- Paperback: 340 pages
- Publisher: Ralph Myles; 1st edition (June 1972)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0879260076
- ISBN-13: 978-0879260071
- Package Dimensions: 11.9 x 8 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,213,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Civilian and the Military: A History of the American Anti-Militarist Tradition 1st Edition
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Colonial Americans resented regular army troops in North America. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)referred to a standing army as a devouring monster. James Madison (1751-1835)wrote that standing armies were foes of true liberty. Ekirch was clear that Colonial Americans saw standing armies as agents for rulers, foreign and domestic, to collect taxes and quell dissent against an oppressive status quo.
Such opposition to a conscripted standing army continued in early National U.S.History. For example in 1790, Gen Knox wanted members of Congress to pass a bill creating a U.S. standing army of over 5,000. However, the political opposition to such a large army was such that the final bill resulted in an army of 1,216 men. Such opposition continued during the War of 1812 which documents show was instigated by those in the U.S. House and Senate known as the War Hawks. In 1814,there was talk of national conscription (slavery)which Daniel Webster(1782-1852)blasted in a scathing denounciation that such conscription was both slavery and murder of young American men. This speech is well worth reading. Webster ripped the abuse of language in the proposal to conscript American youth.
After the War of 1812, criticism of a big military did not ebb. The arguement for a big navy was refuted by practical common sense. Those who wanted a big navy were critisized for wanting foreign wars and were asking for trouble. The Rush Baggot Agreement (1817)was negotiated with the British because neither the British nor the Americans had a large navy on the Great Lakes. This agreement demilitarized the U.S-Canadian border to the peaceful satisfaction of both the British and the Americans. Members of The Friends of Peace made a good case against war. They argued that industry, achievement, properity, etc. were the symptoms of great people as opposed to war.
The Mexican-American War (1846-48) and the Civil War (1861-65)brought the issue of militarism into focus again. Historians who have examined the documents are clear that the Mexican authorities did nothing to provoke this war. The Civil War, which could have been avoided, rekindled the passions of war and the topic of conscription. Ekirch cited ardent Abolitionists such as Lysander Spooner and Clement Vallandigham who both argued for a vigorous prosection of peace to avoid the War Between the States or the Civil War. There were also Southerners who opposed the Civil War. The warnings of losing liberty were vindiated when both the Northerners and Confederates resorted to conscription. Pres. Lincoln was severely critisized for unnecessarily suspending the right of Habeas Corpus and attempting to have critics shot by military tribunals. Supreme Court Justice Tanney excorated Lincoln's high-handed methods in overruling a military tribunal's ruling to shoot an Ohio journalist for criticism of the Civil War.
Such criticisms continued after the Civil War which Ekirch closely documents. Reference to Civil War oppressive measures continued both in Congress and in the U.S. Supreme Court. David Starr Jorden, who became President of Stanford University, wrote a detailed account of how the Civil War ruined the South and the well documented the affects on the people in the defeated Confederacy.
The Spanish-American War (1898)revived criticisms of imperalism and militarism. Willam Graham Sumner (1840-1910)argued that the Spanish won this war simply because Americans were becoming like the Spanish of the 16th-17th. centuries with their empire. Members of the Anti-Imperialist League included Mark Twain (1835-1910), Andrew Carnegie (1835-`9`90, William Jennings Bryon (1865-1925), etc. Ekirch included some "conservative" dignataries in this book dispelling the nonsense of the "neocons."
Obviously, W.W. I again revived the dissent over war. Pres. Wilson and those who wanted U.S. entry into war had to resort to severe police state measures in attempting to stifle dissent. Lynch mobs had carte blanch latitude to commit murder. The official self-appointed official patriots used every means to lie and coerce Americans into this war. Yet, few if any volunteered themselves. Walter Lippman was in favor of U.S. entry into W.W. I and favored military conscription until he realized he was elgible for the draft. Suddenly he found a cushy government job until the war was over. What is interesting is that dissenters were later proven correct in their assessments and predictions. Yet, they were often imprisoned and persecuted for honest dissent and for telling the truth. Ekirch had another interesing anecdote that government officials condemned "Prussian/German" tyranny while at the same time dissent and debate were tyrannically supressed in the U.S.
During the 1930s, the abuses and corrputiong/waste were revealed in congressional hearings and documented histories. Ekirch presented a vast amount of sources which are sadly omitted in textbooks which could make students think. This book is a good source to revive such criticisms.
In spite of what popular opinion is, there were criticisms of U.S. entry into W.W. II. Jeanette Rankin, the only one in Congress who voted against U.S. entry into W.W. I and W.W. II, disclosed that FDR and his administration had goaded the Japanese into the Pearl Harbor attack. Her revelations got little and attention. Yet, her comments are part of the public record. Ekirch presented a good case for Jehovah Witnesses. Almost every clergyman was exempted from war. However, pastors of the Jehovah Witnesses were not even recognized as members of the cloth, and these harmless people were subjected to "lamp post architecture."
Ekirch last section of the book deals with attempts to enlarge the Garrison State of America. Ekirch examined the attempts at Universal Military Service and the severe draconian measures suggested against those who opposed such measures. The amusing part of all of this is that those who wanted police state measures in the U.S. condemned such measures in the Soviet Union, Communist China, and those areas that had Communist regimes.
Ekirch's book is a good treatment of an Ameican anti-militarist tradition. This book was first published by Oxford Press in 1956, and it is still useful. A good companion volume is the book titled WE WHO DARED TO SAY NO TO WAR edited by Murry Polner and Thomas Woods. The latter book updates Ekirch's book, and both books are timely sources in the early 21st. century.
This is a very good book for tracing the anti-war American patriot. I wish that there were more books of this type.
Richard Edward Noble - The Hobo Philosopher - Author of:
Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One