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expenditure of means, are entirely of a transient nature. They appear very formidable as the events of time, but in relation to eternity, utterly insignificant. Death is the lot of all, but the death of a soldier should be signalized as a sacrifice in the great cause of humanity.
Most of the great expenditures of government in war are made among its own people, and the evils usually attributed to them are doubtless oftentimes much exaggerated. The checks to trade and industry, the absorption of time and talents for a single object to the neglect of others, are evils which all deplore ; but they are temporary. Temporary evils, or private sufferings, are of no account whatever in determining the solemn duty of a nation when called upon to prosecute a war that is just.* When justice requires it, war becomes a national duty. Let it be só regarded, let it be so understood, and wars will be lessened. Let the penalties of a nation's wrong be as terrible as its power is mighty. Let its might be on the side of right and freedom ; let its decrees protect the good, and be a source of terror to the wicked. Let a nation's glory be a nation's righteousness, and its wars will be few and victorious.
The war that is just closed has been with a sister Republic, a nation professedly of free institutions, and claiming to stand upon the same platform as our own. In her prosperity Mexico had our congratulations, and in her misfortunes she had our sympathy. And while it is to be lamented that her first war of any
duration with another nation has been with the United States, it must be regarded as a singular truth, that by no other foreign power could she have been chastised and saved.
Our inquiries with respect to this war will embrace, Ist, Its causes; 2d, A comparative view of the acts of the two governments ; 3d, The prosecution of the war; and 4th, Its justice · and results.
* See Appendix D.
THE CAUSES OF THE WAR.
In analyzing causes of national acts, it is a common error to confound the fundamental with the casual, and thus to lose that literal order of cause and effect which alone exhibits events in their true relation. The process of cause and effect in the formation of national character, though not always obvious to the student, is subjected to undeviating laws. The success or failure of a nation is no accident. The virtue or vice of a people come not from chance. Chance may have its meaning with man, but it has no place in Providence. National growth or decay, national strength or weakness, national glory or deg. radation, may be traced by a faithful hand to a series of causes as exact and certain, could they be pictured to the eye, as the development of a flower from the seed, or an oak from the
The moral world without laws would be a nullity. The moral world without certainty would be a mockery. The moral world without growth and progress would be an absurdity.
We would not be understood as making the assertion, that all events may be clearly traced to their legitimate causes, for the mind of man is not yet equal to the task : time and knowl. edge may lead to this ; but we confidently state our belief in that constitution of things which is governed by eternal and unal. terable laws, and which would prove to us the greatest source of evidence, if we would but patiently study its parts and solve its beautiful harmony. All philosophy is but a knowledge of cause and effect, and all success, the result of correct application of its principles.
In proceeding, therefore, to investigate the causes of the war between the United States and Mexico, we shall endeavor to avoid the errors which have appe red to characterize the discussions of Congress and the views of journalists. With all deference to abler minds, it has seemed to us that ultimate effects have been placed as primary causes, and that the casual has been mistaken for the fundamental.* Not that any event should be excluded, in the examination, which is calculated to enlighten ; but that we should not deceive ourselves by derangement of evidence. We need not warn the reader against the fallacy of the ancient metaphysicians, in the adoption of syllogisms to prove the truth of a proposition ; and yet, if a parallel were wanting, there is much in modern logic that would furnish it without violence or injustice.t
“ The Peace Society of Massachusetts near 1825 instituted an inquiry into the actual causes of war, and, besides a multitude of petty ancient wars, and of those waged by Christian nations with tribes of savages, ascertained 286 wars of magnitude to have had the following origin: 22 for plunder or tribute ; 44 for the extension of territory; 24 for retaliation or revenge; 6 about disputed boundaries ; 8 respecting points of honor or prerogative ; 5 for the protection or extension of comnerce; 55 civil wars ;, 41 about contested titles to crowns; 30 under pretence of assisting allies ;' 23 from mere jealousy of rival greatness; 28 religious wars, including the crusades ; not one for defence alone.” — Peace Society Tract, No. LVII.
What a commentary on divine Providence! If we are permitted to finish our more extended work on the late war, it is our purpose to enlarge upon this topic.
+ The ancient metaphysicians conceived that most questions could be settled by syllogisms. It was certainly very convenient. They always had logical truth in their own keeping. The following propositions, which we give from memory, ex gr., were clearly proved syllogistically.
“A glass of wine fuddles a man."
A feather breaks a camel's back." The process is quite irresistible. The question is repeated for each glass of wine given to the man, for each kernel of grain put into the measure, and for each feather put upon the camel's back. Will the first produce the result ? No. Will the second? No; and so forth, until the negative is changed to the affirmative. It is the last glass, the last kernel, the last feather, that produces the result. The proof is complete ; and what was considered remarkable by the ancients, it is complete by consent of parties. By this process, the march to the Rio Grande may be placed methodically as the cause of the war. Was there war before the march? No, Was there war after the march and so forth.
In order to judge correctly of the causes of this war, it is necessary
that we should understand the present and past condition of the two nations. What has Mexico been, and what has she done? What have been the acts of the United States with regard to Mexico ? These are questions which, if properly answered, will give us some insight into the true causes of the war.
Our prescribed limits will not permit us to give many details of history, further than mere outlines that may enable the reader to understand our views. If we would fully understand the Mexican character, we must study the Aztec race before the conquest of Cortés. It is quite true the changes since that period have been many and great ; still, without some knowl. edge of the causes which have produced them, we cannot hope to avoid errors of opinion in respect to the Mexicans as they are.
Let us turn for a moment to
ANCIENT MEXICO. The following quotations from Prescott's CONQUEST OF Mexico, - and we cannot quote from this author without commending him for his ability and faithfulness, — may be here introduced with great propriety, as affording in a few words his reflections upon the fall of that ancient empire, and particularly as they embrace the elements of the causes which produced that fall.
After speaking of the wonders of the conquest, of its romantic and legendary features, he says,
“ Yet we cannot regret the fall of an empire which did so little to promote the happiness of its subjects, or the real interests of humanity. Notwithstanding the lustre thrown over its latter days by the glorious defence of its capital, by the mild munificence of Montezuma, by the dauntless heroism of Guatemozin, the Aztecs were emphatically a fierce and brutal race, little calculated, in their best aspects, to excite our sym. pathy and regard. Their civilization, such as it was, was not their own, but reflected, perhaps imperfectly, from a race whom they had succeeded in the land. It was in respect to the Aztecs, a generous graft on a vicious stock, and could have brought no fruit to perfection. They ruled over their wide domains with a sword, instead of a sceptre. They did nothing to ameliorate the condition or in any way promote the progress of their vassals. Their vassals were serfs, used only to minister to their pleasure, held in awe by armed garrisons, ground to the dust by imposts in peace, by military conscriptions in war. They did not, like the Romans, whom they resembled in the nature of their conquests, extend the rights of citizenship to the conquered. They did not amalgamate them into one great nation, with common rights and interests. They held them as aliens, even those who, in the valley, were gathered round the very walls of the capital. The Aztec metropolis, the heart of the monarchy, had not a sympathy, not a pulsation, in common with the rest of the body politic. It was a stranger in its own land.
“ The Aztecs not only did not advance the condition of their vassals, but, morally speaking, they did much to degrade it. How can a nation, where human sacrifices prevail, and especially when combined with, cannibalism, further the march of civilization ? How can the interests of humanity be consulted, where man is levelled to the ranks of the brutes that perish ? The influence of the Aztecs introduced their superstition into lands before unacquainted with it, or where, at least, it was not established in any great strength. The example of the capital was contagious. As the latter increased in opulence, the religious celebrations were conducted with still more terrible magnificence — in the same manner as the gladiatorial shows of the Romans increased in pomp with the increasing splendor of the capital. Men became familiar with scenes of horror and the most loathsome abominations ; women and children, the whole nation - became familiar with and assisted at them. The heart was hardened, the manners were made ferocious, the feeble light of civilization, transmitted from a milder race,