« PreviousContinue »
each party ?-Nor does the sword ever settle such disputes ; for well has Vattel said, “it is an error, no less pernicious than absurd, to suppose that war is to decide controversies between nations.” The sword decides nothing; it leaves the points in dispute just where it found them, and merely makes the parties willing, after enduring its countless evils for years, to settle the whole controversy by negotiation, reference, or some other pacific expedient, generally without touching the original bone of contention.
Perhaps you plead the uncertainties of arbitration. But are these to be compared with the evils inseparable from war? Is the latter more certain in its results than the former ? Should you draw the sword, can you after all be sure of gaining your point? Well does an able writer say, “We cán scarcely anticipate any future national difference which it would not be more safe and prudent to submit to arbitration, than to the chances of war. However just may be our cause, however united our people, we cannot foresee the issue of the conflict, nor tell what new enemies we may be called to encounter, what sacrifices to bear, what concessions to make.”
But do you doubt whether such pledges of mutual reference would be kept by nations ? “ It is readily admitted,” says a worthy son of the immortal Jay, “ that if the only guarantee for their faithful performance consisted in the virtue and integrity of statesmen and politicians, the confidence to be reposed in them would be but faint. Happily, however, we have a far stronger guarantee in national interest, and in public opinion. Every government that felt disposed to violate such a treaty, would be conscious that, by doing so, it would be sacrificing substantial interests for precarious advantages, exchanging the blessings of continued peace for the hazards and calamities of war. It would, indeed, require some very powerful temptation to induce a people to forego the peace, security, and exemptions from military burdens, conferred by such a treaty. Public opinion, moreover, would unite with self-interest in preserving these treaties inviolate. A government who for the purpose of avoiding war, had pledged its faith to abide by the award of umpires, would, by going to war in defiance of that award, and in palpable violation of its solemn engagements, shock the moral sense of mankind, and would probably disgust even its own subjects. At the present day all governments are more or less controlled by public opinion; and the progress of education, and the power of the press, enable every individual to sit in judgment on the conduct of his rulers. Such a war would be odious, because it would be felt by all to be unjust and dishonorable. It would also be reprobated by the umpires
whose decision would thus be contemned, and by every nation which had entered into a similar treaty. It ought, also, to be remembered, that each new treaty would tend to secure the observance of all the preceding ones, as each nation would feel that the value of its own treaty would greatly depend on the faithful performance of all the others; since, if one were violated with impunity, the power of the others to preserve peace would necessarily be weakened. In short, such a war would most probably be prevented, or speedily terminated by the interference of other powers interested in enforcing treaties for the preservation of peace.
“But surely it would be the height of folly to refuse entering into an advantageous treaty, because it might possibly be violated. What profitable commercial treaty was ever rejected on this ground ? Even admitting the case supposed, our local situation, our population and resources, relieve us from all danger of a sudden and hostile attack. No future enemy of the United States will ever indulge the idea of conquest; and the only serious consequences we could apprehend from unexpected hostilities, would be the interruption of our commerce, while the nation, strengthened in all its resources by her past exemption from war, could immediately place itself in the attitude of defence.
“ Dismissing, then, all idle fears that these treaties honestly contracted, and obviously conducive to the highest interests of the parties, would not be observed, let us contemplate the rich and splendid blessings they would confer on our country. Protected from hostile violence by a moral defence more powerful than all the armies and navies of Europe, we might, indeed, beat our swords into plough-shares, and our spears into pruning-hooks. The millions now expended on our military establishments, could be applied to objects directly ministering to human convenience and happiness. Our whole militia system, with its long train of vices, and its vexatious interruptions of labor, would be swept away. The arts of peace would alone be cultivated, and would yield comforts and enjoyments in a profusion and perfection of which mankind have witnessed no parallel. In the expressive language of Scripture, our citizens would each 'sit under his own vine and under his own fig-tree, with none to make him afraid,' and our peaceful and happy republic would be an example to all lands.
• It is impossible that a scene so bright and lovely, should not attract the admiration of the world. The extension of education in Europe, and the growing freedom of her institutions, are leading her people to think, and to express their thoughts. The governments of the eastern continent, what
ever their form, are daily becoming more and more sensitive to popular opinion. The people, already restive under their burdens,
would soon discover that those burdens would be reduced, if not wholly removed, by the adoption of such an American policy, and they would inquire why they were denied the blessings of peace. Before long, some' minor states would commence the experiment, and the example be followed by others. In time, these treaties would be merged in more extensive alliances, and a greater number of umpires would be selected ; nor is it the vain hope of idle credulity, that at last a union might be formed of every Christian nation for guaranteeing the peace of Christendom, by establishing a tribunal for the adjustment of national differences, and by preventing all forcible resistance to its decrees. That such a court formed by a congress of nations in obedience to the general wish, would, next to Christianity, be the richest gift ever bestowed by heaven upon a suffering world, will scarcely be questioned by any who have impartially and candidly investigated the subject.
Here is high testimony to the importance and ultimate practicability of a CONGRESS of Nations; a system based on the principle of mutual reference, and embodying that principle in a permanent and perfect form. Well does one of the most enlightened legislatures in Christendom, while “regarding arbitration as a practical and desirable substitute for war," still say, “ that a system of adjudication, founded on a well-digested code of international laws, and administered by a standing court or board of mutual reference, is preferable to the occasional choice of umpires who act without the aid or restriction of established principles or rules.”
PRINCE EUGENE.—“The thirst of renown sometimes insinuates into our councils, under the garb of national honor. It dwells on imaginary insults ; it suggests harsh and abusive language; and people go on from one thing to another, till they put an end to the lives of half a million of men. A military man becomes so sick of bloody scenes in war, that in peace he is averse to re-commence them. I wish that the first minister who is called to decide on peace and war, had only seen actual service. What pains would he not take to seek, in mediation and compromise, the means of avoiding the effusion of so much blood !
LORD BROUGHAM.—“My principles—I know not whether they agree with yours; they may be derided, they may be unfashionable ; but I hope they are spreading far and widemy principles are contained in the words which that great man, Lord Faulkland, used to express in secret, and which I
now express in public-Peace, PEACE, PEACE. I abominate war as unchristian. I hold it the greatest of human crimes. I deem it to include all others—violence, blood, rapine, fraud, every thing which can deform the character, alter the nature, and debase the name of man."
Louis BONAPARTE.—“I have been as enthusiastic and joyful as any one else after victory; yet I confess that even then the sight of a field of battle not only struck me with horror, but even turned me sick. And now that I am advanced in life, I cannot understand any more than I could at fifteen years of age, how beings who call themselves reasonable, and who have so much foresight, can employ this short existence, not in loving and aiding each other, and passing through it as quietly as possible, but in striving, on the contrary, to destroy each other, as though time did not itself do this with sufficient rapidity. What I thought at fifteen years of age, I still think, that war, and the pain
of death which society draws upon itself, are but organized barbarisms, an inheritance of the savage state.”
SENECA.—“Some deeds, which are considered villanous. while capable of being prevented, become honorable and glorious, when they rise above the control of law. things which, if men had done them in their private capacity, they would expiate with their lives, we extol when they perpetrate them in their regimentals. We punish murders and massacres committed among private persons; but what do we with wars, the glorious crime of murdering whole nations? Here avarice and cruelty know no bounds. Barbarities are authorized by decrees of senate, and votes of the people;, and enormities, forbidden in private persons, are here enjoined by legislatures.”
FRANKLIN.—“After much occasion to consider the folly and mischiefs of a state of warfare, and the little or no advantage obtained even by those nations which have conducted it with the most success, I have been apt to think there never has been, nor ever will be, any such thing as a GOOD WAR or a BAD PEACE.—All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones. When will mankind be convinced of this, and agree to settle their differences by arbitration ? Were they to do it by the cast of a die, it would be better than by fighting and destroying each other.”
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
CONGRESS OF NATIONS.*
SECTION 1.-Its GENERAL PRINCIPLE. THERE are only two ways of settling disputes either between individuals or communities—one by amicable agree ment between the parties themselves, and the other by reference to a third party. In the intercourse of nations, the former is called negotiation; but the latter principle is applied either by the interposition of a friendly power as mediator, by reference to an umpire mutually chosen, or by some international tribunal resembling more or less our courts of law for the adjustment of difficulties between individuals. Mediation and arbitration are only different modes of reference; and a congress of nations, like our statute-books and civil courts, would merely embody both principles in a permanent form.
All writers on international law consider nations as moral agents subject to the same obligations as individuals. Here is the clue to all our plans and arguments for an international tribunal that shall, like our codes and courts of law for individuals, regulate their intercourse, and settle their disputes, vindicate their rights, and redress their wrongs, without the effusion of blood. We wish nations to treat each other as individuals are required to do, and to provide, in a code and court of nations, essentially the same system for an equitable, peaceful adjustment of their difficulties, that every civilized, well-regulated community has for its own members.
SECT. 2.-PLAN OF THE PROPOSED CONGRESS. We shall not enter into the details of a plan for a congress of nations. We are not sticklers for any particular plan or name, but propose merely to incorporate the grand principle of reference in some standing tribunal for the peaceful adjustment of all international difficulties. How it shall be constituted or controlled; what shall be the number or qualifications of its members; in what way, or for what term, they shall be
* This synopsis is furnished mainly to prompt the reader to a more thorough investigation of the subject in the Prize Essays on a Congress of Nations, published by the American Peace Society; a volume of great ability and research, that well deserves to be carefully studied by every intelligent Christian, philanthropist and patriot.
P. T. NO, XXX.