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It would have no right to touch any case not voluntarily referred to it by the nations in dispute ; and all its decisions would be merely advisory, and become binding only by the consent of each party, and efficacious solely by the force of public opinion in their favor. There would be at its command no fleets, no armies, no power whatever besides the influence of its own reputation, the voice of the civilized world, and perhaps an application in extreme cases of peaceful penalties, to awe refractory states into acquiescence. An expedient founded on the very same principle with our codes and courts of law; an expedient as old, in one form or another, as civil government or human society, an expedient just as applicable to nations as to individuals, and likely, if once established, and used aright, to prove as successful in the former case as it has in the latter; an expedient that could certainly do no harm, and might suffice at once to prevent forty-nine wars in fifty, and eventually supersede forever the whole war-system.
Here, then, are four substitutes for war, each simple, easy and effective; substitutes which every man of the least sense or candor must admit to be infinitely better than an appeal to the savage argument of lead and steel; substitutes which recognize right instead of might, reason in place of brute force, as the arbiter of national disputes ; substitutes which nations could, if they would, adopt in part, without delay, and ere-long, the whole of them; substitutes which would at once supersede every plea of necessity for war, insure far more justice in the intercourse of nations, and guaranty in due time their permanent peace and prosperity.
Now, we insist on the duty of nations to adopt such substitutes as these. If they are moral agents like individuals, they are equally bound to an amicable, bloodless adjustment of their difficulties; and, if war is held by none to be justifiable except as a last resort, and should never be employed till after all other expedierts have failed, then must nations, on the lowest principles of peace or common sense, abstain from the sword until they have not only tried in good faith negotiation, reference and mediation, but established a congress of nations, and submitted their disputes to its high and impartial arbitrament. All this they can do, if they will ; and, until they do it, how can war be called their last resort ?
"But nations have no common judge, and hence they must decide each its own case.'— True, they have at present no such judge ; but they might have, if they would ; and we call upon them by every motive of reason, duty and self-interest, to establish one as soon as possible.
• Meanwhile, however, what shall settle their disputes ?
Surely not the sword, but some one of the substitutes we have proposed. War settle disputes! Never! The parties invariably sheath the sword before they dream of a settlement, and then despatch, not men of blood to fight, but men of peace, plenipotentiaries, to negotiate. And why not do this before fighting, and thus obviate all necessity of war ? We had a controversy with England about our north-eastern boundary ; and, had we gone to war, would that have settled the dispute ? No; it would only have aggravated its difficulties. There is no logic in bullets and bomb-shells; the butchery of millions on the disputed territory could not have. thrown a single ray of new light on the points in controversy; and, after wasting myriads of treasure, and shedding, oceans of blood, we should have been obliged to employ for the final adjustment the very same pacific means that might have been used even more successfully before the war than after it.
* True, if the parties were willing ; but can you make them willing before they have fought awhile ? —Yes, we could, if we would; but how little effort is made for peace in comparison with what must be for war? No two nations could begin a war in earnest without sacrificing, in one way and another, scores of millions; but a tenth or even a hundredth part as much, if wisely spent in the use of moral means for the purpose, would form such a public sentiment, that no power on earth could goad the parties into conflict.—Unwilling for a peaceful adjustment !—who is unwilling? Am I? Are you ? We resent the charge ; and, should you go through both countries, you would find scarce a man that would not profess to be equally anxious for a bloodless issue of the dispute.
• Perhaps the people are willing; but the rulers are not.Rulers not willing !--why not? Because the people do not call loud enough for a peaceful settlement. Rulers will generally go either for peace or for war, just as the people go; they can, if they will, settle their disputes without war, quite as well as individuals can theirs without duels; they will do so, whenever the people shall come every where to demand it aright; the people will thus demand it, whenever they shall be duly enlightened on the subject; and hence do we urge the pulpit and the press, every sect in religion, and every party in politics, all Christians, philanthropists and patriots, to unite in filling every community with such an abhorrence of war, and such strong desires for peace, as shall hereafter constrain rulers to employ pacific expedients alone for the settlement of all national disputes.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS
AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR WAR.
ADDRESSED ESPECIALLY TO RULERS.
THE evils of war are coming to be more generally known, and more deeply felt than in ages past. Its suspension or derangement of business ;—its havoc of life and property ;-its crippling of agriculture, manufactures, and the various arts that minister to individual and national prosperity ;—the obstructions it opposes to commerce, to travel, and every kind of useful intercourse between nations ;-its baneful influence on morality and religion, on the cause of liberty and popular improvement, on the various enterprises now in progress for the welfare and redemption of our whole race, on the dearest interests of mankind for time and eternity; all these and many other results of this custom are rapidly conspiring more and more to make every good man deplore it as a terrible scourge, and earnestly desire its speedy, universal abolition.
Such views are no longer confined to peace societies; but the mass of the people, wherever enlightened on the subject, and free to utter their sentiments, are beginning to call for peace. It is fast becoming the popular demand of the age, the cry of millions sighing for relief. They begin to discover in war the source of their worst evils. It is the origin and support of the tyranny that rules them with a rod of iron; its enormous burdens have long been grinding them into the dust all over the old world; the war-debts of Europe alone, secured by mortgage upon their bones and sinews, exceed by far the entire amount of specie now on the globe; more than four-fifths of all their taxes go to pay the interest on these debts, and to maintain even in peace some three millions of standing warriors as moths on the community; and, when they remember how many centuries this monster has revelled in their blood, and how often it has plundered and burnt their cities, and laid waste their villages, and trampled down their harvests, and desolated their peaceful homes, and butchered their sons upon the battle-field, and subjected their wives and daughters to a fate still more deplorable, can we wonder, that the people, always the chief sufferers from war, are at length demanding of their rulers to obviate its alleged necessity by the adoption of other means than the sword for the settlement of national disputes ?
P. T. NO. XXIX.
Nor is this demand unreasonable. Rulers could, if they would, adjust their difficulties, and regulate the entire intercourse of nations, without war. There is no real need of this custom; and, were they so disposed, they could supersede it at once and forever by substitutes far better than lead and steel. They compel the people to settle their quarrels without bloodshed; and we see not with what sort of consistency they can require or permit the wholesale butchery of their subjects in war for the adjustment of differences in which the combatants themselves have no personal concern.
It is a cruel outrage upon the people, as well as a bitter mockery of common sense; and it is quite time this foul stain were wiped from the escutcheon of Christendom forever.
And can it not be done? Yes, with ease and safety. Do you ask how? We might suggest a variety of feasible and efficient methods; but we now restrict ourselves to one which relinquishes no right, and sacrifices no interest, contravenes no important principle, and startles few, if any prejudices; measure adapted to the present state of the world, and consistent with the precepts of Christianity, and the dictates of sound policy; a measure level to the comprehension of all, and commending itself to their common sense ; simple, practicable, and likely to prove successful. It is ARBITRATION AS a recognized substitute for war. Better to agree among themselves, if they can, without the intervention of a third party ; but, if they cannot, we wish nations in every case to settle their difficulties, as individuals in society do theirs, by some form of reference. The method we propose has been occasionally employed; but we urge its adoption as an established, permanent principle. We would have nations incorporate in every treaty a clause binding the parties, as their last resort, to adjust whatever differences may arise between them, not by an appeal to arms, but by reference to umpires mutually chosen. The arrangements for this purpose might safely be left in every case to the contracting parties; but they should invariably bind themselves in good faith to abide by the decision of their referees, and claim, if dissatisfied, only the privilege of renewing or changing the reference.
Here is the outline of our plan. It speaks for itself, and may seem too clear to require either argument or 'illustration. Common sense decides, that no man should be allowed to judge in his own case; and this principle is quite as applicable to communities as to individuals. The former, equally liable to all the influences that bias the judgment, and lead to wrong conclusions, should never be permitted, any more than individuals, to act as witness, jury and judge in their own case, The voice of common sense, in every age and clime, cries out against it as manifestly wrong, and demands, that parties in dispute, whether individuals or communities, should in the last resort leave their differences to impartial judges. This is all we ask. Nations are only large communities; and we insist merely on their adopting this simple, equitable. principle for the settlement of their difficulties.
Nor is this principle new or untried. It is as old as human society ; it has been acted upon more or less from the earliest dawn of civilization ; we often find the wisest and best men preferring it even to a regular course of law for the amicable adjustment of their own differences; and we simply ask, that nations should exercise an equal degree of sense, candor and justice, by referring their disputes in like manner to competent and impartial arbiters.
The same principle lies at the bottom of all our courts. Every trial in them is a reference. No litigant is allowed to decide, or even to testify in his own case; but he must, whether willing or unwilling, submit to the judgment of his peers on the testimony of credible witnesses. Nor has he any direct voice in the selection of his arbiters; society chooses them for him; and before a judge and jury thus appointed, he is compelled to go, and abide their decision. Such is the ordinary course of justice, the common, legal mode of reference; and ought not governments, in the adjustment of their difficulties, to act on principles as equitable and elevated as those which they prescribe to their own subjects ? Shall common sense, common honesty, the established rules of right and wrong, never be extended to the intercourse of nations ? Must this highest earthly province of duty and interest be abandoned forever to savage, brutal violence as the arbiter of right? Are rulers idiots that they cannot, or villains that they will not, use, in the settlement of their own disputes, and the regulation of their intercourse, as much reason, justice and common sense, as the humblest of their subjects do in theirs ?
We appeal to acknowledged authorities in the case. All writers on international law represent nations as subject to the same general rules of right as individuals. Chancellor Kent says, “ they are properly regarded as moral persons ;" and Vattel considers them as 'under the same obligations that are binding upon men in their intercourse one with another, and the law of nations as no more than the law of nature applied to nations. No respectable writer, since the time of Grotius, has ventured to call this principle in question ; but does it not obviously require governments to settle their disputes in essentially the same way that individuals do theirs ?