Liberty Chronicles



Join host Dr. Anthony Comegna on a series of libertarian explorations into the past. Liberty Chronicles combines innovative libertarian thinking about history with specialist interviews, primary and secondary sources, and answers to listener questions.


  • Ep. 85: America Was Founded by Runaways and Renegades, Part 2

    Ep. 85: America Was Founded by Runaways and Renegades, Part 2

    18/12/2018 Duración: 24min

    Part two of our discussion with Joseph Kelly is about how the whole first three years of Jamestown was basically the struggle of common laborers who discovered what the reality on the ground was and who tried to escape. Many of them did, by melting into the Native American population, others got caught, tortured, and made examples of for their fellows who didn’t make it out.How did the Virginia Company interact with the Native Americans? Who was John Smith? Was he a pirate king? Was Jamestown a slave-labor camp? Do we view the founding of America as truly a pilgrimage story?Further Reading:Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America’s Origin, written by Joseph KellyThe Thanksgiving Story You’ve Probably Never Heard, written by Joseph KellyRelated Content:America was Founded by Runaways & Renegades, with Joseph Kelly, Part One: Liberty Chronicles PodcastSoul Liberty, Toleration, and the Emergence of Religious Freedom in the Colonies, written by Micheal RiegerThe Horrifying Lives of Early V

  • Ep. 84: America was Founded by Runaways amp Renegades, with Joseph Kelly, Part 1

    Ep. 84: America was Founded by Runaways & Renegades, with Joseph Kelly, Part 1

    11/12/2018 Duración: 31min

    Professor Joseph Kelly joins us today to talk about his book Marooned and how much of our understanding about the beginning of the New World is simply names of people and approximately when they died. Stephen Hopkins, a passenger on the Sea Venture which shipwrecked in Bermuda in 1609, is an exception to that trend.Who is America’s real founding father? What did the Virginia Company do in 1608-1609? Was Jamestown a utopia or a dystopia? Did the Virginia Company have any leadership to guide it? Did they have any real power? What was the difference between colonial Virginia and colonial Bermuda? What is a doctrine of mutual consent?Further Reading:Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America’s Origin, written by Joseph KellyThe Thanksgiving Story You’ve Probably Never Heard, written by Joseph KellyRelated Content:“Virginia is Horrible; Send Cheese”: An Indentured Servant Writes Home, written by Richard FrethorneThe Roots of Modern Libertarian Ideas, written by Brian DohertyThe Horrifying Lives o

  • Ep. 83: Who Killed Jefferson(ianism)?

    Ep. 83: Who Killed Jefferson(ianism)?

    04/12/2018 Duración: 26min

    Southerners strived to protect slavery as thoroughly as possible. In order to do that, they embraced a pragmatic ideology tailored to fight their Northern opposition. To many Southerners, slavery represented comfort, but others embraced slavery as their Christian duty to save Africans from the drudgeries of freedom and supposedly meek lives of Northern industrial workers.What is methodological individualism? Was there a monolithic south? What is enlightenment liberalism? Who was Nathaniel Beverly Tucker?Further Reading:America Mobbing, 1828-1861, written by David GrimstedThe Life and Literature of Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, written by Robert Doares, Jr.Related Content:Jeffersonian Optimism vs. Country Pessimism, from Literature of Liberty ReviewerRadical Individualism in America: Revolution to Civil War, written by Eric FonerCompromising Compromisers, Liberty Chronicles Podcast See for privacy and opt-out information.

  • Ep. 82: The Constitution amp Castle Walls

    Ep. 82: The Constitution & Castle Walls

    27/11/2018 Duración: 26min

    Southerners did not support Jeffersonianism as a matter of principle, but as a strategy that would ensure the survival of slavery and institutionalized racism. This support of Jeffersonian liberalism was ill-founded and tainted the philosophical tradition for many years after.What is the relationship between libertarians and the southerners who were proponents of limited government? How did slavery make the phrase “states’ rights” dirty? How did southerners use the Jeffersonian philosophy to their advantage? Why did southerners fear the health of the republic without slavery? Did southerners actually support a small and limited government or was that just a facade?Further Reading:Ericson, David. The Debate Over Slavery: Antislavery and Proslavery Liberalism in Antebellum America. New York: New York University Press. 2000.Finkelman, Paul. Proslavery Thought, Ideology, and Politics. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1989.Finkelman, Paul. Defending Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Old South, A Brief History w

  • Ep. 81: Spooner amp The Secret Six, with Phil Magness

    Ep. 81: Spooner & The Secret Six, with Phil Magness

    20/11/2018 Duración: 46min

    Phil Magness joins us this week to teach the radical nature of Lysander Spooner. Spooner’s legal career started in an apprenticeship under 2 lawyers and he was best known for his support for the Abolitionist movement. His philosophy of liberty heavily influenced his law practice as well as his activist lifestyle.Who was Lysander Spooner? Is there a connection between his post office activism and his abolition activism? What radical politics did Spooner practice? What is the secret six? How does natural law relate to slavery?Further Reading:Two Treatises on Competitive Currency and Banking, written by Lysander SpoonerJohn Brown and the Secret Six, Massachusetts Historical SocietyRelated Content:Cannibals All!, with Phil Magness, Liberty Chronicles PodcastAn Essay on the Trial by Jury: Juries vs. Representative Democracy, written by Lysander SpoonerLysander Spooner on Natural Law, written by George H. Smith See for privacy and opt-out information.

  • Ep. 80: Libertypublicans

    Ep. 80: Libertypublicans

    13/11/2018 Duración: 26min

    The Democrats and Republicans in the House were doing everything they could think of to force the hands of their opponents into appointing the House Speaker. However, no one could secure the majority number of votes to take over the position. The crisis reached a breaking point when a congressman actually suggested that everyone from the House resign in order eliminate the issue entirely. With every passing day, party lines became clearer and our Loco-Focos were at the core of the anti-slavery Republican movement.Why was there a speakership crisis? How did the House overcome the crisis? What happened to the Loco-Focos in the 1850’s? Did the speakership crisis just serve as a foreshadowing of the trouble to come for the U.S.?Further Reading:Wilentz, Sean. The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 2005.Bigelow, John. William Cullen Bryant. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. 1980. (Original printing: 1890).Brooks, Corey M. Liberty Power: Antislavery Third Partie

  • Ep. 79: Compromising Compromisers, with Stephen Maizlish

    Ep. 79: Compromising Compromisers, with Stephen Maizlish

    06/11/2018 Duración: 38min

    Stephen Maizlish sifted through 1700-1800 different documents and speeches from the 19th century in order to recreate an accurate depiction of the discourse that was occurring in Congress prior to the Civil War. His book, A Strife of Tongues: The Compromise of 1850 and the Ideological Foundations of the American Civil War (A Nation Divided: Studies in the Civil War Era), is the product of his outstanding work. He found that many speeches and documents of lesser-known congressman of the time were the most profound and the least read by historians today.What exactly caused the Civil War? What is the importance of intellectual history? What are the power of words when reconstructing a reality? How different really were the Northern and Southern Congressmen during the Compromise of 1850? How was the division between the North and the South created? How prevalent were the concepts of masculinity in discourse during the time of the Compromise of 1850?Further Reading:“How Calls for Civility Led to the Civil War,” by

  • Ep. 78: Hinton Help Us!

    Ep. 78: Hinton Help Us!

    30/10/2018 Duración: 29min

    Prior to 1857, no one had ever heard of Hinton Helper. To be clear, Helper was not a libertarian, he was a vehement racist who made it quite clear that he did not believe that people of color belonged in North America at all. Helper had one great contribution to history and that was his book The Impending Crisis of the South. However, if you read his work closely, his racist remarks were class-oriented to appeal to poor whites. He urged them to revolutionize society. Helper detested the rich white planter elite which was the result of excessive slavery.Who was Hinton Helper? Was his book, The Impending Crisis of the South, more influential than Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Was Helper an abolitionist? Did Helper see slavery as having any value? What was Helper’s version of manifest destiny?Further Reading:Helper, The Impending Crisis of the SouthGeorge Frederickson, “Chapter 2: Antislavery Racist—Hinton Rowan Helper,” in The Arrogance of Race: Historical Perspective on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality, Wesleyan Un

  • Ep. 77: Cannibals All!, with Phil Magness

    Ep. 77: Cannibals All!, with Phil Magness

    23/10/2018 Duración: 48min

    Phil Magness best describes George Fitzhugh as an “eccentric character” because that frames the intellectual direction of his life. Fitzhugh had an obsession with reading about the medieval world and throughout his life he had contempt for philosophers. He is famous for viewing free society as a failure and he also claimed that “all government is slavery”.Who is George Fitzhugh? Was he ever a southern planter? What influence did Thomas Carlyle have on Fitzhugh? What were Fitzhugh’s religious views? How did Fitzhugh critique feminism? What did Fitzhugh find valuable about the feudal relationship?Further Reading:George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, or the Failure of Free Society, Richmond, VA: A. Morris, 1854.George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All! Or, Slaves Without Masters, Richmond, VA: A. Morris, 1857Related Content:Slavery as Socialism, written by George H. SmithThere is No Excuse for Slavery, Liberty Chronicles PodcastWhat is Classical Liberal History?, Liberty Chronicles Podcast See for pr

  • Ep. 76: Libertarian Anti-Capitalism, with Kevin Carson

    Ep. 76: Libertarian Anti-Capitalism, with Kevin Carson

    16/10/2018 Duración: 32min

    One of the biggest drawbacks of thinking in “vulgar libertarian” fashion is that you forget that there were ever alternatives available to people, that the way that we live now or the way we’re used to living is the only way that was ever reasonable or good. The rise of the modern state marks a time in history when authorities began to and continue to control more about people’s lives. The modern state also intrudes on people’s lives in a fashion that is so much greater than before. With that being said, we are still hesitant to look at other society organizational possibilities even though the modern state continues to control us more than most would prefer. Kevin Carson joins us to discuss the depths of capitalism and if the possibility for a post-capitalism world exists. What is the definition of capitalism? What is the history of the word “capitalism”? Who were the Boston Anarchists? What is “vulgar libertarianism”? Are there alternative social structures that we do not acknowledge because we are stubborn

  • Ep. 75: The Cords of Union: Slavery vs The Telegraph

    Ep. 75: The Cords of Union: Slavery vs The Telegraph

    09/10/2018 Duración: 28min

    Historians usually mark off the years, about 1815 to 1845 as the Jacksonian era and for Americans, and many other people across the planet, these were years of singularity. This period of time is remembered for many inventions and innovations. Most notably was Samuel Morse’s magnetic telegraph. His magnetic telegraph “eliminated the greatest problem plagued by all republics since the ancient days of Rome” because it was able to connect the states through rapid communication. Originally, Congress thought that the telegraph would be used as an extension of the Postal Service, but they could find no way for it to be profitable, so they left it up to the private sector to decide how to best utilize the service.When was the Jacksonian era? How did the way Americans travelled change through the Jacksonian era? What was the most impressive innovation of that era? How did the magnetic telegraph affect the way Americans communicated?Further Reading:Feller, Daniel. The Jacksonian Promise: America, 1815-1840. Baltimore:

  • Ep. 74: The Greatest of Nullifiers

    Ep. 74: The Greatest of Nullifiers

    02/10/2018 Duración: 27min

    Abram Smith caught political fire as a radical Locofoco Democrat, a friend of working people and outsiders. Smith was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1852 after he spent some time as a notable defense attorney. Let’s not forget that in 1850 the Fugitive Slave Act was revamped in order to ensure that Northerners were not a hinderance in the capture of slaves who had escaped their southern masters. In fact, Northerners were now required to return any slaves whom they knew to be fugitives. Smith, as a judge, was in utter disagreement with this act and he made that quite apparent when he nullified the Fugitive Slave Act for his state after a slave by the name of Joshua Glover was thrown into the city jail. Sherman Booth had been helping Glover maintain his freedom. Smith decided that Glover should be liberated and Booth should be cleared of any wrongdoing.Who was Abram Smith? What was the Fugitive Slave Act and did it change during the Compromise of 1850? What did Abram Smith decide about the Fugitive S

  • Ep. 73: The First Republicans

    Ep. 73: The First Republicans

    25/09/2018 Duración: 25min

    All the way from the 1770s to the 1850s, Americans had plenty of political disagreements, but nothing ever seriously disrupted the machinery of state until abolitionists and planters began forcing the slavery issue. Prior to the election of 1856, some much-needed rearrangement occurred in politics. In 1856, the newly-minted Republican Party lost on the back of John C. Frémont, but they gained crucial insight out of the election. The Republicans realized that they could take over the White House without a single vote from the Southern states. In 1860, along came an ambitious Republican from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, who used the trail blazed by early libertarians.How did the Republican Party arise? What happened to the Free Soilers and Whigs in response to the birth of the Republican party? Who was the New American Party? Who were the “Know-Nothings”? Was there a Loco-Foco Party?Further Reading:James Buchanan: Campaigns and Elections, written by William CooperUnited States presidential election of 1856, writt

  • Ep. 72: Theres No Excuse for Slavery (Updated)

    Ep. 72: There's No Excuse for Slavery (Updated)

    19/09/2018 Duración: 28min

    This is a updated version of “There’s No Excuse for Slavery” which was released on July 3rd, 2018. Enjoy!The planters of the South believed that slavery had grown up with American society and its’ institutions. John C. Calhoun argued that slavery was a “positive good” because he believed that no well-off society existed in which “one portion of the community did not in point of fact, live on the labor of the other”. How did beliefs like these and those of Calhoun’s followers further split the Union?How could a man like Jefferson at once declare all humanity’s equal, natural rights and yet hold hundreds of people in bondage? What was state-made racism? Who were the beneficiaries of slavery? Who were the Quakers and how did they influence the anti-slavery movement? What is the argument of slavery as a “positive good”? Who really was John C. Calhoun?Further Reading:John C. Calhoun and Slavery as a “Positive Good:” What He Said, written by Clyde WilsonJohn C. Calhoun: He Started the Civil War, written by Civil Wa

  • Ep. 71: Kansas Changes Everything

    Ep. 71: Kansas Changes Everything

    18/09/2018 Duración: 23min

    In the mid-20th century, it was fashionable for historians to speak of a “Blundering Generation” of pre-Civil War politicians, people who—well intended or not—made a long series of foolish and short-sighted mistakes. They made blunders that make for wonderfully detailed political histories “from below,” as it were, but what appear to be mistakes were often intentional, and what appear to be great men were often just the schemers whose plans succeeded in the end.Who is the worst politician to come out of Illinois? Who were the “F Street Mess”? What happened to the Whig party between 1852 and 1856? Who were the first Republicans? Was the Civil War avoidable?Further Reading:Stephen A. Douglas: A Featured BiographyStephen A. Douglas, History ChannelWhat Can the Collapse of the Whig Party Tell Us About Today’s Politics?, Smithsonian MagazineMusic by Kai EngelRelated Content:Whiggery’s Last Gasp, Liberty Chronicles EpisodeWas Frederick Douglass a Libertarian?, Liberty Chronicles Episosde See for p

  • Ep. 70: Whiggery’s Last Gasp

    Ep. 70: Whiggery’s Last Gasp

    11/09/2018 Duración: 25min

    In 1850, American politics was nearing its breaking point. The Senate as well as the Administration was doing much in order to keep the peace between the Southern and Northern politicians. For example, Henry Clay was pulling out all the stops to pass a combination of compromise measures that would finally resolve the territorial crisis. However, his bill kept failing on partisan lines. No Southerners wanted to vote for restricting slavery, even if it meant getting a souped-up fugitive slave law in return. And no self-respecting or self-interested Northerner, wanted to vote for that fugitive slave bill, even if it meant abolishing the slave trade in Washington.What did the Compromise of 1850 solve? Did it just put off an inevitable split in our nation over the slavery issue? What happened in the Presidential Election of 1852? Did nationalism take over in this period defined by great stress and division?Further Reading:Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Life of Franklin Pierce” Holt, Michael.The Fate of Their Country: Poli

  • Ep. 69: Van Buren - Friend or Foe? with Jeff Hummel

    Ep. 69: Van Buren - Friend or Foe? with Jeff Hummel

    04/09/2018 Duración: 42min

    Jeff Hummel joins our lengthy debate about who Van Buren really was as a person and as a President. Hummel argues that Van Buren took a small “r” republican position for most of his career, both in the law and in politics. Hummel also argues that Van Buren was more consistent as President than those who came before him.Why would Jeff Hummel categorize Van Buren as the “least bad” President? Why is Van Buren considered the first “ethnic President”? Was Van Buren consistently classically liberal? How does Van Buren compare to Calhoun? What did Van Buren think was the purpose of political parties?Further Reading:Jeff Hummel’s articles on Van Buren: In The Independent and from Reassessing the PresidencyCurtis, James C. The Fox at Bay: Martin Van Buren and the Presidency, 1837-1841. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky. 1970.Silbey, Joel. Martin Van Buren and the Emergence of American Popular Politics. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2002.Van Buren, Martin. Inquiry into the Origin and Cour

  • Ep. 68: Free Soil After Van Buren

    Ep. 68: Free Soil After Van Buren

    28/08/2018 Duración: 23min

    Whigs were happy to have the White House, but many of them, at least, could still see the trouble lying head at the inevitable contest of 1852. On the strength of surprisingly large margins, the Free Soilers actually had a serious seat at the table. The Loco-Focos were the ones out there leading the young America cultural movement, they were the ones integrating Whigish abolitionism, with Jacksonian anti-monopoly, even when Van Buren had left them behind.What happened to the Free Soil Movement after Van Buren was elected? What was the Speakership Crisis of 1849? Were the Whigs more reliable allies than the Democrats? What were the Loco-Focos doing during this time of upheaval in Congress? What role did the Wilmot Proviso play in this time defined by factions?Further Reading:Blue, Frederick. The Free Soilers, Third Party Politics, 1848-54. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. 1973.Foner, Eric. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War. Oxford: Oxford Univer

  • Ep. 67: More Creative Historical Thinking

    Ep. 67: More Creative Historical Thinking

    21/08/2018 Duración: 36min

    Our conversation about how all history is revisionist and open to creativity with Michael Douma continues this week. Douma believes that a history classroom should not be about memorizing facts that a professor believes matter. It is more important to train people to think critically and creatively. Douma believes that history is always written from the perspective of the historian, describing it as, “a discussion without end”, meaning history is never completely solid or solved.What is the definition of creativity? How is history like a pencil? Is history all conspiracy? What is a history buff? What is a crack-pot?Further ReadingMichael J. Douma websiteCreative Historical Thinking, written by Michael J. DoumaWhat is Classical Liberal History?, written by Michael J. DoumaMusic by Kai EngelRelated ContentCreative Historical Thinking, with Michael Douma, Part One, Liberty Chronicles EpisodeWhat is the Importance of History, written by David BoazIs there a Purpose to History?, Free Thoughts EpisodeWhat is Classi

  • Ep. 66: Creative Historical Thinking, with Michael Douma, Part One

    Ep. 66: Creative Historical Thinking, with Michael Douma, Part One

    14/08/2018 Duración: 27min

    Michael Douma joins us for the first part of a two-part series to discuss how we see the past as as an interpretative history. He argues that history is a creative discipline because we choose to arrange facts in a certain way.Douma goes through his new book, Creative Historical Thinking, and how he typically asks his students to draw a timeline of their lives or a timeline of American history. Quite often, each students’ timeline forms differently. Relating that to the study of the past, Douma argues that every timeline a historian draws, is a different interpretation of the past, creating history. Everyone has a different mental model or “timeline” in which they view their lives and that allows history to be a creative endeavor.Is the past simply what happened? With that in mind, is history our interpretation of the past? Is history how we give meaning to the past? What is the difference between an error in conception and an error in fact? If you had to drawl the timeline of your life how would you drawl it

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