Page images

also of their own interests. The spread of the gospel and the consequent prevalence of knowledge, must, therefore, give the deathblow to a warlike spirit :--for the time is come, when mankind begin to read the scriptures for themselves and to think for themselves, and to perceive that every man has rights of his own, distinct from, and often at variance with the assumed rights of his rulers.

In fine, I heartily agree with the President, that “the design is great, is benevolent, is humane. It looks to the amelioration of the condition of man ;” and I believe is the prelude to a grand congress of all the nations of Christendom, where all points of international law shall he settled by statute, and no longer depend on the conflicting opinions of civilians, and where there may be a power competent to try and determine all cases o. disagreement among nations. And I believe that PUBLIC OPINION, aided by commercial restrictions and international regula- i tions, will be sufficient to give to such a tribunal a power sufficient to enforce its judgments and preserve permanent and universal

peace among the members of such a confederation, and enforce it on others. But as I must leave the further consideration of this subject to a future number, I will not here enlarge, but will only call the reader's attention to some of the particular features of the Congress of Panama, which are auspicious to the cause of peace.

In the first place, privateering may be abolished throughout this hemisphere ; and the example, set on this side of the Atlantic, may be followed on the other ; and thus, while one of the evils of war will be mitigated, one of its causes will be removed.

Secondly, the great and pacific principle, that free ships make free goods, and that a neutral flag shall cover all that is carried under it, except contraband of war, may be established ;-a principle, which was acknowledged in our first treaty with France, and which will add much to the permanence of peace, by lessening the hope of plunder in war and the vexation of neutrals.

But this principle will be attempted to be carried much farther, and may be made to extend to all merchant vessels, of every flag:

engaged in lawful commerce ; and the innocent merchant and his private property, be as much respected on the ocean, as on the land. A love of plunder and rapine is a great cause of war; and our privateersmen, and others of like rapacious habits, will always endeavor to bring on a war, that they may riot on the spoils of honest industry ; and when they can no longer carry on their trade of plunder, they may turn their attention to bonest trade to which peace is so necessary.

The contemplated Congress may also remove another cause of war, by settling, distinctly, what shall, and what shall not, be eonsidered as contraband of war. The uncertainty on this subject embroiled England with the Northern Powers, and has always been a bone of contention. When once settled, it can be no longer so, at least with the parties agreeing; and the enumeration of contraband articles may be so reduced, that hemp, iron, naval stores, &c. which are so necessary to all mankind, may be allowed to he mutually interchanged in time of war.

The only article I shall add, is a defini

tion of the right of blockade, and its establishment on such principles, as shall be acknowledged by all the American nations. The want of established principles on this subject, the reader will recollect, was the principal cause of our last war with Great Britain, which was left at the peace in the “ statu quo ante bellum," as is generally the case when principles are attempted to be settled by force, and not by reason.

It has been for want of a due definition and agreement on some of the above mentioned subjects, that it has frequently happened, that, when two maritime nations have engaged in war, the war has been generally throughout Christendom. The settlement of these points will not only lessen the calamities of war, and remove the cause of war which is peculiar to each, but it will have a general effect of taking away the hope of plunder, which so many have hidden under the cloak of patriotism.

As many of the abovementioned points as shall be gained at the Congress of the isthmus, so many heads of the hydra of war, will be crushed; and we hope, that public opinion, like Hercules,- hot armed only with " the sword of the Spirit,”—will soon demolish the others, and leave the monster a lifeless carcass, for the wonder and aston ishment of future generations.

Finally, I hail the Congress of Panama as one leading event of a new era. I believe it will be the prelude to a system of international law, which will abolish the custom of war, among great and independent nations, in the same manner as domestic war was abolished by the union of the European feudal domains into consolidated governments. Not that I would wish to see all the nations of this hemisphere, much less all the nations of Christendom, united in one empire; but I should like to see them allied for certain purposes equally beneficial to all.

I will only add, that this grand union of Christian nations, in the bonds of peace and good will, has been the great and ultimate object of the peace societies : and I firmly believe that they have been eminently serviceable in the cause, and that they have done much-I wish I could say all in their power,-to forward it. I gladly ackæowl

« PreviousContinue »