My latest book review in THE NEW AMERICAN (of the Independent Institutes Jonathan Bean’s Race & Liberty in America) is online.

I’d like to get feedback from you Tenthers out there on my discussion of the great Lysander Spooner’s questional constitutionalism. Here’s an excerpt:

In the first area, the book includes writings of Lysander Spooner, who dabbled in some dubious constitutional arguments which coincidentally made whatever he liked constitutional and whatever he disliked unconstitutional. Spooner, while a brilliant mind and staunch advocate for liberty, incorrectly argued that the Constitution itself prohibited slavery years before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Such a conclusion would surely have been a shock to both the drafters and ratifiers of the Founding period. Spooner, along with great minds like Frederick Douglass, espoused the libertarian interpretation of a living-breathing Constitution, which ignores any originalist constitutional understanding. It also rests on the dangerous notion that the central government has much more power than what was authorized at the ratification. As history has borne out, empowering the federal government with more power than it constitutionally has is detrimental to individual freedom over the long term. Instead, the book could have explored the writings of constitutionalists who used proper means to resist and fight slavery. For starters, many antislavery states nullified the Fugitive Slave Act that compelled the return of runaway slaves.

BTW, don’t let my minor criticism make you think I disliked the book. I actually thought that it was a truly enlightening read.

Craig Grant
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