Essays, literary, moral & philosophical by Benjamin Rush, M.D. and professor of the institutes of medicine and clinical practice in the University of Pennsylvania.
Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813., Rush, Jacob, 1747-1820, dedicatee.
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AMONG the defects which have been point|ed out in the federal constitution by its antifederal enemies, it is much to be lamented that no person has taken notice of its total silence upon the subject of an office of the utmost importance to the welfare of the United States, that is, an office for pro|moting and preserving perpetual peace in our country.

It is to be hoped that no objection will be made to the establishment of such an office, while we are engaged in a war with the Indians, for as the War-Office of the United States was established in the time of peace, it is equally reasonable that a Peace-Office should be established in the time of war.

The plan of this office is as follows:

I. Let a Secretary of the Peace be appointed to preside in this office, who shall be perfectly free from all the present absurd and vulgar European preju|dices upon the subject of government; let him be a genuine republican and a sincere Christian, for the prin|ciples of republicanism and Christianity are no less friendly to universal and perpetual peace, than they are to universal and equal liberty.

Page  184II. Let a power be given to this Secretary to esta|blish and maintain free-schools in every city, village and township of the United States; and let him be made responsible for the talents, principles, and morals, of all his schoolmasters. Let the youth of our country be carefully instructed in reading, writing, arithmetic, and in the doctrines of a religion of some kind: the Christian religion should be preferred to all others; for it belongs to this religion exclusively to teach us not only to cultivate peace with men, but to forgive, nay more—to love our very enemies. It belongs to it further to teach us that the Supreme Being alone pos|sesses a power to take away human life, and that we rebel against his laws, whenever we undertake to execute death in any way whatever upon any of his creatures.

III. Let every family in the United States be fur|nished at the public expense, by the Secretary of this office, with a copy of an American edition of the BIBLE. This measure has become the more necessary in our country, since the banishment of the bible, as a school-book, from most of the schools in the United States. Unless the price of this book be paid for by the public, there is reason to fear that in a few years it will be met with only in courts of justice or in magistrates' offices; and should the absurd mode of establishing truth by kissing this sacred book fall into disuse, it may probably, in the course of the next Page  185 generation, be seen only as a curiosity on a shelf in a public museum.

IV. Let the following sentence be inscribed in letters of gold over the doors of every State and Court house in the United States.


V. To inspire a veneration for human life, and an horror at the shedding of human blood, let all those laws be repealed which authorise juries, judges, sheriffs, or hangmen to assume the resentments of individuals and to commit murder in cold blood in any case whatever. Until this reformation in our code of penal jurisprudence takes place, it will be in vain to attempt to introduce universal and perpetual peace in our country.

VI. To subdue that passion for war, which educa|tion, added to human depravity, have made universal, a familiarity with the instruments of death, as well as all military shows, should be carefully avoided. For which reason, militia laws should every where be repealed, and military dresses and military titles should be laid aside: reviews tend to lessen the horrors of a battle by connecting them with the charms of order; militia laws generate idleness and vice, and thereby produce the wars they are said to prevent; military dresses fascinate the minds Page  186 of young men, and lead them from serious and useful professions; were there no uniforms, there would pro|bably be no armies; lastly, military titles feed vanity, and keep up ideas in the mind which lessen a sense of the folly and miseries of war.

VII. In the last place, let a large room, adjoining the federal hall, be appropriated for transacting the business and preserving all the records of this office. Over the door of this room let there be a sign, on which the figures of a LAMB, a DOVE and an OLIVE BRANCH should be painted, together with the follow|ing inscriptions in letters of gold:


Within this apartment let there be a collection of ploughshares and pruning-hooks made out of swords and spears; and on each of the walls of the apartment, the following pictures as large as the life:

  • 1. A lion eating straw with an ox, and an adder playing upon the lips of a child.
  • 2. An Indian boiling his venison in the same pot with a citizen of Kentucky.
  • 3. Lord Cornwallis and Tippoo Saib, under the shade of a sycamore-tree in the East Indies, drinking Madeira wine together out of the same decanter.
  • Page  1874. A group of French and Austrian soldiers danc|ing arm and arm, under a bower erected in the neigh|bourhood of Mons.
  • 5. A St. Domingo planter, a man of color, and a native of Africa, legislating together in the same colonial assembly.

To complete the entertainment of this delightful apartment, let a group of young ladies, clad in white robes, assemble every day at a certain hour, in a gallery to be erected for the purpose, and sing odes, and hymns, and anthems in praise of the blessings of peace.

One of these songs should consist of the following lines.

Peace o'er the world her olive wand extends,
And white-rob'd innocence from heaven descends;
All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail,
Returning justice lifts aloft her scale.

In order more deeply to affect the minds of the citi|zens of the United States with the blessings of peace, by contrasting them with the evils of war, let the follow|ing inscriptions be painted upon the sign, which is placed over the door of the War Office.

  • 1. An office for butchering the human species.
  • 2. A Widow and Orphan making office.
  • Page  1883. A broken bone making office.
  • 4. A Wooden leg making office.
  • 5. An office for creating public and private vices.
  • 6. An office for creating a public debt.
  • 7. An office for creating speculators, stock Jobbers, and Bankrupts.
  • 8. An office for creating famine.
  • 9 An office for creating pestilential diseases.
  • 10. An office for creating poverty, and the destruc|tion of liberty, and national happiness.

In the lobby of this office let there be painted re|presentations of all the common military instruments of death, also human skulls, broken bones, unburied and putrifying dead bodies, hospitals crouded with sick and wounded Soldiers, villages on fire, mothers in besieged towns eating the flesh of their children, ships sinking in the ocean, rivers dyed with blood, and extensive plains without a tree or fence, or any other object, but the ruins of deserted farm houses.

Above this group of woeful figures,—let the following words be inserted, in red characters to re|present human blood, "NATIONAL GLORY."