Well, maybe not all of them. But while working on the “Lincoln and Race” series, I came across a remarkable set of webpages. Thanks to John McKee Barr at Loathing Lincoln, I have discovered at least one libertarian who is moved by facts and not ideology.
In John’s post, which takes on the anti-Lincoln agenda at the Washington Post, he mentions the name of Timothy Sandefur, who works as a Principal Attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation. I clicked and found Mr. Sandefur’s blog Freespace. What I found there was a description of why secession was unconstitutional that is pretty much as good as any I’ve read. Those posts (“Springtime for Jeff Davis and the Confed’racy”) are here, here, and here.
Moreover, Sandefur has provided a link to a paper he wrote called “How Libertarians Ought to Think About the U.S. Civil War,” which argues that libertarians should support Lincoln, the Union, and the Civil War as instruments of liberty, rather than castigate them as agents of tyranny. What makes this analysis so intriguing to me is that Sandefur uses John Locke’s idea of natural rights to show, not merely why secession was not a legitimate revolution, but that the entire concept of a nation built on slavery is antithetical to libertarian philosophy.
I’ve not looked at much of the rest of Timothy Sandefur’s website. I don’t know how he feels about Teddy Roosevelt and the National Parks, or FDR and the New Deal, or the rights of indigenous Americans—and at this point I don’t need to. It’s just refreshing to find writing on the Civil War from a libertarian that is guided by principle, and not blinded by ideology. That’s an idea we should all be able to agree on.