« PreviousContinue »
thing will at length die of itself. Only leave it to its own merits, without either opposition or favoritism, and it cannot live long among such a people.
The last Governor, a good man, but with the military habits of early life still clinging to him, was used as the chief tool in thus reviving a mitigated form of the militia system in Vermont. His successor, though making it in form a very prominent topic in his first message, did in fact throw cold water upon it; and, though a set effort was attempted to increase the number of companies, and their pay from the State, we believe it mainly failed. We wished, but find now no room, to copy some extracts on the subject from Gov. Hall's message.
MASSACHUSETTS MILITIA. Gov. BANKS UPON IT. “The Report of the Adj. General represents the department of the Militia to be in more prosperous condition, and the troops in more perfect discipline than heretofore. The number of enrolled men is 147,682. The number of men in active service is 5,771. The expenditures of the department for the past year have been $65,185 — nearly $7009 less than in 1857, and $14,000 less ihan in 1856. The division encampments during the past year were distinguished by attention to discipline, and, with one exception -- affecting only a very small portion of the troops — by unusual propriety and decorum; a result that is to be attributed, in a great degree, to the excellent and manly example of the general officers, who prohibited intoxicating liquors in their respective camps. When Napoleon thought it of sufficient importance to announce in his army bulletins that the army of Italy bivouacked without strong drinks,' it would seem, as it has proved, that holiday encampments among us could be conducted on the same principle. While I find great pleasure in awarding to the militia the highest commendation for its excellent condition, I also feel that it is my duty to suggest that careful examination should be made of the principles of organization upon which it is based.
“ There is necessity for more clearly defined general regulations for the military forces of the State than now exists. It is proper that Massachusetts should have a military code of her own, which, while it should recognize and enforce the constitutional authority of the United States, should be also adapted to the conditions and wants of her own service; and I invite you to consider the expediency of appointing a co nmission of military officers for the consideration of this subject. The provision of the constitution which defines the power of the Commander-in-chief over the military forces of the State, is inconsistent with the constitution of the United States, and should be amended so as to conform to the provisions of that instrument upon this subject.”
“ Holiday encampments." Such is the Governor's unguarded yet very significant description of the only effective part of our military drills, “the three days' encampment,” without which the military members repeatedly declared they would give up the whole thing.
The morals of these encampments we have heretofore reported from the testimony of military officers themselves, as well as from the contemporary press. We copy a few specimens of the past year from the very friends of the militia :
The editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser, a steadfast friend of our present militia syètem, and now Speaker of our House of Representatives, says,
August 30, 1858, “ We say to our friends of the volunteer militia of Massachusetts collectively, that if they do not mend their ways, they must regard their existence as an institution doomed. How long do these short-sighted holiday soldiers suppose the people Massachusetts will continue to tax themselves at the rate of $70,000 a year for their benefit, and allow them gratuitonsly the exclusive use of the valuable arms distributed to the State, by the United States Government, for the behalf of the whole enrolled militia of the State, some 160,000, if the 7,000, who undertake to perform what is called active duty, cannot creditably acquit themselves of their task? We have an honest regard for the militia ; and it is for this reason that we litt our voice in warning to tell the active militia collectively, what they seem too much engrossed with their own plans and feelings to see, ihat the very existence of the whole institution depends upon a behavior very different from that of which the recent encampment at Winter Island, in Salem, is an example."
The editor would not publish what his own reporters had sent for his columns, “ because he could not regard the record as creditable to the State," but from other papers we gather the main facts of the case. The New England Farmer says, “We have in years past had occasion to condemn these large and protracted military gatherings, for the tendency to rowdrism which they foster. It would seem, from the reports of the Salem encampment published in the daily journals, that time and experience have done little, if anything, to lessen these tendencies to evil." Indeed, the scenes that were enacted in Salem, last week, seem to have opened the eyes of many to the fact that these encampments are not only occasions of rowdyism and dissipation, but are ridiculous failures in a military point of view. The camp was a scene of turbulence and disorder ; and even the personal presence of the commander-in-chief during the second night — an unprecedented compliment to the militia — failed to secure a tolerable degree of quiet. According to the report of a military cotemporary, who may be supposed to have put the best face upon matters, while the Governor was trying to get at least four hours' sleep on a bed of straw, four kundred of his faithful soldiers eloped to Salem to visit a circus, ' while the conduct of some others who remained in camp, was no less censurable, and many occurrences unbecoming a soldier are reported.'”
A correspondent of the Daily Advertiser “ A Militia Man in Active Service," says :—"Let me add one word on the subject of disorder at night in camp. Everybody who has ever been to camp, will bear witness that the scenes at Winter Island are the rule, and not the exception, on such occasions. The license which prevails throughout the tents, is unworthy of Christian, pagan or man, to say nothing of soldiers. To all who have attended on such occasions, I need only to mention the yelling, swearing and pile language which render night hideous at camp, to call up to their recol. lection scenes disgraceful to civilized beings, and such as it is to be hoped will be omitted from the programme of all future encampments. You are right, sir, in saying that, if the members of our volunteer militia do not 'mend their ways, they must regard their existence as an institution as doomed ;' and let me add, that they will have no one but themselves to thank for their doom, if it comes ; and unless they do mend their ways, the sooner it comes the better."
The Congregationalist, Boston, copying from its secular contemporary, says, "All this is very bad, and seems to justify the Advertiser in asking for an investigation. It now costs the state of Massachusetts $70,000 a year, or at any rate that has been the average cost for several years past, to support our militia system. It ought to be very good, and to do a great deal of good, for that money. It is somewhat difficult to point cut the ac
tual good it does. If in addition to its inutility as an active agent, it does not possess the passive merit of being orderiy and obedient, it had better be looked into a little more closely."
This subject deserves of our assembled Legislatures a kind of attention different from what it has hitherto received. So long as it is left, a foot-bəll of contention, in the hands of the military and of politicians, we must of course expect a continuance, perhaps an increase, of its evils, both pecuniary and moral. Our legislators will, of their own accord, do nothing to remove or abate this nuisance; and, if the people really wish anything done on the subject, they must send up their petitions for the purpose to the Legislature.
INVASION OF PARAGUAY.
In an age when the practice and advocacy of war, once universal, seem at length to be giving way before the extending influence of Christian principles, it is to be regretted that any new practices should be introduced tending to obstruct that influence, and to furnish fresh occasions for the hostility of nations. That the principles of peace have advanced in the civilized part of the world, may be seen in the evident anxiety of the Governments of Europe to avoid occasions of war with each other, and to settle their disputes by amicable negotiation. It may be said, indeed, that this disposition proceeds rather from fear or policy, than from humanity ; but it
: is not less reliable on that account; and, doubtless, in time the latter will grow out of the former. The mitigation of the rigor of the former belligerent maritime code, is an encouraging circumstance in this direction ; and the increased facility of intercommunication between the people of different countries, affords great promise of the preservation of peace.
But it seems to us, that any claim which encroaches on the independent sovereignty of nations, especially if doubtful and resisted, will prove a fruitful source of war ; and we have now to notice two such claims, unadvanced in former ages, and peculiar to the present. The first of these, is the claim of a government to protect its own citizens or subjects in a foreign land, although they shall have expatriated themselves, and voluntarily placed themselves for a time under the laws of another government. The second is, the claim to enforce a diplomatic and commercial intercourse with tion, which prefers to seclude itself from the rest of the world. Our business now is only with the second of these claims.
The empires of China and Japan had, for many ycars, maintained this policy of non-intercourse with other nations; and had they known better than they did the character of governments calling themselves civilized, they would have been fully justified in this exclusive policy. Their right to do so has never been been questioned until a late period in the history of the world; nor can it now be denied in consistency with the principles
of common reason or political morality. It is true, indeed, that China long allowed a small settlement for the factories of European nations, with considerable freedom of trade, and Japan a little island to the Dutch, with a very restricted traffic; but beyond these privileges, granted rather as favors than as rights, the same exclusive policy was maintained. Suddenly, however, a new doctrine has been brought up, and introduced among those felonious practices commonly styled the Law of Nations, namely, the doctrine that no nation has a right to seclude itself from intercourse, commercial or political, from the rest of the world; and, if any nation should persist in such a course, its ports and its highways may be rightfully opened by force.
The first actual attempt at this enforcement, or the open assertion of the right, we believe was made by the British government in compeling the Chinese emperor to permit the interdicted and pernicious trade in opium, which, being of course resisted, led to what is called the "opium war," and which terminated in the permanent retention by the British of the island of long-Kong, which cannot be deemed anything less than unmitigated robbery. The same unrighteous doctrine was the guiding stimulus of the last Chinese war, and, although this has now been closed with all the allies, by treaties of peace ostensibly voluntary, and the ports of Japan, in like manner opened by amicable treaties without war, yet the presence of powerful naval forces, which it is thought were mainly conducive to such treaties, forbids our belief in the total abstinence from intimidation.
Condemning entirely this doctrine of compulsion or encroachment as obviously infringing the independence of weaker nations, we perceive with regret and alarm, that our government, professing higher principles of justice and freedom than those of the elder world, has at length begun to adopt it, and is following the atrocious example. We now refer to its conduct towards Paraguay. This State has long maintained the exclusive policy, neither sceking nor tolerating commercial or political intercourse with other countries; and, in pursuance of this policy, she has forbidden the approach of any ship of any other nation, private or national, up its principal river. Notwithstanding this interdict, a United States ship-ofwar ascends this river for the purpose of sounding and exploration, which we have clearly no right to make. There she is regularly warned not to pass beyond a certain point, which is fortified as a national entrance. Disregarding this notice, however, she continues her way, and, passing that point, is of ccurse fired upon by the forts. Now, although this fire was returned, which we should suppose would settle the matter, our government considers it an insult to our flag, which must be atoned for by apology and reparation ; and accordingly a strong naval force is being sent to that river, to “bully” that nation, because it is a small one, into such submission.
Here is a clear case of forcible interference with the internal chorography of a country, which prefers to remain unknown and unexamined; and, as it cannot be supposed that Paraguay, consistently with what is deemed honor among nations, should be willing to give an apology where she has done no wrong, the force sent will be necessarily resisted, and war seems likely to ensue. Should this be averted by intimidation, we hold that disgrace, and not honor, will accrue to our own govern nent; for the enforcement of wrong by physical power, is the depth of dishonor.
But the most alarming circumstance on this subject, is the silence and apparent acquiescence of the citizens of these States, of all classes and parties, in this unprincipled expedition. That it should have been fitted out by the government on so weak a pretence, is not a matter of surprise; for this is only in conformity to the frequent encroachments practised by other nations, in pursuit of their own ambitious aggrandizement, and in disregard of justice; but that it should raise no voice of remonstrance from legislators or statesmen, or even the ministers of the gospel, is a melancholy indication of apathy to the grossest violations of political right and philanthropic humanity. Especially do we think the organized friends of peace should be instant and loud in their remonstrances against so atrocious a wrong, which is almost certain to be maintained by bloodshed. And now is the time to make such remonstrances. It is useless to set forth, in time of peace, general expositions of the evils and criminality of war, if political measures clearly leading to it are not promptly and zealously resisted. Like all general confessions of sin, when every particular sin is disclaimed, so general condemnation of wars is a timid farce, when special wars as they are projected meet with tacit concurrence.
We thank our friend for calling attention to an embryo practice of our Government likely to bring in its future train a world of crime and mischief. All wise citizens ought to keep their eye open to a subject so pregnant with evils to our country; and we trust especially that the press
will not let it rest.
What is likely to be the effect of this crusade against Paraguay, may be gathered from a recent number, (Nov. 22,) of the Seminario, one of her local papers. “ The Republic," it says, “is ready for war, if war is to
We are resolved to maintain our rights with all the tenacity their justice authorizes. We shall stand firmly together, without being appalled by consequences, keeping ever in sight our outraged national dignity. We do not hesitate to say that this war, when once begun, will undoubtedly affect the security of our neighboring States; and, to preserve their tranquility, they must not admit into their political schemes a sentiment of entire indifference to the attack made upon the Republic of Paraguay.”
J. P. B.
COST OF THE UTAH EXPEDITION. In the expeditions of the Utah service, we have a specimen of what warlike operations cost. These expenses, as far as ascertained, amounted already to $5,132,000; and, if followed out as originally proposed, they might, in time have reached a score of millions or more. It seems that