The Paxton Boys and Presbyterianism

Philadelphia prepares for the Paxton Boys

I do not teach on Thursdays so I am trying to finish up a paper for next month’s conference on the 250th anniversary of the Conestoga Massacre and the Paxton Boys.  I will be presenting a paper as part of a panel devoted to the religious aspects of the event.  It is titled “The Paxton Riots as a Presbyterian Event.” The sponsor of the conference, The McNeil Center for Early American Studies, has not put the conference program online yet, but most of it will be held at the Lancaster (PA) Historical Society (now apparently known as on December 13-14.  The presenters will be Daniel Richter, John Smolenski, Judith Ridner, Patrick Spero, Jack Brubaker, Peter Silver, Barry Levy, Angel-Luke O’Donnell, Richard McMaster, Scott Paul Gordon, Leslie Stanton, and Rick Gray.  It also appears that there will be a dedication of a Conestoga Massacre historical marker on Saturday afternoon.

I am trying to churn out my paper so that it can be pre-circulated to the registered conference attendees.  It explores some of the ways we can, and cannot, interpret the Paxton Riots through a religious lens.  The paper will be built on some of the pamphlets produced in the wake of the massacre (with particular focus on Isaac Hunt’s A Looking Glass for Presbyterians), Presbyterian ecclesiastical developments in the 1750s and 1760s, and the political implications of the massacre on Presbyterian politics in Pennsylvania.  Since I want to have a Paxton Boys chapter in my ongoing project on Presbyterians and the American Revolution, I am hoping that this will be a good place to try out some of my ideas and learn from the scholars and audience members in attendance.

Stay tuned and keep the coffee flowing.

2 thoughts on “The Paxton Boys and Presbyterianism

  1. No disrespect intended Dr Fea but it would be great if every Paper at this conference began with definitions of what the author means by “Paxton”, “the Paxton Boys” and “Presbyterian”. Does the latter include all Calvinists or only “Old-Side” Scots-Irish from Reverend Elder's congregation ? Were the area's German Calvinists, Episcopalians (John Harris), Lutherans, Roman Catholics, other sects and “Unchurched” also “Presbyterians” ? A Muslim medallion bearing an Islamic inscription was found in one of the French and Indian War forts, Fort Shirley, 36Hu94 ( See page 35 from Was the owner of this medallion also “Presbyterian” ?


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