"... and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall
They called them "Peace Democrats" because they advocated a swift end to
the war and the soon bringing-home of the troops. The year before the
presidential election, one of them, a former congressman from the
Midwest, called the war "cruel" and in a speech asked, "ought this war to
continue?" He then answered his own question with the words, "No, not a
day, not an hour!" The war had entrapped brave American soldiers in a
quagmire of pointless death and destruction, they said. Casualty numbers
were shocking and victories were few.
Not all Democrats, however, were in the "Peace" wing of the party. A
significant faction supported the war, but disagreed with the Republican
president over how it was conducted and what should be its goals. As the
election year came, it actually appeared that a War Democrat might win
his party's nomination.
The peace movement engaged in public protests against the war. Just seven
months before the election, an anti-war riot directed at soldiers leaving
for the fields of conflict resulted in five people being killed! As the
campaign season approached, Republican hopes were dying too.
At the Democratic National Convention in August, the Peace Democrats
basically wrote the platform. It stated that "justice, humanity, liberty,
and the public welfare demand immediate efforts be made for a cessation
of hostilities." It attacked the president for the "usurpation of
extraordinary and dangerous powers not granted by the constitution."
Under the guise of fighting the enemy, they said, the president was
suppressing human rights. The convention finally nominated that War
Democrat for president, but he made accommodations for the Peace wing of
the party and its platform.
Then something unexpected occurred. Several major U.S. victories were won
in the months between the Democratic Convention and Election Day. A swell
of optimism about the war killed Democratic chances and elected the
Republican. The peace movement ended up being the ruin of the Democratic
Party as the war was won. As a matter of fact, no Democrat was elected to
the White House for another 20 years!
Of course, this story is not about the election of 2008, which has yet to
happen! It is an historical account of the events leading up to the
election of 1864. The war was the Civil War, not the Iraq War. The
controversial president was Abraham Lincoln. The Peace Democrats were
called "Copperheads" by the public because of their reputation for
treason. The story is old, but may well be in the process of
The Bible tells of a king who will "destroy many" through the use of
"peace" (Daniel 8:25). Peace is desirable, and certainly more desirable
than war. However, peace movements have often been fraudulent, and
sometimes actually organized by the enemy. Some pre-Second World War
"peace" organizations were actually Communist fronts to keep America out
of Europe as long as Stalin and Hitler were allies. When war broke out
between them, this "peace" movement shut down. Of course, the enemy
connections to the Vietnam-Era "peaceniks" are now well-known. Even
sincere peace protestors have often served the interests of the enemy,
and many have been manipulated by the powerful to further political
purposes they never intended. "Peace" as a cause and a battle cry has
indeed destroyed many.
For these reasons, Christian people must beware of the sometimes fatal
attraction of those who cry, "Peace!" Justice and high principle are more
important than peace. These are causes worth fighting and dying for, but
cowards and traitors will subtly undermine such causes with calls for
peace. Let us be wise and discerning in these times of conflict and
desperate demands for peace.