Ron Paul Would Have Avoided The Civil War By Buying All The Slaves
As I noted in my post this morning, many of the people that Ron Paul associates with have odd views about the Civil War that include openly wishing that the Confederates had won, and suggesting that Abraham Lincoln was the worst tyrant in American history. Well, Paul himself has expressed some rather odd views about America’s bloodiest war himself. Consider this 2007 appearance on Meet The Press
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the anti-government GOP presidential candidate who is now surging in Iowa, is not a fan of Abraham Lincoln. He believes the Civil War was a “senseless” bloodbath that was the result of Lincoln’s desire to “enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic.”
“He shouldn’t have gone to war,” explained Paul in a December 2007 appearance on Meet The Press. Failing to fight for the union, however, would not mean embracing slavery — after all, it was on its way out, and in 1833 the British Empire had successfully abolished it without violence. His advice to the north: “you buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where it lingered for 100 years?”
In other words, the “Godfather of the Tea Party” thinks the best policy would have been a massive public bailout of slaveowners. (There was no federal income tax until 1861, when it was implemented to fund the war.)
Nobody denies that the Civil War was a bloody horrible affair. However, it also seems pretty clear from antebellum history that it was largely unavoidable. The South was not only wedded to preserving its “peculiar institution” but also to expanding it into the western territories, the issue that was the primary dividing line of the 1860 Election. Furthermore, in 1860 the economy of the Deep South was still inexorably tied to slavery in manner that would have made it incredibly unlikely that slaveowners would have voluntary given up their slaves, even in exchange for compensation. At the very least, such a program would have taken years, if not a generation or more. The fact that a supposed libertarian would have been okay with slavery possibly continuing into the early 20th Century is disturbing to say the least. Finally the very words of Confederates make it clear that they would not have given up their slaves, or their racism, very easily.
Take a look, for example, at the Declaration of Immediate Causes released by the leaders of South Carolina a few days later, in which they set forth the reasons for secession:
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.…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.
For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. 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.On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.
The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.
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.
And then there are the words of Alexander Stephens, who went on to become the Vice-President of the Confederacy:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics. Their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.
Paul has an aversion to war that I understand and share to some extent. It is one of the things that people find compelling about him even if his ideas are unconventional. His rather obvious naivete about the most important moral crisis of the first century of the existence of the United States, however, is pretty glaring.