Графични страници
PDF файл

the gospel permit all the atrocities of war for the vindication of our right to rule over a forest? But the plea is false, for England has never declined negotiation or reference; and if she had, we might employ better means than the sword for bringing her to terms. But do you fear dishonor from forbearance? Such forbearance the gospel requires; and obedience to God can never disgrace individuals or nations. Be it that England is wrong; will our own conscience, or the common sense of the world, reproach us for her wrong doings? The wickedness of our neighbor cannot tarnish our character; but if it did, we could not mend the matter by imbruing our hands in his blood, or setting ourselves up as targets for his wrath. Calm reliance on the justness of our cause; patient endurance of injuries repeated for years; frank, earnest, confiding appeals to British justice and magnanimity; a willingness to surrender even unquestionable rights rather than maintain them by deluging two nations in blood;—would such a course, the only one allowed by the gospel, dishonor a Christian people? Does our religion permit us to avenge insults by bloodshed, as the only preservative from disgrace? Against such sentiments we solemnly protest, and think it high time that this strange delusion, the relic of a pagan and barbarous age, were utterly discarded by every community calling itself Christian.

The present crisis devolves on every one of us an awful responsibility; and sain would we call aloud upon every religious editor, upon every minister of Christ, upon every church, upon every Christian and every philanthropist, high and low, male and female, to use their utmost influence against a war with England as repugnant to every principle of the gospel, and sure to occasion evils which no arithmetic can calculate, no human sagacity foresee. Write against it, preach against it, pray against it, talk against it, array against it all the good influences in the land, rally at once from every quarter, to the rescue of two nations from the threatened evils of war; and if it should after all come, then, only then, will your hands be clean of its blood.

The case demands an immediate antidote. What we do, must be done quickly; and especially would we urge every minister in the sanctuary, and every Christian in his family and his closet, to bear this subject before the mercy-seat of Him who ruleth among the nations, and hath the hearts of all entirely in his hands. The representatives of a whole denomination cannot meet to recommend in season a general concert of fasting and prayer; but we would suggest to every local church the expediency of setting apart a day for this purpose as soon as possible; and may the God of peace, the

Almighty Ruler of heaven and earth, lend a gracious ear to the supplications of his people, and cause peace and prosperity still to continue in all our borders !

In behalf of the American Peace Society, by order of the Executive Committee,

Geo. C. Beckwith,

Corresponding Secretary.'



The war-mania seems to bereave men of reason. They cense to calculate consequences, and rush into certain rujn, very like madmen leaping inio the fire or flood. “If statesmen,” súys Franklin, “had a little more arithmetic, or were more accustomed to calculation, wars would be much less frequent;" and it would be well for us, before plunging into a war with the most formidable power in Christendoin, to count the probable cost to ourselves in treasure and blood, in crime and misery.

1. Its direct expenses. England expended in our revolutionary conflict about $600,000,000; our last war cost us forty or fifty millions a year; and a war with Great Britain, now at peace with the world, and in the fulness of her strength, would doubtless absorb two or . three times as much. War has come to be enormously expensive. Our ships of the line are said to cost us, in actual service, each about $1,500 a day, more than half a million a year; and, if only thirty or forty of these should be sent forth to cope with the hundreds which England bas at her command, we should have here an annual iteru of some twenty millions; nor could we fully protect our two thousand miles of sea-const with less than fifty millions a year. In our Florida war we have expended, it is said, an average of twelve dollars a day for every soldier; and 100,000 soldiers, a number far too small for a war with England, would, if only the quarter as expensive, cost us $109,500,000 a year. Add to this the support of the navy, and a hundred other incidental expenses, and we should swell the sum total to more than $150,000,000 as the annual cost of the war proposed for the vindication of our right to a territory not worth a inillion! The war might continue five or ten years; and, in only five years, its entire expenses would, at this rate, amount to $750,000,000!—all for one million!

2. Its inciilental destruction of property. The war, if on land, would be a continual scene of pluuder and devastation to a fearful extent; and, if mainly on sea, it would still lay in ruins no sinall number of our cities and villages on the coast. The amount of such losses, it would be impossible to anticipate ; but it would take only a few rounds of hot shot from a hostile fleet upon one of our sea-ports, to annihilate millions of property, and beggar hundreds or thousands of fainilies.-Still more certain and extensive would be the losses of commerce. Our imports and exports amounted, in 1836, to nearly $300,000,000; the coasting trade may be supposed to embrace nearly as much more, since the mere manufactures of Massachusetts alone, interchanged, for the most part, along our coast, were in 1836, more than $80,000,000; and ibus there would be, at the commencement

of a war, exposed to capture on the ocean some two or three hundred millions. Our whale-ships, our merchant-men in the East Indies, all our most richly laden vessels, would be, at the declaration of war, too far from hoine to escape the storm by a speedy return; und our commerce, if not entirely suspended, we should be obliged to carry on at the most inminent and fatal risks. In these ways we should probably lose in a five years' war some scores, if not bundreds of millions.

All this would be followed by years of piracy. War is the grand nursery and school of pirates. Men are licensed on both sides to commit piracy at pleasure; and this work of rapine and blood they will continue on their own responsibility after the war has ceased, and thus expose the commerce of the world, ten or fifteen years Jonger, to depredations that would probably sacrifice millions on millions more.

3. The indirect losses of such a war. The man who keeps me from earning a given sum, does as truly diminish my property, as if he had stolen that amount from my desk; and this principle, fairly applicable to war, proves it to be a fearful destroyer of national wealth. Warriors perform no productive labor; and the 100,000 men, required for a war with England, might have earned an average of one dollar a day, or more than $ 136,000,000 a year.

But all this would be a mere fraction of the indirect losses to be expected from a war. It would paralyze every department of business. Our commerce, now allvai on every sea, and bartering our commodities in every port, would be almost entirely suspended. Our fur-trade, our cod and whale fisheries, nearly all our business on the ocean, would be cloven down at a blow. Every kind of trade at home would soon stagnate, aud bankrupt no small part of our merchants. Our vessels would rot at our wharves; the grass would grow in streets now worn with the ceaseless tread of business; all ihe capital wbich has for years been whirling our factories, and impelling our steam-vessels, constructing our rail-roads, and spreading our enterprise over the whole surface of our land and our world, would perish, or be locked up in vaults, or sent out of the country. Ship-yards, now astir with well-paid laborers, would soon be deserted; the shops of our enterprising, thriliy mechanics would cease to resound with the din of prosperous toil; our carpenters, and joiners, and masons, now in so great demand, might ere-long beg in vain for employment enough to earn their own bread; and our shoemakers, our cabinetmakers, and the whole circle of our manufacturers, now thriving more than any other classes of society, would be reduced, by scores of thousands, io poverty and distress. Our factories would for the most part stand still; and agriculture, finding little demand for its products, would either be neglected, or pursued with very meagre profits. How much would be lost in all ihese ways, I dare not conjecture; but, when we remember that the cotton crop of the South has been estimated at nearly $100.000,000, and that ibe products of Massachusetts alone were on official authority stated, in 1836, to be more than 91,000,000, besides “the gains of commerce, the earnings of navigation, and almost the entire agricultural products of the State,” we can easily see that the loss to the whole country would be literally incalculable. The main-springs of universal enterprise would be broken; every department of gainful

industry would be crippled or deranged; and all the chief sources of our wealth would be for the time dried up.

It requires some nerve to look calmly at the combined result of these calculations; but it would be a low estimate to reckon the incidental havoc and losses of the proposed war full cwice as great as its direct expenses; and, if the bare cost of a five years' war were $750,000,000, the sum total of its sacrifices would be $2,250,000,000! Nor would even this enormous result startle us, did we remember that a single war with Napoleon cost England alone no less than $5,215,000,000; and that, in twenty years, she raised by tuxes and loans, $8,353,000,000 ;-nine times as much as all the specie now ja Europe, and four tinies as much as all the coin on the globe! Such are the hazards, such the actual losses of war; and yet we were called upon to run the risk of thus losing two thousand millions for the mere chance of securing less than one million! And the men who passionately recommended this suicidal policy, were styled patriots ; while those who paused to calculate consequences, were denounced as tories and traitors, because, forsooth, they hesitated to sacrifice a thousand dollars for the recovery of one!

POLITICAL EFFECTS OF SUCH A WAR. I tremble in view of the results to be expected from war to our free institutions. It was the sword of successful generals that hewed down the liberties of Greece and Rome. Such has been the fate of nearly all former republics. Look at England under Cromwell, at France under Napoleon, at the States of Mexico and South America. The sword has almost invariably driven liberty into unarchy or despotism; nor have we any security against such a result in our owp case. Our last war shook the fabric of our Union; and it is very doubtful whether it would outlive another. The soldiers of Washington urged him to assume the sceptre; and, though that incomparable man indignantly spurned the offer, another such crisis would doubtless deliver us over to the despotism of some future American Cæsar. England, impelled by the ardent wishes of her people, if not by the dictates of' a policy common in war, would probably tempt three millions of slaves to bloody insurrection. What the result would be to the South, and the whole country, God only knows; but no inan of common forecast would expect our present form of government to survive the shock; or, if it did, we should forth with have a standing army that would, sooner or later, prove fatal to our liberties. The only hope of our republic is in constant peace. War would surely ruin us, not by foreign conquest, but by self-destruction.

I am not alone in these fears. “The army,” says Sir James Mackintosh, “is the last resource of power; a tremendous weapon, which cannot burst without threatening destruction to all around, and which, if it were not sometimes happily so overcharged as to recoil on him who wields it, would rob all the slaves in the world of hope, and all the freemen of safety."

Madison was still more decided on this point. “Of all the enemies of public liberty," he says, “war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the genius of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies and debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the dominion of the few. In war, too, VOL. II.-NO. XVI.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the discretionary power of the executive is extended; and all the means of seducing the mind are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continued warfare. These truths are well established.”

SOCIAL RESULTS. Every one can picture for himself the personal and social miseries of such a war. I need not allude to the coarse fare, scanty clothing, and frequent exposures, day and night, to rain, and snow, and pinching cold. I need not speak of forced marches, of encampments on the hard, frozen earth, or of diseases endured without medical aid, without a mother's care, or a sister's sympathies, without a pillow for the aching head, or a shelter from scorching suns, and driving storms. I will not disclose the revolting scenes of a hospital. I will not glance at the horrors of battle on land or sea, and bid you think of limb torn from limb, of bodies mangled and crushed, of thousands weltering in blood, and writhing in agony and despair. Many a fight like this must coine; but not a battle can be fought, not the slightest victory won, without sending grief and anguish unknown through a whole natiou. Thousands at home would be hanging continually in painful suspense; and every death would pierce with sorrow the hearts of a circle of relatives and friends. How many mothers would nourn a son; how many wives, a husband; how many children, a father; how many sisters, a brother, endeared to them by a thousand ties! Fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, must be dragged away, like cattle for the slaughter, to pine in the camp, and faint in the march, and bleed on the battle-field. Should there perish a number equal only to the 300,000 victims of our revolutionary war, what pencil could paint, what imagination conceive, the whole amount of their sufferings?

All this, however, would be only the results of an ordinary war; but, should the Indians along our western frontier give full vent to their long-smothered wrath in a general incursion, and some Toussaint, iustigated by British intrigue, and seconded by British wealth and power, lift the standard of insurrection for three millions of slaves, and blow the tocsin of freedom and revenge, then would ensue such scenes of horror as our country has never witnessed.

But I shut my eyes on such scenes. Mothers made childless; wives reduced to widowhood, and children to orphanage ;-the once affluent plunged into penury and distress; whole families butchered in cold blood; towns ravnged, villages laid in ashes, and cities plundered and burnt. Are politicians ready to bring such evils upon us for less than a million of dollars ? Not a man of them would sacrifice his single lise for so paltry a consideration; and yet were they cager to expose the lives of hundreds of thousands of the people! And will the people bear all this in silence? Will they consent to be butchered like cattle or tigers on the field of battle, and have their property wasted, their dwellings laid in ashes, and their families beggared or massacred, all for the sole purpose of making rulers willing to negotiate,—willing, after all, to use the very inerts which, they know perfectly well, must be used in the end, and might be

« ПредишнаНапред »