Skip to comments.Libertarianism and the Civil War
Posted on 03/06/2012 8:27:38 AM PST by donmeaker
There are, generally speaking, three types of libertarian perspectives on the Civil War. Many libertarians actually support the war, some condemn it without defending the Confederacy, and some are actually pro-Confederate.
What libertarians bemoan about the Civil War is the loss of the right of a State to secede. That was a strong check on the power of the Federal Government.
Put me down as agreeing with the author.
Secession was an attempt to protect and extend the most egregious violation of liberty in American history. I find it bizarre that someone claiming to be libertarian could support it.
Unless of course black slaves aren’t “really” people with rights like other people, as was determined by the Dred Scott decision.
I see it this way: Before the war we were called “these united states”. The union was like a big brick wall where the states were the bricks and the FedGov was the mortar holding them together.
Thanks to Lincoln, the country is now like a big wall made of mortar with 50 marbles embedded in it.
I think the seeds of the destruction of this nation were sown before the nation became a nation. It is in our acceptance of slavery and even protecting it with the creation of the nation.
We will never recover. Slavery was fatal to us. It has just taken a long time for the infection to kill us, even though the original projectile was removed by the Civil War.
As for slavery, it was already on it's way out at the time of the civil war. Advancements in machinery were already making slave holding too expensive a proposition.
One can be in full agreement with the idea of a state’s right to secede and be in full opposition to the idea of slavery.
I am in full agreement with the idea that we, as free people, have the right to bear arms - mainly because I am in full opposition to what some people intend to do with the arms they are bearing.
While violently anti-slavery, I must admit that those who foresaw its abolition as creating huge problems for future generations have turned out to largely be correct.
Their diagnosis was correct, even though I differ greatly as to the appropriate treatment.
I’ve heard this claim a million times, yet despite the supposedly receding tide of slavery, the South was fighting tooth and nail to expand slavery into new territories.
Slavery being an increasingly losing financial proposition was, of course, why slave prices reached an all-time high in 1860. People are always interested in investing their money in known declining industries.
Slavery may have been on its way out, as an economic proposition - but the fact is, it needed killing as a moral proposition.
It would not do to simply let it die an economic death, but retain in our national conscience the notion that it was morally acceptable.
Here are some interesting perspective(s) (I include the “s” in parentheses because they are all from the same guy.)
From over a decade ago:
And last autumn:
The guy comes from a position of experience and knowledge.
and there were probably some extreme libertarians who went (buck naked) west to avoid the war entirely and founded Berkeley
The issue of black slavery was nothing to the Southern soldier except as an excuse used by foreign invaders to loot, rape and burn their way across his beloved country.
Slavery existed throughtout history in every country of the world, long before there was a United States.
Something most school kids are never taught
Thanks for the links.
As others have pointed out, the attempts to make America into a biracial nation, with whites on one side and “people of color” on the other are failing.
We may indeed wind up biracial, but it’s more likely to be blacks vs. non-blacks.
I don’t want that to happen, but I’m afraid it’s where we’re headed.
If it was on the way out then what was Kansas all about?
Locke's defense of slavery is the one gaping "WTF?" moment in the Second Treatise. Likewise, Founders really screwed over subsequent generations of Americans by failing to resolve this issue when the nation was founded. Granted, I understand the realpolitik of why this happened, but the end result was not good.
I call myself a libertarian, and I fully subscribe to the notion that states had (and have) a "right" to secede from the Union. But I also cannot square in my own mind the righteousness of states seceding from the Union in order to perpetuate the power of allowing humans to own other human beings.
I could not have said it better myself.
Maybe you are right, much better to make a complete mockery of the Republics federalism by going to war... That worked out well didn't it?
Their right to secede can and should be defended by constitutionalists and libertarians. The reason for their seceding cannot be defended by any thinking libertarian.
Disagree with why you’re seceding, but defend your right to secede. They are two separate issues.
SO - the question I have is regarding Lincoln - was he wrong to disallow secession? Or was he right to use the power at his disposal to end slavery? What should Lincoln have done, given the choices with which he was faced?
Aristotle accepted slavery.
No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.
civil war bkmk
Lincoln was a racist and cared little about freeing slaves until he ran out of Irish conscripts to throw at Lee and the ANV.
Lincoln was screwed. To maintain the Union, he had to use totalitarian-type powers to fight the secessionists, setting the precedent for nearly unlimited Federal power which haunts us today. However, had he allowed the Confederacy to secede peacefully, the two sides would have clashed on the battlefield eventually as both the North and the South sought expansion to the west.
He was faced with a true no-win situation, the source of which was institutionalized slavery, and that plain fact cannot be avoided.
So did Locke. Big deal . . . doesn't make slavery right.
"Right" is an interesting concept. It is my opinion that making me pay for a rich slut's birth control pills isn't "right" either. It's not a bad as being her slave, but there are other things that are worse, IMHO at least.
I liked how America turned out—at least til now.
I'd agree with you.
Fluke and her ilk kind of want us all to become "economic slaves" of the state, of sorts, and like you, I resent that with the very core of my being.
Without the South the USA would be a fully socialist/communist country by now. The South would be 10 times better off without the North.
The war to preserve federal revenue was almost waged several years earlier. When two sides don't like each other all that's left is the excuse (..tariffs, slavery, evil southrons, siding with the enemy in 1812, nasal voiced, sucky food, socialism, 48ers, etc )
Your answer simply states your opinion about Lincoln and his motivation for issuing the emancipation proclamation, but says nothing about the rightness or wrongness of his action
In the Conkling letter before mentioned, I said: Whenever you shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time then to declare that you will not fight to free Negroes. I repeat this now. If Jefferson Davis wishes, for himself, or for the benefit of his friends at the North, to know what I would do if he were to offer peace and reunion, saying nothing about slavery, let him try me (
). The Living Lincoln. p.613-615
On February 4, 1861 the Confederate government was proclaimed. On March 3, 1861 Tzar Alexander II freed the serfs. Between the Confederacy and the Russians someone was going in the wrong direction and it wasn't the Russians.
No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom.
-- Lysander Spooner from "No Treason No. 1"
“SO - the question I have is regarding Lincoln - was he wrong to disallow secession? “
Was it Lincoln who “disallowed” secession, or was it the Northern States and people, with Lincoln acting as their agent?
“Or was he right to use the power at his disposal to end slavery?”
As I recall, he ended slavery only in the States which were in opposition to the Union and did so as a wartime tactic or strategy. He was tactically or strategically right only in so far as the effort was successful.
“What should Lincoln have done, given the choices with which he was faced?”
Perhaps, comply with the will of the Northern States and people or resign or be replaced.
Total nonsense. In 1860, slavery had never been more profitable and would have continued to remain profitable for many more generations had it continued. Cotton was still picked by hand all the way into the 1950s. And even today, we still have migrant 'stoop labor' working on farms.
Because, if slavery was NOT expanded, the abolitionists would have control of Congress. When that state finally occurred, the representatives of these “Free” states imposed high tariffs and excises on overseas trade - which mostly impacted the South and favored Northern industries.
When faced with the reverse - a independent South with a 10% tariff, the North saw grass growing the deserted streets of New York and Boston - and no alternative but war.
So he was a Confederate at heart?
If the South was allowed to secede, the Federal Government's revenue (no income tax at that time!) would have dropped by more than half. With a 10% tariff and control of the mouth of the Mississippi River, Northern ports would have been empty and the South would have controlled most of the trade west of the Mississippi.
Secession was simply not an option. It would have beggared the Federal government and the rest of the North.
So you are saying that the million or so 'Boy's in Blue' who volunteered to risk their lives defending the Union were just an invading horde, and not patriotic young men doing what they thought was right?
So he was a Confederate at heart?
Clearly, US history is not your strong suit.
So you admit then, that the war was not about slavery?
Unilaterally? They can just take their ball and go home and to hell with the other partners to the national contract we call the Constitution?
Do states have responsibilities to other states?