Much is being said at the present time on the subject of “manifest destiny.” Reflective minds, however, are apt to consider that but a very small portion of those using the term have the faintest conception of its real meaning. It is generally referred to in connection with exploitations concerning a “divine mission,” a “providential call,” a “summons to duty,” and “responsibility thrust upon us.” In the majority of cases, moreover, when “manifest destiny” is talked about, it is embedded in an atmosphere of mystery; it is talked about as being something wise, wonderful, and divine, altogether too deep for the common people to understand. PRUS 109.1
It’s time to prepare our well-resourced, capable forces for saving the world, not destroying it.
MAY 17, 2022
Lawrence Wilkerson Col, USA (Ret)
The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on 28 February is an eye-opener, posing a “now or never” challenge to staving off the catastrophic effects of man-made warming.
It is also glaringly obvious that the lion’s share of what is detailed in the report will fall to the U.S. military to deal with. And the more a negligent civilian leadership — both at the national and local levels — delays serious action to adapt to and ameliorate climate change, the more this reality will be exacerbated.
Whether it’s sea level rise, unprecedented drought, extreme weather events, devastating and wide-ranging fires, dwindling fresh water supplies, food scarcity, multiple pandemics, or massive human migrations (particularly from the Global South), or any number of these occurring simultaneously or synergistically, the hand-writing is on the wall.
Other countries’ militaries are for the most part either too small or too ill-equipped and ill-trained to deal with such challenges. The U.S. military is not only resourced and trained; it is the only military with unparalleled global reach. The ships, the planes, wheeled vehicles, water distribution systems, satellite communication networks, and, most of all, the ability to deploy far from its shores, all reside chiefly in America’s military forces.
All Americans should be grateful that the leaders of their military services, unlike many of their civilian leaders, are not burying their heads in the sand and looking the other way. All of the services have climate change strategies. But none of these strategies — yet — contemplates the devastation and work that confronts the military, and sooner rather than later. The new IPCC report is loaded with examples.
Simply looking at water and food — “the staples of life” — demonstrates how daunting the challenges are. Look at Syria today for an early example.
From 2007 to 2010, Syria experienced the worst multi-year drought in its history. This was on top of two previous multi-year droughts that themselves were devastating, particularly to Syrian agriculture. Before the droughts, Syria was a net exporter of wheat; after the third drought, Syria had to purchase wheat on the world market — and usually at very high prices. We all know what followed — a bitter 11-year civil war from which the country has yet to emerge.
Meanwhile, the water and food situation grows increasingly desperate, as it does all across the Levant where aridity is the worst it’s been in a thousand years.
The recent much-praised agreement between Israel and Jordan to trade solar-generated energy for water is an example of the sort of state-to-state cooperation the region will require to reduce some of the risk, but it still falls far short of what is needed. All across northern Africa and much of the way south, east, and west from there is similarly hurting as ground water is depleted, crops and livestock are starved for water and food, and conditions worsen every day. The ongoing Ukraine crisis has highlighted some of the challenge.
Because of the ongoing war, Ukraine, a key food exporter, especially to the Levant and North Africa — has had to curb some exports. Lebanon was receiving more than 50 percent of its wheat from Ukraine. No longer. On top of such dramatic changes, food prices are at a 10-year high and will likely rise further. Worse perhaps, fertilizer prices have skyrocketed as high as 205 percent above pre-war levels. Both Russia and China have begun to limit exports of fertilizer, fearing each might not have sufficient amounts for their own agricultural sectors.
And U.S. sanctions on Belarus have increased the global price of potash, a key ingredient in fertilizer. These price increases are wreaking havoc on the food security of critical regions in the Global South that are already increasingly challenged by climate change’s impact on their food and water supplies that, in turn, is promoting transnational migration.
The Ukraine crisis also provoked some remarkably courageous comments from the IPCC heads of delegation from both Ukraine and Russia under the circumstances. Oleg Anisimov, the Russian representative, said: “Let me present an apology on behalf of all Russians not able to prevent this conflict….[I] fail to find any justification for the attack on Ukraine.” And Svitlana Krakovska, his Ukrainian counterpart, said: “Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots — fossil fuels and our dependence on them.”
As climate change begins seriously to threaten American — indeed global — security, the only large and capable military forces readily available will be those of the United States. Within less than a generation, emergency delivery of food and water, as in Somalia in 1993, will be essential to stop massive starvation and total state collapse.
Medical care will be needed as well. But soon, such early and interim steps will give way to extremely serious decision-making in Washington. For example, as its own Americas portion of the Global South suffers ever more seriously the effects of the climate crisis, millions will try to relocate. The border challenges of today, as overwhelming as they may see, may only be a harbinger of much worse to come. Every southern U.S. state, even the states with only water borders, will likely have to deploy its National Guard. Active military forces will follow.
America must get moving now, not dither and doubt. The U.S. military’s risk factor equation is around 60-65 percent. That is, if the chance of disaster is that high, you buy insurance, the best policy you can afford. The risk with the climate crisis is human existence and the risk factor is at least 70-plus percent. Ask yourself what you would do.
These recommendations in no way constitute an advocacy for more overseas bases for the U.S. military, a supplemental to its already-over-the-top budget, or an increase in its overall numbers. In fact, these recommendations absolutely eschew even more stupid, endless wars that detract from attention to genuine national security challenges such as that presented by the changing climate.
The military knows it’s coming, just as many in 1938 and 1939 knew a massive war in Europe was coming and that it would eventually envelop America. We did something — almost too late, but not quite. This time the risk is far, far greater. We owe it to our military to get moving. Indeed, we owe it to the human race.
What is manifest destiny?—God’s dealings with the nations—The case of Nebuchadnezzar—The Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men—Story of the Philippine revolt against Spain—Cruelties of the Spaniards—Aguinaldo and the Americans—The great seal of the United States—Opinions of George Francis Adams—Principles born at Lexington and buried at Manila—Admiral Dewey’s estimate of the Filipinos—Can the Filipinos be made good American citizens?—Is it a Christian duty for the United States to forcibly annex the Philippines?—Christ and civil government—”The Bible in one hand and the shotgun in the other” doctrine—Is the United States a Christian nation?—Militarism and democracy—God uses nations as instruments—The case of Assyria—”My Country, 1899″—The Recessional Ode—The task of the forefathers and the task of the sons—Is it Live through all time, or Die by suicide?—Which way shall the tide of destiny set?
Much is being said at the present time on the subject of “manifest destiny.” Reflective minds, however, are apt to consider that but a very small portion of those using the term have the faintest conception of its real meaning. It is generally referred to in connection with exploitations concerning a “divine mission,” a “providential call,” a “summons to duty,” and “responsibility thrust upon us.” In the majority of cases, moreover, when “manifest destiny” is talked about, it is embedded in an atmosphere of mystery; it is talked about as being something wise, wonderful, and divine, altogether too deep for the common people to understand.
It is commonly argued that the present position of the United States, in and in regard to, the Philippines has been “thrust upon us,” that it is a part of our “responsibility as a world-power,” which our own greatness forces us to accept; that we are now “performing a duty” toward an “inferior race,” and that this duty is imposed upon us by Providence and our own position, prior to any request from us, and without awaiting our consent.
Now nothing can be more true than that Providence controls in the affairs of nations as well as in the affairs of men. Nations are composed of men, and it is insupposable that God could control in the affairs of every unit composing a whole, and yet not control in the affairs of that whole. Thus David said: “Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.” 1
During the years of which the Bible records form a contemporaneous history, we read of God’s giving kings their kingdoms, and nations their place in the earth. The case of Nebuchadnezzar will illustrate the point. Concerning him and his kingdom it is written:—
“In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Thus saith the Lord to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck, and send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah; and command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say unto your masters; I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not putt their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.” 2
Now what was true of Nebuchadnezzar in his sphere, is equally true of every nation in its sphere. Nevertheless, because God gave Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom, and Babylon a great place as a “world-power,” it did not keep either from going astray, and doing things which were neither lawful nor right. This Nebuchadnezzar became proud because the glory of his kingdom grew and increased. Then, heathen though he was, a dream was given him by the Almighty, and this dream he told the prophet Daniel, who interpreted it for him. In the dream and the interpretation there is a truth stated several times which is vital in the consideration of “manifest destiny.” Here is the dream:—
“I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me…. Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: the leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; he cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches; shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: let his heart be changed from man’s and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men . This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee. Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation thereof trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My Lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation there of to thine enemies. The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: it is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reaches unto the heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him; this is the interpretation, O King, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king: that they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will . And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule . Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” 3
Three times in the dream and the interpretation is the truth emphasized that “the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.” And this was told by a dream, interpreted by a prophet to the king of the greatest “world-power” of that time. All the things spoken of in the dream came true. Nebuchadnezzar was driven from his throne, and dwelt with the beasts of the field for seven years. At the end of that time, he says himself:—
“I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase .” 4
Nebuchadnezzar learned the lesson which the King of kings knew that it was necessary for him to learn. But when in later days his grandson Belshazzar came to the throne, he refused to learn this important lesson, and to him it was that the handwriting appeared upon the wall, and he it was whose kingdom was taken away, and given to the Medes and Persians. He was reminded of what had happened to his grandfather, in these words: “And he Nebuchadnezzar was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will . And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this.” 5
Thus four times directly, and once indirectly, is it taught in these two chapters of this one book that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. Is there another truth in all the Bible that is emphasized so strongly? And this is just as true to-day as it was then, for it was written “to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.” It is for us, the living, that all this was written; and it was written for us because it applies in our time. “He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle. He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty…. He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again.” 6
This is the basis of the Bible doctrine concerning God’s part in the affairs of nations. As far as Providence is concerned, this is “manifest destiny.” But the destiny of a nation, the same as the destiny of an individual, is a matter of choice , and not a matter of chance . It is in the power of the United States to choose the path in which it will hereafter walk. When once that path is chosen and entered upon, it may not be so easy, yea, it may not be possible, to turn back, and take another course. This is just as true of men as of nations. The voluntary choice of the government of the United States has put the nation in the Philippines. She has chosen to enter these islands, not as a republican, but as a monarchical form of government. A war is now being waged to compel the Filipinos to accept this government without their consent. Thus she has chosen to abandon the tracks of the forefathers, and to return, like the prodigal son, to the doctrines of Rome and of Europe. All this has been done during the hour of victory and of power, and at a time when the nation was completely master of the situation, and entirely free to do just as she pleased. Having done all this, there is now a “manifest destiny” before the United States. It is so manifest that all can see it.
When the United States went to war with Spain, the Philippine Islands were in revolt against that government. Concerning this the United States consul at Manila wrote:—
“There is no peace, and has been none for about two years. Conditions here and in Cuba are practically alike. War exists, battles are of almost daily occurrence, ambulances bring in many wounded, and hospitals are full…. The crown forces have not been able to dislodge a rebel army within ten miles of Manila, and last Saturday a battle was there fought, and five left dead on the field.
“The governor-general, who is amiable and popular, having resigned, wishes credit for pacification, and certain rebel leaders were given a cash bribe of $1,650,000 to consent to public deportation to China. This bribe and deportation only multiplied claimants, and fanned the fires of discontent.
“Insurgents demand fewer exactions from church and state, a half of public offices, and fewer church holidays, which seriously retard business.
“A republic is organized here as in Cuba. Insurgents are being armed and drilled, are rapidly increasing in numbers and efficiency, and all agree that a general uprising will come as soon as the governor-general embarks for Spain…. All authorities now agree that unless the crown largely re-enforces its army here, it will lose possession.” 7
Soon after this Mr. Williams wrote again:—
“Insurrection is rampant; many killed, wounded, and made prisoners on both sides. A battle-ship, the ‘Don Juan de Austria,’ sent this week to the northern part of Luzon to co-operate with a land force of two thousand despatched to succor local forces, overwhelmed by the rebels. Last night special squads of mounted police were scattered at danger points to save Manila.” 8
Thus it appears that two years ago the Filipinos were fighting for their freedom against the government and the tyranny of Spain. This was the condition of things when the United States government declared war against the throne of Madrid. With them-the Filipinos-the struggle was not a fitful insurrection, but a determined rebellion in behalf of government by the consent of the governed.
On the reverse side of the great seal of the United States is the inscription in Latin, Novus ordo seculorum , which translated means, “A new order of things.” On the same side of the seal are also the words, “God hath favored the undertaking.” But now the nation is abandoning the new order of things, and deciding that after all Great Britain was right. On this point a noted historian and citizen of Boston, Mass., has well said:—
“We now abandon the traditional and distinctively American grounds, and accept those of Europe, and especially of Great Britain, which heretofore we have made it the basis of our faith to deny and repudiate.
“With this startling proposition in mind, consider again the several propositions advanced; the first, as regards the so-called inferior races. Our policy toward them, instinctive and formulated, has been either to exclude or destroy, or to leave them in the fulness of time to work out their own destiny undisturbed by us; fully believing that, in this way, we in the long run best subserved the interests of mankind. Europe, and Great Britain especially, adopted the opposite policy. They held that it was incumbent on the superior to go forth and establish dominion over the inferior race, and to hold and develop vast imperial possessions, and colonial dependencies. They saw their interest and duty in developing systems of docile tutelage; we sought our inspirations in the rough school of self-government. Under this head the result, then, is distinct, clean-cut, indisputable. To this conclusion have we come at last. The Old World-Europe and Great Britain-were after all, right, and we of the New World have been wrong. From every point of view,-religious, ethnic, commercial, political,-we can not, it is now claimed, too soon abandon our traditional position and assume theirs. Again, Europe and Great Britain have never admitted that men were created equal, or that the consent of the governed was a condition of government. They have, on the contrary, emphatically denied both propositions. We now concede that, after all, there was great basis for their denial; that certainly, it must be admitted, our forefathers were hasty, at least, in reaching their conclusions; they generalized too broadly. We do not frankly avow error, and we still think the assent of the governed to a government a thing desirable to be secured, under suitable circumstances, and with proper limitations; but, if it can not conveniently be secured, we are advised on New England senatorial authority that ‘the consent of some of the governed’ will be sufficient, we ourselves selecting those proper to be consulted. Thus in such cases as certain islands of the Antilles, Hawaii, and the communities of Asia, we admit that, so far as the principles at the basis of the Declaration are concerned, Great Britain was right, and our ancestors were, not perhaps wrong, but too general, and of the eighteenth century in their statements. To that extent we have outgrown the Declaration of 1776, and have become as wise now as Great Britain was then. At any rate, we are not above learning. ‘Only dead men and idiots never change;’ and the people of the United States are nothing unless open-minded.
“So, also, as respects the famous Boston ‘tea-party,’ and taxation without representation. Great Britain then affirmed this right in the case of colonies and dependencies. Taught by the lesson of our war of Independence, she has since abandoned it. We now take it up, and are to-day, as one of the new obligations toward the heathen imposed upon us by Providence, formulating systems of inposts and tariffs for our new dependencies, wholly distinct from our own, and directly inhibited by our Constitution, in regard to which systems those dependencies have no representative voice. They are not to be consulted as to the kind of door, ‘open’ or ‘closed,’ behind which they are to exist In taking this position it is difficult to see why we must not also incidentally admit that, in the great contention preceding our war of independence, the first armed clash of which resounded here in Lexington, Great Britain was more nearly right than the exponents of the principles for which those ’embattled farmers’ contended.” 7
Sad though it be to pen it, it is even true that the great principles which were born at Lexington and Concord were buried at Manila, and the wheels of time turned back, and the old order of things substituted for the new. This is American imperialism. This is national apostasy; and since the course upon which the nation has entered is so manifest, the destiny to which she is doomed is equally manifest,-the condition of the military nations of the Old World, upon whom she has for so long looked down with pitying glances. Nations may be defeated by the acts of others, but they can be degraded only by their own. She has not been defeated by the deeds of others, but she has been degraded, and is even now being dragged into the mire, by her own. Her character as a nation, first formulated in the war of the Revolution, regenerated and reconsecrated in the war of the Rebellion, has been ruthlessly sacrificed to colonial greed and rapacious lust. Awake! O Fathers of the Republic, ere it is too late, and call back your posterity ere they stray into paths from which there is no returning!
But it is argued that these people are not capable of self-government. On this point one who ought to know,-Admiral Dewey himself,-whose voice is worthy of respect, has said:—
“In a telegram sent to the department on June 23, I expressed the opinion that ‘these people (the Filipinos) are far superior in their intelligence, and more capable of self-government than the natives of Cuba, and I am familiar with both races.’ Further intercourse with them has confirmed me in this opinion.” 8
And again, Consul Wildman, of Hongkong, says:—
“I have lived among the Malays of the Straits Settlements, and have been an honored guest of the different sultanates. I have watched their system of government, and have admired their intelligence, and I rank them high among the semicivilized nations of the earth. The natives of the Philippine Islands belong to the Malay race, and while there are very few pure Malays among their leaders, I think the r stock has rather been improved than debased by admixture. I consider that the forty or fifty Philippine leaders, with whose fortunes I have been very closely connected, are the superiors of both the Malays and the Cubans. Aguinaldo, Agoncilla, and Sandico are all men who would be leaders in their separate departments in any country; while among the wealthy Manila men who live in Hongkong, and who are spending their money liberally for the overthrow of the Spaniards and for annexation to the United States,-men like the Cortes family and the Basa family,-would hold their own among bankers and lawyers anywhere.” 9
The kind of men who form the Filipino congress has been described by Mr. Roberson, who himself visited the congress while it was in session. He gives a very favorable account of the character and ability of the members. Of the eighty-three members sitting, seventeen were graduates of European universities, and the president, Pedro Paterno, took his degree as D. D. in the University of Madrid, and afterward received his degree of LL. D. from the University of Salamanca. His books are of such reputation that they have been translated into German.
It is said that we can Americanize these people. We can not, we dare not, do it. To educate them would be to make rebels of them. Could we teach them the history of our glorious past? Could we tell them of the deeds of the Fathers in behalf of freedom and independence? Just as surely as we did, the spark of liberty and independence would be kindled in their breasts, and they would demand of us by what right we were their masters. Our only hope would be to keep them in superstition and ignorance. It is far easier for Great Britain to rule colonies and to better their condition than it is for us. She has no past like ours. She never had a war of independence, nor did she ever take her stand upon the principle that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, or that all men are created equal. While upon our own platform of eternal truth, we stood upon a plane immeasurably superior to any which it was possible for her to occupy. Now that we have fallen from our first estate, and lost our Edenic purity, we are weaker and more impotent than it is possible for her to be. This is manifest destiny as far as the governing of the Filipinos is concerned.
It has been urged by many that there is a duty incumbent upon the United States to take the Philippines for the purpose of Christianizing the natives, even although such occupation be against the wishes of the inhabitants, and contrary to the principle of government by consent. It is argued that the opportunity to purchase the islands constituted a “divine call” to this “Benjamin of nations” to enter that neglected part of the Master’s vineyard. Zealous advocates, in earnest tones, tell of the blessings which will accrue to these benighted souls when an army of missionaries, filled with an undying love for those who know Him not, can, without fear of molestation, proclaim, beneath the protecting ægis of the stars and stripes, the sufferings of the Saviour and the joys of the better world. Vividly they portray how much more rapidly the gospel can be carried to those who know it not, when the islands are controlled by the government of the United States, than it could possibly be if these isles which wait for His law were ruled by the heathen. These are for the most part a devoted and consecrated class of people, who are thoroughly conscientious in the views they express.
In these days of toil and bustle, when more is compressed into a decade than was formerly the portion of man’s allotted span, many of us Christians are like Martha of Bethany, who was “cumbered about much serving,” and “careful and troubled about many things,” and in our anxiety to work for the Lord we neglect to choose the “good part,” “the one thing needful,” which her sister Mary took, and which shall not be taken away. We fail to take the necessary time to sit “at Jesus’ feet, and hear his word.”
The weapons of carnal warfare vary and change with the onward march of scientific discovery. But the holy arms of the Christian remain ever the same. Like the Father of Lights, who changeth not, in them “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” The same arms which apostles, prophets, and our own dear Saviour used are the only true weapons for the Christian to-day. Beautifully has it been said of the Reformers and the Reformation: “The Reformation was accomplished in the name of a spiritual principle. It had proclaimed for its teacher, the word of God; for salvation, faith; for king, Jesus Christ; for arms, the Holy Ghost; and had by these very means rejected all worldly elements. Rome had been established by ‘the law of a carnal commandment;’ the Reformation, by ‘the power of an endless life.'” Whatever is accomplished in the line of Christian reformation in this day and age of the world, will be accomplished in the name of this same spiritual principle. Jesus never sought the civil power as an aid wherewith to accomplish his mission, and on one occasion, at least, he distinctly refused it.
When the Redeemer was alone in the wilderness, fasting in behalf of fallen man, it is written: “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” 10 Here was an opportunity. The gospel was to be preached. The world, and all the governments of the world, stood arrayed in open hostility against it. But here were the kingdoms of the world, and the glory-the power-of them, freely offered. Could not the gospel be carried to better advantage if Christ controlled the reins of the civil power? He did not so believe. Was not this whispering a “providential call, a new mission, a distinct call to duty,-manifest destiny?” It was a whispering, not from the Almighty, but from Satan, and was repulsed with the words, “Get thee hence, Satan.”
In the garden of Gethsemane, Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant with his sword. “But Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Jesus therefore said unto Peter, Put up again thy sword into the sheath: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” And to these words he added, “Or thinkest thou that I can not beseech my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels?”
Again, when the Master was in the judgment hall, Pilate “called Jesus and said unto him, art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.” 11
The triumphs of the gospel in those early days were won without the aid of the civil power. The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. Never did the Christian church make greater progress than when she stood alone, unaided by any civil power. Yea, more than this, the times of her greatest purity and progress have been the times when every earthly power has been arrayed against her. Then it was that her members sought their Lord and Master most earnestly, and reflected his blest image most brightly.
One United States senator, in the course of his speech on the Philippine question, declared that “the Anglo-Saxon advances into the new regions with the Bible in one hand and a shotgun in the other. The inhabitants of those regions which he can not convert with the Bible and bring into his markets, he gets rid of with the shotgun” This is not altogether irony. Ministers of the Christian church are everywhere praising the war in these islands, and preaching that it has come about in the providence of God in order that the gospel may go more rapidly. Just as far as this idea gets hold of the Christian sects, just that far they assent to the doctrine of a union of church and state; just that far they are extolling that system of things which we hoped we had forever discarded in “the new order of things.” Will the people whose fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons have been shot down in this ruthless war, be more ready to accept the gospel at the hands of the murderers of their relatives? Will it cause them to be kindly inclined toward the teachings of the Saviour? Will they not look upon our religion as being similar to that of the Mohammedans, who think it virtuous to propagate their faith by means of fire and sword?—Nay, verily, it will steel their souls against the gospel, and fill them with prejudice and suspicion. Better, ten thousand times better, for a few missionaries to lose their lives at the hands of heathen savages than for heathen savages to lose their lives at the hands of those calling themselves Christians. The missionaries are certain of eternal life, but not so the poor heathen.
Then again, if this doctrine of the Bible in one hand and the shotgun in the other is a good one for the Philippine Islands, how long will it be ere it is considered a good one for every State in the Union? Should one religious sect get control of the governmental affairs, why may it not use force to compel all others to come into line, and think and pray as it thinks and prays? This idea may be received by some with ridicule, but the beginnings of the loss of liberty, both civil and religious, are always insidious, and very small precedents have oftentimes started tremendous changes in things. There has been persecution in the past, there is persecution for religious views even at the present, and there will be persecution for conscience’ sake in the time to come. Allow a new doctrine to pass unchallenged to-day, it quickly gains strength and standing, and by to-morrow it is heterodoxy to question its application.
There have been some fearful crimes committed in the name of justice in this gospel-enlightened land. Many a soul has suffered death in one horrible form or another, without having been duly convicted in the courts of law. Possibly it may be said with truth that there is no country on earth claiming to be Christian and civilized where there have been more deaths by mob violence, than in the United States. In times of excitement over vital questions our people have many times proved the truthfulness of the statement of Alexander Hamilton, that a man was a reasoning rather than a reasonable being. In the fierce struggles between capital and labor, in times of a strike, a boycott, or a lockout, terrible deeds of violence and bloodshed have stained the nation’s robe. Innocent lives have been placed in the most dire peril and jeopardy. It is not necessary here to give illustrations or enter into details. This class of crime is so common and so patent that the mere mention of it will suffice.
Such deeds go to show that Christianity has still a great work before her in the homeland. Civilization has indeed veneered our natures, but it has not changed and renovated them. Our passions are easily excited, and break loose with but small provocation. There is still a field for missionary effort in this part of the vineyard of the Man of Galilee. Even in the most recent years, yea, within the past few months, crimes too horrible to spread upon the pages of a decent book, have been committed without any chance for the law to take its course. These things fill the heart of the Christian with sadness, and they stand as a fact to be by all true followers of the Master deeply lamented and deplored. For nigh two thousand years the religion of Jesus Christ has been striving with all the power of the Holy Ghost to do its beneficent work upon the hearts of the human family. In view, however, of the awful crimes still filling the earth, it seems hard to believe that much has been accomplished. This is no reflection on the gospel, but on those who reject the gospel.
But brutality is not confined to this class of cases. A young man, everywhere reported to be “pious,” attends a prayer-meeting; after which he waylays his rival in a love affair, beats out his brains, and throws his body into a creek.
A man conceals a knife, with a rapier-like point in a bundle which he carries under his arm, and starts out walking in a crowded thoroughfare, nudging people with the bundle purposely, and seriously wounding them as he goes along. In a State Refuge Home for Women horrible cruelties are practised. “Lashing to the floor, however, is not the worst cruelty resorted to, according to the evidence taken. It is said by eye-witnesses and participants that girls confined in houses of refuge are stripped of their clothing, and sometimes held by some of the employees, and at other times chained to the floor, and whipped with a heavy leather strap several feet long.” Recently a young mother with a babe only five months old was treated in this manner. A man with plenty of money divests his aged wife of her clothing, fastens her under the bed, and leaves her to starve. Yet to all others he is perfectly sane.
The reports from the largest city in the country are as follows: “In several quarters of the city life is no longer safe. The night streets of the district lying between Union Square and Long Acre and Seventh and Third avenues are in the possession of the disorderly elements. The police force is already demoralized, and the demoralization is progressing rapidly toward chaos…. What shall be done? What can be done to avert chaos, and restore order and security? Is it impossible for a community as intelligent as this to find some mean between the exasperating crushing of personal liberty and the terrifying domination of criminals and semi-criminals?” 12
Even “natural affection” seems to have deserted the mother’s breast. A little child, five years old, and very puny, is kept day after day in a foul air-shaft, with nothing but an old ragged quilt to lie upon, and a little shirt to cover his nakedness. The floor was uneven, and always wet, yet day after day the little life was left, for no reason at all except cruelty, to pine away in this awful place.
Crime appears to be discovering all kinds of ingenious methods. Poisoned candy or cake is sent through the mails to persons whom it is desired to destroy. The victims of this class of wickedness are becoming more and more frequent.
Moreover, crime is getting to be as common in high life as it is among the middle and lower classes, to say nothing of the criminal classes. An eastern millionaire secures a divorce from his wife, and four and a half hours afterward she is wedded to another millionaire. So blunted have morals in general become that the affair excites but little disgust anywhere. Two wealthy men have differences of opinion over business matters. One invites the other to a friendly conference. They meet, and the one who has been invited is shot without warning. The murderer gives himself up with the utmost complacency to the authorities, and hands them two sets of typewritten statements, setting forth in legal form his reason for the deed. One of these statements is four thousand five hundred words in length, and the other ten thousand. In these he had previous to the commission of the crime set forth in the coolest manner possible his object in killing his fellow millionaire.
These are only a few specific instances of crime, representing a few of the different classes. After all, with how thin a veneer has that which we call civilization covered the natural brute ferocity of our natures. True, we have steam engines, elegant railroad cars, and fast service; we have high buildings equipped with all the latest modern improvements; we have telephones, and the telegraph; but, after all, how much more civilized and Christianized are our natures above those of the poor ignorants of other climes! This is a question worth considering. The theory of our government is perfect; but how well do we live up to it? Fraud and deceit in high places of public trust are frequent; election scandals fill the very atmosphere whenever the franchise is exercised. Aldermen accept boodle; and the lowest dens of vice are allowed to run “wide-open” under the eye of the authorities. Our lives are spent in all kinds of pleasure, with but little thought or care for the sorrows and trials of the poor.
All these things lead one seriously to ask, In what position are we as a nation to bring benefit to those in benighted lands? In April of this year, 1899, it was authoritatively reported that since the arrival of the Americans in Manila there had been over three hundred saloons opened in that city. Again, a statement is issued from the office of the surgeon-general in Washington that twenty-one per cent of the soldiers of the American army in the islands are afflicted with loathsome diseases.
That the poor souls in the Philippine Islands are in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ no one will deny; but that gospel must be carried to them by men endued with the power of the Holy Ghost, and armed with the weapons of faith and prayer, and not by any such means as are now being used.
I will not dwell upon this phase of the question longer, however, for it is only one of many. Suffice it to say that in view of the condition of our own spiritual experience and morals, one is hardly warranted in believing that the opportunity to become the owners of the heathen Filipinos by purchase from Spain, and the liberal use of American muskets and machine guns, constitutes a “divine call” in order that we may impart to these poor souls virtues so faintly visible in ourselves.
The next problem which demands solution is that of the large army and navy which will be continually required for the retention of the group. Militarism and democracy are incompatible. A large standing armed force is the natural adjunct of a monarchy.
“The monarch represents an authority springing not from the periodically expressed consent of the people, and relying for the maintenance of that authority, if occasion requires, upon the employment of force, even against the popular will. An army is an organization of men subject to the command of a superior will, the origin or the purpose of which it is assumed to have no right to question. The standing army is in this sense, therefore, according to its nature and spirit, an essentially monarchical institution.” 13
It is clear from this that in a republic there is no rightful place for a large standing force. Such a thing is contrary to the very basic principles upon which republics are founded, besides being a constant menace to the free expression of the popular will and thought, and a dangerous source of arbitrary power in the hands of the men who for the time being form the government.
Military virtues are in many instances the opposite of civic virtues; and in more cases than one the attributes and qualities necessary to constitute a good military man are the very ones which constitute a bad civilian. Military modes of thinking and methods of action unfit men for the duties incumbent upon the citizens of a free republic. The rise of a large, permanent armed force in a republic always portends the downfall and ruin of free government.
In Europe the armies of the great powers are a necessity, or at least they are a necessity under the present conditions. Europe is simply a conglomeration of armed camps, in which the hostile nations sit watching each other, and preparing for the conflict which their mutually rival interests are bound sooner or later to bring. But with us an army for defense is wholly unnecessary. Locked in the embraces of two broad oceans we have naught to fear from a foreign invader. Lincoln once said that “all the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasures of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.” These words are undoubtedly true. It therefore follows that with us a large standing army can only be of use for preying upon helpless peoples near us; that is, for the purpose of buccaneering. It is now being seriously urged that the standing army of the United States be increased to 100,000 fighting men; that is, about four times its size at the beginning of 1898. To train and keep standing such a force is simply to train men to become good subjects of a monarchy, and inefficient citizens of the republic. The two things can not possibly survive together. It is now for this nation to choose whether it will stick to the old paths, and discard large standing armies in times of peace, or whether it will unnecessarily adopt what the Old World monarchies would fain throw off, but which they find to be an evil necessary to their very existence. Should she choose in this matter as in others to return, like the prodigal son, to the ways of the Old World, her manifest destiny will be fixed. She will degenerate into a monarchy herself in truth, if not in name. And it may yet be with her as it was with Rome of old, concerning which Gibbon said: “The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence: the Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government.” And these emperors were backed by enormous military establishments.
It is urged that war makes men brave and patriotic. On this point I must again quote words of wisdom from an author already cited:—
“Let me now pass to the institutional aspect of the case as far as it concerns this republic in particular. I am far from predicting that the organization and maintenance and use of large armaments will speedily bring forth in this country the same consequences which they did produce in England in Cromwell’s time, and in France at the periods of the first and second French republics. With us the ‘man on horseback’ is not in sight. There is no danger of monarchical usurpation by a victorious general, although it is well worthy of remembrance that even here in the United States of America, at the close of the Revolutionary war, at the very threshold of our history as a republic, a large part of the Revolutionary army, ‘turned by six years of war from militia into seasoned veterans,’ and full of that overbearing esprit de corps characteristic of standing armies, urged George Washington to make himself a dictator, a monarch; that, as one of his biographers expresses it, ‘it was as easy for Washington to have grasped supreme power then, as it would have been for Cæsar to have taken the crown from Anthony upon the Lupercal;’ and that it was only George Washington’s patriotic loyalty and magnificent manhood that stamped out the plot. However, usurpation of so gross a character would now be rendered infinitely more difficult, not only by the republican spirit and habits of the people, but also by our federative organization, dividing so large an expanse of country into a multitude of self-governing States.
“But even in such a country and among such a people it is possible to demoralize the constitutional system, and to infuse a dangerous element of arbitrary power into the government without making it a monarchy in form and name. One of the most necessary conservative agencies in a democratic republic is general respect for constitutional principles, and faithful observance of constitutional forms; and nothing is more apt to undermine that respect and to foster disregard of those forms than warlike excitements, which at the same time give to the armed forces an importance and a prestige which they otherwise would not possess.
“No candid observer of current events will deny that even to-day the spirit of the new policy awakened by the victories and conquests achieved in the Spanish war, and by the occurrences in the Philippines, has moved even otherwise sober-minded persons to speak of the constitutional limitations of governmental power with a levity which a year ago would have provoked serious alarm and stern rebuke. We are loudly told by the advocates of the new policy that the Constitution no longer fits our present conditions and aspirations as a great and active world-power, and should not be permitted to stand in our way. Those who say so forget that it is still our Constitution; that while it exists, its provisions as interpreted by our highest judicial tribunal are binding upon our actions as well as upon our consciences; that they will be binding, and must be observed until they are changed in the manner prescribed by the Constitution itself for its amendment; and that if any power not granted by the Constitution is exercised by the government or any branch of it, on the ground that the Constitution ought to be changed in order to fit new conditions, or on any other grounds, usurpation in the line of arbitrary government is already an accomplished fact. And if such usurpation be submitted to by the people, that acquiescence will become an incentive to further usurpation which may end in the complete wreck of constitutional government.
“Such usurpations are most apt to be acquiesced in when, in time of war, they appeal to popular feeling in the name of military necessity, or of the honor of the flag, or of national glory. In a democracy acting through universal suffrage, and being the government of public opinion informed and inspired by discussion, every influence is unhealthy that prevents men from calm reasoning. And nothing is more calculated to do that than martial excitements which stir the blood. We are told that war will lift up people to a higher and nobler patriotic devotion, inspire them with a spirit of heroic self-sacrifice, and bring their finest impulses and qualities into action, This it will, in a large measure, if the people feel that the war is a necessary or a just one. But even then its effects upon the political as well as the moral sense are confusing. When the fortunes of war are unfavorable, almost everything that can restore them will be called legitimate, whether it be in harmony with sound principles or not. When the fortunes of war are favorable, the glory of victory goes far to justify, or at least to excuse, whatever may have been done to achieve that victory, or whatever may be done to secure or increase its fruits.
“History shows that military glory is the most unwholesome food that democracies can feed upon. War withdraws, more than anything else, the popular attention from those problems and interests which are, in the long run, of the greatest consequence. It produces a strange moral and political color-blindness. It creates false ideals of patriotism and civic virtue.
“Nobody is inclined to underestimate the value of military valor; but compared with military valor we are apt to underestimate the value of other kinds of valor which are equally great, and no less, sometimes even more, useful to the community. I do not refer only to such heroism as that of the fireman, or the member of the life-saving service on the coast, who rescues human beings from the flames or from the watery grave at the most desperate risk of his own life, and whose deeds are all the more heroic as they are not inspired by the enthusiasm of battle, and pale into insignificance by the side of any act of bravery done in killing enemies in the field; I speak also of that moral courage more important in a democracy, which defies the popular outcry in maintaining what it believes right, and in opposing what it thinks wrong.
“Blood spilled for it on the battle-field is often taken to sanctify and to entitle to popular support, however questionable. It is called treason to denounce such a cause, be it ever so bad. It is called patriotism to support it however strongly conscience may revolt against it. Take for instance the man who honestly believes our war against the Filipinos to be unjust. If that man, faithfully obeying the voice of his conscience, frankly denounces that war, and thereby risks the public station he may occupy, or the friendship of his neighbors, and resolutely meets the clamor vilifying him as a craven recreant and an enemy to the republic, he is, morally, surely no less a hero than the soldier who at the word of command and in the excitement of battle rushes against a hostile battery. You can no doubt find in our country an abundance of men who would stand bravely under a hail-storm of bullets. But many of them, if their consciences condemned the Filipino war ever so severely, would be loath to face the charge of want of patriotism assailing everybody who opposes it. This is no new story. War makes military heroes, but it makes also civic cowards. No wonder that war has always proved so dangerous to the vitality of democracies; for a democracy needs to keep alive, above all things, the civic virtues which war so easily demoralizes.
“You will have observed that I have treated the matter of militarism in the United States in intimate connection with our warlike enterprises, as if they were substantially the same thing. I have done so purposely. As I endeavored to set forth, the development of militarism in European states can be explained on the theory that each power may think the largest possible armaments necessary for the protection of its safety among its neighbors, and for the preservation of peace. With us such a motive can not exist. Not needing large armaments for our safety,-for this Republic, if it maintained its old traditional policy, would be perfectly safe without them,-we can need them only in the service of warlike adventure undertaken at our own pleasure for whatever purpose. And here I may remark, by the way, that in my opinion, although such a course of warlike adventure may have begun with a desire to liberate and civilize certain foreign populations, it will be likely to develop itself, unless soon checked, into a downright and reckless policy of conquest with all the ‘criminal aggression’ and savagery such a policy implies. At any rate, that policy of warlike adventure and militarism, will, with us, go together as essentially identical. Without the policy of warlike adventure, large standing armaments would, with us, have no excuse, and would not be tolerated. If we continue that policy, militarism with its characteristic evils will be inevitable. If we wish to escape those evils and to protect this democracy against their dangerous effects, the policy of warlike adventure must be given up, for the two things are inseparable.” 14
Thus it is that the matter of American imperialism and expansion is inseparably linked with the question of large standing armies. They are Siamese twins, both alike being pregnant with a “manifest destiny” for this Republic; namely, the ruin of free government.
Again, the size of our armies and our navies, if the imperialistic policy is persisted in, can not be regulated by our own wishes. Our program in this respect must be arranged to suit and to fit the programs of the other “world-powers.” This is strikingly illustrated by a speech recently made in the British House of Commons by Mr. Goshen, the first lord of the admiralty, “when he asked the House of Commons to appropriate the enormous sum of $132,770,000 for the British navy, saying that so startling an estimate had not originally been contemplated, but that it had been framed after a careful study of the programs of the other powers; that the United States, Russia, France, Japan, Italy, and Germany had under construction 685,000 tons of warships, and that England was compelled to shape her action accordingly. He prayed that, if the czar’s hope for disarmament were not realized, those who proposed to attack the country’s expenditures would not attempt to dissuade the people from bearing the taxation necessary to carry on the duties of the empire.” 15
Our lot in this respect will now be the same as that of Great Britain, and this again is another link in the cable of manifest destiny.
For violating eternal principles of right and justice, Spain was called to a strict account. This nation was the instrument in the hand of God to mete out her punishment. There have been similar instances at other times in the history of the world. Once the Lord called the Assyrians to punish the people of Israel, and concerning them it is said in the Scriptures:—
“O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings? Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mt. Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man: and my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped. Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood. Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire. And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briars in one day; and shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.” 16
Assyria, in the course of a war to which she was called by the Lord for the purpose of punishing a wicked nation, grew proud, and became filled with ideas of her own greatness; and in the hour of her triumph she laid the foundations for her ruin.
Pensive, beautiful, and filled with veriest truth are the stanzas of Owen Wister, in his magnificent poem, “My Country — 1899,” just written. The verses are descriptive of the condition of the country at the present time, and are in the form of a dialogue between Uncle Sam and Columbia. Columbia has been chiding Uncle Sam concerning the corruption of voters and the spoils system, and the forty-second stanza opens with his answer:—
“Drowsing!” he answered. “Why, I’ve waked the world!The scornful powers, the sovereign close-throned few,The sceptered circle, whose dull lips once curledBecause they were so old, and I so new,To-day count me, and what I say, and do;
I sit among them, chaired in equal state;They have obeyed my knock, and opened me their gate.
“Drowsing! ’tis you that walk in blindfold sleep,With sight but imaged in a senseless eye;’T is you that should awake, so you may keepPace with my ocean-spreading destiny.My banners—” “Hold!” she cried. “I know the cry.’War of humanity;’ ‘In Freedom’s name;’A spangled cloak of words to screen their game and shame.
“Hark to the babel and cajoling din.Paid orators and bedlam prophets raise,While corporate greed conspires to make you sinAgainst your birthright and your ancient ways.’War of humanity!’ mouth-feeding phrase!’Beneficent assimilation’—howDrivels the jargon that hypocrisy speaks now?
‘These puffed wind-swollen sounds your land have flungTo such commotion, shaken so her poise,That every jackanapes who wags a tongueAnd thumps a fist must lead into the noise,While Folly, rabid to make heard her voice,Mounts the high pulpit and outscreams the mass,Profane ‘mid tinkling cymbals and ‘mid sounding brass.
“‘God’s instrument,’ they style you, bid you be,And ‘Carry Christ to heathens.’ Will you dareSearch your own mansion and your hearth, and seeHow much of Christ this day have you to spare?Your fraud-bespattered ballot—reigns He there?Your pension bureau—does that crime revealAcknowledgment of Him who said: ‘Thou shalt not steal’
“What shall you tell the heathen of those thievesThat sway Manhattan, and decree her laws,And spin the meshes that corruption weavesAround each right and honorable cause?And Pennsylvania’s unjailed bird that drawsHis fetid vultures round her heart, that rulesA government of knaves at the expense of fools?
“What shall you tell of Carolina’s stain?Of blood-spilt polls, and smoking butchery?Of dastard brag about her victims slain?If they were savages, what thing is she?Georgia’s outlawed tribunals view, and see
Men roasted at the stake. Then, if you will,Go teach the heathen how God said: Thou shalt not kill.
“Ah, through the shaking tinsel of the dayHow easy for Truth’s golden gaze to shine!Truth’s in your heart; then let her lend a rayTo your bedazzled eyes, ere you resignYour birthright, ere your separate path entwineWith alien tangles. What concern have youTo sit with sceptered powers, the sovereign close-throned few?
“O Benjamin of nations! has your coatNot enough colors 17 that ye must in weaveNew skeins of savag’ry, unknown, remote,New wards in motley guardianship receive?Was it for this you bade the Old World leaveYou to yourself, and set the vacant seasBetween your youth and her age-worn iniquities?
“O Benjamin of nations, best beloved!Still let your isolated beacon showIts steadfast splendors from their rock unmoved,Mixed with no lanterns that flare, fall, and go.Still may your fortunate twin oceans flowTo island you from neighbors’ broils aloof:Teach liberty to live! be your life still the proof!
“So long in heaven I waited for your birth,Such joy filled me when I became your soul,So close I have companioned you on earth,Walked with each step you’ve trodden toward our goal,O stray not now aside and mar the wholeBright path!” She stopped; she laid her hand on him;He, looking up, beheld how her clear eyes were dim.
True principles are the strength of nations as well as of men. But almost every principle ever held and prized as sacred in this nation has been prostituted to base perfidy and passion for foreign possession. Those priceless principles, the goodly heritage which the Fathers bequeathed us, have been bartered for a mess of Philippine pottage. Well would it be for every nation if its legislators would constantly keep before them the sentiment in Rudyard Kipling’s great “Recessional Ode,” for it is only by the cherishing of such lofty and noble truths that states can derive a substantial prosperity, and statesmen an immortal renown:—
“The tumult and the shouting dies,The captains and the kings depart;Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,An humble and a contrite heart.Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,Lest we forget-lest we forget!
“Far-called our navies melt away,On dune and headline sinks the fire-Lo, all our pomp of yesterdayIs one with Nineveh and Tyre!Judge of the nations, spare us yet,Lest we forget-lest we forget!
“If, drunk with sight of power, we looseWild tongues that have not thee in awe,Such boasting as the Gentiles useOr lesser breeds without the law-Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,Lest we forget-lest we forget!
‘For heathen heart that puts her trustIn reeking tube and iron shard-All valiant dust that builds on dust,And guarding, calls not thee to guard-For frantic boast and foolish word,Thy mercy on thy people, Lord!Amen.”
One by one the silent artillery of time sweeps us from the scenes of life’s strife. Short is the span of vital breath; quick comes the hour when our feeble forms are laid to molder in the dust. Soon we are forgotten. But the deeds which we have done are undying; they live on through all time as monuments of our greatness or our folly. The verdict of history is seldom unjust, and at its bar, as the cycles of the century speed on, we are all arraigned for trial. It was the task of our political forefathers, and nobly they performed it, “to possess themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to up-rear upon its hills and its valleys a political ‘edifice of liberty and equal rights;’ ‘t is ours only to transmit these-the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation-to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task, gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.
“How then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean, and crush us at a blow?—Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, If it ever reach us, it must spring up among us; it can not come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide .”
These were the words of the immortal Lincoln. Now the crisis has been reached; the hour of temptation is here. Will it be a stepping-stone, or will it be a stumbling-block? Present proceedings indicate the latter. The burning question blazes up before us now: As a nation of freemen shall we live through all time, or shall we die by suicide? The heavenly seraph holds the scale in which the state is swinging. We are a spectacle not only unto the world, and to angels, and to men, but the ever-watchful eye of the Most High, who ruleth in the kingdom of men, is riveted upon the trembling indicator, nervously made to quiver on its course as events of weal or woe affect it. Which way the tide of our destiny shall set is now for us to decide. Once more let it be said that this is wholly a matter of choice, and not in any way a question of chance. The manifest destiny of the nation waits upon the actions of men, while expectancy sits on the brow of the universe. prus 109.null.null – PRUS 136.3
Lawrence Wilkerson Col, USA (Ret)
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