David Low Dodge (1809)

It was in 1805 that a startling personal experience prompted the train of thought which soon and forever made David L. Dodge the advocate of the thoroughgoing peace principles with which his name is chiefly identified, and led him to condemn all violence, even in self-defense, in dealings between men, as between nations. Accustomed to carry pistols when traveling with large sums of money, he was almost led to shoot his landlord in a tavern at Providence, Rhode Island, who by some blunder had come into his room at night and suddenly awakened him. The thought of what his situation and feelings would have been, had he taken the man’s life, shocked him into most searching thinking. For two or three years his mind dwelt on the question. He turned to the teaching and example of Christ, and became persuaded that these were inconsistent with violence, the carrying of deadly weapons, and war. The common churchman sanctioned such things, but not the early Christians; and he found strong words condemning war in Luther, Erasmus, the Moravians, and the Quakers. Discussing the matter with many pious and Christian men, he found them generally avoiding the gospel standard. He was shocked by the “general want of faith in the promises,” but he himself laid aside at once his pistols and the fear of robbers. He became absolutely convinced that fighting and warfare were “unlawful for the followers of Christ,” and from then on he began to bear public testimony against the war spirit.

Early in the spring of 1809 he published his essay, The Mediator’s Kingdom not of this World, which attracted so much attention that in two weeks nearly a thousand copies were sold. . . .

Source: WAR INCONSISTENT WITH THE RELIGION OF JESUS CHRIST BY DAVID LOW DODGE. With an Introduction by EDWIN D. MEAD. Transcribed by Tom Lock, Feb. 2007.

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