*Remember that Albert Pike was part of the KKK, when he says this.
When a nation becomes possessed with a spirit of commercial greed, beyond those just and fair limits set by a due regard to a moderate and reasonable degree of general and individual prosperity, it is a nation possessed by the devil of commercial avarice, a passion as ignoble and demoralizing as avarice in the individual; and as this sordid passion is baser and more unscrupulous than ambition, so it is more hateful, and at last makes the infected nation to be regarded as the enemy of the human race. To grasp at the lion’s share of commerce, has always at last proven the ruin of States, because it invariably leads to injustices that make a State detestable; to a selfishness and crooked policy that forbid other nations to be the friends of a State that cares only for itself.
Commercial avarice in India was the parent of more atrocities and greater rapacity, and cost more human lives, than the nobler ambition for extended empire of Consular Rome. The nation that grasps at the commerce of the world cannot but become selfish, calculating, dead to the noblest impulses and sympathies which ought to actuate States. It will submit to insults that wound its honor, rather than endanger its commercial interests by war; while, to subserve those interests, it will wage unjust war, on false or frivolous pretexts, its free people cheerfully allying themselves with despots to crush a commercial rival that has dared to exile its kings and elect its own ruler.
Thus the cold calculations of a sordid self-interest, in nations commercially avaricious, always at last displace the sentiments and lofty impulses of Honor and Generosity by which they rose to greatness; which made Elizabeth and Cromwell alike the protectors of Protestants beyond the four seas of England, against crowned Tyranny and mitred Persecution; and, if they had lasted, would have forbidden alliances with Czars and Autocrats and Bourbons to re-enthrone the Tyrannies of Incapacity, and arm the Inquisition anew with its instruments of torture. The soul of the avaricious nation petrifies, like the soul of the individual who makes gold his god. The Despot will occasionally act upon noble and generous impulses, and help the weak against the strong, the right against the wrong. But commercial avarice is essentially egotistic, grasping, faithless, overreaching, crafty, cold, ungenerous, selfish, and calculating, controlled by considerations of self-interest alone. Heartless and merciless, it has no sentiments of pity, sympathy, or honor, to make it pause in its remorseless career; and it crushes down all that is of impediment in its way, as its keels of commerce crush under them the murmuring and unheeded waves.
A war for a great principle ennobles a nation. A war for commercial supremacy, upon some shallow pretext, is despicable, and more than aught else demonstrates to what immeasurable depths of baseness men and nations can descend. Commercial greed values the lives of men no more than it values the lives of ants. The slave-trade is as acceptable to a people enthralled by that greed, as the trade in ivory or spices, if the profits are as large. It will by-and-by endeavor to compound with God and quiet its own conscience, by compelling those to whom it sold the slaves it bought or stole, to set them free, and slaughtering them by hecatombs if they refuse to obey the edicts of its philanthropy.