« PreviousContinue »
The broad principle, lying at the bottom of temperance, forbids excessive or injurious stimulation of our bodies; but this principle, if carried into all its possible applications, would sweep away tobacco, and tea, and coffee, and animal food, and a multitude of other indulgences never embraced in the temperance reform. The cause of peace is not an exception, in this respect, to all others ; nor can its friends be reasonably required to carry any principle beyond their single object of abolishing war.
We plead, then, for the cordial, zealous co-operation of all peace-men. Associated solely for the abolition of international war, they should be pledged only to that end, and allowed to retain each his own opinions, and to labor for their common object in such ways as they respectively prefer, without insisting upon any other basis of co-operation than the belief, that war, being inconsistent with Christianity, and the true interests of mankind, ought to be abolished. Such a course would remove not a few obstructions, conciliate a much larger number of co-workers, and
way for a speedier and more glorious triumph.
The time has come for a much more extensive rally in behalf of this cause than has ever yet been made or attempted. It is the grand interest of the world; and its claims we should urge upon every friend whether of God or man. Almost every movement for the good of mankind is beginning to put in practice more or less of our principles ; and scarce an enterprise of benevolence or reform, that might not be laid under contribution to our cause. Of all such influences we should avail ourselves to the utmost, and set the ark of peace afloat on this tide of universal improvement. We should spread our sails for every breeze that may waft us sooner into the port of universal and permanent peace. We should press into our service every possible auxiliary. We need and may secure all the good influences of the world. The age of brute force is fast giving place to the era of moral influence; and even legislators and warriors, the disciples of Draco, and the sons of Mars, are beginning to learn, eyen while claiming the right both of punishment and of war, that there are better means than violence and blood, for controlling mankind. Such is the spirit of the age; and, though retaining the instruments of vengeance, it will yet contrive, with little, if any use of bayonets or bullets, of halters or chains, to restrain the wrong-doer, to protect the innocent, and right the injured. The reign of love is coming; and its triumphs over bad passions and customs will ere-long astonish the world. This spirit calls for peace; and, should we make our platform broad enough to include all that are really desirous, from any motives, of putting an end to the time-hallowed tyranny of the sword, we might ere-long rally for its utter abolition every wellwisher to mankind. Let us do our whole duty; and not another war shall ever sweep its besom of blood and fire over our own land, or any other portion of the civilized world.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
In civilized society all benevolent men profess to deprecate war, yet it is viewed by most as a necessary evil, an event which must inevitably occur, and therefore they deem it not only the part of wisdom, but an imperative duty, to be ready to repel it by military preparations, and hence all classes join to arm their governments, and surrender their persons and fortunes to them, as instruments of war.
It is the object of this paper to show that this is a fallacy. It is not intended to take up the question of the right a Christian people have to defend themselves by military resistance, when actually invaded, without cause. Admit that every nation has such right, and that in such case it is a duty to exercise it, still, the case put is a chimerical one, and will afford no vindication of military preventions of such dangers as are ever likely to occur. The abstract right of martial resistance may be conceded, and yet protest made against military preparations, on the ground of inexpediency.
In doing this, five propositions will be advanced. 1. There is no real necessity for war, and no civilized nation has reason to expect it, which deals justly and kindly with other nations. The idea, that powerful sovereigns are ever watchful to find a community defenceless, to invade its territory, without provocation, for conquest or rapine, is one derived from barbarous ages, when nations were indeed little else than bands of robbers, and the precautions deemed necessary then are unadapted to modern civilization. Nations may make aggressive war on others from false views of national honor, or to redress some imagined wrong, or secure some alleged rights; but all disclaim the desire of so doing without any other reason than the mere purpose of conquest or injury, and it is an insulting calumny to insist that all such disclaimers are insincere. What patriot of any country will admit this criminal motive for himself or his countrymen, towards foreign nations ? Ask the citizens of any land, and each will deny it, to a man. How illiberal then to impute it to all other people as well disposed as his own.
It must be admitted that most unjustifiable invasions—even of recent date--have been made by powerful nations on those who were unable to resist them; but in these cases justice has always been professed, and wrongs always alleged; and however inconsistent these professions may appear to us, they may, under the blinding influence of interest or passion, have been quite sincere with them. These invasions, too, have always been met with a show of resistance, which has provoked the pride of the aggressors. Has any authorized attack been made on any people resigning all their claims in non-resisting friendship ? Not one.
Ascribe such a
conduct to any government, and the charge will be met with indignant denial.
2. The evils arising from military preparations are greater in the whole than those that would be incurred by submission to any • probable foreign demand they are designed to resist. Let us appreciate fully the enormous evils of such preparations.
First, in regard to the expense of them. In the United States, for instance, where they are small, compared with those of other nations, the military expenses are five-sixths of all the expenditures of government, in time of peace, and in fifteen or twenty years, amount to more than the most grasping nation would desire or be able to obtain from these States by force, if unresisted, and if disposed for such robbery. A single fact will exemplify this expense:-It has been proved by the calculations of an intelligent merchant, that the annual cost of the comparatively small navy of the United States is greater than the whole annual amount of the freights of their mercantile marine for the same years.
This instance is given merely as a small sample. The military and naval expenses of Great Britain are nine-tenths of all the expenditures of that profuse government; and other European nations are burdened in a proportionate amount. Calculations have been made which demonstrate, that if the appropriations for military purposes in civilized countries were withheld from thein, and applied to benevolent objects, the Christian religion might be preached in every land, and the blessings of education extended to every family on the globe; science might be advanced, justice dispensed, slavery and pauperism nearly obliterated, and peace publications so thoroughly diffused as to render war forever impossible, and military preparations consequently unnecessary. And enough would be left to sustain a Congress and Courts of Nations, by which their interests might be regulated as justly and peaceably as now in the most enlightened province of the world.
A heavier charge of evil against military establishments is their corrupting influence. Every such establishinent,—by the testimony of military men themselves,-is a school of vice. The places most fruitful of intemperance, licentiousness, profanity and infidelity, are camps, fortresses, and ships of war. Can honesty and respect for right be expected in institutions whose avowed purpose is to execute robbery for the public, and to overwhelm all rational adjudication by physical power; or even safety for life be found among those who are pledged to murder by wholesale at the bidding of their commander ?
Another evil in military establishments is their despotism. The myriads of men employed in these establishments are the most abject slaves, exposed to hardships and cruelties as great as those of the African slave on the plantation; their health, comfort and morals, less regarded, and the exposure to violent death, and compulsion to erime superadded ; "and this military tyranny is not confined to the soldiers and sailors of standing armies and navies, but is diffused, especially by the militia system, through the whole community. Every citizen is taught by it the necessity of arbitrary discipline for defensive energy, and is compelled to yield his money, his person and his conscience, whenever his government shall demand them, even for public crime.
Perhaps the greatest evil in military establishments is that for which they are most commended, -the encouragement of a martial spirit. It is impossible to receive the doctrines of the gospel faithfully, and admit for a moment the innocency of the martial spirit. A nation imbued with this spirit can never become truly Christian, or fully civilized; practical infidelity and proud barbarism are its essential characters. With those who concur in this view, the question of the expediency of martial preparations is at once decided; for if the interests of the spirit and of eternity are higher than those of the body and of time, it would be better, God permitting, that a nation should be trodden down, every right overthrown, all property and even life or liberty destroyed, than, with the highest prosperity, every soul in it should be immersed in a sentiment allying it to the dark passions of an infernal world.
3. The third proposition is, that a kind, forbearing policy secures rights more constantly and fully than the menacing aspect of armed preparation for defence. That this is true in private life, will probably be admitted by every observer of human society. But if human nature is the same in the mass as in detail, is not the good policy of this defenceless, confiding position as applicable to nations as to individuals? Innumerable cases are cited by the friends of peace to show that this policy, tried on a limited scale, has ever been successful; the only instance where it has been tried by a whole nation or province, is that of Pennsylvania, under the government of the Friends, which, maintained for more than seventy years without arms, was never invaded, or even insulted by its barbarous and warlike neighbors.
But the authority of the gospel bears on the policy as well as the innocency of defensive armaments. Christ has enjoined forbearance and forgiveness on his followers, without any qualification as to their numbers, condition or political connections. Is it to be believed he would have done so, if such a course would have exposed all the rights and property of society to destruction ? Suppose that a true insight into human character and the voice of history did not teach that forbearance is more conquering than defiance, will we not trust the unerring judgment of the Omniscient more than the short-sighted maxims of human experience ?
4. War is more frequently caused by military preparations than it is supposed to be averted by them, both by encouraging in any nation supporting them, an arrogant bearing towards foreign nations, and by provoking the pride of those nations, by their defying appearance. In a report of a careful research into the causes of wars among Christian nations, by order of the Massachusetts Peace Society, twenty-three were enumerated which arose entirely from the pride provoked, or alarm excited by the increasing armaments of their neighbors, and from no other cause. Here, then, is proof from history of the proposition now considered; the instrument alleged to be for the prevention of war, is actually one of the causes of its production. And the report referred to, states, that of sixteen of these wars not settled by compromise, eleven terminated in favor of the powers provoked or alarmed, and the overthrow of the trusted preparations for defence.
These facts ought to surprise none who seriously reflect on the subject, for they are conformable to the known character of human governments. The spirit of chivalry, which always bent before confiding gentleness, and ever stood erect in resistance to attempted intimidation, is the universal characteristic of political rulers; and if defensive armaments do not now provoke all the assaults it is their nature and tendency to do, it is not because they inspire fear, but because, as every nation commits the same folly, a tacit understanding seems to exist that they will not take this distrustful precaution as an insult from each other.
5. Lastly, Military preparations for defence are always liable to be used for purposes of aggression. The considerations before offered have gone upon the ground that such preparations have been strictly confined to the object of defence; but has this been the case with any powerful nation? Can any government of Europe or America repel the charge of inflicting the aggressions of their “defensive” preparations on weaker communities ? It is almost proverbially true that no man can be trusted with great power without an irresistible desire to abuse it. This is a solemn consideration for the Christian patriot who voluntarily contributes to the support of military defences. Let him beware that he does not thereby render himself accessory to the murderous aggression of offensive war. No form of government can check this tendency of military establishments to wrong; and no political combination can exempt the individual supporting them from the responsibility of participating in their crimes. At the bar of eternal justice every one must answer for the means and temptation he gives to the Imperial, the Royal or the Presidential robber to satiate his avarice or ambition in the blood of his fellow
If the preceding arguments are conclusive ; if there is no ground for attributing hostile dispositions to other nations; if the evils of military preparations to meet aggressions are greater than those which would be incurred by submission to them; if kindness would be a saser defence than intimidation; if a martial attitude is often a provocation to war; and if provisions for defence are generally liable to be used for offensive war; why should these burdensomé and pernicious establishment be maintained ? Let Christian nations abolish them, and adopt the gospel policy of forbearing benevolence, and they will be safe. The arm of Omnipotence will protect them; the crimson stream of blood, and the darker current of vice will be stopped for ever.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.