Steve G.

Southern voices for freedom

In Libertarian on December 29, 2008 at 5:07 pm

This is one of those annoying help-me-with-my-homework posts. I just thought I’d be upfront about that, so don’t say you weren’t warned! In my defense, it’s my wish that this gets published under the auspices of the Libertarian Party, rather than being my personal project. The original idea was to make it Carolinas-only, but that seemed somewhat limiting to me. The South is STILL often depicted as anti-freedom, and any way of dispelling that notion while at the same time giving new life to often unheard voices is appealing to me.

I’m thinking of a project to publish excerpts from the writings/speeches of American southerners (generally following the lines shown here) on the subject of freedom. I thought it could be organized into sections based on chronology (pre-revolution, revolution-to-1850, Reconstruction, New Deal, etc), or by topic (taxes/tarriffs, slavery, press, civil rights, etc.), or maybe some other or hybrid sort of organization.

Each selection would include a brief bio of the writer/speaker, discussion of his place in the American South, maybe an image or two, and perhaps some other notes.

So the help I’d like (besides any suggestions about organization or other aspects) is this: I’d like suggestions for people (and writings/speeches, if you want to be that detailed) to include. The writer/speaker should be identifiably ‘southern’, though not necessarily a bred-and-born southerner (for example, a transplanted African, or an immigrant from Ireland).

Thoughts/comments welcomed!

  1. George mason as I recall would not signb the Constitution because it allowed for slavery and then there were many from the South who were in favor of ending it. Names don’t just slip out now. Been a long time since I studied the issue.


  2. Susan,

    Does the person have to be purely libertarian, or merely does the particular essay/speech/article have to be libertarian in nature?

    Prior to the Civil War, there are a lot of people who may have given a good speech on some topic (typically economics) but who left a lot to be desired on other topics (i.e slavery). During the desegregation era, the opposite was true.

  3. SG: good question. I dunno, yet, though offhand I’d prefer to celebrate saints to stopped-clocks. Have anyone(s) in particular in mind?

  4. Of the categories I suggested, one could look at folks ranging from John C. Calhoun to Martin Luther King.

    As for saints, they’ll be much harder to find outside of the von Mises Institute.

  5. Frederick Douglass (Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey)

    He was a Marylander, originally.

    He later ran for Vice President.

  6. I wonder whether ID-ing people from “the South” perpetuates the myth that you wish to address. I also wonder *when* the region took on a separate identity…did GAans feel somehow more in tune with VAans than MAans in, say, 1800? Virtually all of them were farmers and Americans, except the slaves, of course.

    Also, aside from the unfortunate events surrounding the Confederate Elite Insurrection, I don’t perceive Southerners as less freedom-loving than Northeners, and I’m a NYer residing in VA.

  7. I wonder whether ID-ing people from “the South” perpetuates the myth that you wish to address.

    That’s a valid consideration. I’ll give it some thought.

    Thanks for the suggestions; more – especially more obscure folks – welcomed.

  8. Robert Capozzi wrote:

    I also wonder *when* the region took on a separate identity…did GAans feel somehow more in tune with VAans than MAans in, say, 1800? Virtually all of them were farmers and Americans, except the slaves, of course.

    Most people of that era saw themselves as Virginians or Pennsylvanians or Massachusettsians first and Americans second (e.g., pre-Civil War it was “these united states of america”, not “the united states of america”). So it’s a bit historically inaccurate to speak as if the regional identity was subservient to a national identity.

  9. Chuck, I didn’t suggest state or national identity was “subservient” or not. I simply wondered when the “other” identity — Southern, in this case — became common. Did Jefferson and Madison view themselves as “Southerners”? Did Hamilton and Adams think of themselves as “Northerners”?

    As for “these united States,” we’ll probably never know when the American identity surpassed State identity. Like most things, opinions varied and the law was ambiguous.

  10. Susan, for contemporary examples, you might look into Wes Benedict. He’s a Texan.

  11. Wes,

    Please clear this up for me…I’ve heard that Texas is and is not “the South.” Your post suggests it IS.

    Can you confirm? Would folks in, say, El Paso agree?

    But, yes, of course, Benedict is abundantly quotable.

  12. Capozzi… You have to be kidding, right? Are you really as ignorant as you present yourself, or do you just want to forward the myth that we were all One Nation Under the State from the time that the Federal Government created the administrative regions (i.e. “states”)?

  13. Jason, begging your pardon…do you not understand the word “ambiguous”?

    I must admit to being beside myself when modern-day anti-federalists *claim* that their historical perspective is UNambiguous. Prominent exponents of that school of thought cite the Treaty of Paris as PROOF. Interestingly, the Treaty is *itself* ambiguous, sometimes listing the States, other times specifying “both” nations.

    I encourage the open and fair-minded to read it for themselves. Dialectical revisionists, OTOH, might consider more radical steps to re-arrange their minds and to shake off their propensity for denial.

  14. Jefferson.

    Check out some of the Native American leaders.

  15. Susan, I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, lived there 18 years, and am now in Austin, Texas. I consider Dallas, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana to be Yankee territory, and it’s way too cold up in those parts.

  16. Someone needs to apologize to Baton Rouge and quickly!

  17. Sorry Baton Rouge, but a guy named “Smokie Bourgeois” just won election to city council in my old neighborhood:

    That was NOT MY FAULT!! I was too busy in Austin voting for myself to notice that risk outta Louisiana.


    Although he qualifies as a southerner, you might want to check into his freedom bonifications before publishing anything on him. Personally, I think he’s a developer working the system for personal benefit.

  18. Jason and Chuck,

    This may go a bit further in enhancing our understanding of the understanding of the Constitution at the US’s inception:

    [From a Free Liberal blog post I wrote] And yet, one of the revisionist’s patron saints, Patrick Henry, rose at the Virginia constitutional ratification convention to say this:

    I rose yesterday to ask a question which arose in my own mind. When I asked that question, I thought the meaning of my interrogation was obvious. The fate of this question and of America may depend on this. Have they said, We, the states? Have they made a proposal of a compact between states? If they had, this would be a confederation. It is otherwise most clearly a consolidated government.

    The question turns, sir, on that poor little thing—the expression, We, the people, instead of the states, of America. I need not take much pains to show that the principles of this system are extremely pernicious, impolitic, and dangerous. Is this a monarchy, like England—a compact between prince and people, with checks on the former to secure the liberty of the latter? Is this a confederacy, like Holland—an association of a number of independent states, each of which retains its individual sovereignty? It is not a democracy, wherein the people retain all their rights securely.

    Had these principles been adhered to, we should not have been brought to this alarming transition, from a confederacy to a consolidated government.

    This certainly seems to be a reasonably contemporaneous smoking gun. Henry, wanting to maintain a confederation, cites the language “We, the people” as “pernicious, impolitic, and dangerous.” “We, the people” led to “consolidated” government to Henry, and he, for one, thought that highly ill advised. It appears that the original intent or original understanding was that, indeed, the Constitution WAS about consolidation, at least to a major exponent who rejected that notion, quite vociferously, I might add.

  19. Capozi – I was going to type out a rebuttal, but you clearly have no intellectual integrity on this or any other subject. Engaging you further is a waste of everyone’s time and LFV’s bandwidth.

  20. Jason, I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ve never claimed perfection, but in this case, I feel my demonstrated integrity is rock solid. Your ad hominem comments would lead the fair minded to wonder whether your non response is a function of your frustration with the weaknesses in your own position, much like Flat Earthers being told the Earth is round.

    Consider taking the red pill tomorrow.

  21. With respect to Texas and the south, I often find that a lot of people in eastern Texas tend to share more cultural ties with the deep south than with the western or mid-western states.

    However, for every example I can cite, I can find at least two exceptions to the rule.

  22. I wonder whether ID-ing people from “the South” perpetuates the myth that you wish to address.

    Well, when the Democrats announced their plans to hold their convention in 2004 in Boston, Republican culture warrior (and new Neocontarian loverboy) Dick Armey admonished them, joking that they should hold their convention “somewhere in the United States.”

  23. Brian, ya lost me, dude. How does your post tie back to the point? Are you trying to say that Armey’s a Southerner and his statement is anti-freedom?

    I’d agree that the statement was an ill-advised bad joke (Armey’s highly prone to those), but he’s not Southern…Dallas, if I recall, and he has no drawl, even. I think he’s a transplant.

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