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Conscientious Objection

Throughout U.S. history, there have been those who, on principle, refused to bear arms when faced with compulsory military training or service. This entry discusses conscientious objectors (COs) in the United States, from the 1600s to the present.

The Colonial Era to the Civil War: Religious Objectors

The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, who came to America in the late 1600s and established the colony of Pennsylvania, was the first group to practice conscientious objection in the New World. These religious sectarians, firmly dedicated to traditional Christian beliefs and characterized by the desire to remain apart from governmental authority, established in the British colonies a social commitment to the importance of organized peace and nonviolence. During the Revolutionary War, conscientious objection was widely practiced by Quakers ...

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