of armed force, where resistance assumes the proportions of rebellion and civil war. He did not deny its right and duty to maintain defensive war against strangers, if such a war were possible, but he believed (and in this his faith exceeded the event) that mankind had, ‘in our age,’ reached a stage of moral development where a strictly defensive war is not possible; and he was strenuous in excluding from this class all wars for settling questions of disputed territory or the balance of power.
The stress of his argument bore against preparations for war and the cultivation of a military spirit, and in favor of the consecration of the wealth and intellect of the nation to the cause of Peace, Justice, and Humanity.
His fervor carried him to some positions which his later judgment qualified, and to some forms of expression which his taste afterwards modified or rejected altogether.
These changes appear by a comparison of the early editions of his oration with the latest, included in his Works, as revised by himself.1
He had never any sentimental aversion to the use of force as such, even when necessary to the extent of taking life.
In 1842 he was earnestly in favor of decisive measures against the rebellion in Rhode Island
, and of the use of the national troops for its suppression.2
He went further in sustaining Mackenzie
's summary execution of the ‘Somers
’ mutineers than many who did not share his peace views.3
In 1862 he advised President Lincoln
not to commute the death-sentence passed upon a slave-trader, to the end that the traffic itself should be branded as infamous.
When the Southern Rebellion
was gathering its forces, he resisted all schemes of compromise, although well assured that their defeat involved inevitable civil war; and, during the winter of 1860-61, conferred frequently with General Scott
to promote plans for the military protection of the national capital and forts.4
When the conflict of arms finally opened, he made a fervid address to Massachusetts
soldiers in New York on their way to the scene of action;5
and during the Rebellion
cordially sustained all war measures, even those most thorough and radical, for its suppression.
His sympathies, too, were always heartily enlisted in the struggles of Italy
for freedom, whether in battle or in council.