Page:War Prisoners (Darrow).djvu/17

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WAR PRISONERS.

at times like the ones we have passed through and I know perfectly well, if the law does not place the limits, men and women will place them! So it is small difference which way it is done.

For instance, a great many people did not believe in the draft, in conscription! I did not. Although I will confess that my reason was not quite the same as some of yours. I thought it would be revolting to the Americans, and we would have harder work getting an army that way, and still I also feel, as I felt then, that it was a terrible thing to make a young man go and fight in a foreign land. It is. I believe that it was necessary. Whether I am right or wrong, nobody can tell. But I never saw the time that I did not know perfectly well what it meant and what a serious thing it was. I was a little amused by many people of my age or even younger, who told young men of twenty how sorry they felt that they were so old they could not fight! I did not see any reason why they should not be permitted to fight if they wanted to.

There were people, of course, who did not believe in conscription; who felt it an express violation of their individual rights. And it is not at all strange that they should feel that way. Everybody is not a philosopher and cannot go to the foundation of things, and I do not know as I could if I had been in the draft age. I cannot tell. We passed these laws and enforced them drastically because in the opinion of the majority in power, it was necessary for carrying on the war. I say that it would not have made any difference whether we passed them or not. In times when a country is at war, and when people's feelings are intense over the war, they will not permit men to oppose the war at home; I do not care who the men are, it would have made no difference. Human nature is deeper than law, and if these laws had not been passed, it would have been dealt with outside of the law. That was done in our Civil War. As wise and humane and kindly a man as Lincoln, found Vallandingham, who was running for Governor in my home State of Ohio, making violent speeches against the war; he was taken and set down in the other lines and told he belonged there. Lincoln had the right to. I don't know exactly what right means. People talk about rights. He had the power to do it and he did it. Over and over again newspaper offices were destroyed; men were mobbed during the Civil War. And during the Revolutionary War, a large number of people were forcibly driven from the United States because they sympathized with the revolution.