One thus commonly finds libertarians, like Walter Williams again, holding that the Southern States had a perfect right to leave the Union, that the Civil War was an act of tyranny, and that the 600,000+ deaths of the War made Abraham Lincoln one of the great mass murderers of history (a favorite accusation of paleoconservative columnist Joseph Sobran). There is a certain logic to this, if one begins with the premise that government is a kind of "contract at will" from which any party can exit at any time for any reason. This, however, is not quite what the Declaration of Independence says:Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing that Forms to which they are accustomed.So exactly what "Evils" were being suffered by the Southern States that moved them to leave the Union? Well, the threat of the Abolition of Slavery. As Ulysses S. Grant said, this in fact was "one of the worse causes ever." The evils were being practiced by the Slave States, not suffered by them; and they wished to leave the Union in order to continue practicing their evils without opposition. This being the case, the libertarian arguments in relation to Southern Secession try to ignore slavery in favor of other motives, like protective tariffs, for secession....
Although Lincoln was an heir to Whigs and Federalists, and the defeat of secession did remove one of the threats that helped keep the Federal Government within its Constitutional limitations, the Civil War involved a noble cause and, especially through the Civil War Amendments (13th, 14th, & 15th), improved the Constitution. Focusing on the supposed evils of the Union cause, and ignoring that the cause was to abolish one of the greatest evils in history, slavery, not only conveys a message of perversity and moral confusion but, again, like the conspiracy theories, distracts attention from its proper focus, namely the outright destruction of Constutional government in letter and spirit by the New Deal. Franklin Roosevelt, despite building the Jefferson Memorial and putting Jefferson on the nickel, completely overthrew the Jeffersonian understanding of American government -- replacing it with the ideas, like unlimited Federal spending, that had been advocated by Jefferson's greatest enemy, the Federalist Alexander Hamilton. The New Deal undid the Jeffersonian revolution of 1800 and lodged a cancer in American government. The disease has grown steadily ever since.
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