The American Peace Crusade, 1815-1860

By Merle Eugene Curti | Go to book overview

VII
ELIHU BURRITT AND THE LEAGUE OF UNIVERSAL
BROTHERHOOD, 1846-1855

"The greatest value I attach to life is the capacity and space of labouring for humanity." Thus Elihu Burritt wrote in his Journal on December 8, 1846. As early as 1838 the idea of universal brotherhood had been one of his "most precious thoughts."1 To advance this cause he began in 1844 at Worcester, Massachusetts, a weekly newspaper, the Christian Citizen. Each number carried as a headpiece across the first page these words: "God hath made of one blood all the nations of men." Devoted to temperance, antislavery, and "self-cultivation," the Christian Citizen held no reform so dear as that of universal peace.

Although this venture did not earn its impoverished editor his daily bread, he did not despair. In 1845 he even added to his heavy load by assuming financial responsibility for the periodical of the American Peace Society, which he undertook to edit. He aimed to make the Advocate of Peace and Universal Brotherhood an Anglo-American and ultimately a universal periodical, and he secured contributions from prominent English peace men as a step in this direction.2

On the evening of July 29, 1846, Elihu Burritt, with knapsack and staff, was walking along an English country road towards Worcester. He had refused the great public welcome by which British friends of peace wished to honor him, for his purpose in coming to England was to serve the cause of peace rather than to) be admired. At this moment his mind was on a task at hand—that of writing for the Christian Citizen and the Advocate of Peace and Universal Brotherhood, for he was still their editor. He therefore decided to stop at the little village of

____________________
1
Ms. Letter Book of Elihu Burritt, American Antiquarian Society.
2
Burritt, Ms. Journal, January 1, April 10, 1845; Advocate of Peace and Universal Brotherhood, 1846, passim.

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