconcile our relationship.

B. Family is the most important aspect of my life. I will reconcile with John even if it means it will create tensions with the Society of Friends and my beliefs.

C. John is doing what he believes is right, and even if I do not agree with him, I will do everything I can to reconcile our relationship.

Complete the following after you make your decision in Part 1:

Write a letter to your brother John, informing him of your decision regarding his involvement in the American Revolution.

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