The pen is mightier than the sword."
Edward Bulwer-Lytton 1839
Virginian James Madison wrote of the pen’s might in December 1792 while discussing Republic and Anti-Republic virtues. He noted that during the Revolution there were patriots and loyalists. Then there were federalists and anti-federalists during the forming of the US Constitution. At the beginning of the Republic, he noted a new division, one between republican and anti-republican values: he didn’t know or try to answer the duration of the third division.
On 9 April 1792, Madison was present in the US House of Representatives when the pen proved mightier than the sword, though in a constitutionally negative way. The House voted in favor of usurpation and made an edit – not a constitutional amendment – changing the terms of representation from “thirty Thousand” to “thirty-three” thousand (Journal of the House of Representatives, 1:570).
On 9 April 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee signed a surrender agreement with the Republic and General Ulysses S. Grant. Lee even made an edit – added the missing word “exchanged” – to the surrender document.
Grant and Lee had both served in the US Army during the Mexican War and were also founding members of the Aztec Club of 1847. This was a social/drinking club in Mexico City while the US Army was there in occupation. Of the 160 founding members, 72 went on to become generals in the Republic’s Civil War.
The pen is mightier than the sword: Grant and Lee stopped firing lead and started writing words to each other, which, as Madison noted, is a republican virtue.
“Behold the arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! -- But taking sorcery from the master-hand to paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike the loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword -- States can be saved without it!”
*Next Heal Union on 15 April: 150th Lincoln shot on the 14th and dies on the 15th as Lee returns to Richmond.
Posted by Bryan W. Brickner