Monday, May 03, 2010

The Works of Murray N. Rothbard (Part III)

(Please note: Because of Blogspot's new format, you will need to click on "Older Posts" to find the latter parts of this post. Parts III through the Epilogue will be on "Older Posts" pages. I hope you find it well worth your while to read the whole thing. And I do thank you.)

Sunday, May 02, 2010


As I have said a few times before, history was my worst subject, contrasted to my best, gym and lunch. English was my next-worst, while the sciences were my next-best.

But, as time went on, I realized that science and technology are not really the most essential component in prosperity. They are hugely important, of course, as technology has given us, and I hope (and expect) will give us, more and better food and water, better homes, faster and more comfortable transportation, instant communication, and far healthier and longer lives. It seems to me that nowadays science is being emphasized in education. There was a time, during my own student years, that I thought the humanities such as history, philosophy and literature were being over-taught at the expense of science. The past is done, so why study it? We are where we are; that was then, this is now. We need to concentrate on the future because that is where we are going. This means science! Lots and lots of science! (My own aptitudes did tend to bias my thinking.)

Now, they are teaching science, which is fine and dandy, but the problem is nowadays, students are not taught to think critically about important issues. They may be encouraged to think, but only to a point, within certain parameters.

The same high school student who wins a state- or nation-wide first prize in technology and winds up being interviewed by Dr. Gupta on CNN may not realize that he is being kept within parameters when his class is asked to write an essay answering this question: “What rights am I willing to give up in order to reduce or eliminate gun violence in and around schools?”

The star science student might say, “See? We are being encouraged to think about issues!”

But look at the question: “What rights.” Isn't the answer “I will only give up this small right, but no more” about the best we can expect when the question is worded this way? If the student answers “I am not willing to give up any rights” it would be a pretty short essay and the teacher is likely to consider the assignment undone. So, the student wants to write more. If he writes that he has given up enough already and why he thinks so, he will be viewed as “selfish” and might face ostracism or even counseling.

Chances are it will not even occur to him that he could answer the question by saying he wants all his rights back, citing the Second Amendment, and if it does and he answers that way, he will be lucky only to get a bad grade. Many students have been suspended for much less with today's asinine “zero tolerance” policies.

Yes, thinking can get a student into serious trouble even if the science department is first rate.

Scientific innovation itself is being curtailed, I believe, because of this in-the-box thinking. And, even if it is not, the way wealth gravitates toward establishment interests (as Dr. Rothbard has shown and as I pointed out these past two winters), innovation will benefit the powerful while the rest of us are left behind.

Freedom, much more than technology, is essential. So essential, in fact, that the very first point Dr. Rothbard made in the Conceived in Liberty series is that history consists of the battle between liberty (the people as individuals) and authority (the State). Whenever liberty is ahead, the people prosper and progress. Whenever authority is ahead, the people become poorer and their lives become more difficult.

Right now, authority is way ahead. It has been ahead for decades. The people are languishing. Mainstream “news” media make a major point of this, but do not give the real reason.

I pray daily that liberty will rise and cut authority down.

But now, as a lousy history student, I want to look at what has happened in the country since my ancestor, William Bradford, came in on the Mayflower. This may give me, and you, a better understanding of why we no longer have a free country, why government is ’way out of control, why the Constitution is being completely ignored, and why most people do not even seem to notice. History repeats itself. This is true but it is because we do not learn from past mistakes!

A New Land, A New People

Conceived in Liberty, Volume I
A New Land, A New People:
The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century

by Murray N. Rothbard

This first volume is about the seventeenth century and the English colonies in North America. Dr. Rothbard laments that this important period is glossed over by most historians (1). It was during this time that the British learned that the Americans were not to be toyed with, and were deadly serious about freedom.

The very first point Dr. Rothbard hastily makes is that the American continent was first “discovered” thousands of years ago by people from Asia who crossed at the Bering Strait, where apparently at one time one could walk from what is now Russia to what is now Alaska. (Editor’s note: There are also theories that other peoples came here from Europe and Africa, though none stayed as permanently as the people who became known as “Indians.”)

In Europe, as Dr. Rothbard starts the book, until around the eleventh century, poverty and squalor prevailed because of feudalism. Then, feudalism began to crack, and among areas that were free of feudal restrictions, trade picked up and spread (2). Consequently, goods and services became more available, and many people prospered. Trade routes were developed by land or sea or both.

This lasted for quite a long time, until the fourteenth century when it came to a halt. The reason it stopped was the new wealth was tempting to the powerful (read government authority), who wanted to get that wealth to use for their own purposes which were inimical to freedom and prosperity (3). New nation-states were forming and, of course, governments are always looking for sources of money. The systems imposed on economies were to all intents and purposes mercantile systems. We have, at least a couple of times in past essays, discussed what Dr. Rothbard defined as mercantilism, and compared it with the system the Founders rebelled against and the system we are languishing under today. What galls me the most is that people today are out in la-la land pretending to believe, even actually believing that what we have is “free-market capitalism” and that we have it because of the wars we have fought. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mercantilism meant taxes and regulations and, in those days, ruination of trade routes. Monopoly privileges were granted by governments to merchants in exchange for the merchants' collection of taxes (4).

However, as Dr. Rothbard points out, the free market has a way of surviving: Taxes and regulations were evaded, easily perhaps. As much as I love modern technology, the downside to it is that regulations and taxes can be enforced much more rigorously now, and they are. So, in 2009, we are not benefiting from a free market nearly as much as we could be.

Many explorations of the earth, including Columbus's, were in hopes of enhancing trade.

After about a century of mercantilism and successful attempts to get around its rules, mercantilism began to crack, and economic progress began to move forward again (5). It has been shown that, contrary to some historians, a free market does not need a centralized government to develop. Quite the contrary (6).

The specific thing important to this essay is the ascension of the Tudor dynasty in England in 1485. They re-applied medieval repression in an efficient manner. There was cruel enforcement of the rules and prohibition of dissent. This was the model for the future domination of the people of America (7).

While the New World looked promising to Europeans who were under the yoke of stultifying mercantilism, England, which had settled the biggest part of North America, had been under feudalism for centuries and did not know anything else.

I think feudalism is very close to socialism (or fascism). The government is the true owner of land and decides who “owns” how much and under what conditions. From 1066 until at least the 1600s, large tracts were parceled out (by government) to favored warlords. Farmers (peasants) who lived on the land were compelled to obey the overlord and were not allowed to move elsewhere, and the land was not allowed to be broken up into smaller parcels (8). The farmers were serfs, and required to work for free in exchange for rent on the land they were forced to remain on. This was lightened up by the late 1300s when money could be paid instead.

The English had thought of the Irish as savages, and had imposed feudalism on them, along with “surplus poor” English people who were sent to Ireland to form a colony.

As for the New World, the English government granted tracts of land to favored monopolists. These were interested in profits so they sold parcels of land to individual colonists. This was good (assuming Indians did not already own the land in question), but it would have been better if the colonists could have simply homesteaded the land for free, rather than having to pay for it (9), leaving government and monopolists out of the picture.

In Part II of the volume, Dr. Rothbard turns to the Southern colonies in the seventeenth century.

In England, the whole idea of colonization was to siphon off “surplus poor” and “undesirables.” They had formed plantations in Ireland, and so followed the same procedures in the New World.

Dr. Rothbard starts with the Virginia colony. Right away he points out that the most important decisions, those regarding land, commerce, native relations, etc., had been pre-made by the British government before any colonists arrived. Feudalism was implemented and the American Indians were driven from land that was rightfully theirs. This was modeled after the policies the English had foisted on Ireland (10).

England was imperialistic on the high seas, too. Even though in 1602 it had agreed that the open sea was government-free and open to all for fishing, Dutch competition caused worry for English fishing, so there was an about-face, with a declaration that England possessed exclusive fishing rights in certain areas, and anyone else who wanted to fish had to pay a tax. Restriction and belligerency were on the increase (11).

The Virginia colony did so poorly that most of the people died. The government-imposed system, malaria, and the hard labor required were the reasons. Communist-type principles were foisted on unwilling colonists by the Virginia Company, which had received the land grant. This caused an incentive to skip work, as each was guaranteed a fair share of the common store (12). Between the malaria and the excessively strict laws, it is no wonder that most people died. Leaving was not allowed.

And, like the Obama administration and the Bush administration before it, the powers-that-were tried to solve the problems by inflicting more of the cause of the problems (13).

Finally, the system started to crack; the communist-type regime started to dissolve with grants of small plots of land to individuals who were then allowed to keep the fruits of their labor (14). The Virginia Company was taken over by liberals (classical liberals, that is, meaning of a more libertarian bent and, while it seems strange now, these liberals were predominately Puritans), who made changes that were desperately needed. Conditions, not to mention the people's morale, improved by leaps and bounds. They were even allowed to elect a General Assembly (those who could vote, that is but at least that is better than nobody having a voice at all) (15). Improvements in growing methods made tobacco a staple.

Things were not perfect. The Virginia Company still regulated the economy quite a bit, from who could have how much land to how much of what crop was planted to pricing.

All of this was labor-intensive, and had the market been truly free, it may not have been sustainable (of course as it was government ate up a lot of productivity, so maybe it would have). Slaves and indentured servants were doing a lot of the work, and of course in a free market there is no slavery.

The pendulum swings. King James did not take kindly to what little classical liberalism there was, even though most of the people were better off. Far from liberal, King James had wanted to ban tobacco on health grounds, just as paternalistic, authoritarian government bans cannabis and strictly regulates tobacco today (16). In 1624, the Virginia Company's charter was annulled, the King effectively stealing the colony. The King then appointed many of the officials. Legislative and judicial powers were combined which, as we know, is too much concentration of power (17).

Of course, the richest tobacco planters had the lion's share of decision-making power. They held many positions in the assembly and many major county offices (18). Most farmers were small farmers who, along with their families, did most of the work themselves. They were hard working and productive, and were more nearly free than they could have ever hoped to be in backward, feudalistic England (19). Crops, mostly tobacco were mainly sold to England.

Tobacco grew to the point that supply outran demand, forcing the price down, making it tough on small farmers who had to compete with large plantations and their bond-servant labor. But, regardless of mythology, the big planters did not have it easy either, as managing their holdings was quite more than a full-time job (20). But they did cultivate learning. Many founded “free schools,” which educated the children of those able to pay and those unable to pay (21).

Religion played a major role in the 17th century. In England, the Crown wanted to bring the Anglican Church under its domination in order to loot church property. In the New World, its stated purpose was to out-compete Catholic Spain. That is one of the main reasons, the Crown said, the Virginia colony was planted in the first place. Anglicanism was by law the official religion of the colony. Compulsory church attendance and certain Anglican rules were mandatory, although rarely enforced because of economic necessities. There was no separation of church and state at the parish (the smallest political unit) level. The church vestry ran the show, and could levy taxes. Catholicism was banned.

Liberalism ebbed and flowed, as did loyalty to the Crown. England left Virginia alone for a while, making it independent, and Virginia learned enough about defiance to groom itself for future revolution (22).

Dr. Rothbard devoted an entire chapter called “British Mercantilism Over Virginia” (23). I think the word “over” is especially appropriate, as mercantilism then and mercantilism now is actually rule over the population. More and more power gravitated to the governor of the colony as more rules were made to favor the establishment. Today, as I write this at the end of October, 2009, President Obama has put a cap on CEO salaries in the big banks and other big businesses that have received “stimulus” money. Anyone who accepts money from the government can expect strings to be attached, whether that money is a gift or a loan. Power gravitates toward government, and government power gravitates toward the executive. This is how it always seems to be in the absence of a free market.

The governor of Virginia colony made sure that he and his planter allies got the best land and had a monopoly on the Indian fur trade. They also worked for the re-establishment of the Anglican Church to instill conformist “values” (24).
This is an example of how the church was used by the state to keep people obedient. Today it is the mainstream “news” media. Right now, in late October, 2009, the Obama administration is calling down Fox News and conservative talk radio for not toeing the party line.

The Virginia colony persecuted non-Anglicans, particularly the Quakers, as “Dissenters” (25). I guess the Quakers were the “Fox News” of their day, failing to dish out government propaganda.

So, while Fox News and some conservatives seem to be on the right track now in condemning socialized medicine and other authoritarian schemes, where were they during Bush's long strides into socialism?

As for Obama, what he is advocating is not really that different. He uses high-sounding terms, but he also emphasized that the school day should be lengthened and the school year should be lengthened, even abolishing summer vacation. This is so alarming for a list of reasons. I remember so well how very much my summers meant to me. Even today, those precious summers affect me. Without them, where would I be? As for the school day, I realize that Barack Obama is an ambitious, highly intelligent young man who probably thrived on school. But does he not remember how much more slowly the hours tick by for a child or even a teenager? In the second grade, my mornings were two-and-a-half hours long. That time seemed longer than an eight-hour workday does now. A forty-five-minute class period in high school seemed longer than two hours do now. And, then there is homework ... and asinine zero-tolerance policies ... has he never heard of burnout? This essay is coming from someone who was a highly energetic child who could not sit still, but one needs to understand that there are as many Alices as there are Baracks and there are all gradations in between.

Well, enough of that. Suffice it to say that today's students will fare no better than students in the Virginia colony as far as critical thinking outside the box and questioning of authority are concerned. In fact it will be worse, the super-long hours and loss of vacation time will take away time for growing and learning, and demoralized, bored students in too many cases will throw in the towel.

But that is what they are really after! God forbid the members of the up-and-coming generations should want to cast off their chains!

So freedom ebbed and flowed, and so did relations with the Indians. Sometimes there was war. The colony stole land from the Indians when they could have bought it instead. The Indians massacred colonists a couple of times, and the colonists burned Indian homes and crops. But sometimes they traded and gifted. The Indians saved the colonists from starvation at least once.

Now we get to (Nathaniel) Bacon's Rebellion, the revolution in Virginia. Dr. Rothbard discusses revolution in general (27) and emphasizes that it is not cut and dried. Among participants in a general revolution, each has his own specific reasons. The motives on both sides change throughout. People are not about to interrupt their daily lives and assume all the risk of participating in a revolution unless they have multiple grievances, and then some situation is the spark that lights the fire (28).

Some writers believe that the American Revolution (and the revolution in Virginia) was “conservative,” or against government disruptions of the status quo. Nor was this one in Virginia any “class struggle” as leftists might see it. It was against rich people, but only certain rich people, those who had government special privilege (29). It was not against wealth per se (that would be pretty stupid), but for whom the government was acting against, i.e., the non-establishment, whether rich or poor.

The grievances were mostly against the government and were for the most part libertarian grievances against mercantilist rules. But they were also the opposite: grievances against too much leniency toward the Indians (30). This was actually the main grievance.

The revolution itself failed, but Nathaniel Bacon and other leaders of the revolution were elected to high office and were able to make a few changes, despite the governor. The governor was not open to stricter anti-Indian laws, but condoned the Bacon crowd because he knew that there were 2,000-odd armed citizens who favored Bacon. Now, if this shows anything it is that an armed citizenry will behoove government officials to think twice before crossing them (31). The Bacon crowd, backed up by arms, made their way into power and passed “Bacon's Laws,” which were mostly libertarian aside from Indian policies. So, in a way, the revolution succeeded.

Well, power corrupts. Bacon became more of a despot as his power grew, insisting on a revolt against England, plundering, enforcing loyalty oaths (to him) and declaring martial law (32). Bacon suddenly died, and the revolution fell apart as a result (although I think it might have succeeded had power not corrupted it). The old governor proceeded to aggrandize himself more than ever (33). But, revolution became deeply ingrained in the minds of the Virginians.

Dr. Rothbard then turns his attention to nearby Maryland. There, the main dispute seemed to be over religion. It was a feudal colony but it had an assembly of landholders and was more liberal than Virginia religion-wise. The Puritans and the Catholics tolerated each other.

But, grievances mounted (34). Rents rose as tobacco prices dropped. There were issues about the Quakers, who placed God's laws over the state's laws. They were eventually expelled, but later were not just tolerated but welcomed.

Although Maryland was feudalistic, the conditions in the New World with its land abundance and liberal (classical, that is) tendencies, land was gradually bought up by the settlers, so feudalism gradually gave way to a market economy (35).

The main characteristic of feudalism, Dr. Rothbard says (36), is the “quitrent.” This is the rent landholders must pay (either in money or some other way such as a certain quantity of tobacco) to the big landlord to whom government granted the land. There was no getting around it: Pay or lose your land. Moving did not help as this landlord owned all the land. How our property tax differs from feudal quitrents escapes me.

Turning to the Carolinas, a very familiar name crops up: John Locke! Yes, this is the John Locke, one of the forebears of contemporary libertarianism, and one of the philosophers who greatly influenced our Founders (37). Locke, of course, was a staunch defender of private property.

But, there is private property and there is private property. Private property under feudalism and private property in a free market are two different animals (despite leftist rhetoric - the leftists are out to lunch on economics anyhow).

Locke, hired by proprietors, drew up a scheme of hierarchy for the feudal Carolinas. This work was called Fundamental Constitutions, and it is to be compared and contrasted with Civil Government, written about ten years later, which defended individualism and laissez-faire.

The agreement Locke wrote was not really very good in the minds of today's libertarians, but at least it did include trial by jury and a large measure of religious freedom for believers in God. Non-believers were excluded from legal protections, however (38).

That is where John Locke was at that time. Fortunately, the Carolinas' assembly was ahead of him and never ratified the plan. Rather, the system that came into being distributed land widely, even though the proprietors got a large share.

The ebbs and flows of relative freedom vs. authoritarianism in the Carolinas continued. It depended upon who was the strongest, the people who favored freedom or the Crown and proprietors who didn't. Exiles from Virginia bolstered freedom, but the shoddy treatment of the Indians bolstered authority. Religious toleration and economic liberty (or lack thereof) seem to be the most important factors.

Now, Dr. Rothbard begins his discussion of the North in Part III of the volume, The Founding of New England. One way this area contrasted with the South was in religion. The Church of England, which was established and thus taxpayer supported, was dominant in the South, whereas in New England most people had come over to be able to practice their religion undisturbed (39).

The Plymouth colony that came over on the Mayflower is of particular interest. For one thing, this is the one that is in the establishment's history books. While in school, I was under the impression that this was the first colony. Of course it was not. It is also interesting because this colony is an object lesson in private property. The death rate was high for a long time because they insisted on a communist-type system. When they finally divided up the land into private plots, crops (corn was the main crop) grew in abundance. People worked hard because they knew it was their own families they were working for (40).

Governor William Bradford instituted the private-property system. I am proud to be a descendant of his as he apparently started the free market system here. I am not sure just how free the market became, but it was certainly a major stride forward. People stopped dying and started to enjoy a much better quality of life.

Like the rest of us, though, Bradford was by no means perfect. There was no religious freedom in the colony (41).

The Plymouth colony and many others had left England to go first to the Netherlands because of religious intolerance in their own country. People originally hoped to go back some day, but the main industry in England, unfinished cloth, was essentially destroyed by government greed. To bolster tax revenues, the government established a monopoly on trade in unfinished cloth, giving one company the special privilege and taking away 50 percent of the profits. This was one main cause of a depression (the Thirty Years' War on the continent being another), and the government dealt with the depression in ways similar to those, centuries later, of Hoover and Roosevelt (42).

So, the Plymouth colonists landed in Massachusetts. Later on, in England, there were great strides toward economic liberty, that is, as long as England had the sense to stay at least behind the scenes of the Thirty Years' War. They had “only” acted through diplomacy and subsidies (43). Once England did enter the war, taxes were raised to finance it over the libertarian objections of Parliament. No taxes would be ratified until some grievances were addressed. So, true to form, the Crown dissolved Parliament and arrested opposition leaders (44). The Puritans, which most of these colonists were, had been oppressed but now it would get worse. On the continent, the Catholics were prevailing against the Protestants, and this was likely to spread to England, so America was looking really good to the Puritans (45).

It was not that freedom was their long suit. They may have been sympathetic to economic freedom, knowing that economic freedom and prosperity go together. They did, however, set up a “theocracy” in Massachusetts. Theocracy means rule by God, but in reality it is rule by people who use God as an excuse to make everyone over in their own image. Of course, strict, unquestioning obedience to civil authority was part and parcel of the system. Natural liberties were to be regarded as a “wild beast” and to be tamed by “authority” (46).

Though ministers were selected by congregations, town governments paid their generous salaries (47). These ministers had a great deal of power over the people. Only church members could vote, and the minister had to approve all memberships.

I am sure I have no clue how much good it does the individual to practice Biblical morality when the club of government is about to come down on one's head. Even this is under the naive assumption that the “authority” that is wielding the club even understands what the Bible is really saying. The obedient subject is actually obeying the club-wielder rather than God, and to me that is completely pagan. You are not your brother's keeper; rather, you need to be your brother's brother. This is why Thomas Jefferson and the Founders were quite determined to keep church and state separate.

Dr. Rothbard makes some interesting comments on the forcing of people into a set of moral rules (48). This only spawns hypocrisy. Those who believe in a moral code do not need to be coerced. Those who do not believe in it might act according to the code, but go on believing differently. They are made to be hypocrites because they are forced to act one way even as they believe another.

I call this “acting lessons.” When a kid, if I was told I would have to behave in a certain way in order to get a privilege (or in some cases to exercise a right, as children do have rights), I'd behave in that way. However, once obtaining the privilege, my behavior reverted.

“Keep your Sunday dress on through lunch,” I'd hear, “and you can play outside all afternoon.” So, I would, but do you think I preferred a frilly dress and Mary-Janes to shorts and bare feet? Hah! That will be the day! In fact I hated them worse! I was putting on an act. All I know about acting (quite a bit, perhaps) I learned in this manner. Later on, for the boss, I put on an act of not realizing quitting time was soon. Especially on Friday!

And of course people were encouraged to rat on each other (49), just as today 800 number hotlines are available to report suspicious activity.

It should surprise nobody that the rules were not just about religion any more than the restrictions we languish under today are just about security (or health care). Laborers and indentured servants got the brunt as keeping them in their place was important to the well-connected and powerful (50).

Then, enter one Roger Williams, a minister or church teacher, who seriously stirred the pot with decentralist/libertarian ideas. Not only did he believe that church authority should not be backed by any civil authority, but that the Crown should not be making land grants. The land belonged to the Indians, he correctly believed; therefore if one wanted land, one should make them an offer for it (51).

Williams was strong-armed into recanting, but fortunately he said this again, and more (52). Finally Williams was exiled after he repeatedly refused to recant, but some of the colonists prepared to follow him. The authorities were then determined to ship him against his will back to England, but he fled alone on foot before they could (53). After Indians had put him up for the winter, some colonists then joined him in a move. He founded Providence, bought land from the Indians and was determined to preserve religious freedom (54).

Williams, who had Dissenter roots in England, was probably the most libertarian of his time in his religious freedom views. He called for liberty of all religions, not just Christian sects.

In the new place, there were some problems about land allocation, but the religious freedom stuck. Roger Williams subsequently invited Anne Hutchinson and her following to move there after she had been tossed out of Massachusetts for heresies. Once there, she and her husband saw to the continuation of religious freedom (55). This lasted until they were overthrown by their deposed authoritarian former governor, but a compromise was reached in Hutchinson's favor.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts continued its harassment, and Anne died in a raid the Indians conducted on Massachusetts' behalf. The so-called “Christians” in Massachusetts gloated, but her spirit lived long after the theocracy ended.

Her legacy lives on today in the minds of Christians who realize that civil government action is not the best way – is not any way — to make people “good.”

Well, it should surprise nobody that trouble brewed in Rhode Island, too. Roger Williams became very moderate, and he and the authoritarians wanted to get rid of a real libertarian-leaning radical, Samuell Gorton and his followers, and they enlisted Massachusetts to do it. Of course, the Puritans in Massachusetts were willing as long as they got to rule (56).

In the end, troops from Massachusetts overcame the Gortonites and dragged them back to Boston. The Gortonites surrendered on condition they go back as “guests” rather than prisoners, but governments never keep their promises, so they were dragged there after they surrendered. Once there, the brave Samuell Gorton got to speak in church one last time, and he said there is only Christ, and all of the ordinances and ministers were man made. Gorton and his followers barely escaped the death penalty. Rather, they were put on a chain gang and worked in public, where they defiantly went on preaching. Finally, they were banished, rather than killed, and they went back home (57). I have to wonder if there was some divine intervention there when one must consider the disregard the Puritans had for life.

Roger Williams had been a pretty good libertarian (at least by seventeenth century standards). While in England, he had become involved with the Levellers and other libertarian movement organizations, but the movement collapsed. That must have been really discouraging. Eventually, the power he had in Rhode Island took its toll on him.

He took a major fall. This was not a fall down the stairs. Would that it were something that could be so quickly recovered from. But it was an about-face on his philosophy. We don't know why, but Dr. Rothbard thought it was the corrupting influence of power along with the disappointment over the demise of the libertarian movement in England.

The first sign of Williams' fall was his imposition of, of all things, a draft. The draft is about the most authoritarian of institutions; it is but slavery, not different from any other kind of slavery. There was resistance on the part of the Baptists, who were very libertarian in their views. In fact, they believed that government is anti-Christian (58). I am inclined to agree. I cannot be certain that government per se is anti-Christian, but many things government does clearly go against the laws of God. It routinely lies, cheats, steals, and kills.

Williams believed that individuals must obey officials, but never said anything about how or why some became officials (59). A passenger ship with the whole population aboard was what he used as an analogy, but who owns the ship to make decisions? And, why should there be only one ship? He could not answer, and as far as I know neither could anyone else since.

He started right in by centralizing Rhode Island. Towns lost their home rule first. Then, civil liberties were viciously attacked. Liquor was compulsorily licensed and taxed. “Verbal incivilities” were outlawed, probably defined about as well as “sexting” is today. Morality was legislated and punishments intensified.

The Anne Hutchinson incident, along with Massachusetts-led aggression against the Indians, brought the various authoritarian colonies together and a New England Confederation was formed (60). This almost amounted to a new layer of centralized government, but it was enough of a republic that a colony could nullify its decisions (61). Rhode Island was still too individualistic to be admitted.

Of course, immediately there was a Puritan crackdown and tax levy on member colonies. But, arguments about wars and other matters threatened to pull the confederation apart (62). The confederation did not pull apart, and the crackdown, especially the zero-tolerance policies toward Quakers, got even worse. In fact, a “Cart and Whip Act” was passed whereby Quakers were to be tied behind a cart and dragged out of the colony while being whipped (63).

Dr. Rothbard was, for the most part, an objective writer, unlike some people who will remain nameless just now; he did not go off on an indignant libertarian tangent. However, I have been reading between the lines here and have detected his anger over these horrendous punishments that the Quakers were subjected to, and his admiration (which I share) for the Quakers who continually defied the punishments. They were no more than banished from the colony in this manner when they went right back and resumed their ministry.

The Cart and Whip Act was used primarily against Quaker women (64). The women were stripped to the waist for the dragging and whipping ceremonies, and I cannot but compare this with the pornography censorship of today.

It is human nature, and some humans will not exercise their God-given free will to rise above their nature. These are often the same humans (I am using the term loosely) who get themselves into positions of “authority.” They presume they are better than the rest of us, just as the Puritans believed they were better than the Quakers.

It is rewarding to see that the more the Quakers were persecuted, the more determined they became. Not only that, but the general population started to oppose the persecution (65). Would that people had that much backbone today. If they did, my dream of general strikes and pro-freedom, anti-government demonstrations on every street would come true.

In Plymouth colony at that time, we might be shocked to see that it was necessary to get government permission to build a church (66).

Let us not forget that today one must grovel, and pay, for a permit (permission) to build a church, a home, or anything else. And hoops have to be jumped through. All kinds of bureaucratic approvals and licenses are involved. Today the excuse is “safety” or “environment” (actually this is a cash cow for government coffers), whereas in colonial times it was religious conformity. In both cases, any official who wanted to stop the building did not have to look far to find some rule to trot out to serve his or her own ends.

But the theocracy was actually done in by economics. The devout Puritans knew nothing about the natural laws of economics. This law is not dealt with very much in the Bible except in a very general way. “Thou shalt not steal” really does say it all, but only if you already understand economics.

Consequently, trade was suspect as it took time away from “Godly” concerns (67). They did understand the value of time (which most people today do not) and did not waste any on activities they believed were unnecessary. So, trade was discouraged unless it was monopolized and/or heavily regulated. The fur trade was the main trade, and governments imposed price controls, taxes, and licensure on traders. It should not be a surprise that in Roger Williams' Rhode Island (before he fell) the fur trade was more free and furs did not become scarce as they did elsewhere in New England, where other types of trade were turned to (68).

Price controls played particular havoc, as we have seen in other Rothbard works. Land was cheap and plentiful while the numbers of people were low. So, the demand for labor far outstripped the supply, forcing market wages way up. Most of the indentured servants and black slaves were not farm workers (69). The government in Massachusetts passed a maximum wage law in addition to compulsory service during harvests. Of course, this only encouraged free workers to cut back on hours or move away.

Enforcement being impossible and the laws of economics being inevitable, the scheme only lasted six months. But, when the working class began to prosper, the establishment became angry and slapped the controls back on, this time with a minimum of hours to be worked, and with conscription. Can anyone spell “slavery”?

At the same time, economic ignorance (read mercantilist fallacies) brought about price ceilings on products. The powers-that-be seemed to think that if wages were depressed then prices ought to be also. They had no knowledge of what Rothbard students learn early, that market prices fluctuate relative to each other, due primarily to shifting supplies and demands.

Many such mercantilist schemes were tried in many places but all met with failure.

Mercantilism (the system dominant at that time and the system we have been saddled with for numerous decades and expect to be for the foreseeable future) is based on the idea that it is a legitimate function of government to direct the economy (70). The Obama administration assumes this, as did the sorry Bush administration before it. This goes way back, as I pointed out in my 2005 essay, to the Lincoln era. The economy is faltering badly, as is obvious to the many who cannot find work and are deeply in debt. I fervently wish the establishment and its lapdog, the mainstream media, would place the blame where it belongs, but this is not something I can hope for. My greatest hope lies in the freedom movement as exemplified by Ron Paul, the Campaign for Liberty, and also the Tea Party if the latter can stay away itself from neoconservative influence. But these could be stopped at any time.

Power seems to swing back and forth between the Democrats and the Republicans, as the government becomes more powerful. Those in high places want their party, and hence themselves, to be in control. The struggling regular people see that the party in control is not solving problems, so they turn to the other one. Of course, very few are aware of smaller parties and those who are seem afraid to vote for them because if they do the worse of two evils will win the election. We saw this in the off-year 2009 elections where there was a Republican sweep in what few races there were; and in early 2010 in a special election in Massachusetts to fill the seat held by the late Ted Kennedy, a Republican whose voting record in Massachusetts was indecisive at best, won, when a thoroughgoing Libertarian was available.

I think that the royal, feudal mercantilism of the seventeenth century had more similarities to than differences from today's mercantilism. Government had the final say. Owners of the means of production have to obey rules rather than discern and follow the dictates of the free market, and when losses occur, these owners have to absorb all the losses, while any profits have to be shared with government.

It is unlikely that anyone in the colonies pretended they had a free market. Maybe they were fooled into thinking the rules were good, but at least they realized that they had to obey rules. Today, particularly on the left, there is pretense that the market is unregulated and that this and corporate greed are what are causing the problems. On the right, you see an even crazier pretense, that we were both free and prosperous until noon on January 20, 2009, and then suddenly everything went belly-up.

Cause and effect in economics takes time. Had Bush's policies been free market we would still be benefiting from them even with Obama's crazy socialist/mercantilist policies, and the harm from Obama's policies would (and will) manifest itself down the road. People need to see this.

People think of merchants, or capitalists, as a “class.” They are not (71). Remember Rothbard's Man, Economy and State. If government grants privileges, it grants them to particular favorites, and this is at the expense of other capitalists, or would-be merchants or capitalists who were excluded altogether by government action.

Everybody is different and has a different situation, so there are no “classes” unless they are formed by government action. Not only that, but were there “classes” in a free market, the lines would be fine as people are always able to jump from one to another.

There was a battle of sorts in Massachusetts between the merchants and the Puritan fat-cats. The merchants were the “good guys,” regardless of left-wing rhetoric, as they understood that their well-being depended on everybody's well-being, and that depended on more free trade. The Puritan officials also understood that their own wealth and power were the inverse of freedom and free trade.

Fortunately, the liberalization of the Puritan church in England resulted in a liberalization in the new world, too (72). Unfortunately, I am sorry to say, my ancestor Gov. Bradford sided with the opponents of religious toleration (73). I guess his economic reasoning took him only so far. Plymouth colony actually became a ghost town because of these anti-freedom policies.

The more the establishment cracked down, the more people resisted. Many flocked into Quaker and Baptist churches, and elected non-establishment people to higher office (74). Removal of these officials brought about more resistance.

After the restoration of the monarchy in England, which had given way to democracy for a while, the king did some good by extensive land grants to his brother, and this caused some shifts that eventually ended Puritan theocracy in New England (75). Well, even monarchy is not always bad for freedom. But while theocracy was dealt a major blow, mercantilism was not. The monarchy re-imposed many of its economic restrictions and monopolies (76).

Dr. Rothbard then turns to the Dutch colonies in New Netherland, where New York is now. An explanation of what was happening in the Netherlands was in order, although the situation is familiar. There was the establishment who were rich fat-cats, and there were the merchants. I don't think religion was the major factor that it was in New England, but the establishment consisted primarily of Calvinists. The Calvinists were Christians who did not believe in a free will and favored a strong central government. They are a mystery to me. Just suffice it to say that they, like today's neoconservatives, wanted government to direct the entire economy in such a way as to benefit the big guys. This carried over to the colonies in North America. The system was feudal and mercantilist, and there was close to zero freedom for a while (77). The colonies suffered for lack of population and lack of prosperity.

Again, freedom ebbed and flowed and so did colonist well-being.

Finally, changes occurred. They had to. More freedom brought more people. The individual Dutch got along fine with the individual English, of course. Why shouldn't they? But, governments are always greedy and jealous … determined to be number one ... so the Netherlands and England were at odds over the land (78).

The Calvinist theocrats held the power in New Netherland, so there was no religious freedom. Only the Dutch Reformed church was allowed (79). Quakers were imprisoned and expelled, being dragged away by the tail of a cart. (There was no mention of being whipped but that would not surprise me at all as authoritarians so often adopt the perverse ideas other authoritarians lie awake to cook up.) This persecution only served to strengthen the Quakers (80).

When the Duke of York conquered New Netherland for England, the colonists gave right up. They did so not so much because they were greatly outnumbered, but because the English guaranteed them basic freedoms, none of which they had under the Dutch (81). So, New Netherland came to an end. Of course, governments never seem to keep their promises, and the Dutch population went on suffering at the hands of the English (82).

Meanwhile, the colonies, especially authoritarian Plymouth, were harassing the Indians. Indians were required to observe the white man's laws, including strict observance of the Sabbath. It was insulting to the Indians that gun control and taxes were imposed on them and that they were forced to settle their own disputes in the white man's courts. After all, who had been there first? While Indians did get to sit on juries, the fairness of trials was questionable at best (83).

The situation escalated and, long story short, the Indians laid waste to many Plymouth towns, which began “King Philip's War” (Philip, or Metacom, was an Indian chief), and that ended what little freedom there was in Massachusetts. Men ages sixteen to sixty were enslaved and travel permits were required to leave one's town. Who was really the enemy here, Dr. Rothbard wonders, the Indians or the whites' own government? (84). It should surprise nobody that authoritarian New England decided to virtually exterminate the Indians. It was about the land, of course.

Rhode Island, as Dr. Rothbard has discussed earlier, was predominately Quaker and had a relatively libertarian administration. They saw no point in fighting in King Philip's War and believed (rightly, I think) that it was caused by persecution of the Indians (85). But, after Indians laid waste to parts of Rhode Island, the libertarianism faltered. Roger Williams had taken a great fall as we mentioned; in fact he sold Indian prisoners into slavery (86).

In 1675 there was a change of administrations in England that ended what little liberalism there was and began the takeover of New England by the Crown (87). Of course, the idea was to centralize, regulate, and tax. It started in Massachusetts, which put up a valiant resistance, but lost. The Crown had sent Edward Randolph to collar Massachusetts.

New Hampshire was next on Randolph's list. But, once New Hampshire was spoiled, he returned to Massachusetts and became collector of customs, meaning the enforcer of the mercantilist Navigation Acts. He inspected ships, and if they were carrying the wrong articles in the wrong place, he would seize the ship. This authoritarian act is akin to our present-day forfeiture laws, except, under Randolph, shippers were better off than today's victims of forfeiture laws. At least there needed to be evidence of law-breaking, and the ships were not sold with the booty distributed among officials and tattlers until the trial was over. And, unlike today, the people of Massachusetts were aware of the injustice and also aware that a jury can judge both the facts of the case and the law, so there were few convictions (88). The people of Massachusetts, Puritanism notwithstanding, had the gumption to resist Randolph's mercantilist rule.

But later Massachusetts fell, because the pragmatists prevailed over those who stuck to principle (89). Dr. Rothbard seems to be implying that compromise and consensus are not good in important matters and, of course, I agree.

Today, the Libertarian Party is divided between the pragmatic moderates and the hard-core cleavers to principle, of which I am one, and we will be sorry if things go as they have been.

The Crown took over all New England (except good old Rhode Island and Connecticut). There was no representation in government of the people and Edward Randolph held many lucrative offices (90). For the rest of the offices, cronyism was the order of the day.

Feudalistic/mercantilist regulations stifled the economy. A blatant example cited by Dr. Rothbard was that of the “carters,” or push-cart vendors. The regulations caused a shortage of carting services (91). Added to that, of course, were the old problems of tariffs and religious favoritism.

And, of course, there were rivalries among governments for jurisdiction and power.

The battle between freedom and despotism also ebbed and flowed as it always seemed to. Freedom is certainly ebbing today, but in West New Jersey, during the 1670s, freedom flowed pretty well, as a result of a fellow named Edward Byllinge, whom Dr. Rothbard describes as a “veteran libertarian” (92). He was helped by William Penn, who was also quite liberal, which makes me proud because I am a direct descendant of Penn.

Byllinge had been influenced greatly by the Levellers in England (whom I just have to study) who were instrumental in the libertarian movement there (93).

They were to have a representative assembly, trial by jury, no taxation without representation, religious freedom, and no debtors’ prisons. There were other libertarian provisions, some of which we could only dream of now (94).

But, as in the case of Roger Williams, when the King declared the whole government of West New Jersey to be in the hands of Byllinge, Byllinge fell and repudiated his libertarian principles (95).

William Penn went on to bigger and better things. The King satisfied a debt to the late elder Penn by giving the younger Penn a huge tract of land, most of which was later Pennsylvania. He sought and quickly found settlers for the land by the institution of religious freedom, and exacting low land prices and feudal quitrents (read property taxes; I would really like to know what difference it makes) (96). One of his major achievement was to make peace with the Indians, whom the Quakers recognized as what they are, human beings. And, of course, the Indians reciprocated (97).

Penn did not fall with a resounding splat from libertarian principles the way Roger Williams and Edward Byllinge did, but he did deviate, particularly in the area of taxes (98), but when he went back to England for an extended period, Pennsylvania's government all but stopped. It was because government officials were not paid salaries, but their main livings were made elsewhere. Their priorities were with their own livelihoods, so meetings were rarely held and government “work” rarely went forward. Pennsylvania and its people were none the worse for wear; everything went fine.

William Penn didn't like this. He had not counted on Pennsylvanians having minds of their own after he had done so much to form a haven for Quakers. He expected something in return: money and power. This is yet another example of the corrupting influences of power.

Everything stayed fine in Pennsylvania for the most part.

Meanwhile, things were not going so well to the north. A fellow by the name of “Sir” Edmund Andros, whose name was synonymous with tyranny among Americans, was sent by the Crown to rule (99). He started right in by ending religious freedom and instituting requirements, fees, and taxes. Not only that, but Andros, like Obama, G.W. Bush, and others before them, notably Hoover and FDR, raised government expenditures to the extent that a depression occurred (100). As we have learned, and I hope this can be easily understood, spending one's way out of recession does not work.

Andros was an imperialist, too, spreading his despotism over a large area.

Then, finally in the fall of 1688, James II, the same king who foisted Andros on the colonies, was overthrown. When news of that finally reached America (Andros found out in advance and tried to stonewall the news), a plot to overthrow Andros began (101). He did take his well-deserved fall. There was a revolution, after which he spent a year in jail (102). It was a conservative revolution, meaning the people knew what they were doing, and not only were elections held, but the franchise was extended (103).

The struggle was not completely over. It was difficult to get the Crown (William and Mary were in power then) to recognize the new government, but they did. Not only that, Andros and his lackeys were sent for and shipped back (like a package of lard, I like to believe). I like to imagine the colonists, including my own ancestors, partying on the shore as the ship carrying the prisoners disappeared over the horizon, and I like to think that Andros himself could hear and see the party as he went. It reminds me of the Obama Inauguration where former President Bush's plane was seen taking him back to Texas (no offense to Texas as it is a pretty good state, relatively speaking, at least in the gun rights department). He was probably looking out of the window at the events. I will continue Dr. Rothbard’s book in hopes of reading the colonists would not be disappointed in their new regime as I am in Obama. I have learned not to expect much since power always corrupts, but we'll see what Murray Rothbard, always the optimist, says.

Dare I hope in January of 2013 it will be Obama flying out as Ron Paul is sworn in?

Many writers, Dr. Rothbard says (104), have chalked up this revolution to “class” conflict, “ethnic” conflict, or religious disagreement. I think that is in-the-box thinking as is this entire obsession with race and all this “class struggle” nonsense. It was the ordinary people wanting freedom from self-proclaimed authority, very much like today's Ron Paul supporter. The opposition was the same as the opposition today: politicians, bureaucrats, and their favored cronies (105).

Andros was gone, and good riddance. Unfortunately, however, another evil fiend rose in his place, a fellow by the name of Jacob Leisler. Leisler was a tax-and-spend imperialist, against whom there was plenty of rebellion. He sent troops here and there to quell dissent and conquer new places. He even invaded Canada (106)! To raise the money and manpower for this, very despotic means were used which did even more to spur rebellion (107).

Leisler was determined to carry out the invasion despite lack of cooperation, and the expedition inevitably failed due to lack of coordination, manpower and supplies. Only one place up there was pillaged, but was pillaged thoroughly (108).

Leisler's self-proclaimed authority was on the line, and he dug in his heels by forbidding any emigration and ridiculously ordering any previous emigrants to return (109). Of course his reign continued to go downhill until civil war developed, and Leisler and his men were jailed by a new governor who had recently been sent by the Crown. Long story short, Leisler wound up dead.

Unfortunately, all of this put the old oligarchy back in power, but it was not quite the Andros regime. At least there would be a representative assembly (110). The actions of this assembly were mixed, but one good thing it did was to make sure the governor understood that he had to depend on it for funds.

The seventeenth century was drawing to a close. Some pro-freedom progress had been made giving representative assemblies. But, in Massachusetts, while the Puritan threat had subsided, the Puritans managed to establish their church, so that all taxpayers were compelled to support it (111).

This relative liberalism was short-lived as some big shots wanted to re-institute the plunder in Massachusetts. Their chance came when the witch hunt came to Salem in 1692 (112).

Dr. Rothbard, in Chapter 59, gives an interesting account of the witch trials and it was, indeed, a classic witch hunt, whereby if somebody did not like somebody else, witchcraft allegations were made.

We all know pretty much what a witch-hunt is. A present-day example that comes to mind is that of Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona, who behaves as if he has never heard of the Constitution, and who is waging a vendetta against his opponents (113). Also, there was a witch-hunt against Vietnam War protesters in the late 1960s, to name another example.

Today, outspoken dissidents need to be on guard. How the Obama administration will treat Census resisters in 2010 remains to be seen. Suffice it to say I will not talk to strangers through the door when they knock, much less open the door. Witch-hunts have happened throughout human history and probably will continue, at least as long as we are under the yoke of strong governments.

In Salem, eventually fully informed juries (114) and the people in general saw the light and ended the hunts (115).

As the book winds down, Dr. Rothbard simply states that, at the turn of the eighteenth century, the colonies were still under the Crown's oligarchic rule, only enough progress had been made that each colony had its assembly as a buffer between the Crown's despotism and the people's desire for liberty (116).

As Dr. Rothbard said at the beginning, history's most important consideration is the battle between freedom and self-proclaimed authority. The pendulum swings back and forth, giving first one the upper hand and then the other. I believe the pendulum swings very far into authority and then not very far into liberty.

(1) Rothbard, Murray Conceived in Liberty Volume I A New Land, A New People: The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1999) P. 10.
(2) Ibid. P. 15, 16.
(3) Ibid. P. 17.
(4) Ibid. P. 19, 20.
(5) Ibid. P. 31.
(6) Ibid. P. 31, 32.
(7) Ibid. P.32, 33.
(8) Ibid. P. 48.
(9) Ibid. P. 49.
(10) Ibid. P. 53, 54.
(11) Ibid. P. 56.
(12) Ibid. P. 57-59.
(13) Ibid. P. 60.
(14) Ibid. P. 60.
(15) Ibid. P. 61.
(16) Ibid. P. 42.
(17) Ibid. P. 65, 66.
(18) Ibid. P. 67.
(19) Ibid. P. 68.
(20) Ibid. P. 68, 69.
(21) Ibid. P. 69.
(22) Ibid. P. 86.
(23) Ibid. P. 87-94.
(24) Ibid. P. 91.
(25) Ibid. P. 91.
(26) Ibid. P. 91.
(27) Ibid. P. 103 on.
(28) Ibid. P. 104.
(29) Ibid. P. 105.
(30) Ibid. P. 105.
(31) Ibid. P. 107.
(32) Ibid. P. 110.
(33) Ibid. P. 111.
(34) Ibid. P. 118.
(35) Ibid. P. 119.
(36) Ibid. P. 119.
(37) Ibid. P. 123.
(38) Ibid. P. 123.
(39) Ibid. P. 157.
(40) Ibid. P. 161, 162.
(41) Ibid. P. 162, 163.
(42) Ibid. P. 166. Also see my last year's essay's segment on Rothbard's America's Great Depression at
(43) Ibid. P. 167.
(44) Ibid. P. 168.
(45) Ibid. P. 169.
(46) Ibid. P. 176, 177.
(47) Ibid. P. 175
(48) Ibid. P. 177, 178.
(49) Ibid. P. 178.
(50) Ibid. P. 180, 181.
(51) Ibid. P. 183.
(52) Ibid. P. 183, 184.
(53) Ibid. P. 185.
(54) Ibid. P. 186.
(55) Ibid. P. 194, 195.
(56) Ibid. P. 200.
(57) Ibid. P. 202.
(58) Ibid. P. 215.
(59) Ibid. P. 215, 216.
(60) Ibid. P. 230, 231.
(61) Ibid. P. 231.
(62) Ibid. P. 234-236.
(63) Ibid. P. 247.
(64) Ibid. P. 247.
(65) Ibid. P. 248.
(66) Ibid. P. 249, 250.
(67) Ibid. P. 251, 252.
(68) Ibid. P. 253.
(69) Ibid. P. 254.
(70) Ibid. P. 260.
(71) Ibid. P. 261.
(72) Ibid. P. 271.
(73) Ibid. P. 273.
(74) Ibid. P. 275.
(75) Ibid. P. 281.
(76) Ibid. P. 288.
(77) Ibid. P. 302.
(78) Ibid. P. 303.
(79) Ibid. P. 320.
(80) Ibid. P. 320.
(81) Ibid. P. 323.
(82) Ibid. P. 326-328.
(83) Ibid. P. 344-346.
(84) Ibid. P. 346.
(85) Ibid. P. 350.
(86) Ibid. P. 351.
(87) Ibid. P. 355.
(88) Ibid. P. 367, 368.
(89) Ibid. P. 371.
(90) Ibid. P. 376.
(91) Ibid. P. 382.
(92) Ibid. P. 397.
(93) Ibid. P. 398.
(94) Ibid. P. 398.
(95) Ibid. P. 400.
(96) Ibid. P. 403.
(97) Ibid. P. 404.
(98) Ibid. P. 405, 406.
(99) Ibid. P. 412.
(100) Ibid. P. 413.
(101) Ibid. P. 423.
(102) Ibid. P. 424.
(103) Ibid. P. 425.
(104) Ibid. P. 434.
(105) Ibid. P. 435.
(106) Ibid. P. 441.
(107) Ibid. P. 442.
(108) Ibid. P. 443.
(109) Ibid. P. 444.
(110) Ibid. P. 447.
(111) Ibid. P. 451.
(112) Ibid. P. 453.
(115) Rothbard P. 458.
(116) Ibid. P. 508.

"Salutary Neglect"

Conceived in Liberty, Vol. II “Salutary Neglect”: The American Colonies in the
First Half of the Eighteenth Century

by Murray N. Rothbard

In the Preface, Dr. Rothbard reiterates that history is actually a story of the conflict between “Power,” meaning government authority, and Liberty (1). I guess from time immemorial, government officials have regarded themselves as better, and they have fooled enough of the common people into believing it. And, unfortunately, this is the case today, to an extreme measure, I believe, and will most likely remain the case for a very long time.

There are no inherent conflicts among any various “classes” or groups in society unless government intervention causes them.

Volume II is about the first half of the eighteenth century, the period leading up to the American Revolution. At the beginning of the century, as we observed in Volume I, the British thought they had a good grip on the colonies. Not true! Over time, the colonies were able to regain their independence.

The colonies had their own elected assemblies which were a check on authority. The assemblies also determined the governors' salaries, which were based on the governors' behaviors (2).

Dr. Rothbard begins this volume with a recap of the developments in the separate colonies. Actually, this takes up nearly half of the volume. As I read, I have a strong hunch that the conflict between liberty and authority will be prominent. Massachusetts is discussed first, and there, in the early eighteenth century, slavery and involuntary indentured servitude were rationalized by the idea of “natural hierarchy.” Some people, it was claimed, were naturally suited to serve, as they were being “protected” by their masters. These people were told they were “better off” than they would be free (3). This is so familiar. Women’s being told they needed to be “protected” under someone's wing and restricted “for their own good” is something recent enough for me to remember. And, anyone who is under eighteen years old, actually twenty-one, and has a measurable I.Q. will tell you the idea still thrives. And, of course, these “benefits” were then backed up by the whip, and are now backed up by tasers, guns, and incarceration in a prison or, worse, a mental ward or behavior-changing school.

Meanwhile, the Puritan establishment was broken down in Massachusetts by more liberal thinkers both inside and outside the denomination (4).

While Massachusetts became more libertarian, Rhode Island, a real libertarian stronghold, went the other way (5).

New England, especially New York, was still practicing feudalism into the eighteenth century, which retarded freedom. Typically, one owner would hold a very large tract of land, and rent out parcels. This owner would also have a great deal to say about who would sit in the assembly, and who would judge cases. Some of these owners also held governorships (6).

In super-backward New York, a tenant uprising finally began around 1750 (7). There had also been slave rebellions there in the early eighteenth century, probably as a result of some really tough laws regarding slaves, about the worst being a death penalty for runaways who were caught more than forty miles north of Albany while on the run (8). As government always seems to do, laws were made all the more rigid.

There were land disputes in New Jersey too. After settlers bought land from the Indians and worked their land, feudal proprietors claimed the land as theirs, made rules and tried to charge quitrents (might as well read “property tax” as they are similar if not identical). The proprietors were also government officials. In fact, the governor was also the judge (9). This gave new meaning to conflict of interest, of course. Fortunately, the people's rebellion escalated as government oppression did, and riots ensued. Would that people today were as feisty; today if there is a demonstration at all it is almost always to plead for government money or for services to be increased, unless it is a Tea Party. And, the demonstrators are only too eager to obey the police. As far as I know, only at Tea Parties have marchers exercised their God-given, constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms right there at the march. The strait-laced left would never dream of anything so politically incorrect. Well, I guess if you are begging, you are behooved to bow to whom you are begging from.

But, in the 1740s the people, their assembly, and their fully-informed juries would not cooperate with the establishment. In fact, if a demonstrator was imprisoned, the people would march on the prison and rescue him (10).

Unfortunately, the Crown had a change of personnel at the Board of Trade and took a much more pro-authority stance (11). The official government now had Crown support, and the pro-liberty forces weakened as many of them left the colony to avoid prosecution. When the Crown apparently changed its mind, the attempt to impose feudalism collapsed and the people won (12).

In the mid-eighteenth century, Benjamin Franklin appeared on the scene. Good, I thought, as it was he who warned that to give up freedom for security would lead to the loss of both. Very timely for today, especially as I write between Christmas 2009 and New Year's when another would-be terrorist (at least this is what the mainstream media is saying without answering some very pertinent questions about the incident) just tried to bring a plane down over the Detroit area. The government is spewing forth with some crazy new rules which will not increase safety, but will destroy yet more freedom.

In any case, my response to the chapter on Franklin was “good,” until right off the bat Dr. Rothbard says Franklin's reputation is over-inflated. For one thing, Franklin wanted colonist involvement in King George's War, which might be a bit like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today. The involvement idea was totally wrong, wasteful and unnecessary. Franklin published a pamphlet, Plain Truth, which went a long way toward bringing people into the pro-war camp. Then, he went forward on forming his own militia and financing munitions with a lottery.

Oh boy! Imagine if you and I did that now! We would be afoul of dozens of laws, not to mention being labeled “terrorists,” or at the very least “gang-bangers.” And, we would be lucky to ever see the outside of a prison again.

But, those people who are so sure that our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is so all-fired important should do exactly what Franklin did rather than use Big Brother to force all of us to participate. Yes, I am aware that this is illegal, but they should do it anyway until laws against it are repealed. Then, at least, we who believe that U.S. military presence in foreign countries is harmful and stirs up hatred can refuse to participate.

Franklin, assuming that entering King George’s War was proper (I doubt it), was doing it right. It was legal then as, even with oligarchic rule, there was more freedom, and the oligarchic establishment supported him (13).

Actually, far from a libertarian but a mercantilist, Franklin started right in at a young age currying establishment favor. He was in the printing business, and at least he knew how to compete. He wormed his way into lucrative government printing contracts, not just by competing but by rubbing elbows with high officials (14).

His next job was to push the pernicious scheme of paper money. Now, who do you suppose he had in mind for the super-lucrative government contract to print the money? He got the contract. This was a springboard to more government printing contracts, and a Postmaster position which was bought by a powerful judge.

In the end, Franklin was instrumental in dividing and conquering the libertarian-leaning Quakers, not to mention the Indians (15).

Dr. Rothbard then turns to the Southern colonies, beginning with Virginia. The land policy there was not on a free market or homesteading basis, but was feudalistic, controlled by the oligarchy of large landowners who were often also government officials (16).

The tobacco farmers hit hard times. Despite wageless slave labor, the cost of production went up because of such factors as a rise in the price of slaves and soil exhaustion (17). Special privileges were sought such as maximum quotas on tobacco production to keep tobacco prices up. This didn't work because farmers elsewhere could simply grow more to reap the profits. The quotas hurt the small Virginia farmer the most, especially since tobacco was often used as money to pay a variety of bills (18).

Dr. Rothbard, in Chapter 17, “Virginia Tobacco,” gives us a short lesson in economics by showing how the supply of and demand for tobacco caused prices to fluctuate.

The colony of Georgia was particularly interesting because of lessons in Chapter 25, “Georgia, the Humanitarian Colony” (19). What the proprietors did there was to bring over impoverished people from England to “help” them at “no” profit to themselves. This raises several libertarian red flags. First off, Dr. Rothbard has shown again and again that the profit motive is the best way to help the needy. But, when benefits are handed to a beneficiary, you can bet your last nickel that regulations will follow. Even if the benefactor genuinely wants to help, it is almost always the case that the benefactor will foist his own preferences on the beneficiary. People who accept “freebies” almost always find their freedom diminished, and they are behooved to accept that.

Sure enough. People who went to Georgia found themselves under minute central planning, with no input into the rule. It was very much like the USSR and was run as poorly. Finally, there had to be a liberalizing as the best and brightest fled and those who were left were impoverished. One of the worst things was that the rulers were determined to set up an economy dependent on silk, when silk worms cannot survive in Georgia. They would never give that up.

The moral is this: Do not depend on anyone. Do not give large sums to any organization unless you are sure that what they are already doing is what you want, or you will be tempted beyond endurance to try to make the organization over. And, do not try to grow silk worms in Georgia.

I have to wonder – actually, I do not have to wonder at all as I know – if this relates to what we are experiencing right now in 2010. There have been so many milestones in making more people more dependent on various levels of government. We have welfare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, scholarships, unemployment insurance, and numerous other bailouts and other handout programs. Right now, the Obama administration is pushing through a new health care plan that will all but socialize medicine. Everyone needs some health care and as the huge “boomer” generation has aged, most people now need a great deal of health care. This will increase dependency on government, not just on the part of patients, but also the armies of bureaucrats who will have high-paying, high-pensioned, tenured jobs to administer the system.

Just like eighteenth century Georgia when the impoverished colonists were dependent on government for everything and those in control (the agents of the colony's philanthropic founders) became wealthy (20), the American people are going to have to pay huge taxes to support the bureaucracy. And, I think, just like eighteenth century Georgia and just like the USSR, regular people like you and me will have to obey government officials. These officials will have great power.

If you think you might have cancer or heart symptoms, you want to be seen by a doctor immediately. But if this health care plan goes through, chances are you will have to wait your turn with high officials being allowed to line-jump, and it could be days, even weeks and then you will have to kowtow to a bureaucracy.

Fortunately for Georgia, the do-gooder proprietors of Georgia had a term limit, after which the colony would revert to the Crown. After that, they prospered. The silk fiasco was over, and they turned to rice and indigo which thrive in that climate (21). There were downsides but, at the end of the day, things improved.

Is there any chance that Obamacare will sunset? Probably not. Nor will other debacles, such as “Cap and Trade” (based on the non-ratified Kyoto Treaty), Real ID/Pass ID, and other Bush/Obama abominations.

Yes, there were still issues in Georgia, just as there were issues in all the other colonies. The pendulum between freedom and authority would swing and this seems to be the undercurrent in this entire series by Murray Rothbard.

Part II of Volume II, “Intercolonial Developments,” starts out with the chapter “Inflation and the Creation of Paper Money.” Last winter I reviewed a few Rothbard books on monetary policy in which he explained in full detail why a commodity standard such as a gold standard is critically important to the economy. The creation of fiat paper money, not backed by gold or some other commodity, is a vehicle whereby the government and its big-shot cronies can steal you blind. If you did not read that essay, The Works of Murray N. Rothbard Part II (22), it might be a good idea to do that now, or, better yet, read the books. This way you will better understand what he is saying at this point in the Conceived in Liberty series.

Money had always been a commodity until the first half of the eighteenth century (23). Tobacco and other crops had been used as such in the colonies to pay quitrents and other bills. Gold and silver had also been used. It was difficult for officials to debase such a currency and fool the public. Before applying his monetary theories to the colonies, Dr. Rothbard gives a brief overview of the theory's principles (24). I am not sure the word “theory” is correct, however, as it has been proven true over and over again.

In the colonies, the English government did not allow mints to be set up and it also did not allow English coins to be imported. The colonists got around that by trading with marketable commodities such as tobacco as mentioned and coins from other countries, gold, silver, and Indian money (“wampum,” whatever it was) (25).

When colonial governments started to decree what this unit of money would be worth in terms of that unit (and they did not all decree the same thing), it caused dislocations in pricing, and some kinds of money being driven out of the market (Gresham's Law) (26).

In the 1640s, Massachusetts officials decided to print paper tickets as “money” (27). Of course we know what happened, having studied Dr. Rothbard's works on money and banking (28). They believed that an increase in the money supply would solve a variety of problems. Or, being the ruling oligarchy, maybe they knew that this scheme would line their own pockets to the detriment of the general public, particularly as currencies were inflated to pay for wars.

As we can predict, all the paper monies depreciated almost at once, as Dr. Rothbard shows when he describes what happened in various colonies (29) as the depreciation spurred calls for more paper and the usual people were hit the hardest, debtors, charities, manual laborers, and those on fixed incomes. The establishment blamed the private sector for the depreciation (30), just as the Obama administration and the Bush administration before it blame the economic situation on banks today. Obviously the banks are not innocent, but the blame really fell then, as it does now, on the creation of money out of thin air. Some things never change.

Dr. Rothbard turns to the dissemination of ideas in the colonies. In the seventeenth century, there were no printing presses in the New World, except in Massachusetts where he implies there was only one, and there the Puritan oligarchy had iron-clad control. News came from England. After the turn of the eighteenth century, presses were being built. Unlike England, where newspapers were in cahoots with the postal service and could bar competition, and where the mail could be read by government officials, there was a measure of free competition. The mail carrying was private, via Indians or other travelers (31).

In Massachusetts in 1754, there was a case that exemplifies the double standard that so often prevails in government, and most certainly prevails now: One strict standard that ordinary people must adhere to, and another lax standard for government officials, showing that they believe they are better. A fellow by the name of Daniel Fowle was accused of criticizing by satire the debates in the assembly on an unpopular tax bill, possibly in the same manner we libertarians and tea party types criticize the debate in Congress about health care legislation. The debate is: The partly socialized system is broken, so shall we leave it alone or socialize it further? Nothing is ever said about freeing up the system, except by Ron Paul, apparently the only sane official inside the lunatic fringe beltway. Of course the establishment will not even acknowledge what Dr. Paul is saying. At least he has not landed in jail – yet.

Mr. Fowle did. Sending him to jail was illegal, but he spent a few days incommunicado in a dungeon (32), and defiantly wrote a pamphlet about it. The courts ruled against him and officials went free of blame.

Dr. Rothbard claims the John Peter Zenger case is trotted out by historians as the case that brought freedom of the press to the colonies, but that this is wrong (33). Zenger won his case because the “seditious” article was true, and because his attorney convinced the jury to judge not only the facts of the case but also the law.

Today it is actually part of a jury's job to judge both the facts of the case and the law. However, today we have less freedom than Zenger and his attorney had; judges today often refuse to allow jurors to be told they can judge the law. (Editors note: The state of Georgia is an exception. There the law explicitly states the jury is to judge the law also and judges say so in their charges. Tennessee also has the provision in its constitution.) The libertarian Fully Informed Jury Association is hard at work to fully inform jurors of this fact (34).

But, the Zenger case did not free the press. The seditious libel law was still on the books (35). Juries are fickle and there was no guarantee that even a fully informed jury would acquit. At the time, public opinion was such that criticism of government was considered politically incorrect (even worse than today), and Assembly opinion mirrored that (36). So there were more prosecutions, with many breaches of justice.

Meanwhile, on the religious front, people were gradually becoming more liberal (37) and the “Great Awakening” was beginning.

I knew little of this except that I once heard another Christian with libertarian leanings call it the “Great Falling Asleep.” And, right away in Chapter 29, “The Great Awakening,” Dr. Rothbard calls it a “profoundly reactionary counterblow to the emergence of a liberal and more rational and cosmopolitan religious atmosphere” (38). It was a throwback to the old eighteenth century rigid Calvinism, and was based on emotion rather than reason (39).

They remind me very much of today's neoconservative establishment. Today's “religious right” made its way into positions of power as I demonstrated a few years back in my essay How the Bush Administration is Destroying Our Country and Damaging the Christian Church (40). This was hit home when Dr. Rothbard pointed out that a moderately “Great Awakening” minister endeared himself to the authorities by encouraging participation in the French and Indian War (41). Today's religious right totally endorses our invasion in Afghanistan and Iraq which is more about imperialism and oil than anything else. As I write this in January, 2010, the recent failed bombing of a commercial airline is being milked for all it is worth in an effort to rationalize a military move on Yemen, where the bomber had apparently been. (This is not even to mention the push for more “security” at the expense of yet more freedom.) Any military move on Yemen would be for the same reason as our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, I believe, and my question #1 is: Is there oil in Yemen?

Anyhow, the neoconservatives are anxious to move forward on this, and the left is strangely silent because the president and most of Congress are Democrats. It goes to show how ignorant the left is, and how little difference there really is between the Democrats and the Republicans.

We can really learn a great deal from what happened in colonial times. Unless we learn from previous mistakes, history does repeat itself. And to allow emotion to rule rather than reason is a whopper of a mistake.

There was a major upside to the “Awakening.” This was the splintering of many denominations into smaller groups. This decentralization had the good effect that decentralization will have; it made it difficult for any one sect to become established (42).

When you do have an established religion, or established anything else, the power of government is almost always used to stonewall opponents. This is what licensure, registration, zoning, codes, and regulations are really for!

In 1742, the Connecticut Assembly, controlled by one type of religious thought, licensure was used to stonewall another type (43). This had been par for the course all along but I just now mentioned it.

The “Great Awakening” had its far-out extremists, some claiming to be “perfect and immortal” (those particular ones have since learned differently, that's for sure) and one even claimed to be the risen Christ (44). (Boy! Was he ever in for a jolt!) It was this sort of thing that caused a backlash toward rationalism. This brought about “Deism,” or the worship of God and His natural laws (45). As for the old Calvinist beliefs, they threw out the baby with the bath by not only rejecting such nonsense as predestination and Sunday blue laws, but also rejecting core Christian truths such as the Trinity, the Resurrection, and remission from sin. They seemed to believe that reason could do everything. Well, it can do most things, but it cannot make one perfect which one must be to enter the presence of God. Nobody is perfect, nor will anybody ever be and this is why Jesus died on the Cross. But the Deists did not see that. I wonder if they thought reason would keep them alive forever. I consider myself one of the most rational people God ever created, and that very same reason tells me that their belief was irrational. Of these great believers in the free will and natural law, I wonder where they thought this free will and natural law came from (46). Although some of them did believe in Jesus, they believed that Jesus was just another values teacher.

There was quite a struggle among Pennsylvania Quakers regarding the morality of slavery. Unfortunately, as relatively libertarian as these Christians were, many were in denial; I guess they thought with their bankbooks rather than their rational minds (47). In 1742, a young fellow named John Woolman, who was a year later to become a Quaker minister, was an apprentice and had the job of making out a bill of sale for a black woman as though she were a horse or cow. That is when he realized how wrong it is; one human being cannot own another! Jesus Christ died for this woman the same as He died for Woolman (and you!) (48).

Woolman wore down the resistance of many leading Pennsylvania Quakers and made them see the light, and finally, in 1758, the top Quaker brass at their annual meeting condemned slavery. Quakers were asked to free their slaves with severance pay. Quakers who would not were disciplined (but not excluded until 1774), and a committee was set up to help them in the transition (49).

In other colonies, Quakers followed suit.

Quakers, being very individualistic, rational, and libertarian were, in many important ways, on the same page as the Deists. But I believe the Quakers were right, i.e., Biblically correct, as they were similar to the very early Christians who held church services in homes (sometimes covertly). The thing is, without a free will and the freedom to choose right or wrong, one cannot be truly virtuous. What good is living a moral life if someone is there forcing you at gunpoint? Coercion and strict rules take all the good out of the good. But they certainly leave the bad in the bad.

Well, the undercurrent for this entire Rothbard series is the continual battle between liberty and authority. Liberty will win some day. It is hard to believe that in 2010. But it will.

Now Dr. Rothbard really gets to the meat of the matter in Chapter 33, “The Growth of Libertarian Thought.” He re-emphasizes that the linear view of history is inaccurate as change does not occur at a steady pace. We are taught that economically things get gradually better, and in a way they do as new ideas bring about technological advances. But, actually, freedom and prosperity come and go. Dr. Rothbard often mentions the battle between liberty and authority and how the pendulum swings between them. Libertarian thought grew, first in England and then in America during the eighteenth century. But the ideas were not really articulated (50). The abundance of land spurred on individualism, but it was the Levellers in England, and Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson in America who actually brought the ideas into focus only to have the movement all but destroyed by reactionaries. This happened all over Europe too (51). We recall from before how England foisted authority on America, rendering all colonies about the same, after some were free and prosperous.

The only real competition to libertarian thought was theocratic fanaticism (52), and I do not need to tell you which is obviously the better way to go. The only mystery is how theocracy lasted so long. Dr. Rothbard discusses some of the lights of the libertarian movement such as Algernon Sidney, John Locke, and Trenchard and Gordon of Cato's Letters. To this day, John Locke is a household name in the present movement, and the moderate libertarian Cato Institute was named for Cato's Letters. You can see their influence on the Founders.

One recurring theme is one the establishment despises so much that it is all but illegal: If the government refuses to defend the God-given rights of individuals to life, liberty, and property (and hence the defense of these rights which includes the right to keep and bear arms), then the people have the right to dissolve that government and form a new one that will defend these rights (53).

Locke added that no just title can be acquired by taking property against the owner's will, and that includes government officials' takings which would render eminent domain wrongful (54).

I think most libertarians fiercely oppose eminent domain. I know I do ... even when it is authorized by the Fifth Amendment.

After all, Locke believed, the whole purpose of government and society is to protect the rights of the individual (55).

Amen to that.

The right of the individual to his property, he went on, is a part of the right to his own person, and to resist government intrusion is part of the right to resist the intrusion of garden-variety crooks. He does not differentiate (56).

Amen to that, too.

(I notice that a lot of Locke's terminology wound up in Jefferson's writings.)

Cato's Letters radicalized and applied Locke's creed (57). Dr. Rothbard quotes extensively from these (58), and from these quotes I gather they are a must-read for libertarians or anyone else who is interested and not afraid to become a libertarian.

I will hasten to add, however, that I have not read them, nor Locke extensively, which is my own fault so I cannot make any guarantees. No human being is infallible, and every writer who quotes cherry-picks the quotes. Dr. Rothbard, as brilliant as he was, and as much as he represented the gold standard of libertarianism, was not immune, but I think we can be reasonably sure he was right about Sidney, Locke, and Cato.

The colonists devoured Cato, and ministers preached God-given liberty, and separation of church and state (59). I would say it was like the sun coming out.

Having discussed the growth of libertarian thought, Dr. Rothbard now turns to foreign relations. In my own opinion, the former is watershed, for without these libertarian principles we might never have had any America in the first place, much less would we have any hope of regaining it now.

Foreign relations included dealings with England (60). Governors were royal appointments and assemblies were elected. Right away we know they did not see eye to eye on things, possibly like a smart young adult, who is still legally a child, and a not-so-smart parent, to whom the sun rises and sets over government, do not see eye to eye.

Governors had veto power over acts of assemblies. (I am not aware of any over-riding of vetoes.) There were also councils but they were appointed by the Crown with governor advice, and they were a sort of upper house in addition to being a high court.

The mercantilist “Navigation Acts” regulated imports and exports from overseas to favor establishment interests in much the same way our volumes – make that “libraries” – of economic regulations do today. Violators of these rules were “tried” by courts appointed by the governor. I see nothing about any assembly having to confirm the judges. There was no appeal except in major cases, and I guess we can assume who defined “major.” These appeals went to England. The Crown also appointed enforcers just as TSA agents are bureaucratically appointed to enforce airport security rules now (61).

I do not believe the crews of ships in the pre-revolutionary eighteenth century dared to look cross-eyed at the Crown's enforcers either, but at least the general public knew better than to fall for the “it will make you safe” routine.

At least the assemblies had one ace to play: money. They held the purse strings and were the ones to levy the taxes and pay the government's bills, including the governor's salary. They also established common-law courts for jury trials. The money power was the reason the assemblies finally prevailed, that and the lax enforcement of mercantile restrictions on the part of the Crown (62). But the most important reason was rampant libertarian hostility to power and corruption, and the influence of Cato's Letters (63).

England's attitude from the get-go had been domination of the colonies. The Navigation Acts regulated the terms of how and by whom goods were transported to and from overseas (64). How much these were enforced depended on who was in power (65).

But, the Navigation Acts were by no means all. There were other Crown-inflicted regulations, geared to give English industry an advantage. Dr. Rothbard describes regulation of wool, felt hats, hops (a beer ingredient), iron, and timber (66). Fortunately, the rules were enforced only sporadically and with great difficulty. The New Hampshire frontiersmen had the right attitude: The wood was not the king's and they would cut as they pleased (67). There should be more like that today.

King George's War was yet more mercantilism. Lives were lost for no reason when warmongers used any excuse they could to drag England into war with Spain (68). The real reason for this was big business wanting a monopoly on slave trade to the Spanish colonies, so Spain had to be forced to grant this monopoly to England. This led to a base for general trade (69). The war spread to France, and also to the colonies, specifically Massachusetts in the 1740s, where a French fortress was conquered and favored businesses received contracts for war materials. Just like today, “defense” lined establishment pockets. Of course some of this money found its way into incumbent campaign funds (70). Additionally, the money was paper, backed by nothing. As we have learned, this means that, at the end of the day, the poor were subsidizing the moneyed establishment. Does this not have a familiar ring to it?

To add injury to insult, the same poor who had to pay for this war were forced to endure “impressment,” which is worse than the injustice of draft registration (I have lots to say about that evil), and even worse than the draft itself. “Impressment” means the kidnapping of men off the street to serve in the war. There is no reason to think these men had to be eligible to vote, were not disabled, or did not have little kids at home. They were simply grabbed off the street and forced to go to war. Period.

The good thing about this was it caused riots and began to set the stage for the American Revolution (71).

Then, along came the French and Indian War. Although English colonists greatly outnumbered French ones, warmongering establishmentarians stirred up fear of the French, and the English-appointed governors wanted to take them over. The French colonists were west of the Appalachians, and the English colonies had spread that far, so, in order to spread further, the English wanted to oust the French (72).

The colony of Virginia just up and granted French land in the Ohio area by the hundreds of thousands of acres to fat-cats without so much as batting an eyelash. Even when the war was over, these “grants” continued, one of which was made to the Ohio Company which was a racket of sorts on the part of a rich man who pleaded for government subsidies (73). Another company, the Loyal Company, received eight hundred thousand acres of land from Virginia at the behest of the Crown, land that already belonged to French colonists and/or Indians.

This whole episode is an object lesson in establishment quid pro quo. I wonder how many people were duped into thinking that any of this was good for development and prosperity. Maybe it would be the same people who believe that war helps the economy or that urban renewal and redevelopment are good for the poor. It has been shown time and time again that such activities line the pockets of the rich (who gave large campaign contributions to and entertain establishment politicians) and hurt the poor.

Meanwhile, of course, the French in the Ohio Valley prepared to defend what was theirs and the Indians'. The Crown ordered all the English colonies to resist this French “invasion” (“Invasion” on the part of the invaded sounds like a Bush-ism to me.) (74).

So, war was on. Now at last the common people of Virginia had a voice; they refused to be drafted and refused to allow their supplies to be “drafted.” In order to raise the manpower, Virginia promised enlistees land free of quitrents for fifteen years (75).

Virginia's commander was George Washington. That disappointed me, but he was young then and possibly quite naive.

The French won, but Virginia's governor was a hard-liner and wanted to throw more lives and livelihood away. He asked England for more troops and for a tax throughout the colonies. He would have re-attacked only one month after being defeated, but saner heads prevailed among elected representatives.

The warmongers called for a joint conference of the colonies, at which the idea of a central government was on the table as a way to spur on imperialism. This scheme would be paid for by the Crown, which would get the money from taxes collected in the colonies. The general population would have limited input. Fortunately this harebrained scheme could not fly because the common people thought they were being oppressed quite enough by their colonial government, and another layer of government was something they did not need (76). One reason for the idea was that Virginia could get all the Ohio Valley land, leaving the other colonies out, and a central government would be more “equitable” (77). The common people did not seem to care about that.

What they did care about was “liberty” and “property” and these were becoming the watchwords as they resisted entering the war (78).

The English suffered numerous defeats, but had one victory in Acadia (which particularly refers to regions of the Canadian Maritimes that have French roots, language, and culture, primarily in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, as well as in the state of Maine), where they wreaked havoc on the common people. The British had conquered the area a couple of times in the past, and now the people were prohibited from leaving as the government wanted a labor force. Dr. Rothbard calls this slavery, which it is (79). That was by no means all. It took many pages to list all the injustices that were done to these people. They were confined to the area, then expelled, then rounded up and sent to the far corners of the earth as indentured servants, and stripped of all possessions (80).

The war went on, and the English finally overtook the French and took over the entire area, including Canada, by 1760 (81).

Meanwhile, during the war, the individualistic colonists were going ahead and trading with the “enemy” (82). Rhode Islanders in particular sent shiploads of supplies to France and French Canada, and the establishment accused them of supplying the enemy with provisions and of lawless smuggling. The question, of course, was “whose enemy?”

On the other hand, lucrative government contracts were offered to establishment cronies who were tempted away from that actually quite legitimate trade (83).

The free trade was not the only war resistance; there was also massive draft resistance centered in Boston. The governor tried to end this, but the Massachusetts Assembly seemed to be on the people's side and declared that the French were not as great a threat as the English, who were coming to be forcibly housed and to enforce the draft, sometimes by impressment. Taxes for the war effort caused a recession (84). Then the English tried to change the international law of the sea, which had called for free shipping, in such a way as to take over the seas (85).

Men who did go to war would not hear of any “back-door draft” either. It seems like I am forever wishing people of today had not just the will, but also the education, to resist “authority.”

There was a battle of the pamphlets in Britain around 1760: the imperialists who wanted to spread empire vs. those who wanted to make peace (86). So there was a lot of back-and-forth, but finally peace prevailed. The English imperialists got the best deal, but at least there was peace.

Dr. Rothbard winds down Volume II with a description of how the English imperialists administered the conquests. It was not very pretty (87). The English Empire had won and was to rule the world, but what it did was to precipitate the American Revolution.

(1) Rothbard, Murray Conceived in Liberty Volume II “Salutary Neglect”: The American Colonies in the First Half of the Eighteenth Century (Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1999) P. 10.
(2) Ibid. P. 17.
(3) Ibid. P. 19
(4) Ibid. P. 21-24.
(5) Ibid. P. 26, 27.
(6) Ibid. P. 39.
(7) Ibid. P. 39.
(8) Ibid. P. 44.
(9) Ibid. P. 48.
(10) Ibid. P. 48-50.
(11) Ibid. P. 51.
(12) Ibid. P. 52.
(13) Ibid. P. 64.
(14) Ibid. P. 66.
(15) Ibid. P. 74.
(16) Ibid. P. 80.
(17) Ibid. P. 83.
(18) Ibid. P. 83.
(19) Ibid. P. 107.
(20) Ibid. P. 114.
(21) Ibid. P. 118
(22) See and click on “2009 (9)”
(23) Rothbard P. 123.
(24) Ibid. P. 123-126.
(25) Ibid. P. 127.
(26) Ibid. P. 127.
(27) Ibid. P. 129.
(28) Ibid. P. 131.
(29) Ibid. P. 133, 134.
(30) Ibid. P. 138.
(31) Ibid. P. 141.
(32) Ibid. P. 146, 147.
(33) Ibid. P. 147.
(34) See
(35) Rothbard P. 148.
(36) Ibid. P. 149.
(37) Ibid. P. 156-158.
(38) Ibid. P. 159.
(39) Ibid. P. 160.
(40) See and click on “2007 (12)”
(41) Rothbard P. 164.
(42) Ibid. P. 166.
(43) Ibid. P. 166, 167.
(44) Ibid. P. 170.
(45) Ibid. P. 171.
(46) Ibid. P. 171, 172.
(47) Ibid. P. 175, 176.
(48) Ibid. P. 176.
(49) Ibid. P. 177, 178.
(50) Ibid. P. 186.
(51) Ibid. P. 187.
(52) Ibid. P. 188.
(53) Ibid. P. 188 for Sidney, P. 191 for Locke, and P. 195 for Cato.
(54) Ibid. P. 191.
(55) Ibid. P. 191.
(56) Ibid. P. 191.
(57) Ibid. P. 192.
(58) Ibid. P. 192-195.
(59) Ibid. P. 196, 197.
(60) Ibid. P. 201.
(61) Ibid. P. 202.
(62) Ibid. P. 202.
(63) Ibid. P. 204.
(64) Ibid. P. 205, 206.
(65) Ibid. P. 207.
(66) Ibid. P. 208-210.
(67) Ibid. P. 210.
(68) Ibid. P. 216.
(69) Ibid. P. 217.
(70) Ibid. P. 218, 219.
(71) Ibid. P. 219-221.
(72) Ibid. P. 227.
(73) Ibid. P. 228-230.
(74) Ibid. P. 230.
(75) Ibid. P. 231.
(76) Ibid. P. 233.
(77) Ibid. P. 234.
(78) Ibid. P. 236.
(79) Ibid. P. 238, 239.
(80) Ibid. P. 240-244.
(81) Ibid. P. 249.
(82) Ibid. P. 250.
(83) Ibid. P. 251.
(84) Ibid. P. 252.
(85) Ibid. P. 254.
(86) Ibid. P. 256.
(87) Ibid. P. 265-268.
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