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WAR AS A JUDICIAL REDRESS.
We are advocates for civil government; but, when war is compared to a judicial process, and vindicated as a method of determining right, and punishing guilt, we protest against such an abuse of terms. We inquire for its character, not in barbarous ages or countries, but among civilized nations at the present day. How does it determine right, redress wrong, or punish guilt? Look at a few facts for illustration. England taxed her colonies against their will; and our fathers, indignant at the wrong, drew the sword, and fought until both parties, tired of the struggle, ended the dispute by a negotiation which insured to us a place among the nations of Christendom. Napoleon displeased Great Britain ; and in revenge she declared war, and eventually rallied nearly all Europe in desperate and successful efforts for his overthrow. The same power embarrassed our commerce, and impressed our seamen; and, for the punishment and redress of such wrongs, we plunged into a war of three years, which left, by the treaty of Ghent, all the controverted points just where it had found them. Still later did we differ with England about the boundary between us along the state of Maine, and the territory of Oregon; and warspirits among us called aloud for the savage, brutal arbitrament of the sword to determine in each case where the line ought to run.
Such is war; and now we ask, wherein consists its resemblance to a process of justice ? Let us examine the question somewhat in detail ; and, first, the law, or rule of decision. In all controversies, there must be some standard recognized by both parties, such a standard society has provided in its codes of law; and to these laws every dispute must be referred. The law is common to all, known beforehand to all, and ready for every one that may need its protection, or deserve its penalties.
Here is the hinge or helm of justice in society, whether civilized or savage ; but is there any thing like it in war? I know we talk about the Laws of War; but what does the phrase mean? A set of principles to determine right between nations ? No; they are only a string of rules to regulate their fighting, to prescribe how they shall inflict on each other all the nameless evils of war. Well do we call them laws of war; not laws of right or justice, but by-laws of crime, mischief and blood ; rules to regulate violence and outrage, theft and robbery, murder, and rapine, and conflagration. War acknowledges no law as an umpire. It appeals to the sword alone, to might as the only arbiter of right; and all its laws, like the rules adopted by a court just to guide its proceedings in the application of law, or like the etiquette of duelling which prescribes how the parties shall fight, merely determine the mode
P. T. NO. LV.
of appeal to this blind, brutal standard. Laws of war! as well might we talk about the laws of piracy, or of pandemonium !!
Let us look next at the provisions made by society for a right application of its laws. We find first a judge, and next a jury of twelve peers to the parties in controversy ; both bound by the solemnities of an oath to adıninister impartial justice, one by stating truly the law, and the other by giving a verdict in accordance alike with the law and the facts. How guarded is every step! The judge, appointed by the highest authority in the state, must not only have weight of character, and thorough knowledge of the law, but be held to a strict responsibility; and the jury, whom society takes from its own bosom, and prescribes their qualifications, are drawn out by lot, with the right of either party in crimi. nal cases to exclude a certain number without assigning a reason, and any number for good and sufficient reasons.
Now, is there in war any counterpart to all this? Show us the judge and jury, or any umpire equivalent to either. Who selects them? What are their qualifications ? What rules direct their mode of procedure in awarding justice? Point us in the whole war-system to the slightest vestige of such safe-guards as these, to any legal or rational provisions whatever for the equitable determination of controversies between nations.
Glance next at the principle of reference, so essential to justice. Not the rudest court on earth allows a man to be judge in his own case; even sayages insist on the reference of disputes to a third party. The maxim is universal. Expunge this principle, and there remains no security for justice. If you lay claim to what I regard as my own, we can settle the dispute only by referring it to umpires. Does war proceed on this principle? Does it forbid nations to decide each its own case, and demand a reference of their disputes to arbiters ? No; they spurn the thought of submitting to the decision of others, and indignantly exclaim, we can judge for ourselves; we understand our own rights, and shall assert them too at whatever hazards to those who may dare to cross our path.' Just put this language into the mouth of a mob, a gang of blacklegs, or a horde of pirates; and you see at once how it scouts all justice, and claims a reckless, illimitable impunity in crime.
Scrutinize, also, the process of legal justice. In a civil case, like that of debt or damage, one man may prosecute another at will on the certainty of being obliged, if defeated, to pay the costs, and perhaps suffer a retaliatory prosecution ; but no man is allowed, without special authority from some court, to arraign his fellow for a criminal offence. The accused is first examined before a magistrate, and either released, or bound over to a more thorough examination before a grand jury, who determine in view of evidence whether he shall be put upon trial for the offence charged against him. Furnished beforehand with a copy of these charges, he meets his accuser face to face in open court, is allowed the best counsel he can procure, and permitted to cross-examine the witnesses, to rebut or discredit their testimony, to sift all the evidence in the case, and counteract every effort for his conviction.
All reasonable doubts are construed in his favor; questions of law may also be started at every step to arrest a final decision against him; and, if convicted, he may appeal to a higher tribunal, or demand a new trial, or a hearing on such points of law as may yet open some loop-hole of escape. The whole court, too, are under oath to deal fairly with him; and not only may unfavorable rulings of the judge be carried up for revision to a full bench of his peers, but the jury of twelve men must be unanimous in their decision, and may be directed to review it several times in succession. This jury, composed of men never committed against the prisoner, are kept by themselves until they agree upon their verdict, and then are required in a body to present it in open court under all the responsibilities of their oath. Now comes the sentence, not from the jury, but from the judge; and even this may be arrested by an appeal, or suspended for a new trial, or its execution either delayed for time to elicit further evidence in the culprit's favor, and soften the asperities of prejudice and passion, or entirely prevented by the interposition of executive clemency with an absolute pardon, or a commutation of the penalty. What a series of safeguards! How many opportunities for escaping conviction, or the utmost rigors of punishment! How constantly does the law hold its shield over the offender, guard him against the slightest injustice, and give him, even when convicted, the hope of having his sentence either remitted or mitigated!
Now, is there in war a shadow of resemblance to all this? If 80, tell us where. In its arrogant, stern refusal of reference to impartial umpires? In the mustering of its fleets and armies for conflict? In the savage butcheries of its battle-fields? In its siege, and sack, and demolition of cities? In its burning of villages, its plunder of provinces, its indiscriminate, cold-blooded massacre of peaceful inhabitants ? Do you find here any open, impartial court, any charges fairly tabled, any accuser confronting the accused, any witnesses testifying under oath, any sifting of their testimony, any arguing of the law or the facts, any candid, thorough investigation of the case by men duly qualified, and solemnly bound to give a righteous decision ?
But, mark the final exccution of justice. How cautiously, how tenderly does the law proceed to the infliction of its own sentence! The offender, even when convicted by an impartial jury of his peers, and after receiving his sentence from the lips of a select and sworn judge, cannot, after all, be sent to his doom without an express warrant from the highest executive authority. How protracted the process! And at every step the way is open for his escape; nor is the sword of justice suffered to fall upon any but the convicted wrong-doer.
Has war any process like this? Is it careful to hurl its thunderbolts on the guilty alone? Do its real authors bear the brunt of its evils ? Are rulers its only sufferers ? Is their blood alone shed, only their property destroyed, their families alone ravished, or butchered, or beggared ? Alas! these very men, the greatest criminals in the world, generally escape, and even rise by war to wealth,
and power, and fame on the poverty and woes of the people! Do you say it is impossible to arraign and punish a whole community as you can a single culprit ? True ; and this fact alone proves how utterly absurd is the idea of securing justice by war. What! justice by the process of twenty, fifty or a hundred thousand professional cut-throats meeting on a field of battle to shoot, and stab, and hew, and trample each other down! As well might you seek justice by letting loose a menagerie of jackals, tigers and hyenas, to tear each other to pieces.
Justice of war! what a strange abuse of terms! No law to define right; no judge to interpret that law, or jury to apply it; no tribunal to try the cause; no rules prescribing the mode of trial, and requiring notice of the complaint, and opportunity for vindication; no charges duly preferred; no testimony given under oath, and fairly examined; no delay or chance for the correction of errors; no privilege of appeal to a higher tribunal; no right to claim a new hearing; no hope of reprieve or pardon; no trustworthy officer to execute the precise sentence of the law; no restriction of the penalty to the exact demerits of the criminal ; no precautions to guard the innocent against suffering with the guilty! Each party makes a law for itself, erects its own tribunal of blood, and then proceeds to act as accuser and witness, as counsel, judge and executioner. What a burlesque on all ideas of justice! What an outrage on common sense to call this a judicial process, a mode of redress for national grievances !
Do you say we have no other mode? Then surely it is high time we had. Do you deem any other impossible ? How so? Each nation has provided the means of justice between individuals; and can the brotherhood of nations devise no means of justice between themselves ? Cannot rulers adjust their difficulties in the same way that the people do theirs ?
These questions, admitting only an affirmative answer, push us to the necessity of a CONGRESS OF NATIONS, first to establish a Code of International Law, and next to organize a High Court of Nations for the interpretation of that law, and the peaceful, equitable adjustment of all national disputes. Without some provision of this kind, there never can be any system of justice between nations, with its standard of right, its board of arbitrators, and the rules requisite for a fair trial, and a righteous decision.
Already is the moral sense of the world giving its verdict against the arbitraments of war as no criterion of right. Does it guarantee the conquests of Napoleon ? No; every one of them has been relinquished, and the boundaries of all Europe are nearly the same now that they were before his sword reconstructed almost its entire geography. Does Christendom submit to the partition of Poland ? True; but it is with a deep under-tone of displeasure, with such a strong, settled conviction of its injustice as must render the possession continually precarious, and may yet restore Poland to her own sons.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS
WAR AND MISSIONS,
PEACE AUXILIARY TO THE WORLD'S CONVERSION.
God is intent on the salvation of our race; and his church, after ages of slumber, has at length girded herself somewhat in earnest for evangelizing all nations. The work is well begun; and al ready is the Bible translated into nearly two hundred languages, the cross is planted in not a few of the strongholds of paganisin, and more than a thousand missionaries are at this hour preaching Jesus and him crucified in almost every country on the globe.
Let us, then, contemplate THE CAUSE OF PEACE AS AUXILIARY TO THIS WORK OF Missions. The former seeks to abolish war; to extirpate the entire system from Christendom forever; to make peace among nations, as much as among individuals, co-extensive with our religion of peace; to weave its pacific principles once more into the creed and character of all professed Christians, and thus render these principles effective in securing peace wherever Christianity itself prevails.
Look at God's ecample in the case. Has he not always treated war as a most serious obstruction to the spread of his gospel? What time did he select for our Savior's great mission from heaven? A time when the temple of Janus at Rome, in token of general peace and tranquillity, was shut more than twenty years; a longer period of rest from war than had then been known for ages. Review the history of his church from that day to this; and where will you find her eras of zealous, successful evangelization ? Not in war, but in peace almost alone; and during the last thirty years of general peace, more has been done towards the world's conversion to God, than had been done for centuries before,
Equally conclusive is the argument from the nature of the case. The missionary enterprise aims tu spread Christianity over the whole earth ; if peace is confessedly one of its fruits and promised results, it certainly ought to go along with the gospel; and hence the revival among ourselves of its pacific principles, is a very desirable, if not indispensable preparation for the missionary work. We shall of course give to the heathen a Christianity no better than we profess at home. Ours is the prototype of theirs; the character of the church must ever be the model of her converts; they will embrace the kind of Christianity exhibited before them; and, if that is in any respect desective, its imperfections will all be stamped upon them in bold relief. The converts to Popery among pagans have notoriously been a species of baptised idolaters, counterparts of Papists at home; and, since whole nations in Europe
P. T. NO. LVI.,