The Abolitionists Were Alright Dudes

by | Apr 25, 2018

I wrote an article today about the topic of moral philosophy.  My featured image shows William Lloyd Garrison, the famous firebrand abolitionist.

I’ve seen many in the libertarian orbit come down hard on Garrison as part of the broad revisionism that we do, in this case concerning the Civil War.  I want to say that I think he was one of the good guys.  Garrison didn’t cause the war, an only Lincoln apologists would try to argue that the abolitionists had a substantive thing to do with it.  The war was a political struggle over industrial power and nationalism.  You had two contrasting systems, they conflicted.  People hitting people over the heads with canes is just soap opera, and inconsequential.

What the abolitionists did, with their incessant moralizing, was guarantee that – as the Civil War was happening anyway – abolition would be a political necessity in the war’s aftermath.  Sure they rode war’s coattails, but that doesn’t make these committed pacifists into hypocrites.

The Civil War was not a moral enterprise, but its authors needed to attach it to some moral notion.  So, the war happened, but we got an end to slavery as a consequence.  Good!  Good for the abolitionist for blasting into the moral minds of Americans enough to make this a necessary outcome of the war.

About Zack Sorenson

Zachary Sorenson was a captain in the United States Air Force before quitting because of a principled opposition to war. He received a MBA from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan as class valedictorian. He also has a BA in Economics and a BS in Computer Science.

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