The True Grandeur of Nations

By Senator Charles Sumner (1845)

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Charles Sumner (1811 - 1874) was an iconic figure in 19th century American politics. This speech, delivered on July 4, 1845 to an audience of leading Boston citizens and officials, both made him a popular lecturer and led to his election as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. The speech is a masterpiece, and compares most favorably with the best speeches of the Athenians Demosthenes and Isocrates.



I PROPOSE inquire what are the true objects of national ambition -- what is truly national glory, national honor – WHAT IS THE TRUE GRANDEUR OF NATIONS. IN OUR AGE THERE CAN BE NO PEACE THAT IS NOT HONORABLE; THERE CAN BE NO WAR THAT IS NOT DISHONORABLE. The true honor of a nation is to be found only in deeds of justice, and in the happiness of its people, all of which are inconsistent with war. In the clear eye of Christian judgment, vain are its victories, infamous are its spoils. He is the true benefactor, and alone worthy of honor, who brings comfort where before was wretchedness; who dries the tear of sorrow; who pours oil into the wounds of the unfortunate; who feeds the hungry, and clothes the naked; who unlooses the fetters of the slave; who, by words or actions, inspires a love for God and for man. This is the Christian hero; this is the man of honor in a Christian land. Well may old Sir Thomas Browne exclaim, "the world does not know its greatest men; " for thus far it has chiefly discerned the violent brood of battle, the armed men springing up from the dragon's teeth sown by Hate, and cared little for the truly good men, children of Love, Cromwell's guiltless of their country's blood, whose steps on earth have been as noiseless as an angel's wing.

It is not to be disguised, that these views differ from the generally received opinions of the world down to this day. The voice of man has been given mostly to the praise of military chieftains, and the honors of victory have been chanted even by the lips of woman. The mother, while rocking her infant on her knees, has stamped on his tender mind, at that age more impressible than wax, the images of war; she has nursed his slumbers with its melodies; she has pleased his waking hours with its stories; and selected for his playthings the plume and the sword. The child is father to the man; and who can weigh the influence of these early impressions on the opinions of later years? The mind which trains the child is like the hand which commands the end of a long lever; a gentle effort at that time suffices to heave the enormous weight of succeeding years. As the boy advances to youth, he is fed, like Achilles, not only on honey and milk, but on bear's flesh and lion's marrow. He draws the nutriment of his soul from a literature, whose beautiful fields have been moistened by human blood.

And when the youth becomes a man, his country invites his services in war, and holds before his bewildered imagination the highest prizes of honor. For him is the pen of the historian, and the verse of the poet . His soul swells at the thought, that he also is a soldier; that his name shall be entered on the list of those who have borne arms in the cause of their country; and, perhaps, he dreams, that he too may sleep, like the Great Captain of Spain, with a hundred trophies over his grave. But the contagion spreads among us beyond those bands on whom is imposed the positive obligation of law. Respectable citizens volunteer to look like soldiers, and to affect in dress, in arms and deportment, what is called "the pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war." We all breathe the malaria of war, and the literature of every age and country is steeped in its spirit . The world has supped so full with battles, that all its inner modes of thought, and many of its rules of conduct, seem to be incarnadined with blood, as the bones of swine fed on madder, are said to become red.

But I pass from this most fruitful theme, and hasten to other topics. I propose to consider very briefly some of those prejudices and influences which are most powerful in keeping alive the delusion of war.

1. One of these is the prejudice to a certain extent in its favor founded on the belief in its necessity. The consciences of all good men condemn it as a crime, a sin; even the soldier confesses that it is to be resorted to only in the last necessity. But a benevolent and omnipotent God cannot render it necessary to commit a crime. When war is called a necessity, it is meant, of course, that its object cannot be gained in any other way; but I think it demonstrable, that the professed object of war, which is justice between nations, is in no respect promoted by war; that force is not justice, nor in any way conducive to justice; that the eagles of victory can be the emblems only of successful force, not of established right . Justice can be obtained only by the exercise of the reason and judgment; but these are silent in the din of arms. Justice is without passion; but war lets loose all the worst passions of our nature.

The various modes, which have been proposed for the determination of disputes between nations, are Negotiation, Arbitration, Mediation, and a Congress of Nations; all of them practicable, and calculated to secure peaceful justice. Let it not be said, then, that war is a necessity; and may our country aim at the true glory of taking the lead in the recognition of these, as the only proper modes of determining justice between nations!


2. Another prejudice in favor of war is founded on the practice of nations, past and present . There is no crime or enormity in morals, which may not find the support of human example; but it is not to be urged in our day, that we are to look for a standard of duty in the conduct of vain, mistaken, fallible man. It is not in the power of man, by any subtle alchemy, to transmute wrong into right . Because war is according to the practice of the world, it does not follow that it is right . For ages the world worshipped false gods; but these gods were not the less false, because all bowed before them. At this moment the larger portion of mankind are Heathen; but Heathenism is not true. It was once the practice of nations to slaughter prisoners of war; but even the spirit of war recoils now from this bloody sacrifice. In Sparta, theft, instead of bring execrated as a crime, was dignified into an art and an accomplishment, and as such admitted into the system of youthful education; and even this debasing practice, established by local feeling, is enlightened, like war, by an instance of unconquerable firmness, which is a barbaric counterfeit of virtue. The Spartan youth, who allowed the fox concealed under his robe to eat into his heart, is an example of mistaken fortitude, not unlike that which we are asked to admire in the soldier.

But is often said, "let us not be wiser than our fathers." Rather let us try to excel our fathers in wisdom. Let us imitate what in them was good; but let us not bind ourselves, as in the chains of Fate, by their imperfect example. Examples are to be followed only when they accord with the suggestions of duty. We have lived to little purpose, if we are not wiser than the generations that have gone before us. It is the grand distinction of man that he is a progressive being; that his reason at the present day is not merely the reason of a single human being, but that of the whole human race, in all ages from which knowledge has descended, in all lands from which it has been borne away. We are the heirs to an inheritance of knowledge, which has been accumulating from generation to generation. The child is now taught at his mother's knee what was far beyond the ken of the most learned of other days. Antiquity is the real infancy of man; we are the true Ancients. The single lock on the battered forehead of Old Time, is thinner now than when our fathers attempted to grasp it; the hourglass has been turned often since. Let us cease, then, to look for a lamp to our feet, in the feeble tapers that glimmer in the sepulchres of the Past. Rather let us hail those ever-burning lights above, in whose beams is the brightness of noon-day!


3. I allude with diffidence, but in the spirit of frankness, to the influence which war has derived from the Christian Church. When Constantine on one of his marches, at the head of his army, beheld the luminous trophy of the cross in the sky right above the meridian sun, inscribed with these words, By this conquer, had his soul been penetrated by the true spirit of Him whose precious symbol it was, he would have found in it no inspiration to the spear and the sword. He would have received the lesson of self-sacrifice, as from the lips of the Savior, and would have learned that it was not by earthly weapons that any true victory was to be won. By this conquer; that is, by patience, suffering, forgiveness of evil, by all those virtues of which the cross is the affecting token, conquer; and the victory shall be greater than any in the annals of Roman conquest.

The Christian Church, after the first centuries of its existence, failed to discern the peculiar spiritual beauty of the faith which it professed. Like Constantine, it found new incentives to war in the religion of Peace; and such to a great extent has been its character even to our own day. The Pope of Rome, the asserted head of the nominal church, assumed the command of armies, often mingling the thunders of battle with those of the Vatican. The dagger which projected from the sacred vestments of the Archbishop de Retz, as he appeared in the streets of Paris, was called by the people, "the Archbishop's Prayer-Book." We read of mitred prelates in armor of proof; the sword of knighthood was consecrated by the church; and priests were often the expert masters in military exercises. I have seen at the gates of the Papal Palace in Rome, a constant guard of Swiss soldiers; I have seen, too, in our own streets a show as incongruous and as inconsistent, a pastor of-a Christian church parading as the chaplain of a military array! Ay! more, we have heard from an eminent Christian divine, a sermon in which we are encouraged to serve the God of Battles, and, as citizen soldiers, to fight for Peace!

And who is the God of Battles? It is Mars; man-slaying, blood-polluted, city-smiting Mars! Him we cannot adore. It is not He who binds the sweet influences of the Pleiades, and looses the bands of Orion; 2 who causes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust; 3 who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb; 4 who distils the oil of gladness upon every upright heart; the fountain of Mercy and Goodness, the God of Justice and Love. The God of Battles is not the God of Christians; to him can ascend none of the prayers of Christian thanksgiving; for him there can be no words of worship in Christian temples, no swelling anthem to peal the note of praise.

There is now floating in this harbor a ship of the line of our country. Many of you have, perhaps, pressed its deck, and observed with admiration the completeness which prevails in all its parts; its lithe masts, and complex net-work of ropes; its thick wooden walls, within which are more than the soldiers of Ulysses; its strong defences, and its numerous dread and rude-throated engines of war. There each Sabbath, amidst this armament of blood, while the wave comes gently plashing against the frowning sides, from a pulpit supported by a cannon, or by the side of a cannon, in repose now, but ready to awake its dormant thunder, charged with death, a Christian preacher addresses the officers and crew! May his instructions carry strength and succor to their souls! But he cannot pronounce in such a place, those highest words of the Master he professes, "Blessed are the Peacemakers; Love your Enemies; Render not evil for evil." Like Macbeth's Amen, they must stick in his throat. This strange and unblessed conjunction of the clergy with war, has had no little influence in blinding the world to the truth now beginning to be recognised, that Christianity forbids war in all cases. 5

One of the beautiful pictures, adorning- the dome of a Church in Rome, by that master of art, whose immortal colors breathe as with the voice of a Poet, the Divine Rafael, represents Mars, in the attitude of war, with a drawn sword uplifted, and ready to strike, while an unarmed Angel from behind, with gentle but irresistible force, arrests and holds the descending arm. Such is the true image of Christian duty; nor can I readily perceive the difference in principle between those ministers of the Gospel, who themselves gird on the sword, as in the olden time, and those others who, unarmed, and in customary suit of solemn black, lend the sanction of their presence to the martial array, or to any form of preparation for war. The drummer who pleaded that he did not fight, was held more responsible for the battle than the mere soldier; for it was the sound of his dram that inflamed the flagging courage of the troops.


4. From the prejudices engendered by the Church, I pass to the prejudices engendered by the army itself. I allude directly to what is called the point of honor, early child of chivalry, the living representative in our day of an age of barbarism. It is difficult to define what is so evanescent, so impalpable, so chimerical, so unreal; and yet which exercises such power over many men, and controls the relations of states. As a little water which has fallen into the crevice of a rock, under the congelation of winter swells till it bursts the thick and stony fibres; so a word, or a slender act, dropping into the heart of man, under the hardening influence of this pernicious sentiment, dilates till it rends in pieces the sacred depository of human affections, while Hate and the demon Strife, no longer restrained, are let loose abroad. The musing Hamlet 6 saw the strange and unnatural power of this sentiment, when his soul pictured to his contemplations

-the army of such mass and charge,
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death and danger, dare
Even for an egg-shell;

and when he says, with a point which has given to this sentiment its strongest and most popular expression,

Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument;
But greatly to find quarrel in a strain
When honor's at the stake.

And when is honor at stake? Only where justice and happiness are at stake; it can never depend on an egg-shell, or a straw; it can never depend on an impotent word of anger or folly, not even if that word be followed by a blow. In fine, true honor is to be found in the highest moral and intellectual excellence, in the dignity of the human soul, in its nearest approach to those qualities which we reverence as the attributes of God. Our community frowns with indignation upon the profaneness of the duel which has its rise in this irrational point of honor; but are they aware that they themselves indulge the sentiment on a gigantic scale, when they recognize what is called the honor of the country, as a proper ground for war? We have already seen that justice is in no respect promoted by war; is true honor promoted where justice is not?

But the very word honor, as used by the world, does not express any elevated sentiment . How infinitely below the sentiment of duty! It is a word of easy virtue, that has been prostituted to the most opposite diameters and transactions. From the field of Pavia, where France suffered one of the greatest reverses m her annals, Francis writes to his mother, "all is lost except honor." At a later day, the renowned cook, the grand Vatel, in a paroxysm of grief and mortification at the failure of two dishes expected on the table, exclaimed, " I have lost my honor.'"7

Montesquieu places it in direct contrast with virtue. He represents what he calls the prejudice of honor as the animating principle of monarchy, while virtue is that of a republic, saying that in well governed monarchies almost every body will be a good citizen, but it will be rare to meet with a really good man. By an instinct that points to the truth, we do not apply this term to the high columnar virtues which sustain and decorate life, to parental affection, to justice, to the attributes of God. We do not speak of an honorable father, an honorable mother, an honorable judge, an honorable angel, an honorable God. In such sacred connections we feel, beyond the force of any argument, the vulgar and debasing character of the sentiment to which it refers.

The degrading rule of honor is founded in the supposed necessity of resenting by force a supposed injury, whether by word or act. 8 But suppose such an injury is received, sullying, as is falsely imagined, the character; is it wiped away by descending to the brutal level of its author? Could I wipe your blood from my conscience as easily as I can this insult from my face," said a Marshal of France, greater on this occasion than on any field of fame, "I would have laid you dead at my feet." It is Plato, reporting the angelic wisdom of Socrates, who declares in one of those beautiful dialogues, which shine with stellar light across the ages, that it is more shameful to do a wrong than to receive a wrong. 9 And this benign sentiment commends itself alike to the Christian who is told to render good for evil, and to the universal heart of man. But who that confesses its truth, can vindicate a resort to force for the sake of honor? Better far to receive the blow that a false morality has thought degrading, than that it should be revenged by force. Better that a nation should submit to what is wrong, rather than vainly seek to maintain its honor by the great crime of war.

The modern point of honor does not find a place in warlike antiquity. Themistocles at Salamis did not send a cartel to the Spartan commander, when threatened by a blow. "Strike, but hear," was the response of that firm nature which felt that true honor was to be gained only in the performance of duty. It was in the depths of modern barbarism, in the age of chivalry, that this sentiment shot up in the wildest and most exuberant fancies; not a step was taken without reference to it; no act was done which had not some point tending to " the bewitching duel," and every stage in the combat, from the ceremonies of its beginning to its deadly close, were measured by this fantastic law. The Chevalier Bayard10, the cynosure of chivalry, the knight without fear, and without reproach, in a contest with the Spaniard Don Alonzo de Soto Mayor, 11 by a feint struck him such a blow in the throat, that despite the gorget, the weapon penetrated four fingers deep. The wounded Spaniard grasped his adversary, and, struggling with him, they both rolled on the ground, when Bayard, drawing his dagger, and thrusting its point in the nostrils of the Spaniard, exclaimed, "Senor Alonzo, surrender, or you are a dead man!" A speech which appeared superfluous, as Don Diego de Guignones, his second, exclaimed, " Senor Bayard, he is dead; you have conquered." Bayard, says the chronicler, would have given one hundred thousand crowns to spare his life; but, he now fell upon his knees, kissed the ground three times, and then dragged his dead enemy out of the camp, saying to the second of his fallen foe, " Senor Don Diego, have I done enough?" To which the other piteously replied, "too much, Senor, for the honor of Spain!" when Bayard very generously presented him with the corpse, although it was his right, by the laws of honor, to do whatever he thought proper with it: an act which is highly commended by Brantome, who thinks it difficult to say which did him most honor -- not having ignominiously dragged the body like the carcass of a dog by a leg out of the field, or having condescended to fight while laboring under an ague!

Let us not draw a great rule of conduct from such a period. Let the point of honor stay with the daggers, the swords and the weapons of combat, by which it was guarded; let it appear only with its inseparable companions, the bowie-knife and the pistol! Be ours a standard of conduct having its sources in the loftiest attributes of man, in truth, in justice, in duty; and may this standard, which governs our relations to each other, be recognized among the nations! When shall we behold the dawning of that happy day, harbinger of infinite happiness beyond, in which nations shall feel that it is better to receive a wrong than to do a wrong?


5. There is still another influence which stimulates war, and interferes with the natural attractions of Peace; I refer to a selfish and exaggerated love of country. Our minds, nursed by the literature of antiquity, have imbibed the narrow sentiment of heathen patriotism. Exclusive love for the land of birth was a part of the religion of Greece and Rome. It is an indication of the lowness of their moral natures, that this sentiment was so exclusive. The beautiful genius of Cicero, at times instinct with truth almost divine, did not ascend to that highest heaven where is taught, that all mankind are neighbors and kindred, and that the relations of fellow-countryman are less holy than those of fellow-man. To the love of universal man may be applied those words by which the great Roman elevated his selfish patriotism to a virtue, when he said, that country alone embraced all the charities of all.12 Attach this admired phrase for a moment to the single idea of country; and you will see how contracted are its charities compared with the world-wide circle of Christian love whose neighbor is the suffering man, though at the farthest pole. Such a sentiment would dry up those fountains of benevolence which now diffuse themselves in precious waters in distant unenlightened lands, bearing the blessings of truth to the icy mountains of Greenland, and the coral islands of the Pacific sea.

It has been a part of the policy of rulers to encourage this exclusive patriotism; and the eople of modern times have each inherited the feeling of Antiquity. I do not know that any one nation is in a condition to reproach the other with this patriotic selfishness. All are selfish. An officer of our Navy has gone beyond all Greek, all Roman example. "Our country, be she right or wrong" was his exclamation; a sentiment dethroning God, and enthroning the devil, whose flagitious character should be rebuked by every honest heart. "Our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country" are other words, which have often been painted on banners, and echoed by the voices of innumerable multitudes. Cold and dreary, narrow and selfish, would be this life, if nothing but one country occupied our souls; if the thoughts that wander through eternity, if the infinite affections of our nature, were restrained to that spot of earth where we have been placed by the accident of birth.

I do not inculcate an indifference to country. We incline, by a natural sentiment, to the spot where we were born, to the fields which witnessed the sports of childhood, to the seat of youthful studies, and to the institutions under which we have been trained. The finger of God writes in indelible colors all these things upon the heart of man, so that in the dread extremities of death, he reverts in fondness to early associations, and longs for a draught of cold water from the bucket in his father's well. This sentiment is independent of reflection, for it begins before reflection, grows with our growth, and strengthens with our strength. It is blind in its nature; and it is the duty of each of us to take care that it does not absorb the whole character. We find that God has not placed us on this earth alone; that there are other nations, equally with us, children of his protecting care. It is not because I love country less, but Humanity more, that I plead the cause of a higher and truer patriotism. Remember that you are men, by a more sacred bond than you are citizens; that you are children of a common Father more than you are Americans.

Viewing, then, the different people on the globe, as all deriving their blood from a common source, and separated only by the accident of mountains, rivers and seas, into those distinctions around which cluster the associations of country, we must regard all the children of the earth as members of the great human family. Discord in this family is treason to God; while all war is nothing else than civil war. The soul stands aghast, as we contemplate fields drenched in fraternal gore, where the happiness of homes has been shivered by the unfriendly arms of neighbors, and where kinsmen have sunk beneath the cold steel that was nerved by a kinsman's hand. This is civil war, which stands forever accursed in the calendar of time; but the Muse of History, in the faithful record of the future transactions of nations, inspired by a new and loftier justice, and touched to finer sensibilities, shall extend to the general sorrows of Universal Man the sympathy which has been profusely shed for the selfish sorrow of country, and shall pronounce all war to be civil war, and the partakers in it as traitors to God, and enemies to man.


The sentiment, in peace prepare for war, has been transmitted from distant ages when brute force prevailed. It is the terrible inheritance the damnosa haereditas, which painfully reminds the people of our day of their relations with the Past. It belongs to the rejected dogmas of barbarism. It is the child of suspicion, and the forerunner of violence. Having in its favor the almost uninterrupted usage of the world, it possesses a hold on the common mind, which is not easily unloosed. And yet the conscientious soul cannot fail, on careful observation, to detect its most mischievous fallacy -- a fallacy which dooms nations to annual tributes in comparison with which all that have been extorted by conquests, are as the widow's mite by the side of Pharisaical contributions. So true is what Rousseau said, and Guizot has since repeated, "that a bad principle is far worse than a bad fact;" for the operations of the one are finite, while those of the other are infinite. I speak of this principle with earnestness; for I believe it to be erroneous and false, unworthy of an age of light, and disgraceful to Christians. I have called it a principle; but it is a mere prejudice, in obeying which we imitate the early mariners who steered from headland to headland, and hugged the shore, unwilling to venture upon the broad ocean where their guide should be the luminaries of heaven.

Preparations for war in time of peace are pernicious on two grounds; first, because they inflame the people who make them, exciting them to deeds of violence which otherwise would be most alien to their minds; and secondly, because, having their origin in the low motive of distrust and hate, they inevitably, by a sure law of the human mind, excite a corresponding feeling in other nations. Thus they are in fact not the preservers of peace, but the provokers of war.

In illustration of the first of these grounds, it will occur to every inquirer, that the possession of power is always in itself dangerous; that it tempts the purest and highest natures to self-indulgence; that it can rarely be enjoyed without abuse. History teaches that the nations possessing the greatest military forces, have always been the most belligerent; while the feebler powers have enjoyed, for a longer period, the blessings of Peace. The din of war resounds throughout more than seven hundred years of Roman History, with only two short lulls of repose; while smaller states, less potent in arms, and without the excitement to quarrels on this account, have enjoyed long eras of Peace. It is not in the history of nations only, that we find proofs of this law; the experience of private life, in all ages, confirms it. The wearing of arms has always been a provocative to combat. It has excited the spirit, and furnished the implements of strife. As we revert to the progress of society in modern Europe, we find that the odious system of private quarrels, of hostile meetings even in the street, continued so long as men persevered in the habit of wearing arms. Innumerable families were thinned by death received in these hasty and often unpremeditated encounters; and the lives of scholars and poets were often exposed to their rude chances. Marlowe, "with all his rare learning and wit," perished ignominiously under the weapon of an unknown adversary; and Savage, whose genius and misfortune inspired the friendship and the eulogies of Johnson, was tried for murder committed in a sudden broil. " The expert swordsman," says Mr. Jay, 14, "the practised marksman, is ever more ready to engage in personal combats, than the man who is unaccustomed to the use of deadly weapons. In those portions of our country where it is supposed essential to personal safety to go armed with pistols and bowie-knives, mortal affrays are so frequent as to excite but little attention, and to secure, with rare exceptions, impunity to the murderer; whereas, at the North and East, where we are unprovided with such facilities for taking life, comparatively few murders of the kind are perpetrated. We might, indeed, safely submit the decision of the principle we are discussing to the calculations of pecuniary interest . Let two men, equal in age and health, apply for an insurance on their lives; one known to be ever armed to defend his honor and his life against every assailant; and the other a meek, unresisting Quaker. Can we doubt for a moment which of these men would be deemed by the Insurance Company most likely to reach a good old age?"

The second of these grounds is a part of the unalterable nature of man. It is an expansion of the old Horatian adage15 Si vis me flere, dolendum est primum ipsi tibi; if you wish me to weep, you must yourself weep first . So are we all knit together that the feelings in our own bosom awaken corresponding feelings in the bosoms of others; as harp answers to harp in its softest vibrations; as deep responds to deep in the might of its passions. What within us is good, invites the good in our brother; generosity begets generosity; love wins love; Peace secures Peace; while all within us that is bad, challenges the bad in our brother; distrust engenders distrust; hate provokes hate; War arouses War. Life is full of illustrations of this beautiful law. Even the miserable maniac, in whose mind the common rules of conduct are overthrown, confesses its overruling power, and the vacant stare of madness may be illumined by a word of love. The wild beasts confess it; and what is the interesting story of Orpheus, whose music drew in listening rapture the lions and panthers of the forest, but an expression of this prevailing law?

Literature abounds in illustrations of this principle. Looking back to the early dawn of t he world, one of the most touching scenes which we behold, illumined by that Auroral light, is the peaceful visit of the aged Priam to the tent of Achilles to entreat the body of his son. 16 The fierce combat has ended in the death of Hector, whose unhonored corpse the bloody Greek has already trailed behind his chariot . The venerable father, after twelve days of grief, is moved to efforts to regain the remains of the Hector he had so dearly loved. He leaves his lofty cedarn chamber, and with a single aged attendant, unarmed, repairs to the Grecian camp by the side of the distant sounding sea. Entering- alone, he finds Achilles within his tent, in the company of two of his chiefs. He grasps his knees, and kisses those terrible homicidal hands which had taken the life of his son. The heart of the inflexible, the angry, the inflamed Achilles is touched by the sight which he beholds, and responds to the feelings of Priam. He takes the suppliant by the hand, seats him by his side, consoles his grief, refreshes his weary body, and concedes to the prayers of a weak, unarmed old man, what all Troy in arms could not win. In this scene the poet, with unconscious power, has presented a picture of the omnipotence of that law of our nature, making all mankind of kin, in obedience to which no word of kindness, no act of confidence, falls idly to the earth.

Among the legendary passages of Roman history, perhaps none makes a deeper impression than that scene, after the Roman youth had been consumed at Allia, and the invading Gauls under Brennus had entered the city, where we behold the venerable Senators of the Republic, too old to flee, and careless of surviving the Roman name, seated each on his curule chair in a temple, unarmed, looking, as Livy says, more august than mortal, and with the majesty of the gods. The Gauls gaze on them as upon sacred images, and the hand of slaughter, which had raged through the streets of Rome, is stayed by the sight of an assembly of unarmed old men. At length a Gaul approaches, and gently strokes with his hands the silver beard of a Senator, who, indignant at the license, smites the barbarian with his ivory staff, which was the signal for general vengeance. Think you, that a band of savages could have slain these Senators, if the appeal to force had not first been made by one of their own number?

I cannot leave these illustrations without alluding particularly to the history of the treatment of the insane. When Pinel 17 first proposed to remove the heavy chains from the raving maniacs of the hospitals of Paris, he was regarded as one who saw visions, or dreamed dreams. His wishes were gratified at last; and the change in the conduct of his patients was immediate; the wrinkled front of evil passions was smoothed into the serene countenance of Peace. The old treatment by force is now universally abandoned; the law of love has taken its place; and all these unfortunates mingle together, unvexed by those restraints which implied suspicion, and therefore aroused opposition. The warring propensities, which once filled with confusion and strife the hospitals for the insane while they were controlled by force, are a dark but feeble type of the present relations of nations, on whose hands are the heavy chains of military preparations, assimilating the world to one great mad-house; while the peace and good-will which now abound in these retreats, are the happy emblems of what awaits the world when it shall have the wisdom to recognize the supremacy of the higher sentiments of our nature; of gentleness, of confidence, of love.

I might also dwell on the recent experience, so full of delightful wisdom, in the treatment of the distant, degraded convicts of New South Wales, showing the importance of confidence and kindness on the part of their overseers, in awakening a corresponding sentiment even in these outcasts, from whose souls virtue seems, at first view, to be wholly blotted out. Thus from all quarters, from the far-off past, from the far-away Pacific, from the verse of the poet, from the legend of history, from the cell of the mad-house, from the assembly of transported criminals, from the experience of daily life, from the universal heart of man, ascends the spontaneous tribute to the prevailing power of that law, according to which the human heart responds to the feelings by which it is addressed, whether of confidence or distrust, of love or hate.

It will be urged that these instances are exceptions to the general laws by which mankind are governed. It is not so. They are the unanswerable evidence of the real nature of man. They disclose susceptibilities which are general, confined to no particular race of men, to no period of time, to no narrow circle of knowledge and refinement. It is then on the universal and unalterable nature of man, that I place the fallacy of that prejudice, in obedience to which in time of peace we prepare for war.

But Christianity not only teaches the superiority of Love over Force; it positively enjoins the practice of the one, and the rejection of the other. It says, "love your neighbors;" but it does not say, "in time of Peace rear the massive fortification, build the man of war, enlist armies, train the militia, and accumulate military stores to be employed in future quarrels with your neighbors." Its precepts go still further. They direct that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us -- a golden rule for the conduct of nations as well as individuals; but how inconsistent with that distrust of others, in wrongful obedience to which nations, in time of Peace, seem to sleep like soldiers on their arms! Its precepts go further still. They enjoin patience, suffering, forgiveness of evil, even the duty of benefiting a destroyer, "as the sandal wood, in the instant of its overthrow, sheds perfume on the axe which fells it." And can a people, in whom this faith is more than an idle word, consent to such enormous sacrifices of money in violation of its plainest precepts?

In response to these views, I hear the skeptical note of some defender of the transmitted order of things, some one who wishes "to fight for Peace," saying, these views are beautiful but visionary; they are in advance of the age; the world is not yet prepared for their reception. To such persons I would say, nothing can be beautiful that is not true; but these views are true, the time is now come for their reception, now is the day, and now the hour. Every effort to impede their progress, arrests the advancing hand on the great dial-plate of human happiness.

The name of Washington is invoked as an authority for a prejudice which Economy, Humanity and Christianity all declare to be false. Mighty and reverend as is his name, more mighty and more reverend is truth. The words of counsel which he gave were in accordance with the spirit of his age, -- an age which was not shocked by the slave-trade; but his lofty soul, which loved virtue, and inculcated justice and benevolence, frowns upon the efforts of those who would use his authority as an incentive to war. God forbid that his sacred character should be profanely stretched, like the skin of John Ziska, on a militia drum to rouse the martial ardor of the American people! Look at the practice of Washington. During his administration, our expenses for the army and the navy fell short of $11,000,000, or $l,365,000 a year; while those of the eight years preceding 18i44, reached nearly $164,000,000, or $20,417,000 a year; an increase of 1500 per cent.!

It is melancholy to consider the impediments which truth encounters on its first appearance. A large portion of mankind avert their countenances from all that is inconsistent with established usage; but the practice of nations can be no apology for a system which is condemned by such principles as I have now considered. Truth enters the world like a humble child, with few to receive her; it is only when she has grown in years and stature, and the purple flush of youthful strength beams from her face, that she is sought and wooed. It has been thus in all ages. Nay, there is often an irritation excited by her presence; and men who are kind and charitable, forget their kindness, and lose their charity towards the unaccustomed stranger. It was this feeling which awarded a dungeon to Galileo, when he declared that the earth moved round the sun; which neglected the great discovery of the circulation of the blood by Harvey; and which bitterly opposed the divine philanthropy of Clarkson, when he first denounced the wickedness of the slave-trade. But the rejected truths of to-day shall become the chief corner-stones to the next generation.

Auspicious omens in the history of the past, and in the present, cheer us for the future. The terrible wars of the French Revolution were the violent rending of the body which preceded the exorcism of the fiend. Since the morning stars first sang together, the world has not witnessed a peace so harmonious and enduring as that which now blesses the Christian nations. Great questions between them, fraught with strife, and, in another age, sure heralds of war, are now determined by arbitration or mediation. Great political movements, which only a few short years ago must have led to forcible rebellion, are now conducted by peaceful discussion. Literature, the press, and various societies, all join in the holy work of inculcating good-will to man. The spirit of humanity now pervades the best writings of every kind; nor can genius ever be so Promethean as when it bears the heavenly fire of love to the hearths of men.

It was Dr. Johnson, in the last age, who uttered the detestable sentiment, that he liked "a good hater;" the man of this age shall say, he likes " a good lover." A poet, whose few verses will bear him on his immortal flight with unflagging wing, has given expression to this sentiment in words of uncommon pathos and power:

"He prayeth well who loveth well
All things, both great and small.
He prayeth best who loveth best
Both man, and bird, and beast;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."

Every where the ancient law of hate is yielding to the law of love. It is seen in the change of dress; the armor of complete steel was the habiliment of the knight, and the sword was an indispensable companion of the gentleman of the last century; but he would be thought a madman or a bully who should wear either now. It is seen in the change in domestic architecture; the places once chosen for castles or houses, were in the most savage, inaccessible retreats, where the massive structure was reared, destined solely to repel attacks, and to enclose its inhabitants. The monasteries and churches were fortified, and girdled by towers, ramparts and ditches, and a child was often stationed as a watchman, not of the night, but to observe what passed at a distance, and announce the approach of the enemy! The houses of the peaceful citizens in towns were castellated, often without so much as an aperture for light near the ground, and with loop-holes above, through which the shafts of the cross-bow might be aimed. In the system of fortifications and preparations for war, nations act towards each other in the spirit of distrust and barbarism, which we have traced in the individual, but which he has now renounced. In so doing, they take counsel of the wild boar in the fable, who whetted his tusks on a tree of the forest, when no enemy was near, saying that in time of peace he must prepare for war. But has not the time now come, when man whom God created in his own image, and to whom He gave the heaven-directed countenance, shall cease to look down to the beasts for examples of conduct?


Here I pause to review the field over which we have passed. We have beheld War, sanctioned by International Law, as a mode of determining justice between Nations, elevated into an established custom, defined and guarded by a complex code, known as the Laws of War; we have detected its origin in an appeal, not to the moral and intellectual part of man's nature, in which alone is Justice, but in an appeal to that low part, which he has in common with the beast; we have contemplated its infinite miseries to the human race; we have weighed its sufficiency as a mode of determining justice between nations, and found that it is a rude appeal to force, or a gigantic game of chance, in which God's children are profanely treated as a pack of cards, while, in unnatural wickedness, it is justly likened to the monstrous and impious custom of Trial by Battle, which disgraced the Dark Ages; thus showing, that, in this day of boastful civilization, justice between nations is determined by the same rules of barbarous, brutal violence, which once controlled the relations between individuals. We have next considered the various prejudices by which War is sustained; founded on a false belief in its necessity; the practice of nations, past and present; the infidelity of the Christian Church; a mistaken sentiment of honor; an exaggerated idea of the duties of patriotism; and finally, that monster prejudice, which draws its vampire life from the vast Preparations in time of peace for War; especially dwelling, at this stage, upon the thriftless, irrational, and unchristian character of these Preparations; hailing also the auguries of their overthrow, and catching a vision of the surpassing good that will be achieved, when the boundless means, thus barbarously employed, are dedicated to works of Peace, opening the serene path to that righteousness which exalteth a Nation.


And now, if it be asked why, on this National Anniversary, in considering the TRUE GRANDEUR OP NATIONS, I have dwelt, thus singly and exclusively on War, it is, because War is utterly and irreconcilably inconsistent with True Greatness. Thus far, mankind have worshipped in Military Glory a phantom idol, compared with which the colossal images of ancient Babylon or modern Hindustan are but toys; and we in this blessed land of freedom, in this blessed day of light, are among the idolaters.

The Heaven-descended injunction, Know thyself,, still speaks to an unheeding world from the distant letters of gold at Delphi; Know thyself; know that the moral nature is the most noble part of man,, transcending far that part which is the seat of passion, strife, and War; nobler than the intellect itself. And the human heart, by its untutored judgment, rendering spontaneous homage to the virtues of Peace, -- approves the same truth. It admonishes the military idolater, that it is not the bloody combats, even of the bravest chiefs, even of the gods themselves, as they echo from the resounding lines of the great Poet of War, which have received the warmest admiration; but those two scenes, in which he has painted the gentle, unwarlike affections of our nature, the Parting of Hector from Andromache, and the Supplication of Priam. In this definitive election of the peaceful pictures of Homer, the soul of man, inspired by a better wisdom than that of books, and drawn unconsciously by the Heavenly attraction of what is Truly Great, has acknowledged, by a touching instance, the vanity of Military Glory. The Beatitudes of Christ, which shrink from saying "Blessed are the War-makers," inculcate the same lesson. Reason affirms and repeats what the heart has prompted, and Christianity declared. Suppose War to be decided by Force, where is the Glory? Suppose it to be decided by Chance, where is the Glory? Surely, in other ways True Greatness lies. Nor is it difficult to tell where.

True Greatness consists in imitating, as near as possible for finite man, the perfections of an Infinite Creator; above all, in cultivating those highest perfections, Justice and Love; Justice, which, like that of St. Louis, does not swerve to the right hand or to the left; Love, which, like that of William Penn, regards all mankind of kin. "God is angry," says Plato, "when any one censures a man like Himself, or praises a man of an opposite character,. And the God-like man is the good man." 18 Again: in another of those lovely dialogues, vocal with immortal truth, "Nothing resembles God more than that man among us who has arrived at the highest degree of justice." 19 The True Greatness of Nations is in those qualities which constitute the True Greatness of the individual. It is not in extent of territory, or vastness of population or accumulations of wealth; not in fortifications, or armies, or navies; not in the phosphorescent glare of battle; not in Golgothas, though covered by monuments that kiss the clouds; for all these are the creatures and representatives of those qualities in our nature, which are unlike anything in God's nature. Nor is it to be found in triumphs of the intellect alone, in literature, learning, science, or art. The polished Greeks, our masters in the delights of art, and the commanding Romans, overawing the earth with their power, were little more than splendid savages. And the age of Louis XIV., of France, spanning so long a period of ordinary worldly magnificence; thronged by marshals, bending under military laurels; enlivened by the unsurpassed comedy of Moliere; dignified by the tragic genius of Corneille; illumined by the splendors of Bossuet, is degraded by immoralities, that cannot be mentioned without a blush; by a heartlessness, in comparison with which the ice of Nova Zembla is warm; and by a succession of deeds of injustice, not to be washed out by the tears of all the recording angels of Heaven.

The True Greatness of a Nation cannot be in triumphs of the intellect alone. Literature and art may enlarge the sphere of its influence; they may adorn it; but they are in their nature but accessaries. The True Grandeur of Humanity is in moral elevation, sustained, enlightened, and decorated by the intellect of man,. The surest tokens of this Grandeur, in a Nation, are that Christian Beneficence, which diffuses the greatest happiness among the greatest number, and that passionless, God-like Justice, which controls the relations of the Nation to other Nations, and to all the people committed to its charge.


But War crushes, with bloody heel, all beneficence, all happiness, all justice, all that is God-like in man. It suspends every commandment of the Decalogue; it sets at naught every principle of the Gospel; it silences all law, human as well as divine, except only that blasphemous code of its own, the Laws of War,. If, in its dismal annals, there is any cheerful passage, be assured that it is not inspired by a martial Fury. Let it not be forgotten, let it be ever borne in mind, as you ponder this theme, that the virtues, which shed their charm over its horrors, are all borrowed of Peace; that they are emanations of the Spirit of Love, which is so strong in the heart of man, that it survives the rudest assaults. The flowers of gentleness, of kindliness, of fidelity, of humanity, which flourish unregarded in the rich meadows of Peace, receive unwonted admiration when we discern them in War, like violets, shedding their perfume on the perilous edges of the precipice, beyond the smiling borders of civilization. God be praised for all the examples of magnanimous virtue which he has vouchsafed to mankind! God be praised, that the Roman Emperor, about to start on a distant expedition of War, encompassed by squadrons of cavalry, and by golden eagles which swayed in the wind, stooped from his saddle to hear the prayer of the humble widow, demanding justice for the death of her son! 20 God be praised, that Sydney, on the field of battle, gave, with dying hand, the cup of cold water to the dying soldier! That single act of self-forgetful sacrifice has consecrated the deadly field of Zutphen, far, oh, far beyond its battle; it has consecrated thy name, gallant Sydney, beyond any feat of thy sword, beyond any triumph of thy pen! But there are lowly suppliants, in other places than the camp; there are hands outstretched, elsewhere than on fields of blood, for so little as a cup of cold water. Everywhere are opportunities for deeds of like Greatness.

Know well, that these are not the product of War. They do not spring from enmity, hatred, and strife; but from those benign sentiments, whose natural and ripened fruit, of joy and blessing, can be found only in Peace. If, at any time, they appear in the soldier, it is not because,, but notwithstanding,, he is the hireling of battle. Let me not be told, then, of the virtues of War. Let not the acts of generosity and sacrifice, which have blossomed on its fields, be invoked in its defence. From such a giant root of bitterness no True Good can spring. The poisonous tree, in Oriental imagery, though watered by nectar, and covered with roses, can produce only the fruit of death!

Casting our eyes over the history of nations, with horror we discern the succession of murderous slaughters, by which their Progress has been marked. Even as the hunter traces the wild beast, when pursued to his lair, by the drops of blood on the earth, so we follow Man, faint, weary, staggering with wounds through the Black Forest of the Past, which he has reddened with his gore. Oh, let it not be in the future ages, as in those which we now contemplate! Let the Grandeur of man be discerned, not in bloody victory, or in ravenous conquest, but in the blessings which he has secured; in the good he has accomplished; in the triumphs of Beneficence and Justice; in the establishment of Perpetual Peace.


As the ocean washes every shore, and, with all-embracing arms, clasps every land, while, on its heaving bosom, it bears the products of various climes; so Peace surrounds, protects, and upholds all other blessings. Without it, commerce is vain, the ardor of industry is restrained, justice is arrested, happiness is blasted, virtue sickens and dies.

And Peace has its own peculiar victories; in comparison with which, Marathon and Bannockburn and Bunker Hill, fields sacred in the history of human freedom, will lose their lustre. Our own Washington rises to a truly heavenly stature, not when we follow him over the ice of the Delaware to the capture of Trenton, not when we behold him victorious over Cornwallis at Yorktown, but when we regard him, in noble deference to Justice, refusing the kingly crown which a faithless soldiery proffered, and, at a later day, upholding the peaceful neutrality of the country, while he received unmoved the clamor of the people wickedly crying for War. What Glory of battle in England's annals will not fade by the side of that great act of Justice, by which her Parliament, at a cost of one hundred million dollars, gave freedom to eight hundred thousand slaves! And when the day shall come (may these eyes be gladdened by its beams! ) that shall witness an act of larger Justice still, the peaceful emancipation of three millions of our fellowmen, "guilty of a skin not colored as our own," now in this land of jubilant freedom, bound in gloomy bondage, then will there be a victory, in comparison with which that of Bunker Hill will be as a farthing-candle held up to the sun. That victory will need no monument of stone. It will be written on the grateful hearts of uncounted multitudes, that shall proclaim it to the latest generation. It will be one of the famed landmarks of civilization; nay, more, it will be one of the links in the golden chain by which Humanity shall connect itself with the throne of God.

As man is higher than the beasts of the field; as the angels are higher than man; as Christ is higher than Mars; as he that ruleth his spirit is higher than he that taketh a city, so are the victories of Peace higher than the victories of War.


Far be from us, fellow-citizens, on this Festival, the pride of national victory, and the illusion of national freedom, in which we are too prone to indulge. None of you make rude boast of individual prosperity or prowess. But there can be only one and the same rule, whether in morals or conduct, for nations and individuals. Our country will act wisely and in the spirit of True Greatness, by emulating, in public behavior, the reserve and modesty universally commended in private life. Let it cease to vaunt itself and be puffed up; but rather brace itself, by firm resolve and generous aspiration, to the duties before it. We have but half done, when we have made ourselves free. Let not the scornful taunt, wrung from bitter experience of the great French Revolution, be directed at us: "They wish to be free, but know not how to be just."21 Freedom is not an end in itself, but a means only, a means of securing Justice and Beneficence, in which alone is happiness, the real end and aim of Nations, as of every human heart. It becomes us to inquire earnestly, if there is not much to be done by which these can be advanced. If I have succeeded in impressing the truths which I have upheld today, you will be ready, as faithful citizens, alike of our own Republic and of the universal Christian Commonwealth, to join in efforts to abolish the Arbitrament of War, to suppress International Lynch Law, and to induce the Disarming of the Nations, as indispensable to the establishment of Permanent Peace that grand, comprehensive blessing, at once the child and parent of all those guardian virtues, without which National Honor and National Glory are vain things, and there can be no True Grandeur of Nations!

To this Great Work let me summon you. That Future, which filled the lofty vision of the sages and bards of Greece and Rome, which was foretold by the prophets and heralded by the evangelists, when man, in Happy Isles, or in a new Paradise, shall confess the loveliness of Peace, may be secured by your care, if not for yourselves, at least for your children. Believe that you can do it, and you can do it,. The true golden age is before, not behind. If man has been driven once from Paradise, while an angel, with a flaming sword, forbade his return, there is another Paradise, even on earth, which he may form for himself, by the cultivation of knowledge, religion, and the kindly virtues of life; where the confusion of tongues shall be dissolved in the union of hearts; and joyous Nature, borrowing prolific charms from the prevailing Harmony, shall spread her lap with unimagined bounty, and there shall be a perpetual jocund spring, and sweet strains borne on "the odoriferous wing of gentle gales," through valleys of delight, more pleasant than the Vale of Tempe, richer than the garden of the Hesperides, with no dragon to guard its golden fruit.

Is it said that the age does not demand this work? The robber conqueror of the Past, from his fiery sepulchre, demands it; the precious blood of millions unjustly shed in War, crying from the ground, demands it; the heart of the good man demands it; the conscience, even of the soldier, whispers "Peace." There are considerations, springing from our situation and condition, which fervently invite us to take the lead. Here should bend the patriotic ardor of the land; the ambition of the statesman; the effort of the scholar; the pervasive influence of the press; the mild persuasion of the sanctuary; the early teaching of the school. Here, in ampler ether and diviner air, are untried fields for exalted triumph, more truly worthy the American name, than any snatched from rivers of blood. War is known as the Last Reason of Kings,. Let it be no reason of our Republic. Let us renounce, and throw off forever, the yoke of a tyranny more oppressive than any in the world's annals. As those standing on the mountain-top first discern the coming beams of morning, so may we, from the vantage-ground of liberal institutions, first recognize the ascending sun of a new era! Lift high the gates, and let the King of Glory in, the King of True Glory, of Peace. I catch the last words of music from the lips of innocence and beauty; 22

And let the whole earth be filled with His Glory!

It is a beautiful picture in Grecian story, that there was at least one spot, the small Island of Delos, dedicated to the gods, and kept at all times sacred from War. No hostile foot ever sought to press this kindly soil; and citizens of all countries met here, in common worship, beneath the aegis of inviolable Peace. So let us dedicate our beloved country; and may the blessed consecration be felt in all its parts, everywhere throughout its ample domain! The TEMPLE OF HONOR shall be surrounded by the Temple of Concord, that it may never more be entered through any portal of War; the horn of Abundance shall overflow at its gates; the angel of Religion shall be the guide over its steps of flashing adamant; while within its enraptured courts, purged of Violence and Wrong, JUSTICE, returned to the earth from long exile in the skies, with mighty scales for Nations as for men, shall rear her serene and majestic front; and by her side, greatest of all, CHARITY, sublime in meekness, hoping all and enduring all, shall divinely temper every righteous decree and, with words of infinite cheer, inspire those Good Works that cannot vanish away. And the future chiefs of the Republic, destined to uphold the Glories of a new era, unspotted by human blood, shall be "the first in PEACE, and the first in the hearts of their countrymen."

While seeking these blissful Glories for ourselves, let us strive for their extension to other lands. Let the bugles sound the Truce of God, to the whole world forever. Let the selfish boast of the Spartan women become the grand chorus of mankind, that they have never seen the smoke of an enemy's camp. Let the iron belt of War, which now encompasses the earth, be exchanged for the golden cestus of Peace, clothing all with celestial beauty. History dwells with fondness on the reverent homage bestowed, by massacring soldiers, upon the spot occupied by the Sepulchre of the Lord. Vain man! to restrain his regard to a few feet of sacred mould! The whole earth is the Sepulchre of the Lord; nor can any righteous man profane any part thereof. Recognizing this truth, I would now, on this Sabbath of our country, lay a new stone in the grand Temple of Universal Peace, whose dome shall be as lofty as the firmament of Heaven, as broad and comprehensive as the earth itself.




1. From an oration, by Charles Sumner, delivered before the authorities of the city of Boston, July 4, 1845. The text of the speech was published, going through many editions, with either Sumner himself or editors making various minor changes. An effort here has been made here to supply, for the web, a relatively short version of speech by taking an abridged version printed by the American Peace Society in the anthology, The Book of Peace (1845), and combining this with the summary section of a later (1870) version. For complete versions, see here and here. ^

2. Job 38:31. ^

3. Matt. 5:45 ^

4. An anonymous proverb, in this form, attributed to Lawrence Sterne. ^

5. Some later editions have "Christianity forbids the whole custom of War." ^

6. Hamlet, Act 4, scene 4, lines 49-58. ^

7. A later edition adds "and afterwards stabs himself to the heart", explaining in a note: "The death of the culinary martyr is described by Madame de Sevigne, with the accustomed coldness and brilliancy of her fashionable pen (Lettres L. and LI. Tom. I., p.164). Berchoux records his exclamation "Je suis perdu d'honneur, deux rotis ont manques." ^

8. This is well exposed in a comedy of Molière, The Sicilian, Scene 13. Don Pedro: Is there anything in which I can serve you?; Hali: Yes, sir, I want your advice on an affair of honour. I know that on such matters it would be difficult to meet with a more accomplished gentleman than you are. I have received a slap on the face. You know what a slap on the face means, when it is given, the hand wide open, full on the middle of the cheek. I have that slap on the face much at heart; and I am uncertain whether, to avenge this insult, I ought to fight the man or have him assassinated; Don Pedro: Assassinated; that is the safest and shortest way. ^

9. This proposition is enforced by Socrates with unanswerable reasoning and illustration, throughout the whole of the Gorgias, which it appears Cicero read diligently while studying at Athens (De Oratore 1.11). ^

10. Pierre Terrail, seigneur de Bayard (1473 – 1524) ^

11. Not the conquistador Alonso de Sotomayor, (1545–1610). ^

12. De Officiis (On duties) 1.17.57. It is curious to observe how Cicero puts aside that expression of true Humanity, which fell from Terence, Humani nil a me alienum puto (Nothing that concerns humanity is foreign to me). He says, Est enim difficilis cura rerum alienarum (It is not an easy matter to be really concerned with other people's affairs; De Officiis 1.9.35). ^

13. A lengthy discussion of the European and American military expense of the time is omitted. These are of some limited historical interest for the data they present -- for example, quantifying the war debt of England accumulated over 200 years of war, and the cost of American military preparations. The modern reader probably needs no reminder of the incomprehensible waste of military preparations and wars, and the vast scope of humanitarian and constructive activities which this money could otherwise fund. To give but a current example, the $1 trillion the U.S. has or will spend on it's war in Afghanistan could instead pay for 2000 hospitals, universities, and libraries -- such that in each of the roughly 200 nations of today's world, America could donate 200 such institutions. ^

14. William Jay (1789–1858), son of Founding Father John Jay, from in an address to the American Peace Society in Boston on May 26, 1845. ^

15. Horace (65 BC – 8 BC), Roman poet; from Ars Poetica (The Art of Poetry) 102. ^

16. The Illiad, Book 24. ^

17. Philippe Pinel (1745 - 1826), progressive French psychiatrist. ^

18. Minos 319a ^

19. Theaetetus 176bB-C. This, the doctrine of Theosis, that the true object of life is to be "as like to God as possible", and an emphasis on the inherent divinity of the human soul, were a common Transcendentalist and Unitarian themes; cf. William Ellery Channing, "Likeness to God". ^

20 This most admired instance of justice, according to the legends of the Catholic Church, opened to Trajan, although a heathen, the gates of salvation. ^

21. "Ils veulent etre libres et ne savent pas etre justes," was the famous exclamation of Sieyes. ^

22. The services of the choir at the church, where the Oration was delivered, were performed by the youthful daughters of the public schools of Boston. ^

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Last updated: 21 Mar 2011

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