L. Neil Smith's
Number 145, October 29, 2001
War and Death


by Jim Davidson

Exclusive to TLE

Born in liberty 19 April 1775; Died 9 July 1868

A recent issue of The Libertarian Enterprise included the following dateline: "October 22, 2001 ... I Hear America Dying."

Sorry, guys. That isn't the sound of America dying. That's decompositional gas built up in the lungs, being released as one jackbooted thug after another treads on the body.

America as a concept of free people living in harmony is alive and well. As a constitutionally limited republic suitable for governing a free people, the USA is dead. It is now suffering the indignities of the descendants of the maniacs who killed it.

In recognizing the significance of the United States, it is appropriate to find words for the tombstone. I'd like to put forward an argument for birth date and death date. During the course of this argument, the body of this essay will constitute an obituary, which should help in the grieving process. At the end, a brief epitaph.

Born in Liberty

The birth of the USA as a country has as much to do with events on 19 April 1775 as it does with any other time. On that date, in battles at Lexington and Concord, the Sons of Liberty and their friends opposed with deadly force the attempt by British troops to seize their weapons. A few months later, the Continental Congress declared the independence which was already the subject of open warfare. In 1781, the British forces under Cornwallis, cut off on land by French, US and militia troops, and cut off on the sea by French and US navy vessels, surrendered. The date of 19 October 1781, when Cornwallis accepted terms and surrendered, is less meritorious, since additional battles at sea took place for some time thereafter. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 provided formal recognition of the new country.

The dark forces opposed to liberty saw within the nascent country a huge territory, a potentially powerful government, endless opportunities for wealth without working including special privileges and government contract fraud, and a certain tendency by an athletic minority to gung ho enthusiasm. They wanted to rule it, but to do so, its traditions of individual freedom had to be eviscerated.

They didn't take long to get started.

Shay Leads Revolutionary War Veterans

In 1786, in the beautiful Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, where I've spent many happy days, trouble was brewing. High taxes, high litigation fees, and unreasonable state legislation were driving farmers and tradesmen into poverty. The men who fought nobly and valiantly in the War of the Revolution were no longer content with their situation. Daniel Shays led them in armed insurrection. His revolt was brutally suppressed. However, it was a contributing factor in the demise of the Articles of Confederation, the first constitutional government of the USA.

In 1787, a new constitution was proposed. It gave the national government many powers avoided by the revolutionaries in framing the Articles of Confederation. There were national powers of taxation, eminent domain, and significant monetary power. With a bill of rights to secure all powers not granted to the federal government to the states or people, and to identify and guarantee important individual liberties, the new constitution was ratified over the warnings of patriots like Patrick Henry, who feared its consolidating features.

Congress Opens a Bank

Though this new constitution made no provision for a national bank, Congress acted to create one. The First Bank of the United States opened for business in 1791, with two million of its $10 million in capital subscribed by the USA federal government (paid in from customs duties collected). For amusement, the Bank then lent the USA government $2 million. Much of the rest of the funding of the bank was subscribed by foreign investors, especially in Britain.

Shortly thereafter, the Whiskey Rebellion was undertaken by more Western farmers, tired of paying high taxes. (Surely the abandonment of the Articles of Confederation, which promised a "perpetual union" but were in fact seceded from by all thirteen original states before they acceded to the new constitution, should have provided the strong central government necessary to prevent such rebellions? Apparently not.) That rebellion was also brutally suppressed.

The Warfare State

Wars with Native American Indians in the old northwest culminated in 1794 with a crushing defeat for the Indians at Fallen Timbers. Having gained from Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York the cession of their lands in this region by 1787, the terms of expansion of the USA were established, much to the dismay of its former inhabitants. In 1795, the natives signed up to the Greenville treaty.

In 1798, USA warships engaged French warships in the Caribbean, following on the heels of the XYZ affair. Was it a war? Not if you go by the constitutional standard of a declaration of war, but the men in power didn't mind such details. The Alien Act, the Naturalization Act, the Alien Enemies Act, and the Sedition Act were also unconstitutional, but that didn't stop the regime running things. The undeclared war and the unconstitutional affronts to freedom led to the passage of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, the first clear signs that all was not well with the new regime.

The Democratic Republicans assumed power in 1801, largely on their opposition to the conflict with France and these unconstitutional acts. The Naturalization Act was repealed, and others were allowed to expire.

That same year, Jefferson grew weary of payments for safe conduct in the Mediterranean, and the Tripolitan War was declared. It continued until 1805. Jefferson sent millions in gold to the dictator Napoleon for the Louisiana Territory, a thoroughly unconstitutional purchase over which he struggled considerably before going forward.

In 1811, repudiation of the features of the Greenville Treaty by the USA government led to more uprisings in the old northwest. Tecumseh and Shawnee Prophet were unsuccessful in their bid for a permanent country. Also that year, the First Bank expired. When its charter was not immediately renewed, Britain promptly invaded.

War with Britain

http://elsinore.cis.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/statutes/1812-01.htm The war of 1812 raged for several years. Washington, DC was invaded by British troops, and they saw fit to criticize the architecture of the White House by burning it. Some reports indicate that papers relating to the ratification of the (original thirteenth) amendment punishing titles of nobility with political exile were sought by British officers and seized. (That amendment was properly ratified in 1819, but has since disappeared.)

The USA was finished with its war with Britain in 1815. So, it must have come as a relief when the nation of Algiers declared war, keeping hostilities for the warfare state toasty warm. When Stephen Decatur brought USA warships to Algiers, the bey quickly surrendered, so Decatur went on to force concessions from Tunisia and Tripoli in the next five weeks. (Why defeat one foreign power when you can defeat three?)

What to do with all that war materiel? In 1817, the opportunity arose to send a punitive expedition into Florida, then a Spanish territory, against the Seminole Indians who were tough tradesmen, happy to accept runaway slaves into their tribe, and pretty good at holding territory in the swamps. Andrew Jackson was happy to lead 3,000 troops for eleven months of fighting on foreign soil.

A Pattern Emerges

In 1800, E.I. DuPont had arrived in the United States. His land deal there failed, so he turned to his other talent -- learned from Lavoisier -- making gunpowder. His little factory on the Brandywine in Delaware was soon a major supplier to the USA military. Pressed by all kinds of debts, DuPont was quite happy about the large sales during the War of 1812. In 1822, he was appointed to the Second Bank of the United States as a director. His family would have significant influence on politics as the USA grew and prospered.

So, perhaps it is no wonder that an expedition to "pacify" Indians was mounted by Monroe's administration in 1819. This Yellowstone Expedition succeeded in causing the deaths of many USA soldiers, and not a few Indians. It was followed in 1823 by the Blackfeet Indian War, and a war with the Arikari. Plenty of gunpowder sales resulted.

This business of putting down Indian tribes, keeping the peace out West, and keeping on top of the fur trade was such good fun, that war was almost continuous from 1827 to 1896 with: the LeFevre Indian War of 1827; the Sac and Fox War of 1831; Black Hawk's War of 1832 (which included the massacre of men, women and children who had shown a white flag to the USA troops); Cherokee and Pawnee disturbances from 1833 to 1839; another Seminole Indian War, this time from 1833 to 1842 which included the tactic of wiping out privately held crops in Florida to starve the enemy into submission; wars with nations misidentified as Sioux, and with the Comanche and Navaho from 1848 to 1861; generalized Indian wars from 1865 to 1890; another war with the Lakota and Oglala called the Sioux Indian War from 1890 to 1891; and the Apache and Bannock Indian troubles of 1892 to 1896. In all, the West provided nearly continuous gun powder sales for government contractors for about three quarters of a century.

Having effectively destroyed all these other nations, the USA government interred the remains of their people in concentration camps, passed out blankets infected with smallpox, and quietly went about consolidating their gold-, oil-, and timber-rich lands out from under them.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. And you're probably wondering: if the USA as a nation dies in 1868, how come its government was still letting contracts in 1896? Good question. Bureaucracy, my friends, never dies. The individual bureau rat may die, or be exterminated, but the bureau goes on and on. Some think that the bureaucracy of the Roman Empire lives on today in the Roman Catholic Church. Certainly a number of invaders of China learned within scant generations that the Mandarin bureaucracy was undeniable.

Clearly, the interests of suppliers of materiel to the war machine were interested in as much consolidation of national authority and power as possible. They were not alone. They shared this interest with certain monied interests who sought to form a banking cartel.

Keep in mind that after the First Bank of the United States wasn't renewed, Britain invaded. The war to defend the USA against Britain (version 2) was very expensive. The difficulties of financing the war were used as a motivation for the creation of the Second Bank of the United States (the one on whose board of directors EI Du Pont got a seat). Now why should the Second Bank include a gunpowder maker as a director?

Well, Du Pont continued to have massive debts. Debt financing involved him in close ties with the banking community. The same was true of other Northern industrialists who were seeking to export their goods not only to other countries, but to the Southern states. Moving goods a long distance involved letters of credit, which would be paid off if the goods arrived in good order. Again, these debt instruments, as well as debt financing for factories, helped tie industrial interests with the banking community.

The unconstitutionality of the Second Bank came to a head with the Jackson veto of a bill to renew its charter in 1832. Jackson's veto message is not only a fine example of a constitutionality argument for veto, but also an excellent description of the problems of the banking cartel's control over economic matters. http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/presiden/veto/ajveto01.htm (Jackson's re-election in 1832 is noteworthy as the founding date of the Democratic Party, which was the effective heir of the Democratic Republicans.)

At the same time, Jackson had another worry. Tariff duties were a main funding source for the USA, and were mentioned in the constitution as a power of Congress. However, the 1828 and 1832 tariff acts were viewed by South Carolina, among other interests, as being improperly favorable to Northern industrial interests over Southern agricultural interests. Certainly, the tariffs raised some money for government, but they also effectively denied foreign suppliers access to the Southern market by making their goods uncompetitive. Retaliatory tariffs on USA exports hit the Southern producers hardest. Their agricultural exports weren't selling as well due to retaliatory tariffs, and they were paying much higher prices for imports, prices which the Northern industrialists only undercut by a small amount, pocketing the profits.

Tariff policy, in other words, operated as a way of collecting taxes disproportionately from Southerners, while subsidizing Northern industrial interests. Corporate welfare in the USA was born with three features: a tariff act beneficial to business, a national bank beneficial to selected banking interests, and, to be fair, the constitutional provisions for slavery (notably the return of fugitive slaves, a major financial burden on non-slave owners) which subsidized plantation owners in the South. These welfare provisions married nicely to the warfare state.

The Nullification Crisis

Jackson had vetoed the unconstitutional national bank, paving the way for a plethora of state banks, some of which gained benefit of federal deposits (and were called "pet banks" in the papers favoring the national bank). Private currency was issued by these banks, many of whom backed their paper with bullion or specie. The era of free banking would work very effectively until repudiated by the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. How would Jackson deal with the tariff issue?

This matter came to a head in the Nullification Crisis of 1832-1833. The concept of nullification by a state, as a party to the constitution, was propounded in 1799 by Jefferson and others in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. Both the 1828 and 1832 tariffs were considered abominable by South Carolina's state legislators, so they called a convention. The convention nullified the tariffs, and South Carolina prevented their collection at South Carolina's ports.

In response, Jackson proposed and Congress passed the http://elsinore.cis.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/presiden/proclamations/jack01.htm Force Act which authorized force to collect the tariff duties. In effect, Congress declared war on South Carolina. Before force could be used, Jackson encouraged moderates, led by Henry Clay, to formulate a compromise. A different tariff act was passed by Congress and signed by the President. In response, South Carolina rescinded its nullification of the previous tariffs, but went forward with the nullification of the Force Act. So, nothing was resolved, except that lower tariffs were in place for some time. The nullification of the Force Act was ignored.

The USA military deployed in 1833 to suppress the Cherokee and Pawnee disturbances. While those battles were raging, a new dictator in Mexico decided to consolidate his power. Santa Anna established measures which removed certain guarantees of liberty from the 1824 constitution of Mexico, notably trial by jury.

Another Nation Founded in Liberty

Previously, Mexico had encouraged settlers from the USAto come to the northern Mexican province of Coahuila y Tejas to settle. The intention was for these colonists to provide a buffer between the Comanche nation and the Mexican settlements further South. With the new dictator came grievances from the colonists, and they sent their leader, Stephen Austin, to Mexico City to complain. He was thrown in prison. By October 1835, the conflict was military. A massacre at the Alamo in March 1836 helped consolidate support for the newly declared independence of the Republic of Texas, which won a decisive victory at San Jacinto in April 1836. By 1839, Texas was recognized by the USA, Mexico, Holland, France, Russia, and Britain.

The new nation became a considerable consumer of revolvers and gunpowder from the USA. In other ways, it was patterned after Southern states. Shortly after the Seminole war ended in 1842, war with Britain (1844) over Oregon territory was averted by diplomacy, and Texas was unconstitutionally annexed.

Seminoles to Oklahoma

The Seminole war of 1835 to 1842 provided a special insight into Andrew Jackson's mindset. The same president who had vetoed the Second Bank on constitutional grounds was presented with a decision by the USA Supreme Court regarding treaties which protected the Seminole Indians from aggression and displacement by the USA. Jackson's reply was that the Chief Justice had rendered his opinion, "now let him enforce it." Meanwhile, Jackson sent the USA army into Florida to evict the Seminoles.

The annexation of Texas occupies the thoughts of many http://www.texassovereignty.org/hist/index.html liberty-minded individuals in this country. However, the best that can be said about it was that it was an action in which the majority of the people of Texas consented. The ordinance of annexation was put before the people of Texas in a popular election, and was approved. It is noteworthy that the admissions of Louisiana (c. 1811) and Texas as states prompted secession movements in Northern states such as Massachusetts.

A War with Mexico

Mexico, however, felt it was unsatisfactory, and war was declared. By 1848, the invasion and conquest of Mexico was complete, and the settlement treaty obtained considerable Western territory, including California, for the United States. This territorial expansion brought the United States into contact with Mormon settlements in Utah, which would subsequently be organized as a territory of the USA.

The expansion of territory following the victory over Mexico renewed concerns about the distribution of power between slave states and free states. Northern population had swelled the representation in the House of Representatives from that region, so the Senate's balance between the two sections was important to Southern interests. The two issues which focused that interest were tariffs and the fugitive slave issue; one a corporate subsidy for the north, the other a subsidy to Southern plantations.

Balance had been upset in 1818 with the prospective admission of Missouri. Though populated by slaveholders, the bill to admit Missouri was amended by a New York representative to require anti-slavery provisions in its constitution. A year later, Alabama entered as a slave state, bringing the number of slave states to parity with free states. In 1820, Maine was to be admitted as a free state, and the Missouri Compromise brought Missouri in as a slave state, to retain parity, but with the proviso that the territories north of Missouri's Southern boundary (36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude) should be brought in as free states.

California gained population rapidly after the discovery of gold there. In 1849, its territorial legislature applied for statehood as a free state. President Taylor was also encouraging New Mexico territory to consider entry as a free state. Southerners John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis opposed these ideas. The Compromise of 1850 carved an enormous amount of territory off of the state of Texas, initiated the concept of popular sovereignty to let the people of a territory choose whether to enter as a free state or slave state, organized Utah and New Mexico territories, paid $10 million against the debt of the Republic of Texas (still the responsibility of the Texas state government), outlawed the slave trade in the District of Columbia (though not the ownership of slaves), set up strict fugitive slave laws, and brought California in as a free state. Daniel Webster spoke eloquently in favor of these measures, and President Taylor's death and replacement by conservative Millard Fillmore helped the passage.

Final Solution?

This compromise was hailed as a final solution to the issues creating sectional differences. In celebration, further Indian wars were prosecuted against the Comanche and Navaho. (New Mexico territory was also territory of the Navaho nation.) Not even the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a work heavily influenced by the recently translated Communist Manifesto could spoil the high spirits.

A mere four years later, though, the Compromise of 1850 was specifically repealed in the passage of the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854. To the surprise of no one, the previous boundaries of Texas were not restored. However, the concept of popular sovereignty, or as it was also called "squatter sovereignty" was maintained. Kansas and Nebraska were organized as separate territories, with the expectation from Southerners that Kansas would enter as a slave state and Nebraska as a free state. The matter was further focused on the debates then raging about the route for another business subsidy, the transcontinental railroad.

The Kansas-Nebraska act's passage was the trigger for the formation of a largely abolitionist political party, the Republicans. Their candidate, John C. Fremont, and the Whig/Know-Nothing candidate Fillmore would lose the 1856 presidential election to James Buchanan.

Bleeding Kansas, where I grew up, was the destination for all kinds of settlers from both North and South, with the intention of winning the popular election. In 1858, a state constitution favoring slavery was passed, and sent to Congress. President Buchanan recommended it be approved. Congress, however, rejected it. A second constitution, forbidding slavery, was passed in 1859. Kansas was admitted as a free state in 1861, well after its admission had prompted the Secession Crisis.

Buchanan's Key Four Years

Buchanan played an important role in many events leading up to the Secession Crisis. He was responsible in part for the Ostend Manifesto (prompted by the seizure by Spain of a US flag vessel which docked in Havana), which proposed that Spain sell the island to the USA, or it would be taken by force. That document created a furor among the abolitionists, and was repudiated by the USA State Department. So, war with Spain was averted temporarily, and making of Cuba a slave state was obviated. Unfortunately, lack of success in this endeavor focused more of the sectional controversy on Kansas.

Things in Utah weren't made more stable by Buchanan's decision to replace Brigham Young as governor. So there was a brief war with the Mormons, called the Utah War. The war effectively began 15 September 1857 when Young declared martial law, and ended in June 1858 when USA troops entered Salt Lake City. Hostilities continued to simmer for several more years. Among the issues of concern to the liberty community was the USA government's opposition to the private practice of polygamy, which was endorsed by the Mormon church of the time. By this time, reading the Constitution had gone out of favor.

About the same time, the US Supreme Court was inflaming sectional controvery with the Dred Scott case. In Scott v Sanford (misspelled Sandford in many official reports), the Court ruled that negro slaves had no standing as citizens, that acts by the US Congress prohibiting slavery in the territories were unconstitutional and void, and, incidentally, that Scott remained a slave in spite of his residence in a free state and a free territory for a span of years. Curiously, the Supreme Court upholding the constitutional provisions on slavery and fugitive slave issues became a source of anti-constitution feelings within the abolitionist movement.

Buchanan was also president during the early phases of the transcontinental railroad issue. The fact that a for profit transcontinental railroad would subsequently be built (by James J. Hill), operating at a profit during its entire building period, and without any subsidies from state or national government, was not yet known. Buchanan was an opponent of a national program to build the railroad, saying that any such transportation project would become a huge waste of taxpayer money, and the source of endless pork barrel politics. His words were prescient: the NASA space shuttle program has exactly those features. So, it would be private companies that built the first transcontinental railroad, but with significant federal subsidies for every mile of track laid.

The Power of Secession

So, we come at last to the Secession Crisis which so weakened the USA that its subsequent death became almost certain. Secession as a concept dates back at least as far as 933 B.C. when northern Israel seceded from the Davidian kingdom. Arguably, the thirteen colonies which formed the USA did so by seceding from Britain. Thereafter, they seceded from the "perpetual union" of the Articles of Confederation, and acceded to the constitution.

The secession crisis, like the nullification crisis before it, was based on the idea that the several states which formed the united States of America were independent and sovereign parties to an agreement, the constitution for the united States, which assigned certain powers and limited sovereignty to the national government, but retained significant powers and autonomy for the several states.

Any reading of the Bill of Rights, article 10, which reserves to the states and the people all powers not delegated to the national government or prohibited by the constitution to the states, should settle this issue immediately. However, constitutional theories, many of which arose from traditions of the British conception of a constitution, were propounded by many, including President Buchanan who opposed secession.

The election of Abraham Lincoln of the Republican Party in November 1860, brought the crisis to a head. Although he campaigned on the basis that the president had no power to emancipate slaves or enslave free men, he would subsequently do both. The Republican party had been organized almost exclusively in the northern section, and wasn't very popular in the South or West. It platform was certainly more favorably received by abolitionists than by slavery supporters.

So, beginning in December 1860 with the secession of South Carolina, a total of thirteen conventions representing individual states would be formed, would vote on secession, and in some cases would put the measure to popular vote. Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana followed in early 1861, with Texas hard on their heels. The Texas ordinance of secession was passed in convention, with one AH Davidson voting in favor. On 28 February 1861, the people of Texas voted (votes counted in early March) by over 75% in favor, to reverse their earlier decision embracing annexation. They voted to secede. In a subsequent conference in Montgomery, Alabama, the seven states agreed to form a Confederacy. (Former governor of Texas Sam Houston would berate this decision with the words, "Why leave one failed union to join another?")

Following the opening of hostilities in April 1861, with the firing on Fort Sumter to rid the new Confederacy of foreign forts in its territory, Col. Robert E. Lee was recalled from Texas to Washington and offerred command of the Union armies. Virginia and North Carolina were prompted by the hostilities to secede, and Lee chose to remain loyal to Virginia. Lincoln's blockade of Southern ports and call for state militia troops to fight against the seceding states prompted Arkansas and Tennessee to secede, as well. In subsequent months, Missouri and Kentucky would have governments on both sides of the dispute. A fourteenth state was formed briefly when General Sibley tried to reach the Pacific, and organized the Arizona Republic. His failure to protect his supply train led to his retreat after several impressive victories.

The story of the Confederacy, its cabinet including Protestants, a Catholic, and a Jew, its constitution mirroring that of the United States with provision for line item veto but few other changes, and its efforts to maintain the integrity of constitutionally limited government is a story better told by others. During its existence, it imported not a single slave; all slaves in Confederate or Union territory had been brought in by ships flying the USA flag. In fact, Confederate vessels enforced the prohibition of the slave trade by firing on USA flagged vessels carrying slaves, to the delight of the British crown. Attempts to gain British or French recognition failed, however. Ultimately, even the slaveholding Empire of Brazil would refuse to recognize the Confederacy.

The War for Southern Independence was officially known as the War of the Rebellion for many years. Recently, Congress adopted the name "War Between the States." It is often referred to in the South as the War of Northern Aggression.

This war shed the blood of one million and twenty thousand men on the field of battle. It led to about an equal number of civilian casualties (both death and injury) and to enormous property destruction. The war started over the issue of secession, whether states party to the constitution could withdraw from the union. The crisis was deliberately precipitated by US Army troop movements and by the firing on Fort Sumter, as both sides wanted escalation. (Davis argued that without hostilities, Virginia would never secede, and without Virginia, the South couldn't succeed.)

The Land of Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was a powerful individual. His call for militia in April 1861 and his decision to blockade Southern ports certainly catalyzed events already in crisis. When some northern states were tardy in meeting their troop quotas, Lincoln implemented conscription, leading to draft riots in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.

Early victories by the Confederacy weren't pressed home, because the Davis Administration wanted to create the impression that the war was over principles and not an effort by the South to gain territory. In 1862, the strategy of Lee to take Washington was defeated by the loss of a copy of his detailed orders to the enemy. The Battle of Antietam was, at best, a draw, but as it led to Lee withdrawing Confederate forces, Lincoln declared victory. With that minor victory, Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, which ostensibly freed slaves in Confederate held territory, while maintaining the slave status of slaves in Northern territory.

About this time, Lincoln asked General Dodge to join him in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They both bought land there. Subsequently, Lincoln would propose the Pacific Railway Act which would be passed by Congress. Lincoln's and Dodge's properties would be directly across from Union Station at the Eastern Terminus set by Congress; later, the Union Pacific Railroad, happy with its headquarters in Omaha, would be forced to build a bridge across the Missouri to comply with the federal law (and enhance the Lincoln and Dodge properties further).

Lincoln would have other innovations. He brought consternation to the banking profession by issuing greenback currency backed by nothing. In contrast, Confederate currency was a promise to pay in silver two years after a treaty of peace with the USA.

A further noteworthy action by Lincoln, who began the tradition of ruling by decree, issuing Executive Order #1 (which over the years has been followed by some 13,000 others), was his whistleblower regulation. He faced the considerable difficulty of corruption in military contracting, which had grown to a considerable scale. So, he hit upon the notion of awarding a 10% bounty on corrupt contracts or other contract fraud to whistleblowers. He rapidly turned the USA into a nation of tattletales. (To nobody's surprise, this approach to policing federal corruption with individual initiative has been renounced by the Justice Department in recent years, which wants to do the job itself, and not pay out the bounties.)

The Doomed CSA

In July 1863, at two decisive battles, at Vicksburg and at Gettysburg, the fate of the South was sealed. It was divided by the Mississippi River which was entirely occupied by Union forces, and it was unable to prosecute a decisive victory in Northern territory.

But, doomed or not, the CSA fought on. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who ordered the firing on Ft. Sumter to open the war, victorious at First Manassas and at Shiloh, was in charge of the defense of Charleston. He admitted to the lieutenant operating the experimental CSA submarines against the blockading Union fleet that the war could not be won by the South, but that perhaps a few more battles could be.

The defeat of the Confederacy became less certain as the Summer of 1864 rolled on. A significant peace movement was gaining popularity in the North. The Democratic Party made it a feature of their platform, although their candidate, George McClellan, a Union General, wasn't enthusiastic about it. Had the Confederacy been able to retain its remaining territory through the election, it might well have prompted the election of a peace candidate. Lincoln's Republican Party friends were waning in power, and he would be re-elected, on the strength of Sherman's September destruction of Atlanta, as a third party candidate.

In March 1865, attempting to retain its sovereignty while gracefully accepting defeat, the Confederate Congress and President agreed to free the slaves. However, Lee's defeat, the abandonment of Richmond, and the surrender of Lee's army at Appomatox effectively ended the war. As late as November 1865, Confederate warships on the high seas were still fighting. But the war ended in defeat for the Confederates.

Radical Reconstruction

Lincoln's assassination brought to power his hand-picked vice president, Andrew Johnson. Johnson was from Tennessee, and was military governor of that state during the war. He was also determined to restore the country. To do so, he was happy to pardon any Confederate who would swear an oath to the constitution for the United States. Defeated, often starving, and not opposed to the actual language of the constitution, most Confederates did so.

Johnson's pardons aroused the anger of radical Republicans who wanted to see the Southern states subjugated, not restored. His efforts to recognize the pacification of various Southern states and bring their delegations into Congress infuriated the Republicans whose political majority was greatly extended by the 1866 elections.

In 1867, the Republicans passed, over Johnson's veto, a "tenure of office" act which was intended to prevent him from removing Edwin Stanton, his secretary of war. Johnson was correct in suspecting Stanton of conspiring with Congress to his detriment. In March 1868, the House voted articles of impeachment. The Senate narrowly refused to convict.

Amendments Passed and Presented

In this post-war backdrop, several amendments to the constitution were proposed. It is noteworthy that the legislatures of all the Southern states ratified the fourteenth amendment which ended involuntary servitude, except for punishing criminals.

However, even the "carpetbaggers and scalawags" elected after the war to the legislature of Texas were reluctant to ratify the fifteenth amendment, which included the following language in its fourth section:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations, and claims shall be held illegal and void."

This passage confounded the hopes of many carpetbaggers who had bought up Southern bonds and currency at fire sale prices after the war, expecting it to be redeemed by the state legislatures. It also upset those who felt that the previously constitutionally embraced practice of slavery involved private ownership of property which was now being taken away without any compensation, in direct violation of the Fifth Article of the Bill of Rights.

Death of a Nation

However, these issues were minor in comparison to the overwhelming power of that first sentence. In July 1868, the ratification of this amendment was recognized by the Secretary of State of the United States, in spite of Northern states successfully overturning their previous ratification ordinances. The question of whether this amendment was properly ratified has been settled by the US Supreme Court, if one is to accept their authority in the matter. (Since the late 1890s, copies of the constitution have been published without the thirteenth amendment punishing the acceptance of a title of nobility with political exile. Accordingly, this amendment is known as the Fourteenth Amendment, and is popular for its "equal protection" provisions for US and state citizens outlined in its first section.)

With this amendment, the validity of the debt of the United States became unquestionable. While the consolidation of their power would wait for the second decade of the twentieth century, the banking cartel had won its greatest victory. The United States could not repudiate its debt. The members of the House and Senate, who were not to be questioned in any other place for their comments on the floor of those august chambers, could not question the validity of the public debt there, or anywhere.

The importance of this turning point has been lost on most individuals, historians and enthusiasts alike. By removing its power over its debt, the United States government had ceased to be the organizing force of a sovereign nation, and had become the enforcement arm of the banking cartel. Within the lifetime of survivors of the brutal war which crushed the Confederacy, the bankers would consolidate their power with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act and the equally dubious ratification of the "sixteenth" amendment authorizing an income tax (which no two states ratified in the same language). They would spend over a decade moving gold to the Bank of England, then stimulate a panic in 1929 to gain more private property from foreclosure.

This consolidation of power is significant, but it is not the defining moment of the death of a nation. Without removing the public debt from potential threats of annulment, negotiation, repudiation, default, or non-payment, the banking cartel could not have amassed the power necessary to force through the passage of the Federal Reserve Act and the ratification of the income tax amendment. As it was, both issues were narrowly won. Had the passengers of the RMS Titanic all survived their passage to New York, the outcome of these two pieces of legislation might have been very different.

The defining moment when the USA ceased to exist as a sovereign nation with power over its destiny was 9 July 1868, when the ratification of this amendment was accepted. Since that time, the power of the several states and of the people has been weakened, the power of the federal government has strengthened, and the limitations of the constitution have been breached.

Armies of Resistance

Sensing this problem, many throughout the USA were willing to resist. >From 1868 to 1876, numerous bands of resistance fighters, many organized by former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, made war on the occupying armies, the banking cartel, and the railroads. Debtors conspired to collect cash for paying off their debts, summoning bankers out to their remote farms and homes for payment in full. Once the receipt was written out, the banker would leave, and be robbed of the cash by one of the roving bands. The collected cash would be returned to its various owners. In this way, foreclosure was averted by a great many individuals.

Eventually, a peace was negotiated. In 1876, Congress passed the Posse Commitatus Act, withdrawing troops from the several states, and providing that the USA military would not be deployed in the states without either the request of the affected state or states, or a declaration of national emergency or war. (Notably, this act was violated in 1993 at Mt. Carmel in February and again in April.) Forrest saw in the election victories for Democrats in 1872 the success of his resistance movement, and formally disbanded all units under his command.

How the Free Were Enslaved

The blood on the last battlefields was not yet dry when the organization of the new regime was begun. The US Secret Service was established in 1865 to guard against counterfeiting of US coins and currency. Its power to protect the president followed the 1901 assassination of McKinley. Its operation as a Praetorian Guard to take out unwanted presidents (JFK) and prospects (RFK) has yet to be fully recognized.

The Indian wars continued unabated through 1896, when there were hardly any Indians left. In 1898, the debt burden was expanded with a war with Spain, which gained Puerto Rico and the Philippines for the USA, and led to an independent Cuba with strong ties to the USA. Military occupation of Cuba continued through 1902, and the naval base at Guantanamo Bay was established in 1903. It has been a permanent foreign post ever since.

Also in 1898, the dowager empress of China, Tz'u Hsi, supported an armed resistance to the partition, foreign domination, and forced opium addiction of her country, the I Ho Ch'uan or "righteous, harmonious fists." The English called them "Boxers" and worried about them.

Hukbalahaps are a clan in the Philippines who aren't enthusiastic about being dominated by others. Their insurrection in 1899 led to four years of USA military intervention. Some say that the .45 automatic was designed to address the difficulty of gunning down Huks with any lesser weapon.

In 1900, the USA military was sent to oppose the Boxers in Peking. They joined forces in a suprising show of harmony with British, French, Russian, German, and Japanese troops, to put down the uprising and compel payment of $333 million in indemnity. The commercial treaties with China were further amended, and the stationing of foreign troops was enshrined. China's debt was greatly increased, to the delight of bankers everywhere.

President McKinley was another significant one-term president. His annexation of Hawaii, declaration of war against Spain, and involvement of the USA in the Boxer rebellion were significant hallmarks of an administration controlled largely by the industrialist Marcus Hanna. He was re-elected in 1900, and kept to the gold standard preferences of the banking cartel. (His opponent in 1896 and 1900 was William Jennings Bryan, who wanted a return to the free minting of silver which had been an ante-bellum mainstay of the economy. Minting only gold coins limited severely the availability of money, which led to widespread depreciation and various panics.) His idea of commercial reciprocity among nations, a sort of free trade concept, was not well received. The day after he announced this view, he was shot and killed. An "anarchist" was convenient to hand and blamed for the killing. Hatred of anarchy, the solution to government, reached a fever pitch in 1920 with the infamous Palmer raids that rounded up 3,000 immigrants, confiscated guns, and led to very few convictions.

Meanwhile, McKinley, being dead, handed over the reins of state to the first of the Roosevelts, Teddy. TR was an enthusiast of intervention in Central America, and pushed the Panama Canal plan. He was also big on nationalist, socialist parks, and nationalized a great deal of territory for the purpose. Reading up on the contents of his sausage, he hit upon the idea of the Food and Drug Administration which has arguably been responsible for more deaths in the 20th Century than even the War/Defense Department.

All these post-death attacks on private property and individual liberty were difficult to avert. The power of the states had been stripped after the Secession crisis. The Supreme Court had ruled in Texas v. White (1868) that secession was unacceptable, ignoring the 10th Article of the Bill of Rights. Exercising powers short of secession was difficult for the states, so effective opposition to federal aggression or usurpation of power was essentially nil.

Revisiting the Warfare State

Not being very clever about its overseas empire, the USA was forced to pacify Cuba with a three year military expedition in 1906 to 1909. Supervising the election of pro-US politicos wasn't sufficient, so the USA military returned in 1912 to put down a rebellion by blacks who were concerned about discrimination.

Similarly, the USA sent troops to Nicaragua to support its favored ruler there in 1912. That intervention lasted until 1925, but troops were promptly sent back in 1926 until 1932.

An incident with US sailors in Tampico in 1914 led President Wilson to send troops to Vera Cruz for six months. That was followed by a punitive expedition into Mexico from March 1916 to February 1917.

The first Haiti expedition, in 1915 was followed by a second Haiti expedition in 1919 until 1920. On top of all these interventions, the warfare state had time for a Dominican expedition in 1916, and entered the European war in 1917.

Further interventions in China led up to the opening of the Second World War. The Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the USA into that war, and Hitler and Mussolini conveniently declared war (surprising even their Japanese allies) to support their Axis friends.

Following WW2, the USA military was involved in interventions or operations in Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azores, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Diego Garcia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Haiti, Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, New Zealand, Nicaragua, People's Republic of China (e.g., spy plane emergency landing), Philippines, Serbia, Somalia, Spain, Taiwan (Republic of China), Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (e.g., U2 crash), United Kingdom, Vietnam, and Yugoslavia. By no means is this list complete. For fun, you might look up each of these countries at http://www.cia.gov/ in their World Fact Book to see how much external debt they have.

The power of the military industrial complex to compel the collection of taxes, even ones of dubious or absent constitutionality, to spend those funds on military (or NASA) contracts, to exclude smaller contract firms or absorb them, to send USA troops on missions to collect on the foreign debts of various countries, to establish USA foreign policy, to coerce and enforce, and ultimately to inspire terror, is a power which is married to the financial power of the banking cartel. Keeping the masses in line, the system of corporate welfare of the 19th Century was broadened into a system of individual welfare through direct payments and benefits in the 20th Century.

Zombie: The Living Dead

How has all this happened? One would have expected that the death knell of the USA would have ended its power. Instead, it has become a zombie, one of the living dead. In place of the constitutionally limited republic which was founded after the Revolutionary War, the USA government has been occupied by a legion of misfits, unwilling to work for a living, unskilled at anything but machination, and willing to see anyone killed for their success at gaining or keeping power.

This entity has used chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons against civilians in both war and peace. It has nuked Texas, Nevada, and Utah. Its reach even extended to the surface of the Moon, though not for economic purposes, but merely to defeat Soviet efforts in that direction. (It is noteworthy that the men who walked on the Moon all had significant military service; most were active military at the time.)

As a practical matter, therefore, opposition to this entity in the political realm of popular elections seems silly. It hasn't stopped at assassination, nor shown signs of squeamishness at the massacre of civilians. Burning seven dozen Texans in their church in 1993 was certainly not its worst crime against humanity.

On the world stage, the same individuals and influential companies are responsible for much that is wrong with the UN, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the OECD nations in general. Watching these people make a mess of one country after another in the name of economic reform or austerity measures is a popular form of macabre humor.


You were promised an epitaph, and here it is:

The United States of America was conceived to secure the blessings of liberty to generations of Americans. It was hijacked by narrow economic interest groups, turned to evil, and obliterated as a sovereign power before its first centennial. Thereafter, its shell was turned to the conquest and destruction of other nations, the repatriation of foreign debts, and the subjugation of the American people. It stopped being about freedom a long time ago, yet the memory of its foundation by brave men as a home for the free lives on. Its Bill of Rights and the tradition of private property ownership in the USA established the basis for every freedom movement since. The first shot fired at the Battle of Lexington on 19 April 1775 was heard around the world through the effects of the freedom revolution. One day that revolution will return to American shores to finish its work. USA: the once and future free.

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