Thursday, September 1, 2011

Urgent Demand for Peace: An editorial on Civil War

The Covington Journal of August 31, 1861 offers this editorial, which offers some familiar themes, such as nobody gaining any benefit from the war, no reconciliation being possible after a civil war, and the threats to various liberties during the war.

 Urgent Demand for Peace
The war ought to be stopped.

Because we are brethren and if we cannot live together in peace an amicable separation ought to be agreed upon. "And Abraham said to Lot, let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herds, men and herdsmen for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee?"

Because the longer the war is prosecuted the less likely it is to settle the difficulties out of which it sprung. We shall have to negotiate sooner or later, and the sooner the better.


Because of the spirit of lawlessness and ferocity the war is creating, and the unutterable horrors by which its prosecution is attended. The Duke of Wellington, near the close of his eventful life, said "Circumstances  have placed me in countries where the war was internal - between opposite parties in the same nation - and rather than a country I loved should be visited with the calamities I have seen, with the unutterable horrors of civil war, I would run any risk, I would make any sacrifice, I would freely lay down my life. There is nothing which destroys property and prosperity and demoralizes character to the extent which civil war does. By it the hand of man is raised against his neighbor, against his brother, against his father, the servant betrays his master, and the master ruins his servant." 

Because it will ruin the business of the people, exhaust their resources and load the country with a heavy and lasting national debt. "The healthful channels of enterprise and profit will be choked up; the capital of the country will be horded or absorbed by the government for warlike uses; consumers and idlers will be multiplied; producers will be diminished, property will depreciate in value; the hard-earned credit and wealth of years will vanish away; there will be general bankruptcy, and all classes - especially the poorer - will suffer." 


Because we can have no assurances of benefits compensating for the thousands of human lives destroyed and the millions of money expended; the suppression of the freedom of speech and of the press; the suspension of the writ of habeus corpus; the seizure and confiscation of private property by military force; the substitution of the military for the civil authority; the arrest of women, the confinement of men in dungeons without specific charges, where the access of friends and legal counsel is denied; the destruction of property by mobs, and the utter annihilation of the last vestige of constitutional liberty.

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