History

What Should Libertarians Think About the Civil War?

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Herbert Spencer

On November 9, 1882, a distinguished group of scholars, politicians, businessmen, and journalists gathered in the celebrated New York restaurant Delmonico's to honor the English libertarian philosopher and evolutionary theorist Herbert Spencer, who was concluding his first grand tour of the United States. The attendees included Spencer himself, New York Mayor Abraham Hewitt, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and Yale University paleontologist and Tyrannosaurus discoverer O.C. Marsh. Among the featured speakers was former interior secretary and U.S. senator from Missouri Carl Schurz, who began by recalling "some pleasant memories" from his service as a Union general during the Civil War.

"Nineteen years ago, after the battle of Missionary Ridge," Schurz told the audience, he was camped out with his command near Chattanooga, Tennessee, with only a handful of supplies to protect him from the winter cold. "But I had Herbert Spencer's 'Social Statics' with me," Schurz declared, which "I read by the light of a tallow-candle."

Published in 1851, Social Statics was Spencer's second book and first big hit. In it, he laid out what he called his Law of Equal Freedom, a sweepingly libertarian credo which held, "Every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided that he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man." As Schurz told the assembled worthies at Delmonico's that night, "If the people of the South had well studied and thoroughly digested that book, there would never have been any war for the preservation of slavery."

Indeed, it's hard to imagine a less libertarian form of government than that of the Confederate South, which was explicitly organized around the collectivist notion that man may hold property in man, that one group of people is lawfully entitled to seize the fruits of another group's labor.

And yet many libertarians today continue to debate the Civil War and its impact on the country. Some hold that the war destroyed more liberty than it preserved by centralizing so much power in the hands of the federal government. Others argue that by abolishing slavery, the Civil War advanced the cause of true liberalism.

The latest entry in this debate comes courtesy of Cato Institute researcher Jonathan Blanks, who argues that it's "incoherent" for self-described libertarians to defend the Confederacy's secession from the Union. Here's the introduction to the essay he recently wrote for Libertarianism.org:

There is a strain of libertarian contrarianism that holds that the Confederate States of America were within their "rights" to secede from the Union. Such contrarianism on this particular topic is detrimental to the larger cause of liberty because the logic of this argument relies upon relinquishing individual rights to the whim of the state. Indeed, as there is no legal or moral justification for supporting the Confederacy in the Civil War, it is impossible that there could be a libertarian one.

Read the whole thing here.

For a sampling of Reason's writing on the Civil War and its legacy—none of which sides with the Confederate cause, incidentally—click here and here.

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  1. I can definitely be convinced that states had a right to secede, but the Confederacy hardly respected the rights of say, the Free State of Winston to secede from it because it wanted to remain neutral.

    As as the experience of Zebulon Vance demonstrates, the Confederacy had less respect for states’ rights than the Union.

    1. The Confederacy also got more authoritarian as the war progressed, so there’s not much question of it being “libertarian.”

      1. Plus the whole slavery thing.

        1. And didn’t they serve grits at cabinet meetings?

    2. Yes. I don’t agree with Blanks for the simple reason that the Union did not declare war on the Confederacy over slavery, just over secession. That the Confederacy did not respect the rights of enslaved individuals in it’s territory WOULD, I think, be a good reason to go to war. However, that was not the reason that we actually went to war. His logic falls apart without the assumption of a war over slavery, which was never the point of the war. The primary purpose of abolition was to get the Confederate slaves to rebel, damaging the Confederacy.

      1. A clarification: I support the RIGHT of states to secede from the Union of they so choose, which would necessarily apply to the Confederate states. I DON’T support the Confederate states actual secession, which was mostly about keeping slavery alive. I think Blank conflates the two arguments.

        1. It’s like being in favor of free speech, including speech by KKK clansmen, but being bitterly opposed to KKK lynchings. A point that many at LvMI seem to forget in their rush to condemn the North. Yeah, the South had the right to secede. Yeah, they had the right to be racist pukes. No, they did not have the right to practice slavery.

          1. Yeah, I don’t know why this is so hard.

            The South had the right to secede. They did not have the right to keep slaves. Anyone had the right to make war on the South to liberate the slaves.

            1. you envision the Union as the policemen of the world? Or just the continent?

              How libertarian of you.

            2. Your argument is 100% interventionist. If the South had a right to secede, and it did, then the South was a legitimate independent nation. If, then, the North made war to liberate the slaves, as you put it, the North was acting as the U.S. acted in Iraq in 2003 – as the aggressor, fighting for a cause it proclaimed just.

        2. Agreed. Within the framework of the law, the States had (and still have) the right to secede. It is also notable that several Union States continued to hold slaves throughout the war.

          I used to give some credit to the abolitionists in the mid-west, until I realized that they simply wanted to substitute chattel slavery for slavery to their religion, so in my view there were three pro-slavery factions in the war: those who wanted chattel slavery of blacks, those who wanted all citizens enslaved to the Federal government, and those who wanted all citizens enslaved to God. Keeping in mind that many white men of the time envied the relative freedom of slaves in the South in personal matters, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the Confederacy was the least unfree of these factions, though of course in other ways it was the most unfree.

          1. (continuing because of limit on number of characters in posts)

            Ultimately, my position is “a pox on all their houses”, which is something that I think most of us can agree on.

      2. Did you even read the linked article? Your objection is answered in it. I’ll post it below so you will maybe read it this time.

        While it would be disingenuous to say that the North began the war with the intent to end slavery, it would be nothing short of delusion to say the South did not fight to preserve both slavery and the white supremacy upon which it relied.

        A war for slavery is, by definition, a fight against the individual right of exit.

      3. Your are correct, technically the war did not start over slavery. However, if the abolitionist movement had not been so strong in the North, we would simply have let them go.

        Without the underlying disputes around slavery, and the force of the abolitionists’ convictions, there simply would not have been a Civil War.

        1. This is certainly true. Just look at how the mountain Republicans in NC (and TN, to a lesser extent AL in Winston County) were created. Wasn’t so much that they liked blacks, there weren’t many of them, but they knew it was a war for slavery.

          1. And the western counties of VA which now comprise the state of WV. They seceded from VA and joined the Union.

          2. On the other hand, consider KY.

            It was pro-union and pro-slavery. Kind of the worst of both worlds. Maybe. Sorta.

        2. There is considerable evidence that the “fire-eaters” (secessionist Democrats) torpedoed the Democratic convention in Charleston in 1860 in order to split the party and deliver the election to Lincoln and the abolitionists. They knew that they could force the issue and bring about conditions favorable to secession (though if Lincoln had just let SC, GA and the gulf states go, NC, TN and probably Virginia would have stayed in the Union).

        3. we would simply have let them go

          Not according to the “Articles of Confederation” supporters who believe in the perpetual nature of the union (though it appears not in the US constitution).

      4. People want to distort the reason for the Civil War for personal reasons. The only passionate issue of that time was slavery. The war was fought for only that reason regardless of choosing words to diguise it.

        1. The root cause of every major dispute between north and south was slavery. Economic differences, western expansion, tariffs, all of it boiled down to slavery.

        2. The south succeeded for several reasons, all of which basically boiled down the desire to preserve slavery, as Drake and Tellmoff stated. However, the Union declared war on the confederacy not because of slavery, but because of the South’s succession. So, to the South, the war was largely about slavery, but to the North it was not.

          1. Here is one case where a spelling mistake definitely causes a change in meaning.

            1. Oops, that’s the problem with spell checkers, if you spell the wrong word correctly, they don’t really help!

  2. opposing the Union’s war of conquest != siding with the Confederate cause

    1. +1. Exactly my opinion. I’m happy to condemn both sides, and Lincoln for being one of history’s greatest tyrants.

      1. Don’t forget Jefferson Davis. He ranks right up there next to Lincoln. Just like Bush and Obama, it’s hard to tell their policies apart.

        But I’m not going to waste any sleep waiting for DiLorenzo to write a book about Jefferson Davis’ tryanny. Because he won’t.

        1. Agreed with all of the above. And DiLorenzo is a bit of a defensive A-Hole, which doesn’t help his cause or Libertarianism. Plus, lefties love to tar anyone with whom they disagree with charges of racism. It’s their favorite ploy.

    2. Exactly. This is purposely glossed over by anti-secession groups.

  3. What I defend is the principle of secession, which is fundamental to our entire political philosophy. Whether the South seceded for justifiable reasons, its right to secede is hard to question by the nation that started with the Declaration of Independence.

    If the North had invaded, freed the slaves, then left, they’d have had the complete high ground, and there’d be no debate today. But that’s not what happened.

    Obviously, with the slavery and racism inherent in the whole discussion, it’s almost impossible to focus on the more systemic issues raised by the war.

    1. Yes. Blank’s argument seems to bank entirely on the purpose of the Civil War as being “to end slavery,” which is not at all true. It is an outcome I applaud, but not the goal of the War itself.

      1. It is an outcome I applaud, but not the goal of the War itself.

        Maybe yes, maybe no. I say that because while the War was certainly about competing legal theories around the right of secession, the secession itself was about one thing and one thing only, and that is indisputable.

        One has to wonder why the Founders put “in time of rebellion” into the Constitution if they contemplated legal secession.

        1. That’s easy–five hundred guys in Kentucky decide to revolt. Suppress.

          The secession idea seemed to be based more on political units seceding than in secession being an individual right. I think that’s more of a surrender to necessity than a matter of pure philosophy, because it’s pretty hard to imagine secession on a very small scale (“That’s Jake, my neighbor. His house is an independent nation.”)

          1. That’s easy–five hundred guys in Kentucky decide to revolt. Suppress.

            That would be within Kentucky’s power, but why would the Federal Government be involved?

            1. I think the idea is that the federal government could intervene in such situations (at the very least, upon the state’s request). Probably to protect the “republican form of government” if nothing else.

            2. The government of Kentucky could ask for the Congress to call up the state militias to quell the insurrection. See the Whiskey Rebellion.

          2. The Republic of Molossia begs to differ.

            http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki_micronation

        2. See, for example, the Whiskey Rebellion, in which corn farmers turned distillers were not advocating for their own nation, so much as rioting and burning the tax collectors of the nation to which they belonged. States, being recognized governments upon whose ratification the legality of the Constitution explicitly depended, have special status within the Constitution. Or did until Amendments 14-17 effectively ended that era.

          1. States do have special status. For example, they’re allowed to have an equal number of Senators per state, whereas counties are not allowed to have an equal number of State Senators.

            1. I was thinking more of the part where the Constitution required a certain number of state legislatures to ratify the original document and amendments. No other entity has that sort of specifically defined status.

            2. For example, they’re allowed to have an equal number of Senators per state, whereas counties are not allowed to have an equal number of State Senators.

              Uh, they could if the State wanted to do it that way.

              The States have special status in that the Federal Government (the Supreme Court) has to defer to a State Supreme Court in the latter’s interpretation of the State Constitution.

              1. No they cant. The Supremes ruled that proportional representation is the only thing the states can use.

                1. I am not aware of a United States Supreme Court decision that dictates how a state legislature must be organized.

                  1. Baker v Carr and Reynolds v Sims.

                    “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres.” — Earl Warren

                    Not sure which decision that was in.

                    1. Just a couple of steps on the road that effectively ended federalism.

                    2. Thanks, robc. Yep.

                      One of the absurdities in Justice Alito’s confirmation was Joe Biden pressing him on a law review article where Alito had mused that equal numbers of state senators per county wasn’t that bad. Biden was shocked and appalled that Alito could have questioned one man, one vote and Reynolds v. Sims.

                      Alito somehow kept himself from asking Biden exactly how many people he represented compared to the Senators of other states.

                    3. Which means that is, relatively speaking, a recent development and that Warren was imposing his own principle of what a legislature should be based on, not what the Constitution says it can be based on.

    2. If you are talking about a state dissolving as Czechoslovakia did, fine. But that hardly describes the Confederate cause.

    3. If the North had invaded, freed the slaves, then left, they’d have had the complete high ground, and there’d be no debate today. But that’s not what happened.

      ^^^^THIS

      1. Well, not entirely. There is the question of invading a foreign country unprovoked.

        Whether freeing slaves or spreading democracy, I dont think the invasion of a foreign nation can be justified by that.

        1. The South started the war. And calling them a “foreign nation” is total question-begging.

          1. We are working from the principle that secession is one of the sovereign powers of the state.

            I dont see how its begging the question at all. That is axiomatic.

            And I dont see how USA troops illegally remaining in a CSA owned fort qualifies as the CSA starting the war.

            The firing on Fort Sumter was in reponse to the trespass.

            1. We are working from the principle that secession is one of the sovereign powers of the state.

              Right. Question-begging.

              The firing on Fort Sumter was in reponse to the trespass.

              So you support eminent domain then? Fort Sumter was unarguably federal property.

              I dont see how its begging the question at all. That is axiomatic

              If you are going to assume the entire argument by calling it “axiomatic”, then I fail to see how this discussion will bear any fruit. I would urge you to look at the legal theories of: Compact Theory (both pro and anti-secession), Perpetual Union theory, Popular Sovereign theory, etc. Start with Lincoln and Webster.

              1. The discussion is over whether invading, freeing the slaves, then going home would have been the moral high ground.

                This is a fucking sub-thread discussion, cant you follow?

                Fort Sumter was unarguably federal property.

                Agreed. It belonged to whatever federal government South Carolina is currently a member of.

                The states formed the federal government. It exists at their whim. Any grant of powers to the feds can be removed at any time, including land “ownership”. When SC left the union, all federal land reverted to SC’s control. I just assume they then turn them over to the CSA, but I guess they wouldnt have to.

                1. The states formed the federal government. It exists at their whim.

                  That is more of the same assuming the argument. This is why I said we can’t go forward if you are going to keep asserting this as bare fact.

            2. The US paid to build the fort. They had every right to maintain it. SC started the war.

              1. Where did the money come from? The US didnt earn it. It reverts to SC, barring a treaty saying otherwise.

                1. So I guess you’d be ok with SC forcibly taking “their” share of naval vessels also then?

                  But why stop there, why not take back a 30th of all federal property?

                2. “It reverts to SC, barring a treaty saying otherwise.”

                  Which presumes a) Secession is a legal act and b) What SC did was a legitimate act of secession, both points which could be best described as controversial at the time.

                  As to the British leaving US forts after the revolution, that was after a treaty following a war that the colonials WON.

                  1. Which presumes a) Secession is a legal act and b) What SC did was a legitimate act of secession, both points which could be best described as controversial at the time.

                    a) is not at all controversial, as precedent was established in 1776.

                    b) how much more legit can you get than the state legislature voting for secession?

                    I dont see any controversy at all.

              2. So I guess you were okay with the British occupying forts after the revolution?

    4. I don’t think it would have been as simple as invading, freeing the slaves, then leaving. It took nearly 100 more years for blacks to actually get something approaching equal rights and treatment in the South, and that was as part of the US. Imagine if the northern states had simply left in 1865. How long would the slaves have stayed “free”? I’m guessing not very long.

      1. Blacks weren’t treated so great in the North, either, and I think they caught more hell in the South due to resentment over Reconstruction (not the only factor, of course). Shit flows downhill, of course.

        1. True. In fact, the resentment took a while to grow. I’ve seen political advertisements from the 1890s for candidates who were endorsed by both the Ku Klux Klan and an association of freed slaves (in North Carolina). Such things may have varied by region within the South, but it is notable that the Jim Crow laws were rolled out gradually, and generally twenty or thirty years after the conclusion of the war.

          My mother has told me that she personally observed how racism worked in the North in the 1940s: a black person was not prohibited from purchasing a house in a white neighborhood, it was simply that none of their neighbors would speak to them or even acknowledge their presence. What sort of inhuman and uncultured part of the North was she living in at the time? Cambridge, Massachusetts.

          1. BTW, from what my sister has told me, the same thing is happening in the wealthy and white neighborhood she lives in now, in Philadelphia. All her neighbors simply ignore the black man who bought a house in the neighborhood.

      2. Of course, even in my “wholly justified” scenario, nothing would prevent an extended occupation to either evacuate the blacks or to install legal protections.

        1. Lincoln despised Negros, and his intention was to repatriate them to Africa. The first try at legal protection was so one-way that it lead to the founding of the KKK, and a hundred years of backlash.

      3. The period from 1865 to 1900 was more interested and contested than people realize, but certainly even honest elections were thrown aside (along with universal white suffrage, for that matter) by Southern states in a desire to keep blacks down.

        In a nutshell, I strongly suspect that you’re right, they would not have remained free.

        1. He’s a lefty douchebag, but Harry Turtledove does write an interesting book, and his alternative timeline series on the south winning and then going through WWI and WWII fighting against the north is a fun read.

          In short, during the First War the blacks rise up in the name of socialism, and are crushed. The south blames them for losing the war, and then the Holocaust happens to blacks during WWII. They’re all shipped off to concentration camps in Texas and Louisiana.

          1. Concentration camps? You know, slavery was worse than awful, but that’s offensive if he’s suggesting systematic mass murder.

            1. The timeline goes that the CSA managed to fight Grant to a standstill. Joined with the Germans in WWI and gets beat and subjected to Versailles level sanctions. Several black, socialist uprisings happened during WWI, thus setting the stage for a fascistic dictatorship in WWII along with a final solution for “the black problem” in the CSA. Its pretty terrible, but Turtledove did an okay job of putting an American face on Continental Europe of 1910-46.

              1. Yeah, that’s pretty implausible.

                I’ve always thought a victorious South would’ve eventually reunited with the North once slavery died (which would’ve happened fairly quickly with all of the industrialization going on, along with the international pressure).

                1. They’re forced to free the slaves shortly after the war in exchange for help from Great Britain and France, but they continue to treat them as second-class citizens (like a slightly worse version of Jim Crow).

                  After losing the First War, a demagogue rises to power blaming the blacks, and that leads to the Holocaust. Not so implausible, because it happened in real life in Germany. He paints a pretty good picture of how the south slides into fascism after the Great Depression.

                  1. I think Americans lack (or lacked, anyway) the willingness to obey authority that the Germans had. I don’t think American fascism would’ve been as brutal as the German variety.

                    Of course, this all makes me wonder whether that’s true in the future, assuming we keep sliding towards authoritarian rule.

                    1. I think Americans lack (or lacked, anyway) the willingness to obey authority that the Germans had. I don’t think American fascism would’ve been as brutal as the German variety.

                      Try Googling “Milgram experiment” sometime. Or read any comment thread on police stories linked to by Radley.

                    2. It was true at the time, and Northerners forget that there were traditionally good relations between individual whites and blacks in the South. Don’t forget that most of those white politicians in the South had been raised by black women. Southern racism was quite different from Northern racism, as personal relationships between the races were almost impossible to avoid in the South.

                      Moreover, the Prussian style of schooling that taught Germans to follow orders were not introduced to the United States until around 1900, so there’s a good chance that in Harry Turtledove’s scenario that American fascism would have more resembled Mussolini’s Italy or Franco’s Spain than Hitler’s Germany.

                      Of course, today it is quite different, but we’ve had a century of Prussian style schools now.

                  2. Jews were thought to be prospering during and as a result of Germany’s great ass-raping brought on by Versailles. They were demonized for it. Doesn’t seem likely that that same scenario would’ve worked using blacks as a scapegoat.

                    1. Many Jews also kept themselves separated from the larger society (though not all), whereas even in the segregated South there were simply too many relationships between the races. How many Nazi leaders had Jewish nannies?

                2. I’ve always thought a victorious South would’ve eventually reunited with the North once slavery died

                  Eh, I feel that if that were so plausible, we would have already united with Canada in this reality.

                  Canadians turned out to be not so interested in that idea in 1812 as we thought.

                  1. The states had been unified in one form or another for nearly a century. Canada and the Colonies/U.S. were never politically unified.

                    1. And yet Canada ended up taking in Newfoundland suddenly, despite never being politically unified before.

                      *shrug*

                      What actually happens seems inevitable in the light of history, but who knows?

                3. I don’t know how implausible that is. Whites had no problem treating blacks as slaves, so they already thought they were subhuman. It’s not so far to go from there to all out ethnic cleansing. I imagine Jews in Germany had it a lot better pre-Hitler than blacks did under slavery, so if Germans can go there, certainly supporters of slavery could, too.

          2. The Southern Victory Series. Pretty good stuff.

          3. Walter John Williams wrote an awesome if little known novel called “The Rift” which is driven by a repeat of the New Madrid Earthquakes of the early 1800’s.

            One of the subplots covers a faction of the Klan taking up anti-black ethnic cleansing – to the horror of the dad of the leader of the faction who is also a Klansman himself modeled a little bit after David Duke.

            It also borrows a little from Huck Finn.

            It’s a fascinating read and I highly recommend it.

          4. How Few Remain was so tedious I never read the rest of the series.

            The Guns of the South, however, was enjoyable. Unrelated civil war alternate history.

      4. THEY WERE NEVER FREE TO **GAMBOL**, AND NEITHER ARE YOU, FOOLS!!

      5. I don’t think it would have been as simple as invading, freeing the slaves, then leaving.

        It is that simple. Its no different than invading Afghanistan, removing the Taliban from power, then leaving. Which is what we should have done. If the Taliban comes back, so could we.

        Feel free to apply to USA/CSA relations.

        Nation building is almost always a bad idea.

    5. I agree except for the “freed the slaves, then left” part. I’m pretty sure the day after we left, they would be slaves again, or dead, or at best expelled from the South. We certainly wouldn’t have done them any favors.

    6. Without slavery, there is no reason for the Confederacy to stay independent.

    7. The South had the right to secede to preserve their “heritage” and “culture” etc. And the North thereafter had reason to invade a backward foreign country committing mass genocide and forced slavery of people. Airtight case! Maybe not libertarian per se, but …

  4. “What should libertarians think …”

    The thought cop speaks!

    1. If Paul Krugman started calling himself a libertarian, would you object?

      Clearly you should think some things and not others if you call yourself a libertarian. Else the word is meaningless.

      1. Clearly you should think some things and not others if you call yourself a libertarian. Else the word is meaningless.

        Not really. Phrase it like this, and I would agree: “Some POVs are not libertarian. Some topics have several POVs compatible with libertarianism. If you hold enough POVs that are not libertarian, at some point calling yourself a libertarian is not an accurate description of the word. And, one of those non-libertarian POVs is saying that you know The One True Path to libertarianism on every topic, and anyone who disagrees with you is not a libertarian.”

        1. And, one of those non-libertarian POVs is saying that you know The One True Path to libertarianism on every topic, and anyone who disagrees with you is not a libertarian.

          You were doing so well up until here, too.

          1. Krugman is as “libertarian” as Kim Jong Il was.

            1. The thought cop speaks!

  5. Well my afternoon’s shot.

  6. Indeed, as there is no legal or moral justification for supporting the Confederacy in the Civil War, it is impossible that there could be a libertarian one.

    Holy cow! That’s one giant fucking non-sequitur – kind of like the fundie I debated once in college who held that if you thought any part of the bible was accurate, you had to accept the whole thing as being accurate.

    AS one of the defenders of succession – and someone who is very busy at work today, I’ll make it simple:

    1) If it would have been legally OK for the North to secede from the Union out of their disgust for the institution of slavery

    2) Then it is legally OK for the South to secede to ‘preserve’ it – setting aside the fact that the casus belli was the Tarrif of Abominations.

    1. The Confederacy, like all governments, was a profoundly immoral organization. Being as it was purposed to preserve the abomination of slavery above all other things, it was one of the most immoral governments that have existed.

      But the mechanisms by which it came into being were precisely the same mechanisms by which the U.S. govenment had come into being.

      Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching people call into question the legitimacy of the United States governments as all attacks on the legitimacy of the Confederacy do. But the pretzel twisting people go into in order to justify secession of slavery permitting governments in the case of Great Britain while condemning it in the case of the United States is bemusing.

    2. I find it specious at best to claim that an 1828 tariff can be the casus belli for a war that happened 33 years later. Talk about your lag time…

      1. Oh c’mon, you know how slow most Southerners are.

      2. Oh crap! I thought that *was* what they were calling the Morrill Tariff. Mea culpa.

        1. Federal property had been seized and Southerners had quit the Congress by the time the Morrill Tariff was passed (which is why it was easy to pass). All during Secession Winter, the South committed numerous aggressive acts, but Buchanan just let it slide.

          1. The Morril tarrif was a major plank of the Republican Party – it was the keystone that allowed them to enact Clay’s American System.

            1. And it didn’t pass until after the South started to secede during Secession Winter, so it doesn’t make sense to call it the cause of Secession.

  7. there would never have been any war for the preservation of slavery

    THERE NEVER *WAS*!!! STATES RIGHTS!! WAR OF NORTHERN AGRESSION!

    1. States don’t have rights, only human beings do. And you will not find among those rights one about slavery.

  8. Surely it’s possible to be both against slavery and against the consolidation of federal power at the expense of the states.

    We all look back at history and interpret it in terms of what’s in the headlines today. How anybody can look at the size and scope of the federal government today and not try to look back and figure out where we went wrong is a mystery to me.

    We weren’t wrong about the getting rid of slavery. But pointing out that the Civil War paved the way for the gigantic scope and size of government today and complaining about getting rid of slavery aren’t the same thing.

    1. I approve.

    2. While that’s true, it is not a defense for the manicheanism that pervades certain “libertarian” organizations. Thing get all muddled up when people are involved, and there’s no justification for the hyperbolic rhetoric getting leveled at Lincoln and the North.

      The idea that we wouldn’t have our gargantuan state without Lincoln’s administration is utter nonsense.

      1. I’m not sure the New Deal would have been possible without the 17th Amendment.

        I’m not sure the 17th Amendment would have been possible without the states power being so clearly denigrated in the minds of the American people because of the Civil War.

      2. But he agrees with the analysis that, if the 17th Amendment had never been adopted, the Senate ? and Congress ? would not be the institutions they are today. Instead of being elected the same way as House members, they would be much more strongly tied to the interests of their states. “It’s my firm belief that ‘Obamacare’ would not have happened,” Zywicki said, because it overrides state prerogatives in significant ways. Unfunded mandates would not have proliferated, he added. “There has been more federal activity of all kinds,” since the 17th Amendment came into being, Zywicki said.

        Parenthetically, he said it’s possible that, without the 17th Amendment, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal might not have been enacted.

        http://theusconstitution.org/n…..der-attack

        Belie’ dat.

  9. *sniff, sniff*

    This smells like a 400 comment thread, easy.

    Confederate states seceeded over slavery and Lincoln being elected. Proceed to seize of federal property on the flimsy pretense that it is on their side of the line (with guns). Union doesn’t appreciate getting their shit seized, or the whole “fuck you, we quit” thing.

    Hilarity ensues. Is that about the gist of it?

    1. There needs to be something in there about the nature of democracy and people’s right to defend themselves and their rights against the government.

      The democracy argument goes back and forth between “Democracy–yea!” and “My rights aren’t a popularity contest”/Popular Sovereignty argument.

      Sheridan raping and pillaging his way through the Shenandoah Valley and Sherman doing likewise in Georgia should come up in terms of the government imposing its will on many people who had nothing to do with slavery, too. Because the overwhelming majority of Confederate troops were not slave-owners, don’t cha know?

      Now the thread is almost complete.

      1. Sheridan raping and pillaging his way through the Shenandoah Valley and Sherman doing likewise in Georgia should come up in terms of the government imposing its will on many people who had nothing to do with slavery, too. Because the overwhelming majority of Confederate troops were not slave-owners, don’t cha know?

        Just following orders, got it. Because one has to enthusiastically believe in the cause they are fighting and killing for. Not like there is any conscription officers riding around, or “20 negro laws” or anything of the sort. Nope, just po’ boys fighting against NAWTHUN AGGRESSION.

        Or some shit like that.

        1. The firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden had a better defense than that.

          Nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki had better defenders than that.

          Using the military to target civilians specifically is called terrorism. If it’s justifiable, it isn’t justifiable for any reason you gave. If it’s justifiable, it’s only because it accomplished something.

          And I’m not sure it did accomplish much in Virginia or Georgia–unless you think exacerbating Southern resentment for more than a hundred years afterward was an accomplishment.

          1. Using the military to target civilians specifically is called terrorism. If it’s justifiable, it isn’t justifiable for any reason you gave. If it’s justifiable, it’s only because it accomplished something.

            And which one of the 109 definitions of terrorism does your particular delusion of terrorism fall under? Besides the “shit I don’t like so I’m going to throw pejoratives at it” definition?

            And I’m not sure it did accomplish much in Virginia or Georgia–unless you think exacerbating Southern resentment for more than a hundred years afterward was an accomplishment.

            Wow. You sound just as stupid as the people who claim to be owed reparations for shit that never happened to them personally, but on behalf of their ancestors whose names they probably don’t even know.

            1. And which one of the 109 definitions of terrorism does your particular delusion of terrorism fall under?

              Terrorism is using military tactics to target civilians. If there’s any reasonable definition of terrorism that doesn’t somehow involve targeting civilians, I’d love to hear about it.

              Murdering, plundering and raping the civilians of the Shenandoah Valley and Georgia–isn’t about shit I don’t like. That’s the pretty much the way Sheridan described it himself as it was happening!

              1. Terrorism is using military tactics to target civilians. If there’s any reasonable definition of terrorism that doesn’t somehow involve targeting civilians, I’d love to hear about it.

                the term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents

                -Title 22, Chapter 38 of the United States Code

                Murdering, plundering and raping the civilians of the Shenandoah Valley and Georgia–isn’t about shit I don’t like. That’s the pretty much the way Sheridan described it himself as it was happening!

                Tits?

                1. The term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets.

                  Are you trying to suggest that defining terrorism with the term “noncombatant targets” somehow refutes my definition as “targeting civilians”?

                  Or were you just trying to show me that I was right?

                  Either way, thank you.

                  1. Are you trying to suggest that defining terrorism with the term “noncombatant targets” somehow refutes my definition as “targeting civilians”?

                    Read it again, smart guy. Pay attention to the part that says:

                    politically motivated violence

                    and

                    by subnational groups or clandestine agents

                    Last I checked, the US Army, especially at the time, was neither subnational nor particularly clandestine.

                2. I note that you use a legal definition of terrorism. Funny how it specifies “by subnational groups or clandestine agents” in order to exempt the exact same actions if done by a state.
                  Sorry, some scumbag legislators (or more probably, their staffs) don’t dictate reality or morality.

                  1. I note that you use a legal definition of terrorism. Funny how it specifies “by subnational groups or clandestine agents” in order to exempt the exact same actions if done by a state.
                    Sorry, some scumbag legislators (or more probably, their staffs) don’t dictate reality or morality.

                    True. Terrorism is a such a loaded term that it really has no useful meaning except as a pejorative. Which is why when Kenny-boy throws the term around as in the same way Progressives toss of the term Nazi or Fascist, I get a good chuckle.

            2. It’s interesting to note, too, that when the Civil War was over, and Sheridan used the same tactics against Native Americans (women and children included) in the Indians Wars out on the plains? Everyone almost universally refers to it as a “massacre”.

              It’s only when the targets are Southern farmers (most of whom were not slave holders in the Shenandoah Valley), that these same “massacre” tactics somehow transmute into an “unfortunate example of early modern warfare” as so many people excuse it.

              There’s no crime in calling it the way it was–even if the good side won. I was among the loudest critics of Abu Ghraib in this here commnentariat–why wouldn’t I criticize the war crimes of our ancestors too?

              War crimes are war crimes, even if they’re perpetrated against people you don’t like in a war of which you approve.

              1. It’s only when the targets are Southern farmers (most of whom were not slave holders in the Shenandoah Valley), that these same “massacre” tactics somehow transmute into an “unfortunate example of early modern warfare” as so many people excuse it.

                Scorched earth ? massacre. Unless you have some tits to the contrary?

                There’s no crime in calling it the way it was–even if the good side won. I was among the loudest critics of Abu Ghraib in this here commnentariat–why wouldn’t I criticize the war crimes of our ancestors too?

                Because you have yet to establish that any “war crime” occurred and your only evidence is your mere insistence.

                1. Scorched earth ? massacre. Unless you have some tits to the contrary?

                  What Sherman did to the Plains Indians was a massacre. He did the same thing to the women and children of the Shenandoah Valley, who were tending the farms while their fathers and brothers were off fighting for the Confederacy. And that isn’t any different from what Sheridan did to the Plains Indians just becasue in the Shenandoah Valley his men burned farms after they were done with the raping, murdering and pillaging.

                  The Plains Indians relied on buffalo rather than farms, and when Sheridan tried to exterminate the buffalo, to starve the Plains Indians out, that didn’t make what he did when he targeted the Indians’ women and children okay either.

                  1. In other words, EVEN IF terrorism somehow achieved an objective, it still doesn’t make it okay, but having achieved an objective is a better justification than trying to justify it because you dislike one group of victims but sympathize with the other.

                  2. He did the same thing to the women and children of the Shenandoah Valley, who were tending the farms while their fathers and brothers were off fighting for the Confederacy.

                    One topic at time, Ken. These were the same folk who were busy supplying Lee’s army with food to continue their fight. You willingly supply an army with any support, aid, or material, that makes you part of the war effort and thus, a valid military target.

                    his men burned farms after they were done with the raping, murdering and pillaging.

                    Tits on raping, murdering or pillaging, or is this just more Neo-Confederate hyperbole on your part?

            3. You sound just as stupid as the people who claim to be owed reparations for shit that never happened to them personally, but on behalf of their ancestors whose names they probably don’t even know.

              There’s nothing stupid about pointing out how badly reconstruction went–especially from a minority rights perspective–between the end of the Civil War right up until the civil rights movement a hundred years later.

              You think that was completely unrelated to the South being razed?

              1. There’s nothing stupid about pointing out how badly reconstruction went–especially from a minority rights perspective–between the end of the Civil War right up until the civil rights movement a hundred years later.

                It had to do with the racist caste system that had been place and the sentiments that remained as a result. The unreconstructed South treated black people as an underclass the same way Hindus treated the Dalits and the Japanese treated the Burakumin.

                You think that was completely unrelated to the South being razed?

                Yes. Denying an enemy their material with which to make war is a straightforward way to win.

                1. Yes. Denying an enemy their material with which to make war is a straightforward way to win.

                  You mean since the Civil War?

                  So why not carpet bomb Baghdad?

                  Why not carpet bomb Kabul? Why not tactically nuke the entire site from orbit? It’s the only way to be sure.

                  Is there anything you’re not willing to do to win?

                  1. You mean since the Civil War?

                    The scorched earth tactic has existed since ancient Greece. It’s nothing Sheridan invented.

                    So why not carpet bomb Baghdad?

                    Why bother attacking Baghdad at all? The Iraq was, and is, no existential threat the United States.

                    Why not carpet bomb Kabul?

                    Because Bin Laden wasn’t in Kabul, he was in Pakistan the whole time?

                    Why not tactically nuke the entire site from orbit?

                    A single tac-nuke is probably worth more than the entire city of Kabul. Better to keep the nuke and just go with your carpet-bombing plan.

            4. Out of curiosity, do you think it’s stupid to assume Iraqis are mad at us for bombing civilians even accidentally? Even when we accidentally hit civilians in Afghanistan or Pakistan, you think it’s stupid to assume that breeds resentment among the locals?

              If you knew anything about reconstruction, you’d know there’s nothing stupid about accounting for Southern resentment after the Civil War. The North basically gave up on rights for former slaves–in no small part due to Southern resentment.

              P.S. Calling people stupid makes your arguments look worse than they are.

              1. Blah, blah, Iraq, blah, blah Afghanistan

                Amazing how this has exactly fuck-all to do with the topic at hand.

                If you knew anything about reconstruction, you’d know there’s nothing stupid about accounting for Southern resentment after the Civil War. The North basically gave up on rights for former slaves–in no small part due to Southern resentment.

                And you are, doing everything in your small power to justify the Southerners’ resentment. “The North gave up on the freedmen’s rights. Why, they even put guns to the poor, downtrodden Southerners’ heads and forced them to pass Black Codes and Jim Crow laws.”

                Do you get stray hairs in your mouth from Lew Rockwell’s tit being in there?

                P.S. Calling people stupid makes your arguments look worse than they are.

                I have to call a spade a spade. Sorry.

                1. Amazing how this has exactly fuck-all to do with the topic at hand.

                  The only think amazing about this is your apparent belief that inflicting civilian casualties doesn’t lead to resentment.

                  I show you that it does lead to resentment–even when it happens accidentally in places like Iraq or Afghanistan–and you persist that it didn’t cause any resentment against the North during reconstruction–even though Sherman and company inflicted these civilian casualties willfully?

                  How did you get yourself into such a corner? You’re trying to defend the idea that scorched earth policies–directed at enemy civilians–doesn’t increase resentment?!

                  I promise you, even if the perpetrators believed in equal rights for everybody, if somebody willfully burned my house down, even if they didn’t rape my wife or shoot my children, I’d still resent the hell out of ’em for it.

                  Wouldn’t you?

                  1. And you are, doing everything in your small power to justify the Southerners’ resentment.

                    Pointing out the cause of something and justifying something are two different things.

                    I can point out the reasons why Osama bin Laden directed a terrorist attack against us on 9/11 without in any way justifying 9/11. 9/11 was unjustifiable.

                    I can point to the sick psychological reasons why violent racist skinheads beat down immigrants–but that in no way justifies anything they do.

                    1. If willfully inflicting casualties on the South contributed to the resentment that eventually made reconstruction fail and helped bring about Jim Crow and segregation? That doesn’t justify Jim Crow and segregation any more than pointing out that al Qaeda wanted our troops out of Saudi Arabia would somehow justify 9/11.

                      If we wanted less resentment and reconstruction to succeed, then we should have conducted ourselves in ways that were likely to lead to less resentment. If anybody here’s justifying segregation and Jim Crow, it’s whoever’s defending the terrorism that helped ensure that reconstruction would fail so miserably.

                    2. If willfully inflicting casualties on the South contributed to the resentment that eventually made reconstruction fail and helped bring about Jim Crow and segregation?

                      *checks watch, waiting eagerly for casualty report*

                      If we wanted less resentment and reconstruction to succeed, then we should have conducted ourselves in ways that were likely to lead to less resentment. If anybody here’s justifying segregation and Jim Crow, it’s whoever’s defending the terrorism that helped ensure that reconstruction would fail so miserably.

                      Personally, I wouldn’t have bothered with any Reconstruction. Even Andrew Johnson was far too kind. I would have just resettled any willing freedman in the Western territories, completely disarmed the South, disenfranchised any man who took up arms against the Union and left the South scrape themselves up to the best of their meager abilities.

                    3. What I find most amusing is the same white knight [Ken Shultz] (typed completely with irony) who has denounced Ron Paul over the newsletters, and claims libertarians should be more “sensitive” to the feelings of others, offers a full-throated defense of the Confederacy (you know, the government that was created to defend slavery and whose Constitution took from its member states the power to abolish slavery within their own borders), and seeks to exonerate the people who murdered and tyrannized blacks for decades under color of law because the poor, downtrodden white Southerner was feeling “resentful.”

                    4. offers a full-throated defense of the Confederacy (you know, the government that was created to defend slavery and whose Constitution took from its member states the power to abolish slavery within their own borders), and seeks to exonerate the people who murdered and tyrannized blacks for decades under color of law because the poor, downtrodden white Southerner was feeling “resentful.”

                      How is condemning terrorism the same thing as defending the Confederacy or exonerating the people who murdered and tyrannized “blacks”?

                      Again, condemning the abuse we inflicted at Abu Ghraib is in no way a defense of the Iraqi insurgency. By your definition, would condemning the torture of Imperial Japanese soldiers somehow be a justification for the Rape of Nanking?

                    5. How is condemning terrorism the same thing as defending the Confederacy or exonerating the people who murdered and tyrannized “blacks”?

                      Nice question beg. You have yet to establish any “terrorism” took place.

                      Again, condemning the abuse we inflicted at Abu Ghraib is in no way a defense of the Iraqi insurgency. By your definition, would condemning the torture of Imperial Japanese soldiers somehow be a justification for the Rape of Nanking?

                      Cool story, bro, but a shame that none of those are the topic at hand.

                    6. Pointing out the cause of something and justifying something are two different things.

                      The first accurate thing you’ve said thus far.

                      I can point to the sick psychological reasons why violent racist skinheads beat down immigrants

                      I’m sure you can. Neo-Confederates like yourself and skinheads do tend to run in overlapping political and social circles.

                  2. The only think amazing about this is your apparent belief that inflicting civilian casualties doesn’t lead to resentment.

                    Still waiting for you to prove all of this raping and pillaging that you imagine took place.

                    Still waiting.

                    *Checks watch*

                    The scorched earth policy in Shenandoah was intended to deny supply to Lee’s army, not just because the Blues had a bunch of free time on their hands and felt like being dicks.

                    I promise you, even if the perpetrators believed in equal rights for everybody, if somebody willfully burned my house down, even if they didn’t rape my wife or shoot my children, I’d still resent the hell out of ’em for it.

                    Unless you have the will and/or the capability to get revenge for wrongs done to you, holding grudges is a waste of time. Especially when you’re same group of dicks who started a war in defense of slavery.

      2. Not owning slaves and not wanting to someday to own slaves are two different things. I don’t own a beachfront mansion or a Ferrari – but I want to.

        People will fight as hard for their dreams as they will for the stuff they actually have.

        1. People will fight if you invade their homeland too!

          It happened before. It’s happened since.

          You invade somebody’s land, and they’ll fight back.

    2. Also 30+ years of protectionist tariffs which helped the fledgling industries of the North at the expense of the South who needed the goods that were tariffed at 35-50%.

      1. Also not true.

        1. What exactly is “not true”? The protectionist tariffs began in 1816. The South started getting pissed starting with the Tariff of 1824. Even if we start from the Tariff of Abominations we are talking about 29 years. The Tariff of 1857 was only a marginal victory for the South. It was winning a battle while losing the war.

          And even calling it a victory is sketchy. If someone takes $50/week from your wallet and you manage to talk them down to $25/week, have you won?

          1. The South was not a paragon of free market utopianism.

      2. Not sure what the fuck you’re talking about, seeing as how the 1828 tariff was abolished and that the Southern delegation wrote the tariff laws in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, resulting in the lowest tariff since 1816.

        And the Morrill tariff didn’t pass, and had no chance of passing, until the Southern congressmen resigned their seats.

        Check the first roll call, dudebro.

    3. flimsy pretense

      Im not sure how that is a flimsy pretense.

      When South Carolina seceeded, ALL of South Carolina went with it. USA land instantly became CSA land.

      Unless there was a treaty otherwise (and there wasnt).

  10. Trolling for comments/pageviews, are we, Damon?

    The commentariat should put together the headline that will get the most comments/pageviews. I’m thinking if you can roll together the Civil War, climate change, abortion, and sluts, that should do it.

    1. And Planet of the Apes references. Or, really, anything Hestonian.

    2. Nah, it needs something about islam, open borders, and pubsec unions. THAT’ll do it.

      1. Illegal Immigrant Muslim Whore Stands on Union-Made Soapbox to Rally South to Secede in Order to Protect Unborn and Future Generations from Evil Northern Polluting Industries

        1. Pretty good, but no mention of Iran.

          8/10

        2. Missing Heston, pizza, beer, Star Trek, and progressive rock too.

        3. No mention of circumcision.

          Also, fried chicken.

        4. Missing murderdrones.

      2. Gay slaves are getting married to furries wearing Dr. Zaius costumes while high on meth. They illegally cross borders to work as scabs, costing union members the health care bennies they need to pay for abortions for their slutty daughters, which has caused many of them to join radical Islamic terrorist groups, whose bombs release greenhouse gasses. This is causing a rift in the society, which may well lead to a Civil War.

        1. They’re also demanding in-state tuition at public schools.

        2. Awfully wordy for a headline.

          1. Yeah that was meant as a lede.

        3. ding..ding..ding…Folks, we have a winner.

          1. Nah,

            It needs a random Ron Paul reference.

  11. Glad to see that most of the comments seem to roughly match my thinking on the subject.

    It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “a pox on both their houses”. And the US was a slave-holding nation when it broke with England, so I don’t see how one could support the war for independence and then condemn the Confederacy in the same breath.

    1. Better to be a slave-holding British colony?

      1. No no, I mean it’s strange to glorify the US breaking from England while holding slaves, while simultaneously condemning the south for trying to break away from the north while holding slaves.

        1. But the south was not the north’s colonial subjects.

          1. Depends on your point of view. Southerners certainly viewed themselves that way from an economic perspective.

          2. So because they entered a voluntary union they couldn’t choose to exit it?

    2. Because the US didn’t split away because of slavery. It was not a war by the US to continue the institution as it was for the CSA. Great Britain at the time was also a slave holding nation.

      1. Doesn’t matter; the fact was, they had slaves. The reason for the war is irrelevant to this particular point, unless you want to go into the liberal “only intentions matter not results” route.

      2. The CSA seceded for precisely the same reason that the colonies left the Great Britain – a tax policy designed to benefit manufacturers by taxing the shit out of imports into agrarian regions.

        1. Also, fried chicken.

        2. The CSA seceded for precisely the same reason that the colonies left the Great Britain – a tax policy designed to benefit manufacturers by taxing the shit out of imports into agrarian regions

          No, again, they didn’t. The South had already started to secede before the Morrill Tariff came into effect. The South seceded over slavery.

        3. HAHAHAHAHAHA. This is some great revisionist history. Go read South Carolina’s declaration of secession. It makes it pretty damn clear that slavery was the main issue.

          1. I have a nuanced response that work and the 900 character limit prevent me from putting up.

            Very simply, I think the CSA was worried about preserving the economic viability of slavery – which was eriously stressed by its economic inefficiency and the need to import manufactured goods.

            I think that in selling secession, they made a big stink about the need to preserve culture and slavery. But the stressor was the impending institution of the Clay economic plan which was what the Republicans were heavily promoting which is a tax issue.

            TO me it’s kind of an irrelevant side issue: I think that the right of polities to secede is absolute and can be used for good or ill – much like I feel that a person’s right to freedom of speech allows them to say nice or nasty things.

            1. the Clay economic plan which was what the Republicans were heavily promoting which is a tax issue.

              It bears repeating that the Morrill tariff would never have passed if the Southern states had not seceded.

          2. Mississippi’s declaration is awful.

            Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun.

            In other words, “We would pick the cotton ourselves but it’s fucking hot out there!”

            1. Actually, the argument was more or less true at the time.

              African slaves were brought to the South because European immigrants kept dying. There are cemeteries full of recent immigrants in cities like Charleston – vast numbers died within a few weeks or months of arriving.

              Remember that the Southern United States was malarial at the time. We forget that DDT pretty much ended that, but between malaria and other diseases that Africans had resistance to and Europeans did not, recent arrivals from Europe had a much higher death rate than recent arrivals from Africa, and this would have been especially true for those working outdoors where they would have been exposed to mosquitoes.

        4. Here, I’ll even give you a link.

        5. tarran – I suggest you google “declaration of secession” and give a few of them a read.
          Secession was clearly about slavery.

          1. I agree, but again, intentions don’t matter, only results (except to liberals and progs). The fact was, the US left the British Empire as a slave-holding nation, just as the south was going to do. Doesn’t matter the reasoning behind it.

            1. It matters when what you think you know is wrong, as in terran thinking that secession was about something other than slavery.

              1. You’re right, I should stop arguing about this. I really don’t feel like wading deeper into the sewer of 19th century politics to educate myself… I’m an anarchist – I hate all governments! Gotta get back to work. 🙁

                1. Yay! Anarchists for liberty! (Really, I should make t-shirts reading “Libertarian to the point of anarchy” because I are one.)

            2. Here is one libertarian who doesn’t think the results matter, only the intentions.

              https://reason.com/archives/201…..eater-good

              1. Only if you purposefully conflate “means” with “intentions”.

                Hint: those are not the same things.

                1. He argues that the results are irrelevant if your means are immoral. You claim that moral reasoning “doesn’t matter”.

                  1. Yeah, means, not intentions. As I stated in the comment above. Get a fucking dictionary.

                    The best intentions don’t excuse immoral means (hence the whole damned argument about the Civil War).

                    1. Ok, but you claim the only thing that matters is the result. That excuses immoral means, moron.

      3. So was the Union…

      4. And of course, so did the North.

    3. Better to be a slave-holding British colony?

      When Harry Flashman is visiting the States on the eve of the Civil War, he makes the perfectly valid point that the British Empire had already gotten rid of slavery peacefully (as these things go). If the Americans hadn’t won their Revolutionary War, they would have already been rid of it, peacefully.

      1. Well, it’s possible that an American colony retaining British Empire would not have eliminated slavery.

  12. There is little to like on either side of that war. The Founders had punted on the problem of slavery. During the ensuing 70 years, we failed to resolve the problem. The Civil War ruined our experiment with liberty.

    After the war, things almost returned to normal for 50 years, but the seeds of the government take over of everything had been planted.

  13. War of Southern Aggression, you mean.

    1. The south sent its military into the north to collect taxes on goods flowing into Northern ports?!?

      1. Yeah, the MSM never reported it though.

      2. The South did send federal officers in the North to harass free blacks.

  14. 1862-63, Lincoln pushes for Constitutional Amendment to make slavery PERMANENT.

    History has also forgotten about that great little group known as “The Illinois Colonization Society”.

    Lincoln to a group of recently emancipated slaves:
    “Come work at our coal mines in Panama!”

    1. and there’s the great missing piece. Lincoln did not give a damn about slavery, per se, his cause was preservation of hte Union. The North needed the South economically since it was not producing its raw materials; try growing cotton in New England.

      Emancipation was an offshoot that created as much confusion as anything else. Imagine people who knew only one way of life basically being told, you are on your own…your home is gone, your only skill is farming or housekeeping or tending livestock but all the places those skills were used no longer exist, but you are now free in a country you were brought to forcibly.

      1. Exactly. The Emancipation Proclamation was meant to shame the Limeys and the Frogs away from helping the South.

      2. In the words of the Great Hypocrite himself: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

        1. Where is the hypocrisy in that? The quote you pull is from a letter to Horace Greeley in 1862. The Proclamation came a year later. One can change one’s mind, you know.

      3. Lincoln: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that…I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.”

        Lincoln clearly did give a damn about slavery. He found it abhorrent. He thought his job as President was to preserve the Union, not free the slaves. It’s still a gross distortion to suggest he didn’t care about slavery.

        1. Intellectual bull by Lincoln and others. If anyone finds slavery morally repugnant they will not be OK with it in ANY form. It is morally equivalent to saying I hate Germany’s ethinic cleansing during WWII, but to avoid another WWI I will do anything to appease Germany. (See history does repeat itself)

          1. Umm… except that Lincoln DID take actions to end slavery, like prosecuting the war and issuing the emancipation proclamation.

            He never claimed to be “OK with it.”

  15. I think the North should have seceded.

    1. They still can. The South wouldn’t mind.

  16. POPCORN HERE, GET YOUR POPCORN HERE!

  17. Herbert Spencer reminds me of Kurt Loder.

    Kurt Loder.

    1. Loader

  18. I am from Western North Carolina and my people could best be described as Union Partisans (they fought in the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry which basically raided into the NC mountains from Tennessee).

    Early in the war North Carolina was very reluctant to secede, especially in the west as there were few slaves in comparison to the rest of the state. However, when Lincoln called for 50,000 soldiers to be raised to supress SC’s secession it was seen as oppressive and many rallied to the Southern cause in response. Later, especially after the confederate conscription act, others went over to the Union. For the people in the mountains the side they took was often in response to whichever side was more oppressive, and neither side disappointed.

    1. Indeed. I recommend the chapter on NC (along with the rest of the book) in V.O. Key’s classic Southern Politics in State and Nation from 1949.

  19. Excellent article by Banks. It’s really disappointing to see how many people on a libertarian website are Confederate apologists. Secession as it happened was not legal. The Southern candidate had lost a fair election. The South, which had long controlled the national government and still held the SC, acted in a way that ensured Lincoln would win and solely to manufacture a crisis. Then they started a war to preserve slavery. The Confederacy was everything libertarianism isn’t.

    1. Libertarians don’t believe any election is fair, as they are necessary to the continuance of the state. That’s the issue here.

        1. Secession immediately after a popular election is an act of bad faith. The south implicitly agreed to abide by the results of the election by engaging in it.

          Libertarians don’t buy this because they want to vote for Ron Paul while simultaneously fantasizing about secession. They, like the antebellum south, only think government is legitimate when it furthers their interests.

          1. Government would further our interests by leaving us the hell alone. Invading our rights is a rather different thing than deciding to send federal bennies to NASA or the EPA.

            1. This is exactly what the antibellum south thought, which is my point. You’re willing to engage in an election because you might win, but you don’t intend to abide by the results if you lose.

          2. Lincoln wasn’t on the ballot in the CSA. I mean, throw out all intellectual arguments. Let’s say you woke up, read the paper, and found out your new President was some guy who’s name was *not* on the ballot you filled out.

            What would you do?

            1. If you’re suggesting Southerners didn’t know that the republican party existed and that Lincoln was it’s nominee, you’re dumb.

              1. He’s saying Lincoln wasn’t even on the ballot in the South. Which he wasn’t.

  20. What Should Libertarians Think About the Civil War?

    Whatever they want. Isn’t that what liberty is all about?

    1. Splitter!

    2. Hey, this is Reason. What did you expect?

    3. What should libertarians think about Tax rates? What should libertarians think about war with Iran? What should libertarians think about the war on drugs?

      Whatever they want? I don’t think so.

  21. Some hold that the war destroyed more liberty than it preserved by centralizing so much power in the hands of the federal government. Others argue that by abolishing slavery, the Civil War advanced the cause of true liberalism.

    Can’t both be true?

  22. What civil war? The Confederates had no ambition to rule yankeedom. They just wanted to be left alone.

    1. Tell that to the people of western NC.

      1. Or the state of West Virginia. Basically all the people who lived in the mountains of Appalachia didn’t give a fuck about slavery, but got dragged into it because of douchebag flat landers on the plantations.

  23. I’m probably in a minority here, but I don’t buy that the Confederate states had a constitutional authority to secede. Since the Constitution only makes mention of joining the union, but nothing about leaving it’s reasonable to assume that joining the union is a permanent action (when you join the gang, you’re in for life).

    Thus, I have little problem with the north putting down a rebellion in the south, especially one to preserve the institution of slavery. Though that doesn’t mean I necessarily support all the ways they went about doing so.

    1. I’m sympathetic to that view. The constitution does also mention special powers for the president in times of insurrection. If states had an absolute right to secede, then I’m not sure what kind of insurrection the federal government would need special powers to fight.

      1. secession != insurrection

        The South was not trying to overthrow the federal government.
        They were trying to divorce themselves from it.

        Not the same thing.

        1. The colonies had no ambition of crossing the sea to burn London either.

          That did not stop the Crown or Parliament from naming them rebels.

        2. Since they had no authority to divorce themselves from the union, I think that means their secession was them overthrowing the federal government.

          1. That makes no sense.

            1. You’re right, they attempted to overthrow the federal government. Obviously they did not succeed.

    2. IRC Virginia claimed to be joining th eunion only on the condition it was allowed to leave at any time.

      1. If that’s true, then they should have had the right of secession added in before ratification. I can’t get out of repaying a loan by declaring my intent not to as I sign the contract.

        1. Texas did. And yet they were forcefully repatriated. Justifiably, as they joined a nation that was at war with the USA, and were repatriated by conquest.

          1. Texas was given the right of secession in the US Constitution?

            1. Why is explicit mention in the federal constitution necessary at all for this?

              1. Because the Constitution is the contract that all the states agreed to adhere to through ratification. If the Constitution makes no mention of how to leave the contract then you basically have two viewpoints. Either you can’t leave the contract, or the contract is non-binding to all parties.

                I’m no legal scholar, but I would surmise that the mere fact that you signed the contract is forfeiting the latter argument.

                1. My main issue is that even if one ascribes to Compact Theory, the South’s cited reasons for departing are total bunk and arguably a breach of contract. The Southern States participated in an election, which, to me, implies consent to be governed and abide by the results, and when they didn’t like the outcome, they wanted to take their ball and go home. Furthermore, to claim that Lincoln, having only been inaugurated two months beforehand, had already somehow trampled on their sovereignty is a blatant lie.

                2. Except the Constitution is a constructionary “contract” (if that’s the term you prefer) for a common, central government — that’s its sphere. It isn’t everything states are, or everything they can do — that’s determined by state constitutions.

                  Put simpler, the natures of the individual states are not consolidated and determined functionally by the federal constitution.

                  While a state is participating in the Union, it must abide by the confederal compact, but once it withdraws from participation in the construct of its design (the federal government), it isn’t, and I don’t see any barriers to secession here.

            2. Texas didn’t explicitly have the right of secession. It’s not mentioned anywhere in the annexation resolutions of either the US or the Republic of Texas.

              Whether or not there was an implied right of secession is half of the argument in this thread. As a de jure matter, I would tend to agree the right exists. As a practical matter, this question was settled at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865 and the ruling was emphatically on the no side.

    3. Arguably, the Tenth Amendment allows secession:

      The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      The Constitution does not prohibit secession by the States, ergo, this is a power reserved to the States. Its a pretty straight read of the language.

      1. Unless secession is prohibited by the term “a more perfect Union”, incorporating the notion of Perpetual Union from the Articles of Association and the Articles of Confederation.

        1. The Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, so getting to that argument isn’t even necessary here.

          Ergo, it doesn’t matter what the Articles say.

          1. It certainly came after them, but the “more perfect Union” language is clearly meant to incorporate legal theories of the Articles of Confederation. It seems an odd thing indeed to say that Perpetual Union was in place in both the Articles of Association and the Articles of Confederation and then whammo! the Constitution gets rid of Perpetual Union altogether.

            1. Except the Preamble isn’t an enumeration of provinces of authority or powers.

              1. It certainly is not, but it isn’t meaningless either.

          2. I think if you are going to “prohibit a power”, you need to do so pretty explicitly.

            1. That’s the entire point. All other arguments are completely unnecessary, because they assume federal authority and powers that cannot be said to exist at all, by any measure or methodology of analysis.

    4. Other documents, written when the Constitution was being considered, and written by the people considering it, made it clear that they presumed that States had a right to leave the Union any time they liked. The term “perpetual union” simply meant that the organization did not have to be periodically renewed, not that the political institution was intended to last forever.

      But +1 for comparing the Federal Government to a criminal gang.

  24. the English libertarian philosopher and evolutionary theorist Herbert Spencer

    Shouldn’t that be “proto-libertarian philosopher”?

  25. I think that at a certain point, you have to let history be history. Arguments over the Civil War are pretty pointless since it is in fact what happened and you can’t go back. Fighting over who was wronger is silly.

    1. I approve of this, too.

    2. Ha. The progressives will “let history be history” only when all the straight white males are dead.

      1. Shit, I have to kill myself in order to triumph over history?

        1. You can only triumph over history by becoming it, Derider. Get cracking.

  26. They’re all chickens. The rooster has sex with all of them.

  27. “What should Libertarians think about the Civil War?”

    When I saw the title of the article, before I read it, I thought……which one? The last one, or the upcoming one?

    1. The last one, or the upcoming one?

      That one’s been postponed.

    2. lulz

      Went and took a look (new blog to me). First post:

      – “Spoiler Alert: All of next week’s Doonesburys!”

      “CLICK AWAY”

      Dork-a-riffic, man!

      1. Whoops – meant to post that below re: Pharyngula

        mumble mumble THREADED COMMENTS mummble mumble NOTHING TO DO WITH USER ERROR mumble mumble

  28. “…..that one group of people is lawfully entitled to seize the fruits of another group’s labor.”

    Yeah…..I spent some time reading and commenting on Pharyngula recently. They advance that idea shamelessly.

    1. Why, Suthenboy, why?

      1. I guess I have a masochistic impulse.

        I will not be doing that again, I assure you.

  29. Libertarians should recognize the evil motives and evil conduct on both sides of the Civil War. Neither side was “the good guy” in the Civil War. The CSA was a tyrannical slaver regime with imperial aspirations, and the USA was (and is) an imperial power willing to kill any number of its own citizens and others in order to maintain the federal revenues and federal control of the states.

    The bottom line for libertarians, though, is that war is the health of the state. If we are to oppose the state, we must oppose war, even when the end sought to be achieved is noble.

    1. ^^ Thread winner. Sure it isn’t witty, but it’s the best comment I’ve seen on here so far.

    2. I get what your saying, but I’m willing to forgive Union troops Some sins as at least they eventually were actually liberating people. Plus I like the 14th amendment.

  30. For an excellent exposition of the ways in which the CSA was an interventionist tyranny, read the excellent short work Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, by Bob Ekelund and Mark Thornton (of the Mises Institute).

  31. *walks into room*
    *looks*
    *runs for the door*

  32. Ha, obvious trick question. Correct answer: Glad it’s over.

    1. Who said anything about over, Yankee?

  33. For more on the CSA as a tyrannical, interventionist regime, see the short book Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, by Bob Ekelund and Mark Thornton (of the Mises Institute).

  34. Why do libertarians always seem to want to fight on grounds least favorable to them? The challenge?

    1. Libertarians have this need to be “different.”

  35. Of course, what I really think about the Civil War was that it could’ve and should’ve been avoided. It took prolonged political ineptitude of major proportions to push the issue to a matter of war. And how much longer would slavery had lasted, anyway? Industrialization would’ve made it economically impossible, along with the pressure from other countries.

    1. ineptitude of major proportions

      Isn’t that pretty much the definition of government?

      1. Yeah, pretty much. But we’re talking inept even for government.

        1. It is an interesting parlor game; worse political class, the one of the 1850s or the one we have now?

          1. We’ll see. The one difference is that the power was largely in state hands then. If we have another civil war or go completely authoritarian, you’ll have your answer.

            1. What about going completely broke?

              1. I don’t know. Is that worse than a civil war? I suppose it depends what happens after we go broke.

                I’d like another option.

  36. You’re asking how long can the government can sustain a law that is uneconomical, systematically violates the civil rights of its citizens, and is generally unpopular?

    You really want to know the answer to that question?

    1. That seems profoundly unlikely in the case of slavery. States did move away from slavery in the first place, and the huge economic gap it would’ve created would’ve forced the issue.

      1. I am not so sure about that. A lot of slaves were skilled laborers. A plantation was like commune. It pretty much made everything in house. I don’t see any reason why slaves couldn’t have been used as industrial labor.

        The real problem is that as repeating rifles became cheaper, a slave revolt would have become a real possibility. And that would have ended worse for the South than losing the civil war.

      2. I was just being glib, but I don’t think it’s a forgone conclusion that slavery would’ve ended anytime soon. The arguments for such rely on a lot of wishful thinking.

        1. The south was willing to start a war that by any objective estimation was likely to end in their complete destruction to save slavery. It is doubtful that someone willing to do that would have voluntarily given up the institution. It was essential to who they were.

          1. I don’t think the south expected the north to invade.

            1. I think so. That was the whole rational many people, including Lee gave for fighting. You are invading my land and my people.

              1. Lee was overrated. As skilled as he was on the individual battlefield his invasions of the North were just plain stupid. If he had just kept his army entrenched between D.C and Richmond the South could have held off the North indefinitely in that theater of conflict.

                1. It wasn’t that simple serious man. Lee still had a Napoleonic army. It lived off the land. He didn’t have the supplies to entrench and stay in the same place. When he finally did get bottled up at Petersburg, his army starved. The invasions of Maryland and Pennsylvania were as much foraging expeditions as anything else. Both occured after major southern victories (2nd Manassas and Chancellorsville). He had whipped the North and took the opportunity to invade and forage for supplies. He had not other choice.

                  That said, while Lee was a brilliant tactician, he was a terrible strategist. He never understood that the war was being lost in the South. And he never understood that his job was to conserve his army not just win battles. Many of the victories he is celebrated for

                  1. I agree with John’s first paragraph, but not his second. First, I think it’s quite obvious that he understood the war was being lost in the West (I assume you mean West). And second, how does one conserve one’s army except by conceding the initiative to the enemy and fleeing whenever he approaches? (Not to mention that neither Jeff Davis nor most of the white Southern populace were ready for a guerilla war even had Lee proposed one.)

                    IMHO Lee was an excellent tactician and operational leader, and a better-than-average strategist. Unfortunately for him and his cause, he was being asked–and gamely trying–to win militarily when the deeper problems were demographic-economic and political.

                    1. Lee could have taken advantage of Northern impatience and dug in and made every battle a replay of Fredericksburg. Instead, he continually went on the offensive at a time he didn’t have the man power to lose and in a war where all the advantage was to the defense.

                    2. You just said earlier that he -couldn’t- entrench and remain on the defensive because of logistic considerations (and you were right).

                      And it wasn’t simply a matter of Northern impatience either. Both Southern politicians and Southern citizens were impatient too, and would not have understood the ‘long game’ strategy assuming Lee was willing to propose it.

                    3. He was trying to draw the Union’s attention from the west. Perhaps it was not a good strategy but there was an ideaa behind his invasions.

                  2. Lee’s options were largely constrained by the idiot Davis who kept the staggeringly incompetent Bragg in a position to repeatedly lose. Where Lee had direct command, the southern army fought well and inflicted much heavier casualties on the Union than they sustained. The supplies that sustained the southern army in Virginia largely came by blockade runners into Wilmington. Once that port fell the Army of Northern Virginia disintegrated.

                    The Army in the west was essentially characterized by a continuous series of defeats.

                    1. After Albert Sydney Johnston died, the South was really short of generals in the West. The other Johnston wasn’t bad. A whole lot better than Hood or Bragg. But not great and he could only command one army. That left the Mississippi under the command of incompetents.

                  3. That said, while Lee was a brilliant tactician, he was a terrible strategist. He never understood that the war was being lost in the South.

                    Good point. He was obsessive about Virginia (for obvious reasons) and the result was that, with a few exceptions, the CSA got their ass handed to them throughout the west and deep South.

                    1. Also, historians have given guys like McClellan and Meade a lot of flak for not following up and finishing Lee when they had the chance, but the fact of the matter is that if Lee was going to fight a war of set-piece battles, he needed to utterly destroy his opponent in the field, not move around from place to place swinging dicks with the Union. In other words, if he had been more like Frederick the Great and less like Napoleon, he might have actually been able to end the war even with western losses because that’s were the publicity was focused.

                2. (Chancellorsville in particular) were disastrous for the South in the long run because he lost troops the South couldn’t afford to replace.

            2. Why’d they start shooting, then?

              1. Because South Carolinians are, as they have been throughout history and remain today, hot heated fools.

    2. We already know the answer is “Yes.”

    3. The Great Hypocrite suspended habeus corpus and instituted the income tax and military conscription. So pretty much forever.

      1. You keep using that word (Hypocrite). I do not think it means what you think it means.

      2. Of course all of those things ended when the war did. So they don’t prove what you think they do.

  37. For a sampling of Reason’s writing on the Civil War and its legacy?none of which sides with the Confederate cause, incidentally

    Well, surprise, surprise!

  38. A whole thread on the civil war and not a single post by Liberty Mike. Is he okay? In the hospital?

  39. Officer, am I not free to Gambol between the North and So

    BANG!!

    I’ll take that as a “no”

    1. Careful or you will summon our favorite comedienne.

      1. I know I’m living on the edge – I just can’t help it…

  40. Probably the worst legacy of the Civil War was the centralization of Federal power and the discrediting of secession. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that local governments can secede once the larger government loses the consent of the governed. And yet we’ve somehow morphed into this belief that no matter how despotic the Federal government gets, states rights is tantamount to supporting Jim Crow or slavery.

    Even an abolitionist like Lysander Spooner thought the South committed “No Treason” in seceding.

    1. That is why I blame most if not all of our problems on slavery and its legacy. Had there been no slavery, succession wouldn’t be associated with slavery. Had the South not been assholes and accepted the result of the war, there would have been no Jim Crow. Without Jim Crow, most of the initial justification for expanding federal power in the last 50 years, never would have happened.

      1. I blame Bush

        1. God damned slave owning Yankees.

          1. I blame Steinbrenner’s rottinged corpse

            1. Uh, a lot of federal centralization was perpetrated by white-supremacists in alliance with the Southern leadership.

              Did Woodrow Wilson need the excuse of civil rights as an excuse to justify the Fed, the regulatory state, and WWI? No, he did all these things and at the same time screened *Birth of a Nation* in the White House.

              Did FDR, need civil rights as an excuse to centralize the government? No, he needed his Southern allies and he was a racist himself (as opposed to his estranged wife, the egalitarian).

              So while integrationists were cool with federal centralization, they were building on the structure erected by white supremacists, including the redneck Woody Wilson.

    2. Agreed. The legacy is not good, whatever the root causes, moral ground held or not held, etc. were.

    3. Because it didn’t. I’m surprised by how many people share my view, however. Fighting a war expressly to abolish slavery? Sure. Fighting a war to “preserve the Union”, on the premise that secession is treason? No.

      1. You should see how defensive liberals get when you point out the various letters and quotes where Lincoln says his main objective was keeping the Union together and not ending slavery. There are even letters where he unambiguously states that blacks are inferior to whites. Of course that was a commonly held view at the time, but it rightly knocks Saint Abraham down a peg.

        Frederick Douglass really took him to task when he gave a speech at the dedication of a memorial to Lincoln after the war, criticizing his commitment to ending slavery and how it only came up when he needed to convince the North to want to wage total war.

        1. Yeah, real taking to task there:

          “Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery.”

          1. Lincoln preferred that slavery end, yes, but he was absolutely and unequivocally prepared to keep it if it meant the reunification of the states.

            1. Wait….

              So what?

              1. Commenting on the last line.

        2. This “UR WITH US 100 PURSENT OR UR A NEO-CONFEDERAT, GO FUCK A PICKUP TRUK” bullshit got old after the 150th time I got it from Average Joe, and I get that very often in Wisconsin (family there, visit the state often).

          Incidentally, you can agree that slavery blows and that ending it by force of arms is a noble and totally justifiable while simultaneously criticizing and condemning Yankee crap about secession, constitutional doctrine, and the pretexts for the war Lincoln and some of the less savory northern politicians of the time claimed.

          1. *goal

  41. Hey, the war netted us Gatling guns and better repeating rifles, so there was that….

    *looks around plaintively*

  42. Just thought I would throw this in…..

    Unless you live here you have no idea how ingrained the ” this is the way we have always done things” mentality is around here. Many times I have suggested to employers ways of doing things that increased efficiency or cut costs. Commonly the response was ” That aint the way we do it”, or some such horseshit. I have often been told ” We cant…….” regarding certain ways of doing things that clearly could be done. After I got to be the boss and kept hearing this shit from those under me my standard response became ” Yeah? You cant? Well, after you have thunk’ up all the reasons you cant, fuckin’ do it anyway.”

    1. We have low flat rivers and the north had steep fast ones. Industry was in the north and not the south because you cant have water wheels in low, flat rivers. The South fought tooth and nail to preserve slavery because the slaves were our source of labor, and hence the base of our economy. By the time of the civil war, the steam engine had been invented and salesmen were crawling all over the south trying to sell them. They had very little success because….’them new-fangled steam engines, that aint the way we do things here’.

      Had the civil war not happened, the institution of slavery was doomed anyway. The steam engine was going to overcome the bone-headed ‘aint the way we do things’ mentality eventually.

      1. You sure you’re not trapped in a UAW factory?

      2. I personally put the steam engine up there as the single most important invention of the industrial age.

  43. Libertarians love slavery, and want it to come back into fashion, because they are all immmoral capitalist-pig racists who hate women and gays.

    Also, they won’t give us free ponies.

    1. Whoever you are, I would like to hire you as a staff writer and possible fill-in host.

    2. #WaronWomen – come and get what’s comin’ to ya, bitches!

  44. Brilliant summation, but you left out the misogony angle.

    1. I think I just covered that in the comment above.

      Welcome

  45. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C…..Resolution

    “Specifically, the resolution stated that the war was being waged for the reunion of the states, and not to abolish the south’s “peculiar institution” of slavery. The resolution required the Union Government to take no actions against institution of slavery. It was named for Representative John J. Crittenden of Kentucky and Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee (who was later to become President).

    The war was fought not for “overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States,” but to “defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union.” The war would end when the seceding states returned to the Union with slavery being intact.

    Two congressmen voted against the measure. Thaddeus Stevens secured its repeal in December 1861.

    1. “The Corwin Amendment (CONG. GLOBE, 36th Cong. 2d Sess. 1364 (1861)), however, which attempted to constitutionalize slavery, was adopted by the necessary two-thirds in both Houses and actually submitted to the states for ratification. It was ratified by three states before the war pre-empted the debate.”

    2. They were trying to keep the border states from leaving the Union. The war was most certainly about slavery for the South. And it was about slavery for a lot but not all of the North.

      1. Yeah, but the point is that the goal wasn’t abolition.

        “Because of the fierce resistance of a few initial Confederate forces at Manassas, Virginia, in July 1861, a march by Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell on the Confederate forces there was halted in the First Battle of Bull Run, or First Manassas, McDowell’s troops were forced back to Washington, D.C., by the Confederates under the command of Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard. It was in this battle that Confederate General Thomas Jackson received the nickname of “Stonewall” because he stood like a stone wall against Union troops.

        Alarmed at the loss, and in an attempt to prevent more slave states from leaving the Union, the U.S. Congress passed the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution on July 25 of that year, which stated that the war was being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery.”

        1. So had the South put up less of a fight, maybe it would have been about slavery. It was about succession because that was the only way to get people to fight and win the war.

          1. “So had the South put up less of a fight, maybe it would have been about slavery.”

            1) The Union government and its intentions would have been the same, regardless of how much a fight the Confederacy was putting up.

            2) Hypotheticals and “maybe” aren’t what happened.

            “It was about succession because that was the only way to get people to fight and win the war.”

            Except abolition was the pretext utilized to animate Republican strongholds into supporting reunification by force/the war. It was about secession because it was about secession.

            1. I find it hard to square the war being about succession and not slavery with the passage of the 13th Amendment. If it wasn’t about slavery, why did the North go to the trouble of amending the Constitution to end slavery once the war was over and there was no danger of the border states going to the other side?

              1. You’re conflating the intent and motivations of the federal government with majority northern sentiment.

                1. But it was the government that decided to fight the war. Are you telling me now that Lincoln did fight the war to end slavery?

                  I don’t believe a word Lincoln says when he talks about it being about succession. He was saying that because that is what he had to politically. Those statements were made for political effect. Lincoln was an abolitionist. I actually agree with the South about that.

        2. One other thing to think about. This justification wasn’t used at the time. But it is too bad it wasn’t. Sure the South can leave the Union. But anyone who to should be able to leave and remain in the Union. Now the South had however many slaves that were American citizens and were, after succession, effectively being held hostage by a foreign country. That is an act of war and justified the North invading.

          1. John – clever, but the slaves were not citizens. Now, if in the absence of the Southern congressional delegates they had passed an amendment making them citizens, that would have worked.

            1. I think they were. There is nothing in the Constitution that says they were not citizens. And when a slave bought his freedom, he didn’t get deported back to Africa.

          2. Even if negroes were citizens, which they weren’t, I agree that fighting a war expressly for the achievement of abolition would have been justifiable.

      2. “The war was most certainly about slavery for the South. And it was about slavery for a lot but not all of the North.”

        To be fair, a lot of northerners couldn’t give less a fuck about them negroes, and a lot of southerners had qualms with the Union on issues other than slavery. It’s not a zero-sum game.

        1. And whatever they might have said at the time, the fact is the North did end slavery at the end of the war. There is nothing that says they had to pass the 13th Amendment.

          1. Sure, and that’s a good thing. No argument there.

  46. “What Should Libertarians Think About the Civil War?”

    How about It’s Over?

    1. I care more about the next one.

  47. Anyone have any idea how Reconstruction would have been if Lincoln hadn’t have been assassinated?

    1. Probably better for the white southerners and worse for the free blacks. As confederate apologists are always quick to point out, Lincoln was an abolitionist but hardly believed in racial equality.

      He would have never forced the South to accept racial equality the way Johnson and the radical Republicans in Congress did.

      Now the interesting question is would the Republicans in Congress have stood for it? Lincoln only became a sainted martyr after his death. Had he lived and stood in the way on a Congress and a Northern populace intent on exacting some revenge on white Southerners for starting the war, maybe it would have been Lincoln not Johnson who was impeached.

      1. He would have never forced the South to accept racial equality the way Johnson and the radical Republicans in Congress did.

        Hey, leave me out of it!

      2. The implicit assertions in your argument, that Andrew Johnson was more egalitarian than Lincoln, and that he was more supportive of the interests of free blacks than Lincoln would have been, are ridiculous.

        He vetoed expansions of the freedman’s bureau and the Civil Rights Bill, both of which the congress overrode. He also strenuously opposed the 14th amendment. He said “This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men”

        1. No implicit in my argument is that Lincoln would have, unlike Johnson who was generally loathed, had the political power to make those vetos stick.

          Johnson was an asshole. But he couldn’t effect anything. Lincoln could have.

          1. You say:
            “He would have never forced the South to accept racial equality the way Johnson and the radical Republicans in Congress did”

            Which is a clear misunderstanding of history. Congress forced racial equality on the south despite Johnson’s efforts, not because of them.

            We can’t know what Lincoln’s intentions were for Reconstruction. We do know that he was profoundly changed by the experience, including his friendship with Frederick Douglass, particularly in regards to his opinions on white supremacy. Johnson, on the other hand, was obstinate in his racism until his death.

            1. Maybe Lincoln wouldn’t have done it. But he sure talked a lot about reconciliation and a let by gones be bygones peace. I don’t see how you do that and still have reconstruction.

              1. He was talking about not executing confederates as traitors.

    2. Lincoln would have sent all black people to Africa and exterminated every Native American.

  48. The secession of the south is incomparable to that of the colonies.

    The South had much more power to limit the economic power of the federal government against them (having had multiple congressmen, senators, and presidents even) while the colonies lacked a single representative in the House of Commons (no taxation without representation).

    To say that the South was as oppressed by the North as the colonies were by the crown, and rebelled for because of it ignores their ample ability and failure to effect political change.

    What they failed to achieve through congressional vote (its continuation), and feared the result of those cascading political defeats (the eventual abolition of slavery by edict), they preempted through rebellion.

    They reasons for secession were more to continue their own oppression and not rid themselves of an imaginary one.

  49. The Confederacy was certainly not perfect, particularly in regards to slavery, and some big government measures they took in regulation out of desperation later on in the war, but the Confederacy was by far the superior side during the war.

    I can’t believe how much neo-statist big government propaganda people believe about the war on here.

    Was the Revolutionary War over slavery? Slavery is listed as a cause in the Declaration of Independence. Slavery was no more the direct cause of the “Civil War” than it was the Revolution. Thomas Jefferson himself predicted what would happen in the 1820s.

    All the argument about slavery before the was over the expansion of slavery into the territories and new states, not ending it where it already existed. There was no Serious threat to slavery, so it makes the argument that the South had to secede to protect it particularly silly.

    1. There is nothing silly about it at all. Why was the South so keen on expanding slavery into the territories? Because they figured, rightly I think, that if the Western states were all admitted as free states, there would be a 2/3rds majority of states who favored amending the constitution to abolish slavery.

      Sure Lincoln had no intention of directly abolishing slavery in the South. But the South wasn’t worried about Lincoln doing it. They were worried about it happening later.

      1. You don’t have a clue about what you are speaking, slavery was repeatedly offered protection by the North. It was the North offering a Constitutional amendment to protect slavery where it already existed forever.

        Thomas Jefferson himself pointed out that the North’s interest in the expansion of slavery had nothing to do with an interest in ending the institution, but gaining influence for the old Federalist party in order to enforce their big government designs.

        The fight was ultimately between the old Federalists and the Jeffersonians. The Federalists came back as the Whigs, and the Free Soil Party, and eventually the early Republican party. Slavery was nothing but a tool in the fight.

        1. You haven’t a clue. Go read what the South said at the time of succession. They left when Lincoln was elected. Why? Because Lincoln said up front, no more fugitive slave laws and no expansion of slavery to the West.

          All you are telling me is that the South was paranoid. And you are probably right about that. But they sure as hell left over slavery.

        2. Lincoln rejected the Crittenden Compromise, which would have allowed slavery forever.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crittenden_Compromise

          1. Wrong, Lincoln was the truth author of the later compromise, and supported it in his first inaugural address. He claimed not to have seen the compromise in 1861, though the writings of those close to him clearly indicate he actually wrote it.

            “I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution?which amendment, however, I have not seen?has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

    2. Was the Revolutionary War over slavery? Slavery is listed as a cause in the Declaration of Independence.

      Yes, though it was removed from the final draft at the request of southern delegates.

      I can’t believe how much neo-statist big government propaganda people believe about the war on here.

      I’m not about to believe the false choice of oppression through slavery or oppression through big government.

      All the argument about slavery before the was over the expansion of slavery into the territories and new states, not ending it where it already existed. There was no Serious threat to slavery, so it makes the argument that the South had to secede to protect it particularly silly.

      The South was a paranoid bunch when it came to slavery. At the time, they viewed the debate about slavery’s expansion as proof its existence was under attack.

      1. “Yes, though it was removed from the final draft at the request of southern delegates.”

        Wrong, go read your Declaration of Independence. “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” Domestic Insurrection is a reference to the British trying to stir up slave rebellions.

        While there was some disagreement, much of the supposed disagreement between the North and South over slavery during the Revolution is Hollywood. John Adams himself almost derailed the peace talks at the end of the war demanding the return of all the slaves who fought for Britain who had been evacuated with British forces.

        You can read my above post for the rest

        1. Like I said, it was removed from the final draft,

          he [the king of Britain] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce,

          1. It was not removed from the final draft you fool. Go read it. I quoted directly from the final draft.

    3. “There was no Serious threat to slavery, so it makes the argument that the South had to secede to protect it particularly silly.”

      You might want to tell that to the Confederate states that explicitly listed slavery as a reason in their very own declarations of secession.

      You want to argue the Civil War paved the way for runaway federal power and whatnot, fine, but fuck off with that revisionist bullshit. Slavery was an essential component of the secessions.

      1. More ignorance. You are confusing documents. Slavery was not listed as a reason in the secession documents.

        There are the Ordinances of Secession, which are the Secession Documents, and there are the Declarations of Causes. The Ordinances are the actual secession documents and the DO NOT list slavery. The Declarations of Causes were only adopted in A FEW, not most, Deep South states, and in most cases were not adopted by the people at large but a few committees or politicians, and had nothing to do with the actual secession. In many Southern States slave owners actually were siding with the North, in East Tennessee the biggest slave advocate, William Brownlow, was the biggest Northern Supporter, and the declarations of Causes were partly to try and bolster Slave owner support after the secession was already accomplished.

        1. Give me a break. You are seriously arguing that they left because of the transcontinental railroad?

          I am sorry, you can’t disown the declaration of causes that easily. The grievances they listed were almost entirely to do with slavery. If there were all of these other reasons, why weren’t they listed in the declaration of causes?

          And if it wasn’t about slavery, why had there been a war going on in Kansas for the last six years over whether it would be a free or a slave state?

          1. I’m arguing that they left because the big government party had demonstrated it had enough power to elect a president without a single Southern electoral vote.

            And again, you are wrong about the declarations of causes all being almost exclusively about slavery. Some were more about slavery than others, but several clearly discuss quite a few issues besides slavery.

            And as I said before, only a FEW states adopted such documents, and in several cases it was not the state at all the adopted them, but small committees or the declaration of a governor. The ordenances of secession had the full backing of the people of the states which seceded, the declarations of causes did not. You ignore the legal document of the people, to focus on powerless documents by a few.

            1. Big government forces? The South was for big government forces. It was the South that wanted to use the federal govenrment to force universal slavery on the north. It was the South that violated states rights by demanding the fugitive slave act. It was the south that had the supreme court insist that northern states recognize slaves as slaves even when they were in the North.

              Big government my ass. The South loved big government. And were willing to completely destroy the federal system in order to save slavery. Sorry but Dred Scott and the Fugitive Slave Act forfeited any Southern claim to being for small government.

              1. Where do you come up with this crazy stuff? At no time was there any threat by the South to force the North to adopt Slavery in their own states. I mean seriously, I can’t believe you even made that claim. Is that how desperate you are to support an irrational argument?

                1. Have you read Dred Scott? If you have, you clearly don’t know what it meant. Let me explain it to you.

                  Dred Scott involved a slave owner in Missouri who took his slave to Illinois. Scott argued that since he was in Illinois, where slavery was legal, he was a free man. The court said no. The Court said that southerners could take their slaves to free states and those slaves were still slaves.

                  If a Southerner can take his slave with him to a free state and that person remains a slave, then the free state is no longer free. It has to recognize southern slaves. And there was nothing after Dred Scott, to stop Southerners from buying land or factories in the North and staffing it with slaves. As long as they kept their residency in the South, Dred Scott said their slaves were slaves. Thus universal slavery. Dred Scott is one of the major reasons the Union elected Lincoln.

                  1. I’ll grant you a partial point, and the Supreme Court was wrong in that case. A slave owner could pass through as state with a slave, he could not reside there with slaves forever. However, to paint the picture as if the Southern State governments were forcing the North to adopt slavery is taking it way too far.

                    1. But Dred Scott didn’t just involve “passing through”. Scott’s owner was an army surgeon. And he lived in Wisconsin (sorry I remembered it as Illinois) for a long time. The precedent it set was really broad and disturbing.

                    2. I’m not disagreeing with you that the decision was wrong.

        2. The Declarations of Causes were only adopted in A FEW, not most, Deep South states, and in most cases were not adopted by the people at large but a few committees or politicians, and had nothing to do with the actual secession.

          Right, the documents laying out the reasons and justifications for secession have nothing to do with the secession.

          1. Don’t play word games. I mean that they are not legal secession documents, and had nothing to do with the legal process of secession. The States had already seceded when a few people, without any particular mandate from the people, drafted these documents. in a FEW states, not most.

            Again, I point the the Declaration of Independence. Will you make the Revolution about slavery because slavery is an issue in what was in this case, the actual secession document from the British empire?

            1. The States had already seceded when a few people, without any particular mandate from the people, drafted these documents.

              Considering that these few people would be a plentiful source of confederate troops in the years to come, it makes sense that the preservation of slavery was the only issue capable of stirring up the necessary public support for secession.

            2. Further, if secession was mostly for economic reasons, why was legislation ensuring the permanence of slavery involved in all attempts to placate the South and prevent their secession?

              1. If slavery was the only concern, why would such placation not be successful? What you are arguing is that the South got everything it wanted, but seceded anyway.

                1. What you are arguing is that the South got everything it wanted, but seceded anyway.

                  They seceeded because they didn’t get anything they wanted. All proposed amendments or laws regarding the protection of slavery failed.

                  1. That’s not exactly the case. The promises were made for much of the war. The amendments/laws failed, because the South refused the offer. The North was not going to pass the laws if the South was not going to accept them, but the offer was still on the table for much of the war, even after the Emancipation Proclamation. All the South had to do was say yes.

  50. Both sides were wrong about many things. The South just happened to be wrong about the very fundamental basis for libertarianism – individual freedom.

    State’s rights, while useful for localizing and restricting power, are simply a means for ends that can be either good or evil. They aren’t inherently libertarian, even if they make it easier to avoid centralized, one-size-fits-all policies.

    And let’s not forget, secession is not really a state’s right, as you are no longer a state when you secede, but a separate nation. Technically, the federal government has no obligation to respect their former states’ Constitutional rights. Likewise, those who renounce citizenship should not expect protections from US courts or embassies, for example.

    1. And also the South was hardly pure in its pursuit of states rights. The worst infringement on states rights maybe in American history was the Fugitive Slave Act.

      1. Ironically, the Confederate States was as tight-knit as the Union.

    2. Please look up “state” in the dictionary.

      The US was supposed to be a collection of independent states, who delegated a select few powers to a central government. “Independent” means that you can come and go as you please.

  51. Is John Brown a libertarian hero? I can dig it if you can.

    1. No, too much of a scary nut.

      1. In his defense, he was fighting a pretty big evil. If enslaving millions of people doesn’t warrant extremism, what does?

        1. Murdering innocent babies!

          1. So you think slavery is as complicated as issue as abortion? Really? I don’t think it is complicated at all. I have no question that black people are human beings entitled to the same rights I have. Sorry you see it as such a complicated issue.

            1. I don’t think abortion is complicated. THAT’S WHY I BLOW PEOPLE UP FOR DOING IT!

              1. It is and you would be wrong dipshit. Abortion isn’t slavery. If the government decided tomorrow to start enslaving people, I think blowing shit up and heading for the hills would be a perfectly appropriate response.

                1. As soon as I get out of jail, you’re next!

  52. If the South had had nuclear weapons, would it have used them?

    1. Yes, That’s what Lee’s march in to Penn. was about. One desperate strike to inflict pain and fear on the North in their own backyard to make them sue for peace. A small nuclear device detonated in Philly or Boston would be the same

      1. He did a poor job of it then-there was a lot less damage to private property and harassment of private individuals by Lee’s army in Virginia than by his union counterparts in Georgia/South Carolina.

        1. The above should read: “…Lee’s army in Pennsylvania…”

        2. Consider that Sherman’s army was actively freeing slaves along the way. They ended up following his army in the tens of thousands.

          1. A lot of the destruction associated with Sherman’s army came from those who were not really in the ranks and he did his best to restrain his forces when they reached NC. The point I was really trying to make is that Lee wasn’t really trying to “inflict fear and pain” when he invaded Pennsylvania as SnideSniper suggests, but to draw Union forces away from the Shenandoah breadbasket and (hopefully) get the Union leadership to abandon the siege of Vicksburg in the west if he could convince them that his forces were a threat to Washington or Philadelphia.

          2. LMAO, where do you get this nonsense? Sherman didn’t free slaves, he conscripted them

  53. Would Jeff Davis have considered waterboarding to be torture?

    1. No, Haven’t you ever seen a old movie? Down here that’s how we sober someone up. 2 maybe 3 long dunks underwater and you’re good as new

    2. Did he consider starving prisoners to death torture?

  54. re: the colonies secession from the British Empire vs. the South seceding from the USA

    There’s one *huge* difference between these two situations–the colonies had *zero* representation or say in the British Parliament, and one of them (Massachusetts) had its constitution suspended and its territory put under martial law several years before the War of Independence started.

    The southern states of 1860 had full and fair representation under the US Constitution–none of their constitutional rights were being violated in 1860.

    1. +1

      The colonies, especially Massachusetts, were subjected to far greater provocations by Parliament in the early 1770s than the South was in 1860.

      It’s not like the feds had decided to suspended the Constitution of South Carolina, close its ports, and have troops occupy Charleston several years before.

      1. Um, yes they did.

    2. Also, the colonies pretty clearly didn’t want war in the 1770s and even worked for reconciliation up to about a year after the shooting had started.

      The South (well, the Deep South at least) had no such reservations, and at the very least expected and maybe even wanted a war in 1860.

    3. That is a great point. And where can I gambol?

  55. Would Thad Sevens have driven a hybrid?

    1. Yes, Thad had a club foot and was forced to ride to get around.He was poor and could not afford throughbred horses so he rode a mule. A mule is a hybrid.

  56. That looks like it might be a lot of fun. Wow.

    http://www.Got-Privacy.tk

  57. I am mixed about many of the comments here. I believe the south had the right to leave the Union. However, my greatest beef with historians is the perception that our country had only the options that occurred. South had to leave, north had to protect the Fort, and the arguments back and forth about whether or not slavery was the main “cause” of the war. It certainly played a role, but I believe the true issue was the age old issue of resource management and the abuses thereof.

  58. The South wasn’t worried only about preserving slavery in their states or even in its expansion in U.S. territories or states that hadn’t yet decided on the issue. Some in the South envisioned a Confederate Empire encompassing much of Latin America, at least through Central America; this expanded empire would enshrine slavery in its constitution and attempt to preserve it perpetually.

    1. Wirtz wrote:
      Some in the South envisioned a Confederate Empire encompassing much of Latin America

      It is true that there were influential confederates who wanted to expand into Latin America.

      this expanded empire would enshrine slavery in its constitution and attempt to preserve it perpetually

      Perhaps so, but it is worth noting that Latin America had a history of enslaving Africans and indigenous Americans. Over the history of the African slave trade with the new world, far more African slaves ended up in Latin America than did in the southern US. So, had the confederates been successful in expanding into Latin America (which thankfully they were not)they would not have been the first to introduce slavery to the region. And, slavery in Latin America outlasted slavery in the US south; slavery was still practiced in Latin America after the end of the US Civil War.

      1. “Slavery in Latin America outlasted slavery in the South.” Yep, but that’s because the South was forcefully stopped from continuing it. Of course, it would have died out eventually, but no one knows for sure how long it would have lasted. Economically, it was becoming less profitable, but this trend had long been true and yet it kept going for cultural reasons. There are those who say, “Hey, it would have died anyway, and in a peaceful way, eventually, so why didn’t we go that route?” Well, how many generations should a people be kept in bondage before you decide to do something about it? My guess is that it would have lasted another couple of generations at least, and then following its collapse, the South would have gone the apartheid route, a bit worse than the Jim Crow South of the 20th century.

  59. I think this misses the whole point that the war was almost started 20yrs earlier by Andrew Jackson, not over slavery, but over terriffs. True, a large part of it ending up being about slavery, but the animosity started over terriffs.

  60. First off, I am neither pro-Union or pro-Confederacy. History testifies that both were Authoritarian States that had little regard to personal liberty. It’s important to remember that Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus and admitted in his first Inaugural Address that he had little interest in actually abolishing the institution of slavery.

    But we can’t forget the crimes of the Jefferson Davis and the Confederate State as well. Both Davis and Lincoln were Authoritarians and true enemies against the people.

    The position that Libertarians should stand on this issue is not a pro-Union or pro-Confederacy stance; but a realization that both sides, no matter how well intended the Union or the Confederacy claimed to be, are both dark chapters in the development of generations to come. We as Libertarians have to learn the crimes that were committed.

  61. The ignorance in this article and in these comments is astounding.

    “The South fought the war to preserve white supremacy.”

    LOL – do you even realize that many northern states had laws that made it a crime for a black person to even set foot in that state?

    Do you realize that many of the abolitionists’ arguments were centered around the believe that North America was to be for white people only?

    Have you ever studied the journals of men like Lincoln and Sherman, who wanted to absolutely exterminate every single Native American, and did a pretty damn thorough job of it? Compare that to men like Lee and Davis, who actively educated black people and saw a day when they would be integrated into society?

    This historic ignorance is a joke. I expect better from Reason.

    1. Tom, you ignorant slut…
      But seriously, it is you who are ignorant of the facts, and it sounds like you have been brainwashed by the revisionists accounts of the civil war, which cherry pick only convenient facts in support of their thesis.
      First of all, get a hold of Alexander Stephens “Cornerstone Speech.” Stephens was the Vice President for the Confederacy and he makes it clear he wanted slavery extended in perpetuity. Not only that, as I mentioned in another post, there were powerful elements in the South who wanted to expand the Confederacy into Latin America, greatly expanding a slavocracy throughout the Americas.

      1. Moreover, Southern ideological sentiment towards slavery had greatly evolved from one of apologetic embarrassment prior to 1820 to the notion it was an institution natural to the races, endorsed by God, with a Biblical precedent, in the period after 1820 or so to the 1860s. Literature, newspaper editorials, and published sermons all took a strong, Biblically endorsed view of slavery.
        It’s true that the North, overall, didn’t care that much about the slavery issue – only to the extent it affected the power of states in voting in their favored economic program. But it’s absolutely ignorant to claim that slavery was not highly important to preserve for the South. The evidence is overwhelming there

        1. I grant that abolitionist elements in the North were of only mildly influential. But your contention that it was only racist in intent is laughably miopic. Evidently you haven’t read any of William Loyd Garrison’s works or some of his compatriots in the cause, who were initially frustrated by Lincoln’s prevaricating attitude towards slavery and equality for the races.
          The tragic treatment of the Native Americans was committed by Northerns and Southerns alike. Andrew Jackson was a notorious Indian Killer. In any case, it doesn’t have anything to do with the topic at hand.

          1. Wirtz wrote:
            your contention that it was only racist in intent is laughably miopic

            Wirtz, please note that Tom stated:
            “Do you realize that many of the abolitionists’ arguments were centered around the believe that North America was to be for white people only?”

            So, Tom never stated that the abolition movement was only racist. In addition, he gave two examples of racism in the Union leadership, which you never bothered to address (accept to state that it has nothing to do with the topic at hand – which is an odd assertion, since the topic at hand is whether or not the Union was primarily motivated by a sense of racial egalitarianism).

            1. The reason mentioning the racism towards Native Americans is irrelevant is that I never stated that the North’s motivation for the war did emerge from egalitarian, abolitionists principles. Slavery’s only relevance for the North was only how it was connected to voting power within the states, which would affect economic policy. There were small groups of abolitionists in the North, but they weren’t the driving force of Northern policy. However, simply because it was not such a powerful moral issue in the North does not mean it had no important moral force in the South. For the South, preserving slavery as a moral arrangement, had as much, or nearly as much importance as the economic issues at stake. It’s all over Southern literature at the time if you would only take the time to investigate it instead of relying on the cherry picking points of a Di Lorenzo.

              1. Actually, you and I are not in disagreement, I don’t think. As I stated upstream (in an earlier sub-thread), the civil war really was to a significant extent about preserving slavery to the South. My only point is that ending slavery was not all that important to much of the Union leadership, which you acknowledged (I think).

                1. “slavery was not all that important to the Union leadership”. As a moral issue, no. I think it did have some importance for the Union Leadership in how it connected to voting power in the States, which would affect economic policy.

  62. The best libertarian account of the Civil War I’ve come across is by Professor Jeffrey Rogers Hummel in his book “Freeing Slaves and Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War.”

  63. I don’t think any libertarians are arguing that the reasons for the south’s secession were moral. To me the debate is about secession in it’s self, and that any group of individuals have the right to secede from the State.

  64. Excellent article. It’s really sickening to see some “libertarians” defending the Confederacy on the bogus claim it was all about the centralization of federal power, taxes and tariffs. Bullshit on that. Tell that to the great Senator Charles Sumner, who was nearly caned to death on the Senate floor in 1856 by some SOB from South Carolina for denouncing slavery. Has anyone been nearly murdered on the Senate floor for speaking about taxes or tariffs??? One of the many reasons I’m supporting Gary Johnson for president instead of Ron Paul, is because of Ron Paul’s sucking up to neo-Confederate groups.

  65. How the hell is the south’s succesion even legitmate to begin with when 1/3 of the potential voters (slaves) are denied a vote on succesion!

  66. Should an arbitrary coercive construct a thousand miles away be able to permanently bind the loyalty of an arbitrary and even more coercive construct a hundred miles away? Who gives a shit.

    The Civil War was stupid, violent, and corrupt, undertaken for many political and social reasons remote from the abolition of slavery. It caused needless carnage, destruction, pillaging and deaths, resulting in more battle casualties than all other US wars.

    And yet it still freed ~4 million human beings from chattel bondage. Which puts it ahead of World War I.

  67. While Herbert Spencer’s liberal legacy is well established, I find it odd that the author of this piece tries to draw some sort of linkage between it and the Union cause in the person of Carl Schurz.

    The historical Schurz was a “Forty Eighter” refugee to the United States following the revolutions of 1848 in his native Germany. He had been something of a protege of the German socialist figure Gottfried Kinkel. While he was no doubt aware of Spencer, engaged in his ideas, and respected him as a thinker, Schurz’s own political lineage had much more to do with the socialist left of continental Europe than the classical liberalism of Spencer’s England.

  68. I just found this post. Wrong in so many ways. The cause of the civil war is not that simple. 1st of all you cannot flash “the rule of law” must be unforced as the law of the day was slavery was legal.
    I agree the idea of slavery is disgusting to a libertarian, which I proudly claim to be.. However, that does not change the truth. As much as you don’t understand the historical premise of right of secession that all States prior to this time, believed was valid, it is the truth.
    While the author is correct that the original 4 States spoke of slavery as one of the reasons they seceded, the other 9 States. Voted on secession at that time and the result was secession was defeated. It was only when Lincoln called up the troops, which consisted mostly of State militia, that the other 9 States voted to secede rather than make war on their neighbor for secession. These States believed States were sovereign and had the right to secede.
    Lincoln put the 1st nail in the coffin of a true libertarian form of government. It was the killing of States Rights that started our long slide to a tyrannical central government.
    I reject your premise and think there is no greater libertarian than the 90% of non-slave owning Johnny Rebs that fought to the end for their right to defend their sovereign State from invasion by a Government claiming to be “of the people”.

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