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 http://www.alicelillieandher.blogspot.com 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 http://www.fija.org.
(35) Rothbard P. 148.
(36) Ibid. P. 149.
(37) Ibid. P. 156-158.
(38) Ibid. P. 159.
(39) Ibid. P. 160.
(40) See http://www.alicelillieandher.blogspot.com 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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