The “Anarchistically Correct” Position on the US Civil War? Reply

Since plenty of Americans, left and right, still seem to be hung up on the Civil War and its legacy, perhaps the following Wikipedia description of the early individualist-anarchist Lysander Spooner’s position on the Civil War would be helpful, i.e. support for the abolition of slavery with parallel support for abolishing the federal union. This issue is one of many where “anarchists” fail to embrace their own history and heritage and simply adopt the default “progressive” narrative. Despite their claims of edginess, most of them are very much the product of the governmental, educational, cultural, and media environment from whence they came.

“Spooner actively campaigned against slavery.[18] He published subsequent pamphlets on jury nullification and other legal defenses for escaped slaves and offered his legal services to fugitives, often free of charge.[19] In the late 1850s, copies of his book were distributed to members of Congress causing some debate over their contents. Even Senator Albert G. Brown of Mississippi, a slavery proponent, praised the argument’s intellectual rigor and conceded it was the most formidable legal challenge he had seen from the abolitionists to date. In 1858, Spooner circulated a “Plan for the Abolition of Slavery”, calling for the use of guerrilla warfare against slaveholders by black slaves and non-slaveholding free Southerners, with aid from Northern abolitionists.[20] Spooner also “conspir[ed] with John Brown to promote a servile insurrection in the South” and participated in an aborted plot to free Brown after his capture following the failed raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now part of the state of West Virginia).[21]

Although Spooner had advocated the use of violence to abolish slavery, he denounced the Republicans‘ use of violence to prevent the Southern states from seceding during the American Civil War. He published several letters and pamphlets about the war, arguing that the Republican objective was not to eradicate slavery, but rather to preserve the Union by force. He blamed the bloodshed on Republican political leaders such as Secretary of State William H. Seward and Senator Charles Sumner, who often criticized slavery yet would not attack it on a constitutional basis and who pursued military policies seen as vengeful and abusive.[22][23]

Although he denounced the institution of slavery, Spooner recognized the right of the Confederate States of America to secede as the manifestation of government by consent, a constitutional and legal principle fundamental to Spooner’s philosophy. In contrast, the Northern states were trying to deny the Southerners that right through military force.[24] He vociferously opposed the Civil War, arguing that it violated the right of the Southern states to secede from a Union that no longer represented them.[21] He believed they were attempting to restore the Southern states to the Union against the wishes of Southerners. He argued that the right of the states to secede derives from the natural right of slaves to be free.[22] This argument was unpopular in the North and in the South after the Civil War began as it conflicted with the official position of both governments.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s