Lysander Spooner – abolitionist, anarchist, capitalist entrepreneur and intellectual giant of the 19th century – was a fierce opponent of slavery and Lincoln’s vile, bloody war and eloquently explained why in his classic book, No Treason.

Spooner correctly saw that what Lincoln and the war did to the union was turn a somewhat voluntary compact between the states into a monolithic, militaristic empire centered in Washington. Every country in the world besides the US ended slavery peacefully, and the US government was doing everything it possibly could (like enforcing Fugitive Slave Laws) to preserve it. Many northern states attempted to nullify federal laws to protect freed slaves, and some even threatened to secede themselves!

I used to be someone who considered myself a “constitutionalist” who thought if only we could confine the state to the powers delegated to it in the U.S. Constitution, Utopia would finally be here. But perhaps more than any other figure (with apologies to Murray Rothbard), reading and studying Spooner and his principled anarchism led me to the exact opposite conclusion.

Spooner, in his denunciation of Lincoln and the New Regime, argued that the Constitution was a document that endorsed slavery, gave way too much power to the federal government, and has no authority over those that did not sign it. Either the Constitution has enabled the massive empire we have now or it has been powerless to prevent it, Spooner reasoned.

History has proven Spooner right, and he wrote in a time where the US government was a tiny cancer, not the Leviathan it is now. I only wish Spooner were alive today to see the market anarchy that exists all around to us thanks to the spread of information and the technology that allows us to circumvent the state.

Pieces of paper will never stop the violence of the state, only we can.