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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Patriot-Churchman

By John Hughes (1797–1864)

[Born in County Tyrone, Ireland, 1797. Died in New York, N. Y., 1864. Complete Works of the Most Rev. John Hughes, D.D., Archbishop of New York. 1866.]

IT may be that God, for some design of his own, which future generations will appreciate, has permitted this calamity to scourge the country in order to bring from these results benefit to the whole human race. These are circumstances, the results of which no man can fathom, they depend upon so many conditional circumstances. But there is one question that ought to be clear to every mind, and it is this—that if such a warfare should continue for years, it is recognized as the privilege of other nations, in the name of humanity, to try and put an end to it. The people themselves should put an end to it with as little delay as possible. It is not a scourge that has visited this nation alone. Wars have been from the beginning of the world, nations against nations, and that most terrible of all wars, civil war, in which brother is arrayed against brother.

How long is this to go on? As it goes on, it is affording a pretext for all the nations to combine against us; but even then, I say their interference should not be permitted, except in the way of benevolence; but, if with the sword, we should unite in setting them at defiance. But I would say if they do interfere, and interfere successfully—if the country and the Government are not sustained by every sacrifice that is necessary, then your United States will become a Poland. Then it will become divided into fragments; then the strife will hover on all the borders; every State will claim to be independent, and render itself an easy prey to foreign powers. Oh! let not this be so. I know little of what has occurred since I left. I have had scarcely time to look at a paper since my return; but, by all accounts, much has been attempted, but not much realized, towards terminating this unnatural war. Volunteers have been appealed to, and they have answered the appeal; but for my own part, if I had a voice in the councils of the nation, I would say, let volunteers continue, and the draft be made. If three hundred thousand men be not sufficient, let three hundred thousand more be called upon, so that the army, in its fulness of strength, shall be always on hand for any emergency. This is not cruelty; this is mercy; this is humanity—anything that will put an end to this draggling of human blood across the whole surface of the country. Then, every man, rich and poor, will have to take his share; and it ought not to be left to the Government to plead with the people, to call upon them to come forward, and to ask if they will permit themselves to be drafted. No; but the people themselves should insist upon being drafted, and be allowed to bring this unnatural strife to a close. Other efforts will be made on the other side; and who can blame them, since they have cast their die on the issue? But, any way, this slow, lingering waste of human life should be cut short.

In the mean while, it is enough for us to weep over this calamity; it is enough for us to pray to God that it be brought to an end. It is enough for us to make a sacrifice of everything to sustain the power, and the authority, and the unity of the only Government that we profess to acknowledge. But it is not necessary to hate our opponents, nor to be cruel in the battle; it is necessary to be brave, to be patriotic—to do what the country needs; and for this God will give us His blessing, as a recompense for discharging our duty without violating any just laws, divine or human.