The Clarksons

and the peace movement....

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In June 1816 John Clarkson became one of the founders of ‘The Society for the Promotion of Universal and Permanent Peace’, often known as the ‘London Peace Society’. He, and the other founders believed that ALL wars were the ‘greatest possible scourge of the human race’ and that they not only were unlawful, but they violated the Christian faith. John was to write that

They knew they should have to contend with innumerable difficulties : first, from their doctrines being at variance with the natural feelings of men in general, and, secondly, from the prejudices, habits, and customs of fifteen centuries, kept alive ... by an anti-christian education, calculated to give per­manency to the very great estimation in which the warrior is held by the community at large; to whom the highest worldly inducements are offered, such as honour, rank, and emolument, with the certainty of the most elaborate praises of poets, historians and others, bestowed on those who distinguish themselves in the field, or make themselves conspicuous in promoting, what is called, and considered to be, the true glory of the country (quoted in Ellen Gibson Wilson (1980)– John Clarkson and the African Adventure page 162)

Thomas echoed these views in his ‘Portraiture of Quakerism’ where he wondered on page 77 ‘what a Superior Being, living in the nearest planet to our earth, and seeing us of the size of ants, would say, if he were enabled to get any insight into the nature of modern wars’. On page 91 he noted that the Christian Church supported war by ringing bells to announce victories etc and on page 113 he hoped that ‘the Government of some one nation (and when we consider the vast power of the British Empire, the nature of its constitution and religion, and the general humanity of its inhabitants, none would be better qualified than our own) will set the example of total derilition [sic?] of wars’


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