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Title: Prospects of War

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: March 29, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00593

Source: New York Aurora 1842-03-29: [2]. Our transcription is based on a digital image of an original issue. Original issue held at the Paterson Free Public Library, Paterson, NJ. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the journalism, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Jason Stacy and Kevin McMullen




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PROSPECTS'S OF WAR.—

The message from President Tyler, which we gave yesterday, appears to create no small sensation among our citizens. Never before has that functionary taken so decided a step, and one from which he will gain so many golden opinions from all sorts of people.1

As before has been asserted by us, we do not wish for war. We have full consciousness of the horrors of bloodshed, the miseries of devastation, and the derangement of business, that must inevitably follow in the path of warlike demonstrations from this country to England. We should therefore regret war; in the same way we should regret some terrible surgical operation performed upon the limb of a friend.

But the Aurora is determined, notwithstanding the abuse and misconstruction whcih is ever thrown upon the motives of those who speak as it speaks—the Aurora is determined to advocate war, rather than supine resignation under foreign insolence. If the British will not respect our rights, let them be taught that respect at the cannon's mouth and the bayonet's point. Let our gallant sailors thunder in their ears, and the bosom of the ocean resound with the noise of the lesson.

We know that England it richer than we—owns a more powerful navy than we. But she has discontent and distraction and decay in her very heart. She has none of the healthy vigor, the youthfulness, the fiery spirit, the wholesome ardor, that characterises our glorious republic. Were this country to throw her whole strength into a contest with Great Britain, she could humble that haughty nation to the very dust of subjectness.


Notes:

1. John Tyler (1790–1862) became president of the United States upon the death of William Henry Harrison. Tyler's stalled domestic policy and stalemate with Congress forced him to concentrate his administration on foreign affairs, especially regarding the disputed south- and northwestern borders of the United States. In his message to Congress of March 25, 1842—about which Whitman wrote in the March 28 issue of the Aurora and in this editorial—Tyler spoke to the ongoing dispute with Great Britain over the border between the U.S. and Canada, which culminated in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty on August 9, 1842. See Howard Jones, To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1783-1843 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011). [back]


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