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statesman declared, that laws are silent in the midst of arms;' and the experience of ages has converted the words into a proverb. Civil liberty requires the substitution of laws for the will of the ruler ; but in war, the will of the ruler becomes the source of legitimate authority, and the bulwarks erected around civil rights, are all levelled on the proclamation of martial law. Constitutional liberty is often sacrificed to the policy of war, and almost every campaign produces its dictator. Few men have ever been more jealous of encroachments on their rights than the fathers of the American Revolution; yet were they frequently induced by the exigencies of the war to submit to the most despotic measures. At one period, no citizen of New York was permitted to pass from one county to another without a passport; and the convention of the same State authorized a committee of three to send for persons and papers; to call out detachments of the militia; to apprehend, imprison, and banish whom they thought proper ; to impose secrecy on those they employed; to make draughts on the treasury; to raise officers, and employ as they pleased 220 soldiers. All history bears testimony to the natural tendency of war to establish and strengthen arbitrary power. The pride and pomp of war, the unlimited power of the commander, the gradations of rank, and the blind, mechanical obedience exacted from the troops, all conspire to render an army a fit instrument of tyranny.
In the policy of nations no maxim is more universally received, with undoubting confidence in its truth, than that “to preserve peace, it is necessary to be prepared for war." But the wisdom of man is foolishness with God; and upon few maxims of worldly wisdom has Providence more indelibly impressed the stamp of folly and of falsehood. The maxim is founded in ignorance or forgetfulness of the depravity of human nature. It supposes that aggression will be prevented by the power to repel it; while the incitement to aggression by the power to commit it, is wholly overlooked. It is not true that military preparation prevents assaults. The very possession of power, provoking envy, jealousy and hatred, invites hostility. When has Europe beheld a nation more thoroughly prepared for war than France under Napoleon ? Yet when has any nation, in the same period of time, been more frequently and violently attacked ? History affords no example of a nation so powerful as to be exempted from enemies. On the other hand, great military strength has certainly no tendency to encourage pacific dispositions in its possessor. While the nature of man remains unchanged, his cupidity, oppression and injustice will ordinarily be proportioned to his means of indulging them, and those nations will be most frequently engaged in war, who are most competent to wage it.
From the commencement of the eighteenth century, Great Britain, France and Russia have been the most formidable powers in Europe, while Holland, Denmark and Portugal have ranked among the minor states. From 1700 to the general peace in 1815, these countries had been engaged in war as follows:-Great Britain 69 years, Russia 68, France 63, Holland 43, Portugal 40, Denmark 28. Thus their wars have been pretty much in proportion to their military strength; and thus, in the righteous retribution of Providence, those nations which most cultivate the arts of war, are made to drink most deeply of its bloody cup. We also learn the folly of the opinion current in all ages, that national power is conducive to national happiness. The importance attached by statesmen to national wealth, population and military resources, arises from the wretched delusion, that national happiness can be insured only by force of arms. But no truth can be more obvious than that national happiness is merely the aggregate happiness of individuals; and surely the happiness of individuals rests on other grounds than the revenues, fleets and armies of the government to which they are subject. Military power is too often the instrument of a barbarous and debasing despotism. The actual amount of individual and domestic suffering in France, while Napoleon was arbiter of Europe, was probably greater than under any other sovereign that had ever wielded the French sceptre; and who can doubt for a moment, that there is comparatively more comfort, and less misery, in the diminutive state of Connecticut, than in the mighty empire of Russia ?
The last plea in behalf of war is, that it is indispensable in self- . defence. To this we reply, that every war is professedly defensive, while scarcely any one is so in fact. It will be difficult to specify a single instance in which a war might not have been averted by honest and sincere negotiation, or by a sacrifice far less costly to either party than the prosecution of hostilities. Let it be remembered, that precisely the same plea is advanced in vindication of duelling; a plea we all know to be utterly false. War is national duelling, in which each party is exposed to calamities incomparably more dreadful than the grievances they are seeking to redress.
Madison.—Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded: It is the parent of armies ; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the dominion of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the executive is extended ; and all the means of seducing the mind, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continued warfare.
Sir James MackINTOSH.—The army is the last resource of power; a tremendous weapon, which cannot burst without threatening destruction to all around, and which, if it were not sometimes happily so overcharged as to recoil on him who wields it, would rob all the slaves in the world of hope, and all the freemen of safety
O'CONNELL.-Remember no political change is worth a single crime, or, above all, a single drop of human blood.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
Nations have always claimed the right of war, and made it their great business to prepare for it, either by having every man a warrior, as among savages; or by standing armies, as in Europe since the middle of the fifteenth century; or by a militia system which places the defence of a country in its own citizens, and keeps more or less of them trained for this service. Such a system, though extremely crude and inefficient, existed in the feudal ages; and the elements of even our own militia may be traced back as far as Alfred the Great.
I shall not now discuss the principle of such preparations ; for the rightfulness of these turns very much, if not entirely, on that of war itself. I may certainly prepare for whatever I am bound or permitted to do; but, if the thing itself is wrong, then is it equally so to make any preparation for doing it. If duelling or piracy is wrong, I must not prepare myself for either. If wrong to counterfeit, or steal, or commit robbery or murder, I have no right to make the slightest preparation for such crimes; and, on the same principle, it is just as right, or just as wrong, to prepare for war as it is to use such preparations in actual warfare. I believe the gospel forbids both ; but, supposing war to be right in the emergencies for which preparations are made, I still contend that militia drills are worse than useless. I do not now call in question the system itself, or the principle of repelling, and being prepared to repel aggression; but I think it possible, in perfect consistency with this admission, to prove that our militia drills are an expensive and pernicious superfluity, and might, without the least injury or danger, be entirely discarded.
Few suspect how much our militia drills cost and waste. Take a case which I myself learned on the spot. In a small town of New England, there were formed even in 1842 no less than three military companies with some aid from an adjoining town, and one company of juvenile volunteers. Of the latter a shrewd, économical man said, “I wish this training fever were over; for it has cost me eight or ten dollars to fit up my boys, and lost me a great deal of their time during the best season of the year. If there were only forty boys in the company, and their equipments cost four dollars each, and their time was worth only twenty-five cents a day, the sum total for these items alone, would have been $340. If we suppose the whole number from that town in the adult companies to have been only one hundred, the time spent through the season a single weck at merely half a dollar a day, their incidental expenses barely twenty-five cents more, and their equipments of every kind eight dollars cach, the aggregate, though most of these
P. T. NO, XLVI.
estimates are too low by half, would amount to no less than $1250, in all for boys and men, $1590; and, should we reckon the loss of time and money to the spectators, and the general suspension or derangement of business, the sum total would probably reach $3000 or more. Put it, however, at only $2000 for a population of one thousand; and, even at this rate, you would make our militia drills now (1845) a tax upon the country of some $40,000,000 a year!
Nor does even this tell the whole truth. A good man once said to me, “I trained some ten years; and, though a subordinate officer only a year or two, it must have cost me, in all, not less than $500. I have also known individuals, hard-working, economical mechanics, embarrass themselves for ten or twelve years by the debts they began, while apprentices, to contract in the militia. Their uniforms, which miust be changed or renewed every few years, cost them nearly forty dollars apiece; and then came their personal expenses, and a succession of assessments for I hardly know what purposes. A venerable man, a soldier of the Revolution, and for a long time at the head of the militia in Connecticut, said to me, I know what these things cost; for I have been through the mill. I have spent, as an officer in the militia, not less than $10,000 in my life; and my son yonder,' pointing to his residence hard by, 'has probably spent about as much more. Such statements may seem incredible; but we should remember, that every officer was obliged not only to purchase his own uniform and equipments, but to treat all his electors at every promotion, and provide subsequently expensive entertainments for his subordinates in office and arms. I have known an officer give $300 for the use of a horse on a single occasion; and one training cost him alone some $1500! The commander of a brigade in Connecticut was supposed on one occasion to have spent from his own purse three or four thousand dollars for a single training; and the sum total of its cost to the community in time, and money, and suspension of business, was estimated by a shrewd, candid eye-witness at $80,000! probably an average of nearly two dollars to every inhabitant in the district.
Let us look a little more into the details of this matter. Our militia system has now dwindled into comparative insignificance; but, when in its full vigor and glory, the number of trainings varied, in different parts of our country, from three or four to ten or twelve every year; and, at one or two of them, the mass of the people were wont to suspend their business, and turn the occasion into a holiday of idleness, intemperance and revelry. If we suppose but four trainings a year requisite to keep the system in successful operation, and the people generally to turn aside from their work only twice, we should now have, if our militia were, as usual, about one-tenth of our entire population, nearly two millions enrolled for military service. Every training may be fairly expected to consume, in one way and another, two days; and, at this rate, two million soldiers would spend every year sixteen million days, worth as many dollars. Their incidental expenses, at only fifty
cents a day, would be $8,000,000; their equipments, at five dollars each, would be $10,000,000; the personal expenses of all the officers could hardly be less than those of all the privates, or $18,000,000; and the time lost by the community at large, if reckoned in all equal in value to that of the troops, would be $16,000,000; a sum total of $68,000,000 a year! All this without reckoning a variety of expenditures and losses in other ways. Perfect accuracy on such a subject is quite impossible; but these suppositions, certainly not extravagant, may suffice to give us a glimpse of what is annually wasted, or would be if sustained in full vigor, upon our system of militia drills.
On this point, let us hear one of our ablest and most candid writers. “ The first item,” says Judge Jay, “ in the expense of our militia system, is the annual loss of many millions of days' labor. But this multitude must be “armed and equipped as the law directs ;' and hence an expenditure of fifteen or twenty millions more. Next, the commissioned officers must be arrayed in regimentals, and many thousands of the militia organized in «uniform corps, and compelled of course to provide themselves with expensive clothes. Then comes the cost of music, of standards, of artillery, of cavalry, and of state arsenals and magazines. It is impossible to ascertain with precision the yearly aggregate expense of our militia ; but it certainly cannot fall much, if any, short of fifty millions." All this when our population did not exceed fifteen or sixteen millions.
But its waste of property is the least evil resulting from this system. It has been a source of general corruption to the community, and formed habits of idleness, dissipation and profligacy. It did a great deal to flood our land with intemperance; and muster-fields have generally been scenes or occasions of gambling, licentiousness, and almost every vice. The history of our militia drills is a tissue of such facts. In answer to inquiries made by our General Government in 1826, the highest officers of the militia in different sections of the country represented militia musters as prejudicial to the morals of the community; as assemblies of idle and dissipated persons; as making idlers and drunkards rather than soldiers; as attended, under the most favorable circumstances, with riot, drunkenness, and every species of immorality; as always scenes of the lowest and most destructive dissipation, where nothing was acquired but the most pernicious habits.
To compensate for such enormous evils, what good have our militia trainings done? Have they rendered any valuable equivalent for the two thousand millions of dollars probably wasted upon them since we became a nation, and for the flood of intemperance, and other vices which they have poured over the whole land ? Strange indeed would it be, had they been of no use whatever ; but what good have they done that might not have been secured without them? More than sixty years have now (1845) elapsed since our revolutionary war; and, during all this period, scarce an, emergency has arisen which might not have been met just as well