More Ron Paul Shenanigans

A couple weeks ago I linked to a video of Ron Paul lecturing a group about the Civil War and today I came across another segment from that same talk.  It’s more of the same nonsense.  I don’t know what is worse, not knowing any history or butchering it in the way that Paul does.  He doesn’t seem to know the first thing about Jefferson, the Hartford Convention, the relative importance of the tariff as a cause of the war and even the fact that both the United States and the Confederacy instituted a draft.

What I find more troubling, however, is that someone like this has any interest in leading this country.  I truly do not understand why someone who is this antagonistic about the role of the federal government would want to serve in its highest office.  The ease with which people throw around words like nullification and secession disgusts me.  In today’s climate it is used as little more than a scare tactic and reflects a defeatist attitude.

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45 comments… add one
  • Michael Fox Jan 23, 2012 @ 15:37

    “What I find more troubling, however, is that someone like this has any interest in leading this country.  I truly do not understand why someone who is this antagonistic about the role of the federal government would want to serve in its highest office.  The ease with which people throw around words like nullification and secession disgusts me.  In today’s climate it is used as little more than a scare tactic and reflects a defeatist attitude.”

    — Amen!

  • Craig L. Jan 23, 2012 @ 1:56

    The world’s largest pewter tankard, recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, was made by Royal Selangor in 1985 to commemorate its centenary. Currently displayed at Royal Selangor headquarters, it is 1.987 metres tall, weighs 1,557 kg and has a capacity of 2,796 litre. The giant tankard has travelled round the world to places such as Canada, Australia, Singapore and China.

  • Bob Huddleston Jan 22, 2012 @ 18:52

    And yet without any Constitutional justification, Jefferson had no problem committing the taxpayers to purchase Louisiana. And sending Lewis and Clark to the Pacific — was TJ thinking of expanding the US from coast to coast?

    • Ray O'Hara Jan 23, 2012 @ 13:07

      What Constitutional provision did he violate,
      The Constitution has a provision for adding new states.
      It gives the President the right to negotiate treaties.
      The La Purchase seems perfectly legal and justifiable under the CONUS.

      • Jim Dick Jan 23, 2012 @ 14:35

        Where does it say the US could add territory? You have to remember Jefferson and company saw the Constitution. If it didn’t say they could do it, then it was not allowed. Jefferson hated the Constitution as we all know and he went out of his way to use the word compact every chance he could in order to make it something it wasn’t. Yet, when it came time for something that wasn’t expressly in the Constitution Jefferson made a decision about what to do and the rest of course is history.
        Basically, TJ and Company ran into a situation that wasn’t covered by the Constitution and made up their own rules as to what to do. We really have to remember what the Founders said. They had created the best government they knew how to make and it was up to succeeding generations to work with it in order to make it work.

        • Ray O'Hara Jan 23, 2012 @ 16:21

          I have never seen anything that claimed that the Founders saw it as ‘not there, can’t do it” so I don’t accept your claim about them.
          From the very start they were aquiring territoey.
          They invaded Canada in two wars to try to gain land,
          they had taken the “Old Northwest” to expand.
          Expansion of the United States was always seen as a birth right and claims of all land to the Pacific and the desire to grab it was a goal from the very start.

          If the Constitution doesn’t forbid it it is legal and I contend that was always the way it was interpreted.

  • Craig L. Jan 22, 2012 @ 8:58

    I spent part of an hour’s drive today from the golf course back to Manila explaining to a Malaysian physician how the Confederacy derived its name in some measure from the Articles of Confederation that preceded ratification of the Constitution. Doing so involved pointing out that Paul Revere made his living as a tin and silver smith. Malaya became a British colony the same year Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. The first British fort in the Strait of Molucca was built on Penang Island in 1783 and it’s still called Fort Cornwallis. The British suddenly needed a new source of tin and silver for their pewter ware. Can the idea of the Confederacy be explained without recourse to the Articles of Confederation?

    • Andy Hall Jan 22, 2012 @ 10:26

      Can the idea of the Confederacy be explained without recourse to the Articles of Confederation?

      You mean, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union? 😉

      • Bernard Jan 23, 2012 @ 21:43

        Considering they didn’t even last a decade, the Articles evidently weren’t so “perpetual” after all. Or are you arguing that they remain in effect?

        • Ray O'Hara Jan 24, 2012 @ 10:38

          The AoC were superseded by the CONUS not repealed.
          the Northwest Ordinance was kept and the CONUS starts with “to form a MORE perfect Union”

          • Bernard Jan 24, 2012 @ 12:36

            “The AoC were superseded by the CONUS not repealed.”

            Then it wasn’t “perpetual” after all.

  • Corey Meyer Jan 21, 2012 @ 18:33

    Sounds like someone has been reading Mildred Lewis Rutherford!

    • Margaret D. Blough Jan 22, 2012 @ 17:54

      Mildred of the lynching postcards collection Rutherford?

  • Jim Dick Jan 21, 2012 @ 15:25

    He’s pandering to the libertarian crowd which is really his power base. Most of the people that I’ve met who espouse neo-confederate views, support secession, and trumpet the Lost Cause fiction are overwhelmingly in favor of Ron Paul as president. They’re desperate to support anyone who believes in their brand of fiction and as a result they support him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran as a third party candidate.

    • Rob Baker Jan 21, 2012 @ 18:26

      What is interesting though is that is the least prominent of his actual stances. He is more a foreign policy, economics and individual liberty type of candidate. I guess its just good politics.

    • Margaret D. Blough Jan 21, 2012 @ 23:38

      It’s also related to Grover Nordquist’s idea of “starving the beast”. One will never get through to them that the Constitution strengthened the federal government. It certainly wasn’t a European-style central government, far from it, but, unlike the Articles of Confederation, it was a truly national government. All one needs to do is to examine the arguments of the anti-Federalists to realize this.

      • Rob Baker Jan 22, 2012 @ 7:29

        True but also keep in mind that the anti-federalists are presenting a counter argument that is supposed to move people much like the federalists. What is propaganda and what is not. Although the Constitution did strengthen the federal government, I agree with you there, it also places the limits on that power.

        • Margaret D. Blough Jan 22, 2012 @ 15:06

          Of course the Constitution places limits on federal power. It also placed significant limitations on state powers, including the Supremacy Clause. Compare state powers under the Articles and under the Constitution and states took a serious hit. What Paul and DiLorenzo miss is that the Framers trusted NO ONE with power which is why they paid so much attention to checks and balances. To me, the most significant passage in the ratification debate came in Federalist Paper # 51 (probable author, Madison):

          >>But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public.<<

          • Rob Baker Jan 22, 2012 @ 15:25

            Yes and the founders would probably be ashamed at the state of the federal government now. It has gradually imbalanced the procedure of checks and balances as well as the relationship between federal and state power. You have a President that can start wars undeclared, and a Federal Government that can institute laws on the states that are not dictated to them in the Consitution.

            • Margaret D. Blough Jan 22, 2012 @ 18:04

              Rob-The literalist interpretation of the Constitution was not popular among the Framers’ generation, even the ones that gave lip service to it. The fact that Thomas Jefferson could not find express language in the Constitution to allow him to enter into the Louisiana Purchase didn’t stop him from doing it. As for the federal government and the states, please try and remember (1) the Supremacy Clause, and (2) the Fourteenth Amendment (which comes after the Xth) which includes the language, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

              • Ray O'Hara Jan 22, 2012 @ 19:00

                unless it’s forbidden it’s Constitutional.
                Nothing forbade the La Purchase.

                • John Buchanan Jan 24, 2012 @ 12:30


                  That is the classic loose constructionist versus strict constructionist view.

                  I tend to agree with you.

              • Rob Baker Jan 22, 2012 @ 19:32

                Correct on Jefferson but incorrect on the popularity of literalist interpretation. The creation of the National Bank highlights this more than anything. I do recognize those, but the 14th and the Supremacy Clause does not take away powers granted to the state by the Constitution and vice versa. The supremacy clause in and of itself actually relates that very message. The federal law is the law of the land, however, the federal government is still bound by the Constitution and cannot simply enact laws and take powers of which are not allocated to it.

                • Margaret D. Blough Jan 23, 2012 @ 6:05

                  I said even among those who gave lip service to it. The National Bank was a particularly complex matter. In any event, the issue becomes what powers are delegated to the Federal government and stripped from the states or held, concurrently, to some extent by both. Courts have puzzled since the beginning as to what is meant by the Commerce Clause, for instance. How did the Supreme Court find, in Dred Scott, that Congress’s power over the territories did not extend to slavery, especially when one of the very first acts of the first post-Constitution Congress was to ratify the Northwest Ordinance passed by the Articles’ Congress? Don’t forget that there were Framers on both sides of the establishment of the First National Bank (with the former President of the Convention, George Washington, signing it into law as President of the United States) and that Article 1, Section 8 gives Congress multiple fiscal powers and the authority to make all laws necessary and proper to carry them out. Where was the federal authority to impose the Embargo Act of 1807 and ruthlessly attempt to enforce it in the face of the economic catastrophe it created? Jefferson and even Madison, could run with the hare and hunt with the hounds when it suited him with the best (or worst) of them.

                  • Rob Baker Jan 23, 2012 @ 6:49

                    (In reference to Dredd Scott). They found that slaves were property and therefore not citizens that had an legal rights. They also found under the 5th Amendment that you could not deprive others of property. And conceded that Missouri had defined, under their law that Scott was a slave in previous court cases. Thus under that, the Missouri compromise was found to be void which is why the court stated that the personal property could not be infringed on.

                    • Margaret D. Blough Jan 23, 2012 @ 10:16

                      Many laws at all levels of government impact how, where, and if property is used. The 5th Amendment state a person shall not “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”. It doesn’t say that a person can never be deprived of property or that property rights can’t be limited by law (the issue then becomes if restrictions are so extreme as to effectively constitute a “taking.” ) Even slave state laws banning slave owners from emancipating slaves or requiring court or legislative approval first imposed such limits. Congressional authority to regulate or even ban slavery from the territories goes back to before and immediately after the Constitution was ratified, the Northwest Ordinance.

                      You should read Don Fehrenbacher’s classic work on the Dred Scott case. The SCOTUS decision was an ugly sprawling mess.

                      While the vote was 7-2, none of the justices voting in the majority simply joined in the opinion of the court, as written by the Chief Justice of the United States. Four, all from slave states, wrote individual regular concurring opinions. Of these five, only 1 went with the Confederacy, 1 died before secession, and 3, including Taney, stayed with the Union. Of the two free state justices in the majority, 1, Nelson, wrote a separate opinion concurring in the result only and giving his own reasoning for his vote. Justice Grier (who later wrote the opinion of the Court in the Prize Cases) concurred with Justice Nelson’s opinion with this curious addition:

                      >>I also concur with the opinion of the court as delivered by the Chief Justice that the act of Congress of 6th March, 1820, is unconstitutional and void and that, assuming the facts as stated in the opinion, the plaintiff cannot sue as a citizen of Missouri in the courts of the United States. But that the record shows a prima facie case of jurisdiction, requiring the court to decide all the questions properly arising in it, and as the decision of the pleas in bar shows that the plaintiff is a slave, and therefore not entitled to sue in a court of the United States, the form of the judgment is of little importance, for, whether the judgment be affirmed or dismissed for want of jurisdiction, it is justified by the decision of the court, and is the same in effect between the parties to the suit.<<

                      The decision was also highly politicized with President Buchanan, as president-elect, pressing a free state justice to vote with the majority and corresponding about the case, while it was pending, with another justice. The free state justices' votes weren't needed for the slave owner to prevail. Buchanan did not want the vote to be slave state justices v. free state. Buchanan's conduct was, even by the standards of the time, an improper violation of the separation of powers.

                      Ironically, the decision that was supposed to solve everything brought matters to a head. Not only did it destroy the basis of every compromise on slavery that preceded it, dividing territory into slave and free, but the entire 5th Amendment reasoning led to a fear by free states that they would effectively be turned into slave states against their wills (and in the cases of Massachusetts and Vermont violative of their state constitutions) with SCOTUS declaring, in the future, that slave owners could not be prevented from bringing their property into the free states even if technically only for sojourn and/or transit (both "temporary" but what is "temporary"). Some modern historians mock this fear but a decision, Lemmon v. NY had been decided in early 1860 by the highest NY appellate court upholding NY freeing slaves that had been brought in for transit. An appeal to the US Supreme Court was anticipated but the war intervened.

                • Bernard Jan 23, 2012 @ 6:05

                  Jefferson had personal reservations about the constitutionality of the Louisiana Purchase. We should not confuse those reservations with the actual issue of constitutionality though.

                  Though its terms were negotiated by Jefferson, the purchase was actually made by the perfectly valid constitutional process of a treaty with over 2/3rds of the Senate ratifying.


                  • Rob Baker Jan 23, 2012 @ 6:52

                    Good point Bernard. I am currently working through Bernstein’s biography which looks at that very thing. Quite interesting reading.

                  • Margaret D. Blough Jan 23, 2012 @ 9:10

                    Many Constitutionally messy/ambiguous Presidential actions can be cleared up by subsequent ratification by Congress. The point is that when Jefferson was faced with a choice between strict obedience to his proclaimed view of the Constitution and getting a humongous chunk of territory for the US before Napoleon I changed his mind, he picked the latter.

                    • Bernard Jan 23, 2012 @ 21:41

                      The President has the power to “make treaties.” Jefferson did nothing more than this by drafting a deal with Napoleon.

                      The Senate has the power to approve or decline those treaties. It was free to decline the deal with Napoleon and had unquestioned constitutional authority to do so if it so desired.

                      The urgency argument of Napoleon changing his mind is therefore moot.

                • Ray O'Hara Jan 23, 2012 @ 7:22

                  the power allocated to the Congress is the power to pass law “for the general welfare”
                  That is a complete and very expansive power. the “enumerated power” claptrap is because too many people don’t know the difference between a semicolon ; and a colon: .

                  What the general welfare is is determined by Congress.

                  • Jim Dick Jan 23, 2012 @ 9:54

                    The whole thing is a matter of opinion. The argument is often made that “the people” don’t like this or that. That line is far too often invoked to add weight to one’s person’s opinion.
                    State’s rights is an issue used by the group not in power to lend authority to its opinion. It’s a hoary, well worn argument that really holds no weight because once that party gets into power it begins to do what it can to maintain its power regardless of who’s rights it then infringes upon.
                    Also, in my opinion the states have violated individual’s rights far, far, far more than the federal government has. Actually, a lot of controversial acts the federal government has passed are because states were violating the rights of their citizens.

          • Ray O'Hara Jan 23, 2012 @ 7:17

            the Constitution has many hoops for a law to jump through but they all exist at the Federal Level. When all the various groups agree. The House, Senate, POTUS and SCOTUS on something this is no limit to the Federal power and no State can refuse to obey.
            There is nothing more meaningless than the 10th Amenndment which really guarantees nothing.

            • Margaret D. Blough Jan 23, 2012 @ 9:15

              A really good example of that is the Embargo Act of 1807. The US was not at war; the point of the Embargo Act was to allegedly to insure US neutrality during the Napoleonic Wars. The economic effects were devastating. The New England states suffered badly but they weren’t the only states to feel it.

              That’s why there are real risks to one party, and I mean ANY party not just the one(s) I don’t like, controlling the government over all three branches. There’s a real risk that the checks and balances can fail.

              • Ray O'Hara Jan 23, 2012 @ 13:04

                As opposed to divided government where one party has decided tp block everything so nothing gets done?

  • Rob Baker Jan 21, 2012 @ 13:47

    To be fair, Jefferson was pretty antagonistic about the Fed. Government and lead it.

  • Jonathan Dresner Jan 21, 2012 @ 12:45

    “I truly do not understand why someone who is this antagonistic about the role of the federal government would want to serve in its highest office.”

    To keep anyone else from doing it.

  • Ray O'Hara Jan 21, 2012 @ 12:34

    “Facts are a liberal plot” It’s what you feel that matters.
    It’s not just Paul who inflates numbers,
    Americans are not only uninformed about such things, there is also the fact we are used to big numbers, 10,000 is nothing to us. to get any attention they have to use big numbers.

    And Libertarians see the ACW strictly in anti-government terms an d they have shown they can hold completely contradictory facts as true on an issue at the same time.
    Thus we can have DiLorenzo claim the War wasn’t about slavery and in the same breath claim Lincoln invaded the South to free the slaves.
    And that the South was no longer part of the USA and that Lincoln was committing treason by making war on a State. “{the Video has been taken down by youtube}

    How easily they claim both to reject the CONUS yet also demand its protection..
    and all without a hint of embarrassment or shame.

    And their audience eats it up and never once thinks about what they are hearing,

  • Scott A. MacKenzie Jan 21, 2012 @ 12:06

    Crazy Grandpa gives me headaches. 90,000 went to Canada? Highest estimate I ever read was 30,000. Who researches these speeches for him? Someday, I hope that he regrets the statements made in his speeches.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 21, 2012 @ 12:41

      The worst part is this implicit belief that the Confederate government somehow represents states rights philosophy in action: The only way you can make that claim is if you know nothing of its history. The Confederate government was just as (if not more) intrusive than Lincoln’s government.

      • Bernard Jan 21, 2012 @ 21:57

        “The Confederate government was just as (if not more) intrusive than Lincoln’s government.”

        The most thorough scholarly analysis of how the two stacked up is probably Richard F. Bensel’s Yankee Leviathan. The main chapter is a 42 point comparison of which side employed a more intrusive government.

        When all is said and done, his evidence does not paint a pretty picture of either the Union or the Confederacy. With the notable exception of slavery, the Union does come off slightly worse though in most categories, and on key civil liberties issues such as habeas corpus, suppression of newspapers, jailing of political dissidents etc. the Union is unquestionably the bigger offender.

        • Kevin Levin Jan 22, 2012 @ 3:07

          I would suggest taking a look at Mark Neely’s books on the Civil War and civil liberties. I tend to think that both sides did what was necessary given the gravity of the situation.

          • Dwight T. Pitcaithley Jan 22, 2012 @ 6:26

            Paul Escott has also examined civil liberties in the Confederacy. See Military Necessity: Civil-Military Relations in the Confederacy (2006).

          • Bernard Jan 23, 2012 @ 5:55

            My main complaint with Neely is that his treatment of civil liberties in the North, while relatively thorough in its documentation, often reads more like a litany of excuses for those who violated them. Curiously, he’s not nearly as generous with the very same issues in the South.

            Nor should he be with either side. But I can’t help from noticing that there’s a great deal of interpretive subjectivity in Neely’s work – and at times even borderline advocacy of the North’s position – while Bensel tends to be far more empirical and even handed.

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