The War Men at Home
Newark Evening Journal, June 20, 1861
The good effect of the Peace movement in this city, and the growing magnitude of its proportions, fully sustain us in saying that the war of invasion and aggression by the North upon the South is not relished by a majority of the people of Newark. Our report of the proceedings of the large meeting in the Seventh Assembly District on Wednesday evening, furnishes abundant proof that the popular heart is with the brave and patriotic spirits who have taken the initiative in this movement, and if any additional evidence were wanted to show that the demand for peace so forcibly urged finds a warm response in the breasts of many heretofore Republicans, who have supported Mr. Lincoln, we might point to the annoyance and disturbance of that meeting by some of the leading spirits, aided by others of the petty tools, of the war dynasty in this city. If the opponents of this war are as contemptible in numbers and weak in influence as its friends and abettors allege, why will they not allow the former to meet and quietly express their opinions, trusting to the good sense of the community and the superiority of a state of society based upon the continuance of the war over that prosperity and the revival of the sweet moral and social virtues which would be re-established by peace? If a civil war for conquest is a desirable condition for the country to remain in—if to slaughter our Southern brethren and be slaughtered by them, is a positive advantage to the community—if the utter ruin of our commercial and manufacturing interests, the destruction of credit and individual property, the almost starvation of the laborer and mechanic, and the thousand unmentionable and revolting ills which have already attended the progress of the conflict, and which will be intensified in ten fold horror, until perchance, confusion and anarchy pave the way for a military dictator to ride rough shod over the people, and establish a grinding despotism at the expense of justice, constitutional liberty and right—if these deplorable and unquestionable results of our sectional war constitute an era of true happiness, prosperity and morality, or if a continuance of the war is likely to lead to the establishment of the millen[n]ium, why need the Lincolnites trouble themselves to put down what they term the "contemptible efforts of weak-kneed traitors to subvert the Government."[?] The people have eyes to see and ears to hear, aye, and stomachs which require sustenance. If civil war be the state of superlative bliss which the war-contractors, the Post Masters, the Foreign Ministers and the editors have determined, should not its profuse blessings already be thickly strewn upon the heads of the people?
Before election, the poor were promised "free labor and free farms," but the war has already nearly postponed the action of the primeval curse uttered to the first pair of the human race, which doomed their posterity to perpetual labor. Having banished work, the only remaining duty of the political reformers is to teach society how to subsist without work. To be sure, we may all volunteer to go down South and aid in butchering our white brethren and freeing the negroes from wholesome restraint, sending them North to constitute a vicious pauper race; but the Northern warriors ought to be informed if [the] government is to take charge of their wives and children during their absence, and pension them all in case of the death or disability of their husbands and fathers. After the South has been subjugated, what is to be the political status of the citizen? Who is to pay the national debt?—who to restore the happy homes deprived of their props and defenders as well as of the comforts and necessities of life? Will the most thorough sectional war—triumph ever restore the fraternal Union, consecrated by the sufferings and struggles of our Revolution against a senseless tyranny?
We cannot wonder, therefore, that the miserable partizans who now seek to drown the legitimate demand of the people for peace in the pomp and circumstance of war, and by the most violent denunciation of every citizen as a traitor, whose voice is not uplifted in favor of that species of patriotism which begins in flag-raising and ends in abolitionism, disunion, red-republicanism and anarchy—we do not wonder that such persons begin already to fear the wholesome popular re-action which is taking place in the community. In their fright it is quite natural that they should do silly and weak things.—Having so fearfully blundered in pushing on the war, and stigmatizing as traitors all who have opposed it, they must keep up their consistency and their courage by disturbing public peace meetings and blackguarding the advocates of peace, whose arguments they cannot answer. In this they only display their own weakness and strengthen their opponents in the same ratio. Our friends can afford to tolerate and smile at such opposition, which furnishes ammunition for the peace batteries, and will make more converts than all of our own speeches. Truth is mighty and will prevail. War, under the most favorable circumstances, is an unnatural condition and a terrible scourge; but such a war as this, if long carried on, will produce scenes and results from which the very devils in hell must shrink back in abhorrence. How long will the people sustain it?
Let the peace party boldly push on active operations. While Lincoln presses his immense armies Southward to conquer, desolate and destroy, without authority of law or Constitution, let us strive to outnumber his armies and out flank his columns by such a popular and universal demand for a national breathing-spell, preparatory to a last effort for a popular settlement of the country's difficulties, as cannot fail to produce its effect. Sooner or later, these efforts must prevail, for in them are bound up the safety of our country,—the liberties and independence of the people,—all the good America has achieved, or may hope to obtain in the way of civilization, Republicanism and a liberal Christianity. If it is once fully ascertained by the people of the North, that a restoration of our former prosperity and great blessings are impossible through the means of civil war they will come up to the work of peace with an energy which will overcome all obstacles.
No time should be lost in pushing forward the glorious peace movement. The Union anti-war men in every Ward and Township in the State should speedily organize upon the basis of peace. Now is the time to act. Memorials to Congress should be everywhere circulated for signatures, and forwarded immediately to some Member who will present them to that body. We will gladly publish brief reports of the proceedings of peace meetings to the extent of our space.—Let the good work go on.