Nuadha's Tale

Ignorance can be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. -Thomas Jefferson

Friday, September 06, 2002

Elihu Burritt: Peace is Patriotic
I was reading Milestones to American Liberty last night and I think I found a new addition to my list of Americans I consider heroic. Elihu Burritt was a peace advocate in the 1800's.

If peace has its victories no less than war, it has its heroism and its patriotism. The men of peace can find no attribute, in the great gospel principles of their faith, that can side with despotism, or wink with indifference at oppression. They are not cowards. They counsel no tame, unmanly submission to wrong; but to oppose to wrongs a courage of the human will that shall never faint or waver at any extremity of endurance; -aye, to "resist unto blood" if it be unavoidable, - to give their own necks to the axe or to the halter, on the block or on the scaffold, but never to shed themselves a single drop, or to perpetrate a single act of malevelont injury on any human being, under the severest pressure of despotic rule. Peace has its heroism, serene and dauntless, that neither trembles before the guillotine, the halter or the knout. Peace has its patriotism; deep, earnest, unselfish, self-sacrificing, and sensitive, - a love of country that would bleed to the last vein, but never wound, for its rights, honor and prosperity. Peace has its battlefields, bloodless, but brave to a degree of heroic endurance of wrong and outrage to which martial courage could never attain.
-Elihu Burritt, "Thoughts and Things at Home and Abroad." 1854

A blacksmith who earned twenty-five cents a day in a foundry became the 19th century's foremost advocate of world peace. Elihu Burritt, the son of a soldier in the [American] Revolution, was born in Connecticut village in 1810. Although his schooling was skimpy, his hunger for learning was so intense that he soon taught himself a score of languages while working at the forge. Offered the chance to learn at Harvard, he said that he preferred to "stand in the ranks of the workingmen of New England and beckon them onward and the full stature of intellectual men." In his early twenties he became known as "the learned blacksmith" and began lecturing and writing in behalf of temperance, abolitionism and the peace movement.
-Milton Meltzer, Milestones to American Liberty

I tried to see if I could find any of his writings online, but all I could find was a library that was named after him.


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