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Vol. IV.....No. 1.


In the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, formed by the American Congress in 1776, two of great importance were introduced, which were afterwards omitted in forming the Federal Constitution. Each of these articles was obviously designed to save the states from being rashly involved in ruinous wars. The first was intended to prevent war between any two of the thirteen confederated states. The following paragraph will exhibit the plan, and the substance

of the article:-

"The United States in Congress assembled shall be the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more states concerning boundary jurisdiction, or any other cause whatever,-which authority shall always be exercised in the manner following:Whenever the legislative or executive authority, or lawful agent of any state in controversy with another, shail present a petition to Congress, stating the inatter in question, and praying for a hearing, notice thereof shall be given by order of Congress to the legislative or executive authority of the other state in controversy; and a day shall be assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents, who shall then be directed to appoint by joint consent, commissioners or judges to constitute a court for hearing and determining the matter in question. But if they cannot agree, Congress shall name three persons out of each of the United States; and from the list of such persons, each party shall alternately strike out one-the petitioner beginning, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen; and from that number not less than seven nor more than nine names as Congress shall direct-shall in presence of Congress be drawn out by lot; and the persons whose names shall be so drawn, or any five of them,

Vol. IV. No. 1.


shall be Commissioners or Judges to hear and finally determine the controversy-so always as a major part of the judges, who shall hear the cause, shall agree in the determination."

By this prudent article provision was made for having all disputes between different states referred to a wise and impartial tribunal, as the "LAST RESORT," to the exclusion of the barbarous appeal to arms. Let it be observed, that each of these states was considered as sovereign and independent, and that, on the same principle, tribunals might be established for other independent states, to settle all national controversies. By such an arrangement the people of every country might be freed from the calamities and expenses of the war policy. What enlightened man can suppose that war would be a less dangerous resort, than such a tribunal as was proposed by the American sages of 1776?

The other article relates to waging war on a foreign power. Abridged, it reads as follows:

"The United States, in Congress assembled, shall never engage in a war-unless nine states assent to the same."

Had these few words been inserted in the Federal Constitution, they would have prevented our last war with England! How happy would it have been for our country! What a saving of life, of suffering, of guilt, and of property! How many thousands of our brethren might now have been enjoying the comforts of life, who were swept away by that besom of destruction, which was formed by a slender majority of votes in Congress!

When the Confederation was formed it embraced thirteen states. The article, therefore, which has been quoted, required the assent of more than two thirds of the states to a declar ation of war; and no war could have been waged according to that article, unless a majority of the members from each of nine states should assent to the measure. Such a majority was not found in favour of the war of 1812.

According to the present constitution and laws of our country, the most notorious felon cannot be condemned to die, unless the whole number of jurors agree in a verdict of guilty. Yet a bare majority of our congressional jurors-with the assent of the President-may give a verdict which shall consign to destruction, perhaps 50,000 of their fellow citizens, and as many brethren of another country, without any form of trial, or even the pretence of guilt on the part of the

victims !

Is it not astonishing that a people so jealous of their liberties and rights, as our countrymen really are, should thus expose themselves to be involved in the calamities of war by the influence of party passions or national prejudices? It will perhaps not be doubted, that wars are generally waged under the influence of such passions and prejudices, as would disqualify men for acting as jurors on a trial for life. On this account, if no other, the power of declaring war should be at least as well guarded by conditions and precautions, as the power of taking the life of a pirate or a highwayman. The danger and probability of injustice are much greater in the former case than in the latter. Yet who of our countrymen would be willing to have our laws so altered, that the life of an accused person might be taken on a verdict to which but seven of twelve jurors could assent ?

In many respects the Articles of Confederation were much more deficient than the Federal Constitution; but in regard to the provisions for preventing war, the former displays much more wisdom than the latter. In the Constitution, what is there of prudence or precaution on this all-important point? Inferring from the past, we may expect that there always will be parties in the United States, and that there will be occasions when party passions will be strongly excited. Such excitement is very apt to disqualify its subjects for judging impartially. Under such influence, on frivolous pretexts, and for party purposes, a war may be declared by a small majority of votes, which shall involve the country in great calamities, and perhaps issue in the subversion of our government and the liberties of the people.

If, on the trial of a man accused of felony, it is not prudent to permit interested or prejudiced persons to act as judges or jurors, nor to permit a bare majority of voices to decide his fate, how imprudent must it be to permit a mere majority in Congress to decide a question which involves the lives or the happiness of myriads, if not millions, of innocent people, and that too while these very judges may be persons interested, prejudiced, and exasperated! However innocent a person may be who is indicted for felony, he could hardly expect an acquittal, if he knew the court and jury to be strongly prejudiced against him, and interested to effect his destruction.

In the Numbers ten and twelve of the first volume of the Friend of Peace, two articles were published on the Trial by Jury compared with war, to which the reader is referred for

Should the rulers of christendom still remain so deeply immersed in the fogs of barbarism, that they cannot devise a more just and honorable method for settling national disputes than fighting; it may be well to suggest to them the expediency of imitating the example of Lyme and New London, as less expensive and less cruel than the method which has been so long popular. The least barbarous and the most economical mode of settling government disputes by fighting, would probably be for the Chiefs or Sovereigns of two contending nations to meet and fight personally with each other, in the pugilistic form. But if they cannot consent to this, they may select from each nation one or two champions to fight for them; and, like the people of Lyme and New London, let one combat decide a controversy. To avoid the charge of causing innocent men to fight their battles, they may select their champions from among their convicts, and make bravery in battle a condition of pardon.

Now who does not see that such a mode of settling disputes would be just, humane, and even glorious, compared with the practice of involving whole nations in the calamities of war, to decide a shameful quarrel between two Princes? On this plan, there would be no need of the enormous expenses for supporting fleets and armies, and no need of teaching great numbers of men the art of homicide and robbery. If care should be taken in the selection of convicts for gladiators, little expense would be necessary in training them for fighting as substitutes for Princes; and they would be as proper persons for the barbarous employment as any who could be chosen. Compared with the usual mode of adjusting differences between sovereigns, this project would be very econominal in regard to crime, treasure, and blood; and a victor in such a combat would be less deserving of infamy, and as worthy of "divine honors," as "Macedonia's Madman," Alexander the Great.

Perhaps some will say, that should this project be adopted, there may yet be need of standing armies, to prevent insurrections, and ships of war to suppress piracy. But to this it may be replied, that when governments shall cease to oppress their subjects for purposes of war, and shall forbear to set examples of violence and injustice, there will be less need of armies to prevent insurrections; and when rulers shall cease to authorize public robbery, and to educate men for this horrid employment, the number of pirates will naturally diminish.

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