Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

TRAITORS

AT

[ocr errors]

whatever artful plea they choose, are HEART.

These various attempts to suppress the freedom of debate and discussion, only reiterate the lesson universally taught by history, that war, in its spirit is hostile to civil liberty. Had the war been a popular one, had the masses been maddened by defeat, had they been thirsting for the blood of their enemies ; the efforts of the President and his partisans to direct their fury upon a feeble minority whom they were taught to regard as traitors, would not have been fruitless, and the American, like the French Republic, would have had her annals disgraced by a Reign of Terror.

But happily the assertion of the President, that the war was regarded as unjust and unnecessary, and as one of aggression by but few,was of equal veracity with many other of his declarations. This assertion was made in his Message of December, 1846, at which time his party had a very large majority in the House of Representatives. The next December, a new House of Repre• 'sentatives, elected in the interim, assembled ; and this new House, “ fresh from the people,” Resolved : that the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States."

But although we have successfully maintained the liberty of speech and of the press, the sanction given by the war to executive usurpations; and the thirst for conquest and glory, which it has stimulated, are destined to exert a durable and disastrous influence on the Republic. There are also other political evils resulting from the war, which merit consideration. The nation, which at the commencement of hostilities was free from debt, is now burthened with a load of pecuniary obligations. To

* We quote these military ebullitions, from the Newspapers of the day.

[ocr errors]

relieve ourselves of this load, it will be necessary for many years, to impose heavy duties upon imports; and these duties are in fact, taxes upon the necessaries and comforts-of life ; not the less real for being indirect and unperceived by the consumers. Our national vanity is flattered by the fact, that the certificates of our debt are now selling in Europe. It seems not to be recollected that our debt is thus transferred to foreigners, who, instead of our own citizens, are hereafter to receive from the national treasury, both principle and interest. Great Britain could not support, for a single year, the payment even of the interest of her debt, did it not find its way into the pockets of her own subjects, whence it is again returned in taxes to the Government. Just in proportion as our debt is due abroad, the more onerous is it to ourselves.

When we reflect on the vast extent given to our Empire by the recent conquests--the peculiar character of the conquered people who are to be invested with the privileges of American citizens—the bitter sectional feelings already engendered by the question respecting the extension of slavery over these regions--the diversity of interests that will exist between the Atlantic and Pacific States, and the perpetual struggle for mastery which must prevail between a powerful yeomanry, depending on their own industry, and a landed aristocracy supported by some millions of serfs, surely we have cause to apprehend much irritation, civil dissensions, and the ultimate disruption of the Union.

We presume not to lift the veil that conceals the future ; but if the declaration, that “Wherewithal a man sinneth, by the same also shall he be punished," be applicable to nations as well as to individuals, we cannot doubt that the conquests which now swell our national pride will prove scourges to humble it.

CHAPTER XXXII.

MORAL EVILS OF THE WAR,

The malignant as well as the benevolent affections of our nature are strengthened by exercise. A volunteer, describing in a letter bis sensations on first going into battle, mentions that on discharging his musket, he was harassed with the fear that he might possibly kill somebody; but that after a while he became as eager as others in the work of death.

From the commencement of hostilities, the public was almost daily served by the newspapers with details of battles, and bombardments, and mangled corpses, and all the varieties of human suffering caused by war:

Boys and girls,
And women, that would groan to see a child
Pull off an insect's leg, all read of war-
The best amusement of our morning meal :
And all are learned, fluent, absolute,
And technical, in victories and defeats,
And all the dainty terms for fratricide;
Terms which we trundle smoothly o’er our tongues,
Like mere abstractions-empty sounds, to which
We give no feeling and attach no form.
As if the soldier died without a wound-
As if the fibres of this godlike frame
Were gored without a pang—as if the wretch
Who fell in battle, doing bloody deeds,
Pass'd off to Heaven, translated, and not killed
As though he had no wife to pine for him,
No God to judge."

This constant familiarity with human suffering, instead of awakening sympathy, has roused into action the vilest passions of our nature. We have been taught to ring our bells, and illuminate our windows, and let off fireworks, as manifestations of our joy, when we have heard of great ruin, and devastation, and misery, and death, inflicted by our troops upon a people who never injured us, who never fired a shot on our soil, and who were utterly incapable of acting on the offensive against us.* Nor was our exultation at the flow of Mexican blood repressed by the recollection that American blood flowed with it. Our neighbors, and friends, and countrymen, by thousands, fell in battle, or wasted in the noisome hospital—but their sufferings excited almost as little thought and compassion as those of the Mexicans. The nation had gained glory,

本 *

Says an able writer : “ American gentlemen, husbands and fathers, send an army to collect a debt from some Mexican chieftains by bombarding Vera Cruz. By day and by night the awful storm of bomb-shells is rained down upon the devoted city. Christian gentlemen guide these guns, and kindle these fires of hell. Mothers and daughters fly shrieking through the streets, and their mangled limbs are buried beneath the ruins of their dwellings. These shells explode in infant nurseries, by the bedside of languishing disease, in parlors of refinement and piety. Ladies have limb torn from limb by the balls which American gentlemen fire. A large party of ladies, in the terror of that awful bombardment, fly to the cellar of one of the most costly stone mansions, hoping there to find refuge from these engines of destruction which have denuolished many of their dwellings, and by a bloody death bereaved them of many of their dearest friends. The thunders of the bombardment, the crash of the explosions of bomb-shells, the shrieks of the dying, pierce the darkness of the cellar, and excite to a frenzy of terror the trembling females there. A shell falls upon the roof of the house, descends into the cellar, and explodes ; and the limbs of these mothers and maidens, mangled and gory, are driven into the walls. And this is honorable warfare—this is Christian warfare—and the result of such scenes is the subject for civic rejoicing, bonfires, and illuminations! And respectable men, humane men, men who sit at the table of Jesus Christ as his dis. ciples, who publish papers to guide the world to Christian feelings and practices, consider this a very suitable way of collecting debts.

and would gain land; and politicians seemed anxious to gain popularity by rivalling each other in exulting shouts. Alas, in very many instances those shouts proceeded from the same lips which denounced the war as unconstitutional, unjust, and a national crime !

The struggles between the convictions of conscience and the aspirations for popular favor, led others besides the Whigs into strange and almost ludierous contradictions.

We have heard much of late years, from a certain class of philanthropists, of the inviolability of human life; and societies have been organized for the abolition of capital punishment. Life was a boon granted by the Deity, which could rightfully be taken only by the Giver. All this was very well, as applied to American felons; but to extend it to Mexican men, women, and children, guiltless of crime, was, of course, to give “aid and comfort” to the enemy. Hence was seen, in one of our largest cities, the singular spectacle of a president of an anti-capitalpunishment society presiding over a large and ferocious war meeting. The president of another similar society, a prominent politician, accepted and discharged the very consistent duty of presenting a complimentary sword to a popular general

That portion of the publie press which supported the war has, in many instances, been instrumental in diffusing throughout the community most impious and ferocious sentiments. It was, of course, the policy of the dominant party to excite the passions of the people against Mexico, to encourage admiration for military prowess, and to repress all compassion for those we were slaughtering and plundering. Hence, many of the war journals apparently labored to pervert the moral sense of the community, and to insult and ridicule those religious feelings which were

« AnkstesnisTęsti »