The American Peace Crusade, 1815-1860

By Merle Eugene Curti | Go to book overview

VIII
THE INTERNATIONAL PEACE CONGRESSES,
1848-1851

With the nervous discontent in the Paris clubs and workshops and the tense rumors of plots and demonstrations against the provisional government, probably no one paid much attention on the morning of August 23, 1848, to an American making his way past the liberty trees in the squares and the recently barricaded Paris boulevards to the quarters of an attaché of the American legation. Doubtless the weary, impoverished man — it was Elihu Burritt — was pondering the discouragements he was courting in his eagerness to use this propitious season for holding an international peace congress in the storm center of revolutions, Paris. What a misfortune it would be if obstacles and indifference should prevent a great demonstration, which, like the Friendly Addresses, would lessen the danger of general war and afford a great opportunity for stimulating the peoples of Europe, so aroused and yet so sympathetic with each other, to organized efforts for peace! Five years had gone by since the first international peace convention had met in London. It was high time, he thought, for another, if ever a regular international peace organization were to be achieved. What if he had thus far suffered defeat? What if the London Peace Society had so tardily and reluctantly agreed to send a delegation, or if his own Leaguers had hesitated when faced with the prospect of Paris barricades and cannon? What if the editor of La Démocratic Pacifique had insisted on a ticklish commitment to communism before aiding the proposed congress? It was indeed a blow to find that even such staunch friends of peace as the influential economists, Michel Chevalier and Horace Say, were gloomy and doubtful. It was only last year that Francisque Bouvet, M. Ziegler, Frédéric Bastiat, and other members of the Société du Libre Échange had abandoned the idea of forming a peace

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