Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men
by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

A libertarian history of the War of Northern Aggression by a graduate of Grove City College. It confirms my natural reactions and opinions about the war:
  1. It was not needed to end slavery, because if the North had let them secede and simply revoked the fugitive slave act, slavery would no longer have been viable.
  2. The South should have been able to defend their independence, but they didn't use guerilla tactics, because their generals were all West Point graduates and they were full of idiot pride.
  3. Ironically, the Confederacy created a strong central government that dictated to the states, messed things up, and lost the war.
  4. Lincoln was a dictator.
  5. The central government grew during the war and many of the freedoms that it took away were never returned.

Each chapter ends with a bibliographical essay that summarizes all the literature on the subject.

Opinions about slavery
Frederick Douglas told northern audiences that slavery "brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie." (21)

George Fitzhugh "defended slavery as a practical form of socialism." He wrote "liberty is an evil which government is intended to correct." (23)

Slavery was driving the culture in the North and South apart before the war. "The South's siege mentality turned it into a closed society." (25)

Abolitionists
When Elijah Lovejoy, an abolitionist editor, was killed while defending his press from an Illinois mob in 1837, abolitionists became sympathetic figures to many people who had previously disliked them.

In 1858, Lysander Spooner circulated plans for fomenting slave rebellions in the South. (59)

Spooner believed that the slaveholders owed compensation to their slaves and that the Blacks therefore could justly seize plantations as their own private property. (60)

Slavery in the USA verses Salvery in the Caribbean and South America
"Slave rebellions in the United States were never as frequent, large, or successful as in the Caribbean and South America

... Brazil and the Caribbean islands received more than 85 percent of the ten million Africans forcibly shipped across the Atlantic from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century, but by 1825 the U.S. slave population of 1,750,000 accounted for more than one-third of all slaves in the Western Hemisphere.

... only in the states of South Carolina and Mississippi did slaves ever constitute a majority of the population, whereas in the British and French Caribbean, blacks were 90 percent of inhabitants from 1770 on. (57)

The large holdings in the Caribbean were managed by hired overseers who had less incentive to maximize the slave's long-term capital value (58)

"The only fully successful servile insurrection in all of human history was the one in Haiti." (58)

"... rather than facing economic demise, slavery was thriving right up to the Civil War." (39)

The Mexican War
The David Wilmot proviso to the Mexican War appropriation bill recognized the similarity between slavery and imprisonment and outlawed the former in territories to be taken from Mexico: "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted." See also the wording of the 13th Amendment. (87)

The Mexican War was the first in U.S. history to be fought exclusively with volunteers. (158)

Political Parties
The Whig Party called for the central government to promote economic growth with protective tariffs, a national bank, and aid for internal improvements. (76)

"From the War of 1812 on, sale of public lands was the central government's only source of revenue outside of the tariff. The Whigs on the other hand had always opposed giving away the public domain. Even more than their desire for an ample treasury, the key Whig constituency of northeastern manufacturers wanted high land prices in order to discourage western settlement. Preventing a drain of labor to the west would keep wages low in the east." (119)

The Democratic Party called for a small, frugal central government. Andrew Jackson said, "when the laws undertake ... to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humbler members of society—the farmers, mechanics, and laborers—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." (77)

The 1860 presidential race in the North was between Lincoln, the Republican, and Douglas, the Northern Democrat. The race in the South was between Breckenridge, the Southern Democrat, and Bell, the Constitutional Unionist. Lincoln didn't carry any slave states. In ten of them he did not get a single recorded vote! (130)

Lincoln won by receiving the electoral votes of every free state except NJ. (131)

Fugitive Slave Laws

"...patrol duty was compulsory for most able-bodied white males." Slavery's enforcement costs were socialized. (48)

The fugitive slave clause in the federal constitution imposed costs on Northerners. This was the prime way the US government subsidized slavery in the South. (53)

Concern about runaway slaves was a reason for US acquisition of Florida and later the war against the Seminoles who provided refuge to runaways. (54)

The Fugitive Slave law (part of the Compromise of 1850) bothered Northerners and did more to popularize abolitionism in the North than anything before. This was followed in 1851 by the best-selling novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, which also greatly increased the number of abolitionists.

"To enhance enforcement, Congress empowered commissioners to conscript the physical aid of any private citizen, thereby extending the principle behind compulsory slave patrols into the North. ... The law consequently fostered an unsavory class of professional slave catchers, who could make huge profits by legally kidnapping free blacks in the North and selling them into slavery in the South." (94)

"Northern mobs, which once had directed their fury at abolitionists, now attacked slave catchers, broke into jails, and rescued fugitive slaves.

Frederick Douglas urged that "the only way to make the Fugitive Slave Law a dead letter is to make half a dozen or more dead kidnappers" ... "northern juries refused to convict." (95)

Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri
Horace Greeley said the Kansas-Nebraska Act created more abolitionists in two months than William Lloyd Garrison had in twenty years. (107)

"The introduction of popular sovereignty into Kansas touched off a race between antislavery and proslavery settlers." (109)

"When the territorial governor called the first election in 1855, armed Missourians stuffed the ballot boxes with thousands of votes." (110)

Secession
Federal officers resigned in droves. State troops took possession of customhouses, post offices, arsenals, military posts, etc. Lincoln accurately noted that "the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy" (138)

Lincoln's administration helped West Virginia to secede from VA and promptly recognized WVA as a member of the Union (apparently it is OK to secede only if you support Lincoln).

"Northern secession represented an effective way to eliminate this subsidy [fugitive slave laws] to slaveholders." (55)

The Confederacy
The Cotton states seceded before Lincoln was inaugurated and drew up a constitution for the Confederate States of America which omitted a general welfare clause, prohibited the central government from imposing protective tariffs or granting subsidies or financing internal improvements. It also required two-thirds approval by congress for appropriations, granted the president a line-item veto and required the post office to become financially self-sufficient. (134)

It outlawed international slave trade (because allowing imports from Africa would bring down prices and reduce the current wealth of large slaveholders. (136)

The Confederacy decided to embargo cotton until European nations granted them recognition. "This self-inflicted denial did more than the entire Union navy to halt Confederate exports." (167)

The Confederate attack on Fort Sumner resulted in northern support for Lincoln's determination to use force to deny independence to the Confederacy. His call for state militia to suppress the Confederacy had the opposite effect in the slave states. Virginia, NC, Tenn., and Arkansas who had not been ready to secede over the issue of slavery now transferred their allegiance to the Confederacy over the issue of a voluntary union. Lincoln's belligerency doubled the Confederacy's white population and material resources. (141)

Lincoln's Crimes
Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Maryland and imposed military occupation after Baltimore officials burned the railroad bridges and cut the telegraph lines.

"The military authorities soon began imprisoning prominent secessionists without trial."

Chief Justice Taney said if Lincoln's action was allowed to stand, "the people of the United States are no longer living under a Government of laws..." Lincoln simply ignored Taney's opinion. (142)

In Missouri, the Union general, Fremont, freed the slaves. Lincoln countermanded the emancipation and replaced Fremont. (145)

The War against Independence
"One of the reasons Northern generals in the west usually performed so much better is because they were too far away from Lincoln to foul things up." (174)

"... the Confederacy condemned itself to waging a war on the Union's terms, in the realm where the Union had overwhelming predominance." (180)

"The despotic centralization of Jefferson Davis and his West Point cabal alienated the southern people from the cause of independence." (289)

"At the war's close the United States could boast higher taxation per capita than any other nation." (223)

"The Civil War represents the simultaneous culmination and repudiation of the American Revolution." (349)

"Republicans put empire above liberty" (352)

Year Read: 1997


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