Before I begin I would like to say that I am not making any moral arguments. I’m not really making any arguments at all. I am simply presenting some ideas I’ve had. I know that libertarians argue that government should only be involved if someone’s natural rights are being infringed upon. That is where I got the original idea for this piece. I’m not here to say that I’m right and you are wrong if you disagree with me; this is just a thought.
Can a libertarian make a good argument for supporting the Civil War? Probably not as it was played out in history. But if there were changes in intent and reasoning, could there been some justification with government involvement? With my arguments, I believe so.
I don’t think that Lincoln was all for bringing freedom to the black slaves of the south. He made many speeches while in Illinois stating that he was not for equality between whites and blacks. Slavery really became an issue during the Civil War when Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation. I have had many professors say that the Civil War was not necessary because, with all the compromises that were made, slavery was on its way out anyway. I don’t think that is a solid argument. I think the better argument is government involvement hasn’t stopped slavery; it has only changed the name from slavery to human trafficking. It is true that we no longer have blatant backyard slavery anymore, but slavery is still a huge problem.
If we agree that the natural rights of man are life, liberty, and property, the slaves of the 18th and 19th century did not enjoy those freedoms.
The slaves may have been alive, but they certainly did not enjoy life. There is a strong difference between the two that has to be recognized. When in chains, being whipped, I may still be alive, but I do not have the ability to truly live. To have life means much more than just to have a beating heart.
As a slave you cannot enjoy liberty. I don’t believe I need to say anymore about that. It should be understood.
Finally as property, you cannot have property. A dog cannot own a dog. You cannot pass your possessions onto a lamp. Property cannot own property.
What type of government intervention should have been implemented? I don’t know. I can’t answer that. If we have no government then slavery runs rampant. If we have too much government, then we are all slaves. Man is not perfect and cannot find any plausible working solution to the problem of slavery.
Once again these are only thoughts. I am not saying the government in the 1860s was justified with the Civil war. I am only saying that if we agree that the government should only intervene if man’s natural rights are being infringed upon, then maybe the government should have gotten involved.Published in