To his brother George he wrote, Aug. 16, 1845:—[August], 1845.my dear Dana,—I am grateful for your kind letter of sympathy, and am happy that any thing of mine has occupied agreeably a moment of your time. I value your kindness more than I can tell. The subject you open is vast,—beyond me. I have only sported on its brink. It seems to me that it is most successfully treated by Dymond, whose view of the duties of Christians is admirable for its clearness and benevolence. I distinguish between war and any force in the course of justice in this way: War is a trial by battle; it is monstrous and impious, as the latter was called, because it is a deliberate appeal to force or chance to determine an asserted right. I do not see in it any element of self-defence. We hear of defensive wars; but I denounce the phrase and the idea as false,—at least in our age, and with reference to our country. What is the feud with Mexico, but a question as to the title to a piece of land? Now, this clearly should be tried, as other titles are tried, by arbitration, or by some tribunal having in it the elements of justice. But a riot or other crime puts in jeopardy men, wives, children, society, and awakens the right of self-defence. I am not entirely satisfied that this distinction accords with the true spirit of the Gospel; it does not seem to be in harmony with the views of Dymond. Still, it seems to me sufficiently clear; and I am for the present contented, if it will allow me to brand war as barbarous and unchristian. It seems to me that there is a cause which will commend itself to you: I mean the effort to induce our country to make it a part of its fundamental policy to urge diplomatically upon the other Christian nations the formal establishment of a system of Arbitration, or a Congress of Nations, that shall supersede the arbitrament of war. Ever sincerely yours,
To Horace Mann.Court Street, Saturday [August], 1845.my dear Mann,—I was pleased and troubled by your letter about my oration,—gratified that you thought so much about it, and pained that you did not think with it. I have intended to write you at length on the subject, but am called away, and now enclose a criticism which was written without any suggestion from me, as a volunteer, by a friend of mine whom I allowed to read your letter. Ever yours,
I wish I could send you a copy of my oration, but send a newspaper which contains a tolerable abstract. The same paper has an article by me on the Public Schools. My oration has excited vivid praise and condemnation.