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Awaiting the Millennium

Awaiting the Millennium: The Children of Peace and the Village of Hope, 1812-1889

Albert Schrauwers
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Awaiting the Millennium
    Book Description:

    Schrauwers discusses the social, political, economic, and theological context in which the Children of Peace were established and, for a time, flourished.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7112-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Photographs
    (pp. xvii-2)
  7. CHAPTER ONE The Yonge Street Settlement
    (pp. 3-25)

    In 1800, Timothy Rogers, a Quaker pioneer who by his own account had settled eight new farms and opened three new settlements, led some forty families from Vermont to a land grant at the northern end of Yonge Street in York County, Ontario (b rog n.d.: 111). Roger’s own incessant migration, from Connecticut to New York, to Vermont, and finally to Ontario, typified the westward movement of eastern farmers after the Revolutionary War. For Quakers, this migration was both a test of Friends’ traditions as well as a paradoxical attempt to preserve them. The distinctive rural lifestyle of the Society...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Separation of the Children of Peace
    (pp. 26-48)

    In July 1812, David Willson, an aspiring minister in the Yonge Street Monthly Meeting, seceded with five or six other Friends to form a dissident sect, the Children of Peace. The ostensible cause of the schism was a doctrinal dispute. Willson’s ‘recognition’ as a minister was blocked by an elder offended by Willson’s assertion ‘that the person of Jesus Christ was a man; that his spirit was, and is, God with us’ (osht x986.3.2: 1). Warned by this elder to remain silent during worship services, Willson ‘refused controversy, fled from argument,’ and opened his own home to meetings for worship...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Organization
    (pp. 49-68)

    Although Willson was always cognizant of the risks he took in ministering as he did, there is little evidence that he sought to abandon Quakerism altogether; rather, he saw his role as part of the general reformation of the Society of Friends. This reformation was to absorb him for the rest of his life, and had the immediate consequence that, having left the Society, he now sought readmittance; he proceeded to appeal his disownment to the superior meetings of the New York Yearly Meeting, under whose jurisdiction they fell. The separation of the Children of Peace was not intended to...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR At Home and Abroad
    (pp. 69-86)

    The final abandonment of their fight to rejoin the Society of Friends and the subsequent reorganization of the Children of Peace were accompanied by the resettlement of their members. They consolidated around a new focal point: their first meeting-house, built in 1819 on land donated by Willson on lot 10, concession 2, East Gwillimbury Township. The resettlement of the Children of Peace and the formation of the village of Hope (now Sharon) around that meeting-house are consistent with their earlier settlement patterns in which subsistence farming and the proximity of kin underwrote a ‘moral economy.’ Contiguous settlement, religious homogeneity, and...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Market and Moral Economies
    (pp. 87-107)

    A fundamental premise of the argument so far presented is that the religious life of the Children of Peace cannot be isolated from their economic organization, from their activities as ‘subsistence-oriented’ farmers. The precise meaning of the term, and the implications of its use, have been of recurrent interest to agricultural historians; they have, for the most part, hinged their arguments (and definitions) on market participation. It has been demonstrated that, in the 1830s, all farmers in Ontario took part to some degree in market exchanges. From this, it has been inferred that the economic decisions of these farmers were...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Ornamenting the Christian Church
    (pp. 108-129)

    Shortly after the Children of Peace completed their first meeting-house in 1819, they began to plan their next project: raising a temple to the greater glory of God (osht x975.442.10a).¹ The temple’s design was loosely based upon the description of Solomon’s temple found in 1 Kings, chapter 6, and the new Jerusalem described in Revelation 21. The undertaking was legitimated by a vision in which Willson was called by God to ‘ornament the Christian Church with all the glory of Israel.’ A mélange of Christian and Jewish symbols, juxtaposed in often antithetical ways, made the temple an unusual, yet remarkably...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN The Millennial Kingdom
    (pp. 130-155)

    The temple was an attempt to encase contested values in glass and wood, to somehow arrest the changes that were beyond the elders’ power to control. It was, for the most part, a rearguard action. By the time the temple was completed in 1832, the ideals of equality and charity the Children of Peace had preserved in architecture and ritual were an anachronism, no longer accurately reflecting the actual practices of the sect; elders had again ‘set the house in two parts, which in justice may be called inferiors and superiors,’ and the Charity Fund had become a bank.


  14. CHAPTER EIGHT Upper Canadian Politics and the Rebellion of 1837
    (pp. 156-178)

    David Willson’s prophecies provided a moral template for action for the members of the Children of Peace; the sanctified model of social relations it presented could be achieved only through the concerted efforts of God’s chosen people, as they sought to reform a fallen world. Willson’s prophecies, while legitimating the distinctive religious, economic, and political organization of the sect, were also an attack on the hierarchically ordered society around them. Willson led evangelical forays along Yonge Street, the road leading to the provincial capital, where he preached to other disaffected farmers and artisans. While the form that these processions down...

  15. CHAPTER NINE Aftermath
    (pp. 179-192)

    Despite the small number of participants, the Rebellion of 1837 proved to be a weather mark of the larger changes the province of Upper Canada was to undergo. The immediate repercussions gave no indication that a major change in the political order was in the offing; Conservatives were on the rise, continuing British immigration ensured strong ties to the motherland, and the depression in agricultural prices gave way to a period of prolonged economic growth. Thus, the changes thrust upon the province as a result of Lord Durham’s report can be understood only in terms of Britain’s colonial policy for...

  16. CHAPTER TEN The Children of Peace in Theoretical and Historical Perspective
    (pp. 193-210)

    When placed within the material, cultural, and political context within which they were developed, the seemingly idiosyncratic beliefs and practices of the Children of Peace appear less alien; the case-study approach adopted in this book attempted just that. The apparent idiosyncratic nature of those beliefs and practices is also diminished when they are placed within the larger context of early nineteenth-century sectarian activity, a comparative analysis attempted here. The Children of Peace were but one of numerous radical sects that emerged throughout the northeastern states, especially the ‘burned-over district’ of upstate New York, following the American Revolution. Each of these...

  17. APPENDIX 1 Active Members of the Yonge Street Monthly Meeting
    (pp. 211-213)
  18. APPENDIX 2 Disownments from the Yonge Street Monthly Meeting
    (pp. 214-215)
  19. APPENDIX 3 The ‘Builders of the Temple’
    (pp. 216-252)
  20. Notes
    (pp. 253-262)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 263-278)
  22. Name Index
    (pp. 279-292)
  23. Subject Index
    (pp. 293-300)