The Heart of Progressive Liberalism

“I prefer the government to take less from me. I also prefer the government to take less from you.”

I’d like to take some time to respond to a few recent reader comments. I’ve never done this before, but then again I don’t really get all that many comments. Because of the length of my rebuttal to these comments I felt that it would be better to create a new post rather than cram a book into the comments section. First let me say that I have sincerely appreciated the comments I have received. I enjoy the debate. I have especially enjoyed the back and forth with the particular commenter to whom I am preparing these replies.

Comment # 1

“Some free, autonomous, adult, “self-owned” individuals banded together for their mutual defense and their mutual benefit, and negotiated among themselves an explicit, written agreement, binding themselves and their posterity to the creation of a nation.”

Lysander Spooner addressed this assertion far better than I could hope to. The following is a rather large, but extremely persuasive rebuttal from the essay “No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority” by Lysander Spooner.

“The Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. It has no authority or obligation at all, unless as a contract between man and man. And it does not so much as even purport to be a contract between persons now existing. It purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago. [This essay was written in 1869.] And it can be supposed to have been a contract then only between persons who had already come to years of discretion, so as to be competent to make reasonable and obligatory contracts. Furthermore, we know, historically, that only a small portion even of the people then existing were consulted on the subject, or asked, or permitted to express either their consent or dissent in any formal manner. Those persons, if any, who did give their consent formally, are all dead now. Most of them have been dead forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years. and the constitution, so far as it was their contract, died with them. They had no natural power or right to make it obligatory upon their children. It is not only plainly impossible, in the nature of things, that they could bind their posterity, but they did not even attempt to bind them. That is to say, the instrument does not purport to be an agreement between any body but “the people” THEN existing; nor does it, either expressly or impliedly, assert any right, power, or disposition, on their part, to bind anybody but themselves.

“We, the people of the United States (that is, the people THEN EXISTING in the United States), in order to form a more perfect union, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves AND OUR POSTERITY, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

“It is plain, in the first place, that this language, AS AN AGREEMENT, purports to be only what it at most really was, viz., a contract between the people then existing; and, of necessity, binding, as a contract, only upon those then existing. In the second place, the language neither expresses nor implies that they had any right or power, to bind their “posterity” to live under it. It does not say that their “posterity” will, shall, or must live under it. It only says, in effect, that their hopes and motives in adopting it were that it might prove useful to their posterity, as well as to themselves, by promoting their union, safety, tranquility, liberty, etc.

“Suppose an agreement were entered into, in this form:

“We, the people of Boston, agree to maintain a fort on Governor’s Island, to protect ourselves and our posterity against invasion.

“This agreement, as an agreement, would clearly bind nobody but the people then existing. Secondly, it would assert no right, power, or disposition, on their part, to compel their “posterity” to maintain such a fort. It would only indicate that the supposed welfare of their posterity was one of the motives that induced the original parties to enter into the agreement.

“When a man says he is building a house for himself and his posterity, he does not mean to be understood as saying that he has any thought of binding them, nor is it to be inferred that he is so foolish as to imagine that he has any right or power to bind them, to live in it. So far as they are concerned, he only means to be understood as saying that his hopes and motives, in building it, are that they, or at least some of them, may find it for their happiness to live in it.

“So when a man says he is planting a tree for himself and his posterity, he does not mean to be understood as saying that he has any thought of compelling them, nor is it to be inferred that he is such a simpleton as to imagine that he has any right or power to compel them, to eat the fruit. So far as they are concerned, he only means to say that his hopes and motives, in planting the tree, are that its fruit may be agreeable to them.

“So it was with those who originally adopted the Constitution. Whatever may have been their personal intentions, the legal meaning of their language, so far as their “posterity” was concerned, simply was, that their hopes and motives, in entering into the agreement, were that it might prove useful and acceptable to their posterity; that it might promote their union, safety, tranquility, and welfare; and that it might tend “to secure to them the blessings of liberty.”

Comment # 2

“I don’t use the power of the state. The state is us working together for our mutual benefit. We gave the power to tax to Congress through the contract and later, by our explicit agreement, added the income tax in the 16th Amendment.”

In order to bring clarity to this popular belief, I call on Murray Rothbard’s “Anatomy of the State: What the State is Not.” Again, I couldn’t say it better, so why try.

“With the rise of democracy, the identification of the State with society has been redoubled, until it is common to hear sentiments expressed which violate virtually every tenet of reason and common sense such as, “we are the government.” The useful collective term “we” has enabled an ideological camouflage to be thrown over the reality of political life. If “we are the government,” then anything a government does to an individual is not only just and untyrannical but also “voluntary” on the part of the individual concerned. If the government has incurred a huge public debt which must be paid by taxing one group for the benefit of another, this reality of burden is obscured by saying that “we owe it to ourselves”; if the government conscripts a man, or throws him into jail for dissident opinion, then he is “doing it to himself” and, therefore, nothing untoward has occurred. One would not think it necessary to belabor this point, and yet the overwhelming bulk of the people hold this fallacy to a greater or lesser degree.

“We must, therefore, emphasize that “we” are not the government; the government is not “us.” The government does not in any accurate sense “represent” the majority of the people. But, even if it did, even if 70 percent of the people decided to murder the remaining 30 percent, this would still be murder and would not be voluntary suicide on the part of the slaughtered minority. No organicist metaphor, no irrelevant bromide that “we are all part of one another,” must be permitted to obscure this basic fact.

“If, then, the State is not “us,” if it is not “the human family” getting together to decide mutual problems, if it is not a lodge meeting or country club, what is it? Briefly, the State is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion. [emphasis added]

Comment #3

“And the tax evader may disagree with a law to pay for government services through taxes, yet the rest of us, to secure our right to pay only our share of the costs and not his, will also enforce this rule.”

I’ll shoulder the burden of rebutting this comment on my own. By using direct quotes I will do my best to avoid putting up a strawman to burn, and address the notions expressed  in direct a manor, giving all care to meet the apposing view on it’s surest footing, at it’s sharpest edge, and on it’s most balanced approach.

Let me begin by asking a few questions of my commenter. The answers given are taken directly from this blog’s comments in the course of dialog.

Q. Does the government require you to pay more taxes because some people pay less then their fair share or in some cases no taxes at all?
A. “The tax evader who fails to pay his fair share of the cost of public services is an aggressor against those honest taxpayers who he forces to pay his share in addition to their own.”

Q. Do you prefer lower taxes? See Comment # 3
A. “[Yes. I believe I have the] right to pay only [my] share of the cost of government services.”

Let’s boil these comments down to their essence.

“I prefer the government to tax me less and other people more.”

Bare in mind here that the commenter understands that failing to comply with the State’s demand for tax dollars results in punishment.

“I am morally and ethically obligated to pay my taxes. And I am also legally obligated. But it is not the threat of penalty that makes me pay my taxes.”

So the threat of penalty does exist, and knowing that, the commenter prefers a situation where others are threatened and coerced by the State to pay more than they do so that he might pay less for the government services he so deeply cherishes.

Seriously, how could one misidentify the aggressor with greater error? On one hand there are people who demand money from you and threaten to put you in a cage if you don’t comply. But this is not the enemy? This is not the aggressor? No.

My outlook on taxation is quite different. It goes something like this:

“I prefer the government to take less from me. I also prefer the government to take less from you. Taxation is theft.”

The commenter is convinced that the very people who, in the name of morality and justice for all mankind, demand that the State take less from ALL are the evil, unethical, and immoral villains.  How dare those people say all aggression is illegitimate.

While it may be true that “good and honest men will often disagree as to which are the best laws,” when it comes to taxation, only one side of the issue has a moral foot to stand on.


What Social Contract?

Tom Woods replies to the common anti-libertarian argument that demands libertarians leave the country if they don’t like the system, the rules, etc.

Further Reading…

“For this reason, whoever desires liberty, should understand these vital facts, viz.:

1. That every man who puts money into the hands of a “government” (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against him, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will.

2. That those who will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future.

3. That it is a perfect absurdity to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man’s money without his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect him, if he does not wish them to do so? To suppose that they would do so, is just as absurd as it would be to suppose that they would take his moeny without his consent, for the purpose of buying food or clothing for him, when he did not want it.

4. If a man wants “protection,” he is competent to make his own bargains for it; and nobody has any occasion to rob him, in order to “protect” him against his will.

5. That the only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to themselves, that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for their benefit, and not for their injury.

6. That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted for a moment, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support.”

No Treason, The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner

Lincoln: Slavery, State’s Rights, and Civil War

What comes to mind at the mention of the name Abraham Lincoln? Only for the small minority would the name conjure up anything but the remembrance of a noble man who freed the slaves. The common perception is that Lincoln, guided only by his firm belief in the creed that all men are created equal, was so abhorred by the subjugation of the black man that he went to war with the south to ensure the emancipation of all slaves. So noble was his cause and so great his victory over the greatest evil in our country’s history that Lincoln has been elevated in the minds of many to a nearly saintly status.

Reality is rarely so cut-and-dry as the condensed sound bites that make their way into the history books. A deeper inspection of any historical subject yields up a vast flora of contradicting speculations. When one is willing to explore the discrepancies, to test the waters for themselves, a personal formulation of truth can emerge. I’ve recently spent some time researching Lincoln’s views on slavery and secession in an attempt to understand what really drove eleven states to dissolve their affiliation with the United States of America and the subsequent War of the States that claimed the lives of over 600,000 people.

There are some Libertarian writers who have made careers out of exposing the “truth” about Lincoln. Unfortunately, the tone of much of these articles imply a southern sympathy, of which I have none. By focusing solely on the issue of state’s rights, which I do not deny, those seeking to undermine Lincoln’s character paint the picture of a Federalist Whig bent on the consolidation of power in a centralized federal government, who rather than being driven by the inhumane treatment of men, women and children due to the color of their skin, was compelled to war over the idea that the Union must be preserved and protected at all costs.

The allegation is that the abolition of slavery was merely a war strategy to weaken the south so that by force the union could be upheld and the notion of state sovereignty, a natural extension of individual sovereignty, was eliminated. Some go so far as to say that Lincoln was racist himself. Could this all be true? Here are some quotes and excerpts that I have found to aid you in determining the truth for yourself.

When Americans Understood the Declaration of Independence by Thomas DiLorenzo

In his first inaugural address Lincoln strongly supported the Fugitive Slave Act and the proposed “Corwin Amendment” to the Constitution, which had already passed the House and Senate, which would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering with Southern slavery. Thus, it was his position that slavery should be explicitly enshrined in the Constitution, made “express and irrevocable” to use his exact words, which is hardly the position one who believes that “all men are created equal” would take. It was empty political rhetoric at its worst.

The Corwin Amendment

No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

Lincoln’s Presidential Warrant to Arrest Chief Justice Roger B. Taney by Charles Adams

Lincoln and most Northerners, during the war, accepted the Machiavellian doctrine that the end justified the means, when the end was to preserve the Union, and was to be achieved regardless of the Constitution and rulings of the Supreme Court. Lincoln expressed that policy to a Chicago clergyman:

“As commander in chief of the army and navy, in time of war, I suppose I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy.”

Lincoln’s Spectacular Lie

The War Between the States was fought, in Lincoln’s mind, to preserve the sanctity of centralization powered by a strong and unchecked federal government. Only through such an established order could Lincoln do his Whig friends the honor of advancing The American System, a mercantilist arrangement that spawned corporate welfare, a monetary monopoly for the Feds, and a protectionist tariff approach that stymied free traders everywhere.

The Hampton Roads Peace Conference During the War Between the States by John V. Denson

In order to bring into clear focus the significance of the Hampton Roads Conference, it should be recalled that on April 4, 1861, before the start of the war on April 12, the Secession Convention in Virginia, which had convened in February of 1861, sent a delegate to visit President Lincoln in the White House to discuss the results of the action recently taken in Virginia. When the State of Virginia originally voted on its ratification ordinance approving the U.S. Constitution, it contained a specific clause protecting their right to secede in the future. The delegate was Colonel John B. Baldwin, who was a strong opponent of secession by Virginia, although he recognized the right. His message communicated privately to the president on April 4, was that the convention had voted not to secede if President Lincoln would issue a written pledge to refrain from the use of force in order to get the seceded states back into the Union. President Lincoln told Colonel Baldwin that it was four days too late now to take that action. Unknown to all except a few insiders of the administration, meaning that members of the Congress did not know, the president had already issued secret orders on April 1, to send a fleet of ships to Fort Sumter in order to provoke the South into firing the first shot in order to start the war.

It was generally recognized in both the North and the South by 1865 that slavery was a dying institution, not just in America, but throughout Western Civilization. It was also obvious to both the North and the South that slavery would be hard to maintain in a separate Confederate South without the constitutional and statutory fugitive slave provisions which had required free states to return escaped slaves. In fact, many abolitionists had advocated Northern secession before the war as a means to end slavery by depriving the Southern states of the benefits of the fugitive slave clause in the Constitution and the laws relating thereto. The offer of the North to pay for the freed slaves was merely an added inducement to rejoin the Union but Lincoln had always been willing to accept slavery where it already existed if the South would remain in, or later, rejoin the Union.

President Lincoln stated that he had always been willing to discuss a peace offer as long as the first condition was met and that would be for the Confederacy to pledge to rejoin the Union. If that condition was agreed upon then they could discuss any other details that were necessary. Mr. Stephens responded by suggesting that if they could come up with some proposal to stop the hostilities, which might lead to the restoration of the Union without further bloodshed, would it not be advisable to act on that proposal, even without an absolute pledge of ultimate restoration being required at the beginning? President Lincoln replied firmly that there would be no stopping of the military operations unless there was a pledge first by the Confederacy to rejoin the Union immediately.

The subject of slavery then came up and Mr. Stephens asked President Lincoln what would be the status of the slave population in the Confederate states, and especially what effect the Emancipation Proclamation would have if the Confederates rejoined the Union. President Lincoln responded that the Proclamation was only a war measure and as soon as the war ceased, it would have no operation for the future. It was his opinion that the Courts would decide that the slaves who were emancipated under the Proclamation would remain free but those who were not emancipated during the war would remain in slavery. Mr. Seward pointed out that only about two hundred thousand (200,000) slaves had come under the operation of the Proclamation and this would be a small number out of the total. Mr. Seward then brought up the point that several days before the meeting, there had been a proposed 13th constitutional amendment to cause the immediate abolition of slavery throughout the United States, but if the war were to cease and the Confederates rejoined the Union, they would have enough votes to kill the amendment.

Mr. Hunter asked President Lincoln whether West Virginia, which had seceded from the State of Virginia, would be allowed to remain a separate state and President Lincoln stated that it would. Lincoln had once been a strong proponent of secession, and as a first-term congressman from Illinois, he spoke in a session of the House of Representatives in 1848 and argued that:

“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable and most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.” (emphasis supplied).

Lincoln recognized the right of West Virginia to secede but refused to recognize the right of the South to secede. Mr. Hunter indicated that President Lincoln’s proposal amounted to an unconditional surrender but Mr. Seward responded that the North would not be conquerors but rather the states would merely have to recognize national authority and the execution of the national laws.

The abolition of slavery was not the purpose of the war. In his Inaugural Address he promised he would invade the South for the purpose of collecting taxes and recovering the forts but he would support the first 13th amendment which protected slavery in the states where it already existed.

The abolition of slavery by the 13th amendment was a great step forward in the struggle for individual freedom and it eliminated a horrible evil in America which had been practiced for centuries throughout the world, but the passage of that amendment was not the purpose of the war and slavery would certainly have died soon without a war as it did elsewhere throughout Western Civilization without wars.

Abraham Lincoln: First Inaugural Address. U.S. Inaugural Addresses. 1989

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that—

I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

Abraham Lincoln: Second Inaugural Address. U.S. Inaugural Addresses. 1989

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.

Gettysburg College’s Hate Crime ‘Artist’ by Thomas DiLorenzo

the two most famous Confederate generals, Lee and Jackson, were not only opposed to slavery but, in Lee’s case, personally liberated hundreds of slaves. Lee inherited slaves from his father-in-law, George Washington Park Custis, Martha Washington’s grandson who George Washington adopted after marrying Martha. On December 29, 1862, as executor of his father-in-law’s will, Robert E. Lee “did manumit, emancipate and forever set free from slavery” over 170 people. According to Lee biographer Emory Thomas, Lee “meticulously searched his memory and records to make sure he missed no one”

A Letter Written by the South’s own General Lee

The South has contended only for the supremacy of the constitution, and the just administration of the laws made in pursuance to it. Virginia to the last made great efforts to save the union, and urged harmony and compromise. Senator Douglass, in his remarks upon the compromise bill recommended by the committee of thirteen in 1861, stated that every member from the South, including Messrs. Toombs and Davis, expressed their willingness to accept the proposition of Senator Crittenden from Kentucky, as a final settlement of the controversy, if sustained by the republican party, and that the only difficulty in the way of an amicable adjustment was with the republican party. Who then is responsible for the war? Although the South would have preferred any honorable compromise to the fratricidal war which has taken place, she now accepts in good faith its constitutional results, and receives without reserve the amendment which has already been made to the constitution for the extinction of slavery. That is an event that has been long sought, though in a different way, and by none has it been more earnestly desired than by citizens of Virginia.

1860 BY REV. J. E. CARNES – Galviston Texas

I give what appears to be the truthful from my own point of view. Before proceeding to do so. let me state the issue. It has been done for me in a late speech by Judge Roberts of our Supreme Court:

“The great question before the American people is : shall the institution of slavery be put upon a sure basis of gradual extinction. The Northern controlling majority say it shall. The South say it shall not. And that is the issue.” Judge Roberts of our Supreme Court

The man who would dispute that statement of the question is so far behind the times that it would take all night to get back to him.

The American Gulag by Thomas DiLorenzo

Lincoln certainly did unconstitutionally suspend habeas corpus. But the tens of thousands of Northern citizens who were imprisoned without due process by the Lincoln administration (as many as 38,000 by one estimate in the Columbia Law Journal) were overwhelmingly plain citizens from all walks of life who simply expressed doubt over the administration’s unconstitutional and despotic policies, including the shutting down of more than 300 opposition newspapers and the mass arrest of political dissenters by the military. Tens of thousands of Northern political prisoners spent months in a series of gulags, such as Fort Lafayette in New York Harbor, which came to be known as “the American Bastille.”

Why did the South Secede: Slavery or State’s Rights?

Address of William L. Harris

William Harris was a native Georgian and graduate of the University of Georgia who had moved to Mississippi in 1837. He had served as a circuit court judge, and was elected to Mississippi’s highest court, the High Court of Errors and Appeals, in 1858. He was appointed a comissioner to the State of Georgia by Mississippi Governor John J. Pettus. In this capacity he delivered the following address to the Georgia General Assembly, on December 17, 1860.

I am instructed by the resolution from which I derive my mission, to inform the State of Georgia, that Mississippi has passed an act calling a convention of her people, “to consider the present threatening relations of the Northern and Southern sections of the Confederacy — aggravated by the recent election of a President, upon principles of hostility to the States of the South; and to express the earnest hope of Mississippi, that this State will co-operate with her in the adoption of efficient measures for their common defence and safety.”

It will be remembered, that the violation of our constitutional rights, which has caused such universal dissatisfaction in the South, is not of recent date. Ten years since, this Union was rocked from centre to circumference, by the very same outrages, of which we now complain, only now “aggravated” by the recent election. Nothing but her devotion to the Union our Fathers made, induced the South, then, to yield to a compromise, in which Mr. Clay rightly said, we had yielded everything but our honor. We had then in Mississippi a warm contest, which finally ended in reluctant acquiescence in the Compromise measures. The North pledged anew her faith to yield to us our constitutional rights in relation to slave property. They are now, and have been ever since that act, denied to us, until her broken faith and impudent threats, had become almost insufferable before the late election.

Our fathers made this a government for the white man, rejecting the negro, as an ignorant, inferior, barbarian race, incapable of self-government, and not, therefore, entitled to be associated with the white man upon terms of civil, political, or social equality.

Apostles of Disunion: The Case for Southern Secession

Why did the Deep South secede from the United States and form the Confederacy in 1861?

Charles B. Dew answered this question in Apostles of Disunion. The Deep South states and later the Confederate government dispatched commissioners to the Upper South and Border South to make the case for secession from the Union.

Alabama’s commissioners to North Carolina, Isham W. Garrott and Robert H. Smith, predicted that the white children of their state would “be compelled to flee from the land of their birth, and from the slaves their parents have toiled to acquire as an inheritance for them, or submit to the degradation of being reduced to an equality with them, and all its attendant horrors.”

Mississippi commissioner William L. Harris made this point clearly and unambiguously in his speech to the Georgia legislature in 1860. “Our fathers made this a government for the white man,” Harris told the Georgians, “rejecting the negro, as an ignorant, inferior, barbarian race, incapable of self-government, and not, therefore, entitled to be associated with the white man upon terms of civil, political, or social equality.” But the Republicans intended to overturn and strike down this great feature of our Union … and to substitute in its stead their new theory of the universal equality of the black and white races.”

Commissioner Samuel L. Hall of Georgia told the North Carolina legislature on February 13, 1861, that only a people “dead to all sense of virtue and dignity” would embrace the Republican doctrine of “the social and political equality of the white and black races.”
Luther J. Glenn of Atlanta, made the same point to the Missouri legislature on March 2, 1861.

In 1860 and 1861 Preston, Curry, and the other commissioners had seen a horrific future facing their region within the confines of Abraham Lincoln’s Union. When they used words like “submission” and “degradation,” they were referring to “final subjugation” and “annihilation,” they were not talking about constitutional differences or political arguments. They were talking about the dawning of an abominable world in the South, a world created by the Republican destruction of slavery.

The secession commissioners knew what this new and hateful world would look like. Over and over again they called up three stark images that, taken together, constituted the white South’s worst nightmare.

The first threat was the looming specter of racial equality. The commissioners insisted almost to a man that Republican ascendancy in Washington placed white supremacy in the South in moral peril. Mississippi commissioner William L. Harris made this point clearly and unambiguously in his speech to the Georgia legislature in 1860. “Our fathers made this a government for the white man,” Harris told the Georgians, “rejecting the negro, as an ignorant, inferior, barbarian race, incapable of self-government, and not, therefore, entitled to be associated with the white man upon terms of civil, political, or social equality.” But the Republicans intended to overturn and strike down this great feature of our Union … and to substitute in its stead their new theory of the universal equality of the black and white races.”

Alabama’s commissioners to North Carolina, Isham W. Garrott and Robert H. Smith, predicted that the white children of their state would “be compelled to flee from the land of their birth, and from the slaves their parents have toiled to acquire as an inheritance for them, or submit to the degradation of being reduced to an equality with them, and all its attendant horrors.”

South Carolina’s John McQueen warned the Texas Convention that Lincoln and his Republicans were bent on “the abolition of slavery upon this continent and the elevation of our own slaves to an equality with ourselves and our children.” And so it went, as commissioner after commissioner – Leonidas Spratt of South Carolina, David Clopton and Arthur F. Hopkins, Henry L. Benning of Georgia – hammered home this same point.

The impending imposition of racial equality informed the speeches of other commissioners as well. Thomas J. Wharton, Mississippi’s attorney general and that state’s commissioner to Tennessee, said in Nashville on January 8, 1861, that the Republican Party would, “at no distant day, inaugurate the reign of equality of all races and colors, and the universality of the electoral franchise.”

Commissioner Samuel L. Hall of Georgia told the North Carolina legislature on February 13, 1861, that only a people “dead to all sense of virtue and dignity” would embrace the Republican doctrine of “the social and political equality of the white and black races.” Another Georgia commissioner, Luther J. Glenn of Atlanta, made the same point to the Missouri legislature on March 2, 1861. The Republican platform, press, and principal spokesmen had made their “purposes, objects, and motives” crystal clear, Glenn insisted: “hostility to the South, the extinctions of slavery, and the ultimate elevation of the negro to civil, political and social equality with the white man.” These reasons and these reasons alone had prompted his state, “to dissolve her connexion with the General Government,” Glenn insisted.

The second element in the commissioners prophecy was the prospect of a race war. Mississippi commissioner Alexander H. Handy raised this threat in his Baltimore speech in December 1860 – Republican agents infiltrating the South “to excite the slave to cut the throat of his master.” Alabamians Garrott and Smith told their Raleigh audience that Republican policies would force the South to either abandon slavery “or be doomed to a servile war.” William Cooper, Alabama’s commissioner to Missouri, delivered a similar message in Jefferson City. “Under the policy of the Republican Party, the time would arrive when the scenes of San Domingo and Hayti, with all their attendant horrors, would be enacted in the slaveholding States,” he told the Missourians. David Clopton wrote the governor of Delaware that Republican ascendancy “endangers instead of ensuring domestic tranquility by the possession of channels through which to circulate insurrectionary documents and disseminate insurrectionary sentiments among a hitherto contented servile population

Wharton of Mississippi told the Tennessee legislature that Southerners “will not, cannot surrender our institutions,” and that Republican attempts to subvert slavery “will drench the country in blood, and extirpate one or other of the races.” In their speeches to the Virginia Convention, Fulton Anderson, Henry L. Benning, and John S. Preston all forecast a Republican-inspired race war that would, as Benning put it, “break out everywhere like hidden fire from the earth.”

The third prospect in the commissioners’ doomsday vision was, in many ways, the most dire: racial amalgamation. Judge Harris of Mississippi sounded this note in Georgia in December 1860 when he spoke of Republican insistence on “equality in the rights of matrimony.” Other commissioners repeated this warning in the weeks that followed. In Virginia, Henry Benning insisted that under Republican-led abolition “our women” would suffer “horrors … we cannot contemplate in imagination.” There was not an adult present who could not imagine exactly what Benning was talking about.

Leroy Pope Walker, Alabama’s commissioner to Tennessee and subsequently the first Confederate Secretary of War, predicted that in the absence of secession all would be lost – first, “our property,” and “then our liberties,” and finally the South’s greatest treasure, “the sacred purity of our daughters.”

No commissioner articulated the racial fears of the secessionists better, or more graphically, than Alabama’s Stephen F. Hale. When he wrote of the South facing “amalgamation or extermination” when he referred to “all the horrors of a San Domingo slave insurrection,” when he described every white Southerner “degraded to a position of equality with free negroes,” when he foresaw the sons and daughters of the South “associating with free negroes upon terms of political and social equality,” when he spoke of the Lincoln administration consigning the citizens of the South “to assassinations and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans,” he was giving voice to the night terrors of the secessionist South.

State’s rights, historical political abuses, territorial questions, economic differences, constitutional arguments – all these and more paled into insignificance when placed alongside this vision of the South’s future under Republican domination.

The choice was absolutely clear. The slave states could secede and establish their independence, or they could submit to “Black Republican” rule with its inevitable consequences: Armageddon or amalgamation. Whites forced to endure racial equality, race war, a staining of the blood – who could tolerate such things?

The commissioners sent out to spread the secessionist gospel in late 1860 and early 1861 clearly believed that the racial fate of their region was hanging in the balance in the wake of Lincoln’s election. Only through disunion could the South be saved from the disastrous effects of Republican principles and Republican malevolence. Hesitation, submission – any course other than immediate secession – would place both slavery and white supremacy on the road to certain extinction. The commissioners were arguing that disunion, even if it meant risking war, was the only way to save the white race.

Lysander Spooner: No Treason

The pretense that the “abolition of slavery” was either a motive or justification for the war, is a fraud of the same character with that of “maintaining the national honor.” Who, but such usurpers, robbers, and murderers as they, ever established slavery? Or what government, except one resting upon the sword, like the one we now have, was ever capable of maintaining slavery? And why did these men abolish slavery? Not from any love of liberty in general — not as an act of justice to the black man himself, but only “as a war measure,” and because they wanted his assistance, and that of his friends, in carrying on the war they had undertaken for maintaining and intensifying that political, commercial, and industrial slavery, to which they have subjected the great body of the people, both black and white. And yet these imposters now cry out that they have abolished the chattel slavery of the black man — although that was not the motive of the war — as if they thought they could thereby conceal, atone for, or justify that other slavery which they were fighting to perpetuate, and to render more rigorous and inexorable than it ever was before. There was no difference of principle — but only of degree — between the slavery they boast they have abolished, and the slavery they were fighting to preserve; for all restraints upon men’s natural liberty, not necessary for the simple maintenance of justice, are of the nature of slavery, and differ >from each other only in degree.

If their object had really been to abolish slavery, or maintain liberty or justice generally, they had only to say: All, whether white or black, who want the protection of this government, shall have it; and all who do not want it, will be left in peace, so long as they leave us in peace. Had they said this, slavery would necessarily have been abolished at once; the war would have been saved; and a thousand times nobler union than we have ever had would have been the result. It would have been a voluntary union of free men; such a union as will one day exist among all men, the world over, if the several nations, so called, shall ever get rid of the usurpers, robbers, and murderers, called governments, that now plunder, enslave, and destroy them.

Still another of the frauds of these men is, that they are now establishing, and that the war was designed to establish, “a government of consent.” The only idea they have ever manifested as to what is a government of consent, is this — that it is one to which everybody must consent, or be shot. This idea was the dominant one on which the war was carried on; and it is the dominant one, now that we have got what is called “peace.”

Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States.

Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

We maintain that in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual; that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement, entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.

In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: “No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made.

Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States.

Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.

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.

Florida Declaration of Secession

By the agency of a large proportion of the members from the non slaveholding States books have been published and circulated amongst us the direct tendency and avowed purpose of which is to excite insurrection and servile war with all their attendant horrors. A President has recently been elected, an obscure and illiterate man without experience in public affairs or any general reputation mainly if not exclusively on account of a settled and often proclaimed hostility to our institutions and a fixed purpose to abolish them. It is denied that it is the purpose of the party soon to enter into the possession of the powers of the Federal Government to abolish slavery by any direct legislative act. This has never been charged by any one. But it has been announced by all the leading men and presses of the party that the ultimate accomplishment of this result is its settled purpose and great central principle. That no more slave States shall be admitted into the confederacy and that the slaves from their rapid increase (the highest evidence of the humanity of their owners will become value less. Nothing is more certain than this and at no distant day. What must be the condition of the slaves themselves when their number becomes so large that their labor will be of no value to their owners. Their natural tendency every where shown where the race has existed to idleness vagrancy and crime increased by an inability to procure subsistence. Can any thing be more impudently false than the pretense that this state of things is to be brought about from considerations of humanity to the slaves.

Why Did Alabama Secede? | Student of the American Civil War

In response to Lincoln’s election and these resolutions, Gov. Andrew B. Moore sent a letter to the legislature which said”…The state of society that must exist in the Southern States, with four millions of free negroes and their increase, turned loose upon them, I will not discuss—it is too horrible to contemplate.”

Georgia Secession

For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.

The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose. By anti-slavery it is made a power in the state. The question of slavery was the great difficulty in the way of the formation of the Constitution. While the subordination and the political and social inequality of the African race was fully conceded by all, it was plainly apparent that slavery would soon disappear from what are now the non-slave-holding States of the original thirteen. The opposition to slavery was then, as now, general in those States and the Constitution was made with direct reference to that fact. But a distinct abolition party was not formed in the United States for more than half a century after the Government went into operation. The main reason was that the North, even if united, could not control both branches of the Legislature during any portion of that time.


She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery– the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.

The States of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, by solemn legislative enactments, have deliberately, directly or indirectly violated the 3rd clause of the 2nd section of the 4th article [the fugitive slave clause] of the federal constitution, and laws passed in pursuance thereof; thereby annulling a material provision of the compact, designed by its framers to perpetuate the amity between the members of the confederacy and to secure the rights of the slave-holding States in their domestic institutions– a provision founded in justice and wisdom, and without the enforcement of which the compact fails to accomplish the object of its creation. Some of those States have imposed high fines and degrading penalties upon any of their citizens or officers who may carry out in good faith that provision of the compact, or the federal laws enacted in accordance therewith.

In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color– a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.


With slavery, the most outstanding of the issues between North and South, the majority of people in Arkansas were not greatly concerned. Four fifths of the white families in the state owned no slaves. Few of those who did own slaves believed that the system was in danger. For many years the slavery question had caused trouble, but somehow compromises had always been reached.

Tennesse – East Tennessee Anti-Secession Resolutions

What happened in Tennesse to those who tried to stop it’s secession? They were hunted down by the Confederacy.

Vain protest! It was not long before those Unionists and protestants against wrong were flying for their lives, and were hunted down like wild beasts. The leaders disappeared from observation, and the people could only acquiesce in a state of affairs which, in the presence of the armed minions of the Southern Confederacy, there powerless to prevent. Exiled, outlawed, scourged, imprisoned, consigned to the gallows in companies, the story of East Tennessee is written in tears and blood; and if all other records of the wrong and outrage perpetrated by the Confederacy on Southern citizens were blotted out, the persecutions inflicted upon loyal men in Tennessee would suffice to consign the memory of the secession movement and its leaders to eternal infamy.

Need More?

The Fugitive Slave Laws: Gods Laws Paramount to the Laws of Men

Abraham Lincoln’s Record on the Slavery Question: His Doctrines Condemned by Henry Clay (Founder of the Whig Party) – A Must Read!!

Aggression of the Slave-Power

The Alternative: A Separate Nation or the Africanization of the South

The Nature of Aggression


When contemplating the nature of aggression, I often ponder idleness in situations which seem to morally demand one’s participation.  For instance, if a starving man begs me for food, and I have what I deem to be plenty, yet deny his request, have I aggressed against this man? If a man is drowning beside my boat and I refuse to come to his aid, despite no suspicion that doing so would jeopardize my own well being, am I not guilty of instigating aggression?

The truth of the matter is of utmost importance, for as a Libertarian I understand that all aggression is inherently illegitimate. Furthermore, as I understand it, the instigator of aggression remains not cloaked in the protection of the natural right to live free of the aggression of those against whom he has violated the same natural right. Far from being immutable, natural rights persist only for those who respect the natural rights of others, for nature affords each the right to defend against aggression.

So, for anyone to invoke the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of property as justification for the instigation of aggression, either does not understand the nature of aggression or does and would rather be insistent of ignorance on the matter than honest and open regarding his wrongs.

That there are shades of obligation in the scenarios mentioned above does not escape me. I am well aware that for liberty to prevail, the individual must be free to consider his own well being; to weigh the risk involved when rendering aid to another. There is no justice in coercing by force one to act to his own detriment. No one is morally obligated to risk his life to save another though such an act is most noble and stems from no other place but love of others.

The cases I am concerned with here are situations where one cannot truthfully assert that the perceived danger was sufficient to justify passiveness. To know with great certainty that failure to lend a hand will result in bodily harm or death to another, and yet choose to remain idle is akin to causing the harm by ones own hands.

Considering again the starving man, who I refuse to aid with food though I have enough to give 10 times the amount requested with no concern for my own ability to feed myself and family, I ask, is there a moral footing on which to stand in claiming that I may do with my property whatever I wish, even to the detriment of others? I know of no Libertarian who upon consideration of this scenario could answer yes. The evidence seems overwhelming to me that I am inclined to believe a poor starving man may be justified in any effort to procure my food by force, under the natural right of self defense. For if I have, with my idleness, instigated aggression – acted in a manor expected to contribute to the demise of another – have I not relegated my own property rights to the rubbish bin, and exposed myself to the possibility of just retaliation?

Do not construe my words here to imply a defense of moral relativism. I am not saying that theft is not immoral in all cases. I believe theft is always immoral. What I am presenting here is the idea that property rights are not violated when a man at deaths door takes by force after making every effort to prevent his end by appealing to the good nature of one who is nearby and burdened with plenty, only to have his most direct potential for rescue deny all moral obligation to render aid and act in a manor intended to ensure his demise.

I find it most regrettable that advocates of the Non Aggression Principle dismiss the notion that idleness may be a form of aggression. Many, by applying a faulty definition of aggression to the Non Aggression principle, arrive at conclusions which aught to violate the conscience of any moral man.

I realize this might not sit well with many Libertarians. I am more than willing to entertain arguments to the contrary. If I have errored in my judgement on this matter, I will be glad for it to be exposed to me.

More thoughts on the Non Aggression Principle

Aggression is typically defined as the initiation of force against anothers’ person or property. the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) states that all action which violates another person’s right to property or forces them to act counter to their own will is considered unethical. This is the foundation of Libertarianism.

The assertion is that ethical action can be determined in even the most difficult dilemmas by analyzing the situation  in terms of property rights. Does it violate the property rights of others – then it’s wrong. While this is true, what I see many Libertarians do is jump to the conclusion that everything else is fair game. But is it accurate to presume that all human action which does not violate the Non Aggression Principle  is moral and ethical? Think of NAP as a filter through which we can process all human action. Only actions which do not violate the principle fall through. In the end we know that all the actions caught in the filter are are indeed immoral but there is no certainty we have indeed strained out every unethical action.

For me, the most compelling evidence that NAP allows unethical behavior to slip through the filter lies in the fact that it finds no fault in one who opts to sit idly by while preventable harm befalls another. This violates another general ethical code known as the “duty to rescue.” The “duty to rescue” states that doing nothing to aid another in harms way when it is reasonable to believe that acting could prevent harm with little or no risk, is immoral and unethical.

Imagine a man in a boat who witnesses a swimmer nearby who begins to struggle and cries out for help. The man in the boat acknowledges to himself that he could easily maneuver his boat closer and throw a life jacket to the drowning man but opts instead to remain idle and watch the man drown.

The Non Aggression Principle would find no fault in this man’s actions. In fact Rothbard states in “The Ethics of Liberty” that, “…in the free society, no man may be saddled with the legal obligation to do anything for another, since that would invade the former’s rights; the only legal obligation one man has to another is to respect the other man’s rights.”

Mises, however, in “Human Action”, speaking of purposeful human action states that “…action is not only doing but no less omitting to do what possibly could be done.” So according to Mises the man on the boat acted even though it is accurate to say he did nothing. Not only did he act but he did so in a manor which he believed would result in another person being harmed. That sounds a lot like aggression to me.  Curiously the Non Aggression Principle not only permits such behavior but justifies it.

I could go further and suggest that how we utilize our property can, in some instances, amount to instigating aggression. The man owns the boat and his person. His right to not have his property and person aggressed upon is only secure so long as he does not initiate aggression on others. But if it is aggression to act in a manor believed will result in   harm to another, than withholding aid is the act of aggression itself meaning retaliatory aggression is deemed moral by NAP.

Let’s say the drowning man makes his way over to the boat and attempts to hold onto it but the boat owner views this as a violation of his property rights and promptly defends his property by pushing the man back away from the boat. Rothbard might well say the boat owner is justified, though I recall him stating that he did not consider emergencies to be governed by the normal rules of morality. However,  if the initial aggression is the man’s idleness, then the drowning man doing anything to procure use of the boat to save his life is always ethical, as it should be.

Christian Resistance to Ungodly Government



Whenever the law of any civil government demands of his subjects either active or passive disobedience to the known will, or law of God, disobedience to the former, in favor of the latter, becomes an imperative duty.


Whereas, God is supreme in, legislation, and his laws imperative and binding upon all the subjects of his moral government; and

Whereas, No corporate body or earthly government, can by counter legislation, release him from,or justify him in disobeying the laws of God; and

Whereas, The entire system of American slave law, by which the slaves are reduced from men to chattels, and deprived of their liberty, is a flagrant and unmistakeable outrage upon the laws of God and upon the heaven bestowed rights of our common nature in the persons of the slaves; and

Whereas, The recently passed “Fugitive Slave Bill,” is a part and parcel of the same atheistical code, and in direct and manifest opposition to the revealed will and law of God, who requires of us “To deliver him that is spoiled, out of the hand of the oppressor,” “To hide the outcasts, and to bewray not him that wandereth,” “To let his outcasts dwell with us,” &c. And who also expressly forbids a compliance with this law, saying, “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master, the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee, he shall dwell with thee even among you, in that place which he shall choose, in one of thy gates where it liketh him best ; thou shalt not oppress him.” Therefore,

Resolved, That as disciples of Christ and members of his church, we ought not, we cannot, and as we fear God, we will not render obedience to the said law. We should regard it as practical atheism, for a moment to give it the supremacy over the law of God, with which it is at direct and manifest war.

We do indeed, recognize our duty with all meekness, to abide whatever penalties a wicked and oppressive government may see fit to inflict upon us for our fidelity to the laws of God. But be the consequences what they may, we feel solemnly bound by every means in our power, to feed, comfort, shelter and aid the fugitive from southern bondage, the same as if no such law existed, and the same as if they were our own children, fleeing from the savages of the wilderness, or from any enemy who was seeking feloniously to deprive them of their liberties or lives.

Resolved, That the alarm, consternation and distress, into which numerous families of our fellow citizens have been thrown by the aforesaid law, suspending as it does, ” the writ,” and ” trial by jury,” and thereby exposing even those who were never in bondage, to the perpetual doom of slavery, and connected as they are by ties of consanguinity with those who have escaped from slavery, or in part, or in whole, composed of such persons, demand the entire sympathy of all who fear God and love their fellow men.

Resolved, That we deeply deplore the recklessness of those legislators, who, by the passing of the aforementioned Bill, have precipitated this terrible crisis. They have placed the citizens in a position where they are compelled to defile their consciences, do violence to every humane and generous feeling of their hearts, and to knowingly sin against God, or refuse obedience to this law. They have, done a fearful work ; deeply do we deplore it, and earnestly will we pray God to save the country from the fearful results with which it is now threatened.

Resolved, After careful and prayerful deliberation, that the above preamble and resolutions be signed by the pastor and clerk, and published as the solemn convictions and purposes of this church.

Nathaniel Colver, Pastor.
Joseph J. Howe, Clerk.

The Central Bank: The Commoner, Sept 22, 1911

The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.), 22 Sept. 1911.

One of the results of the financial depression of 1907 was the appointment of a commission by the house and senate in Washington for the purpose of investigating banking systems generally, and suggesting amendments, if they could, for the improvement of our own system. This commission, organized by the election of Senator Nelson V. Aldrich as chairman, proceeded at once to the work for which it was appointed. The commission decided that one of its chief duties was to educate the public in banking and financial affairs. They undertook to do that by means of public speeches and literature. Senator Aldrich made a series of speeches in the principal cities of the Middle West. He began this series by criticizing our banking system, praising the banking system of the principal countries of Europe and asking whether a central bank would be suitable for our country. He ended the series with a flat footed stand for the establishment of a central bank.

In addition to this series of speeches, the commission provided for the publication of a library on banks and banking, probably the most comprehensive that has ever been issued. This library consists of something like fifty volumes. It is issued by the government and for the most part it has been prepared by parties specially selected by the commission. After these things had been done, Senator Aldrich, in senate document No. 784, submitted a plan for the establishment by congress of what he calls “The Reserve Association of America” with a capital of, $300,000,000 to be subscribed and held by the national banks of the country. The features of this proposed association could not be described in a newspaper article. It is sufficient to say that it is in essence, a central bank; chartered by congress with the head office in Washington and its branches in every part of the land.

The justification for a public discussion of the proposed law is the evident intention on the part of the captains of industry and certain leaders of the Republican Party to establish, in our country, a bank which shall be fashioned after the great central banks of Europe. Those who favor the establishment of such a bank must stand upon some one of three propositions, viz:

  1. That a central bank would be profitable to its stockholders.
  2. That a central bank would be of service to the government in the transfer of its funds and in the transaction of its business.
  3. That a central bank would be a cure for panics and financial disturbances.

Whatever may be said of secret motives, I have not heard any one attempt, publicly, to justify his support of a central bank on the ground that it would be profitable to the stock holders. Neither have I heard any one point out a need on the part of the government with its treasury and sub-treasuries and affiliated banks for any new means of transacting its business.

The only one of the three propositions that has been discussed by the commission or by the friends of the bank is that such a bank would be a cure for panics.

President Taft, in one of his messages to congress, says that the monetary commission has found that there are no panics in countries’ that have central banks. Senator Aldrich, in an address before the Economic club of New York, “asks attention to an examination of some of the methods employed in modern times in the great commercial nations of Europe to prevent financial panics or to relieve congestion and dangerous pressure in the money markets.” An examination of the address shows that Senator Aldrich assumes that a central bank is a cure for panics without going to the trouble of showing that such is the case. This address has been published as senate document No. 406.

It is well known that the opponents of a central bank deny that such a bank would prevent panics and it is hard to understand why Senator Aldrich, with his great ability and unlimited resources in securing information for the public should have left the question open. England has had a central bank since 1694; France has had a central bank since 1800 and Germany has had a central bank since 1876.

If Senator Aldrich had caused a study of these great countries since the establishment of their central banks, to be made with special reference to the influence of these banks on panics, it would, I am sure, have left no room for further dispute. The evidence, one way or the other, must be abundant, but among the fifty volumes he has caused to be published, not one deals with this vital question. I do not allege that the omission was intentional but I am willing to allege that an impartial study of the history of the countries above named will furnish no justification for a belief that a central bank is a cure for panics. On the other hand, I believe it will show that panics and money disturbances are world-wide, and, in a general way, such a study will show a European counterpart for each of our American panics.

We are not entirely without instruction upon this question in our own country. We have had two central banks in America. The first one was established in 1791 and lasted for twenty years; the second one was established in 1816 and lasted for twenty years. In 1820, we had a central bank fashioned in every way after the bank of England, and in that year we also had one of the most disastrous panics in our history.

The chief objection, however, to a central bank is not that it would fail to prevent panics. The chief objection is that such a bank is a monopoly—the most powerful and dangerous monopoly that the American people could create. Senator Aldrich praises the efficiency of the central banks of Europe. With equal truth, he could praise the efficiency of Standard Oil, but notwithstanding its efficiency, the people are demanding its destruction.

As I have said above, congress established a central bank in 1791. It proved to be a great bank, the greatest our country had ever known, but when its charter expired in 1811, the people refused it a new charter. In 1816, the financial affairs of our country were in such desperate condition that congress, remembering the efficiency of the old bank, chartered another central bank. Under its powerful and intelligent lead, business revived and plenty smiled upon our fathers in a way they had never known. The second bank was greater than the first; it was the greatest bank the country had ever known but in 1836, when its charter expired, the people refused it a renewal. And what was it that caused our fathers to deny themselves the advantages of this great bank?  The answer is evident to any man who reads the story. The bank was a monopoly.

At one time or another, ten presidents have been parties to the bank controversy and ten presidents are on record in opposition to a central bank.

Madison vetoed a bill to charter a central bank; Jackson vetoed a bill to re-charter a central bank; Tyler twice vetoed bills to charter central banks.

President Jefferson, speaking of the first central bank established by congress said:

“This institution is one of the most deadly hostility against the principles and the form of our constitution. An institution like this, penetrating by its branches, every part of the union, acting by command and in phalanx, may, in a critical moment, upset the government.”

President Van Buren; at a banquet one night, proposed this toast:

“Uncompromising hostility to the United States Bank.”

Theodore Roosevelt, in his life of Benton, says:

“Good ground can be shown for thinking Jackson’s veto proper.”

Henry Cabot Lodge, in his life of Hamilton, says:

“A central bank with branches, such as we had in Jackson’s time, would be dangerous to a perilous magnitude.”

During the Tippecanoe and Tyler campaign of 1840, General Harrison was asked to state in writing whether, in case of his election, he would favor the establishment of a central bank. His answer was,

“I will not give my sanction to a bank of the United States unless by the failure of all other expedients it should be demonstrated to be necessary to carry on the operations of the government and then only as a fiscal and not as a commercial bank.”

In December, 1861, when the expenditures of the government amounted to $2,000,000 per day, when the treasury was empty and the enemy was threatening our capital city, Secretary Chase sent a call to congress for financial help. The need was so urgent that the secretary asked congress to pass a law the very day it received his report, and what did he recommend? He know the financial history of our country, and of other countries and he know that a central bank was the quickest and surest way to secure the help he needed but he did not ask for the establishment of a central bank. He asked for the establishment of a system of in dependent banks scattered throughout a thousand cities, and the reason Secretary Chase gave for his recommendation is a significant reason. He said:

“A system of independent banks will enable the government to procure loans without risking the perils of a great money monopoly.”

More than one hundred years ago James Madison declared in the congress of the United States that the bank of England can never serve as a model for this country. He declared,

“The genius of the British monarchy favors the concentration of wealth and the concentration of power while the genius of our government requires a diffusion of wealth and a diffusion of power. A system of independent banks is in harmony with our institutions.”

For half a century we have had a system of independent banks and notwithstanding their faults, the record of that half century for industrial progress is unmatched in the history of the world.

In every generation a central bank has been the dream of the holders of swollen fortunes. It would be in their hands a magic wand which would enable them to control the industries of a republic. Three-quarters of a century ago, a distinguished democratic president, contemplating the over-reaching tendencies of the captains of industry, gave utterance to a sentiment that I am willing to make my creed. He said:

“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talent, of education or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the law undertakes to add to these natural and just advantages, artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities and exclusive privilege, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection and, as heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.” H. S. MARTIN.

Marion, Kan., September 6.