Should Libertarians Support The Confederacy?

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Was Southern secession about states’ rights, or was it about maintaining chattel slavery? Was Abraham Lincoln a hero, or was it just to save the Union? The Cato Institute put together a video arguing about why libertarians should not support the slavery, if their intention is to champion individual rights.


Why shouldn’t libertarians support the Confederacy? In short, because the Confederacy itself was not very libertarian.

In addition to being founded explicitly to protect the slave trade in America, the Confederacy conscripted soldiers, inflated its money supply during the war, and played host to many civil liberties violations. But that’s not to say that the Union was much better, as Jason Kuznicki (@jasonkuznicki) explains.

Kuznicki is a Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and is editor of Cato Unbound.

From the Confederate Constitution:

No law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.

The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs, or to whom such service or labor may be due.

The Confederate States may acquire new territory… In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.


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  • dkw

    Ya there were various causes of this tragic war and slavery had to end but why dredge this up . Stirring up ancient hate makes no sense to me.

  • Bob Matthews

    First world problems.

  • jim

    Kragzinski’s point is childish, inexperienced and just plain dumb. I’m disappointed this carries the Cato branding, I expect better. This just isn’t scholarship, this is a scripted narrative for which he fights to form reasoned support and in the end does not. He needs to remember Michael A. Bellesiles. Cum Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc. The kid needs a lesson in logic and critical thinking. And for the record, I don’t really have a personal position on the entire matter of which he was speaking. I simply know his argument, if you can call it that, was illogical and dumb.