Blogs > Liberty and Power > Happy Spooner Day!

Jan 18, 2006 7:23 pm

Happy Spooner Day!

The great abolitionist, radical constitutionalist, freethinker and libertarian, Lysander Spooner (1/19/1808-4/14/1887), had been all but forgotten for generations until 1966 when No Treason: A Constitution of No Authority had been republished by Robert LeFevre's Pine Tree Press. No Treason... (described as "possibly the most subversive document ever penned in this nation.") hit libertarian circles like a bombshell. From that time on, the debate between free market anarchism and minarchism was fueled by the logical analysis of constitutional theory which Spooner brought. No one interested in the fundamendal connection (if any) between liberty and constitution (or meta-contract) and the process of legitimization could ignore Spooner. Indeed, now, nearly fifty years after publication, the debate continues. With the publication of Spooner's collected works and the rediscovery of another essay of his, Spooner's analytical works has influenced into entire schools of thinking, including his trenchant examination of juries, intellectual property, abolition, even political participation, has continued to affect even popular culture. Stamp collectors even admire him because Spooner set up a private postal service so successful that the federal government decided to outlaw it. Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

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Kenneth R. Gregg - 1/23/2006

Thanks for the link to Barnett's essay. I like this in his conclusion:

"Reading all three hundred pages, one is struck by the herculean nature of Spooner's endeavor-indeed by its similarity to what Ronald Dworkin argues that Hercules, Dworkin's hypothetical judge, ought to do: construct a set of principles of justice that both explain and justify the constitutional text at hand in such a way as to render it consistent with all other texts recognized as authoritative within this legal tradition."

"Spooner Day" should be an international libertarian holiday!

Just Ken

Tom G Palmer - 1/22/2006

Thanks Ken! The date is now added to my calendar as a recurring holiday.

I'd also note the recent article by Randy Barnett on Spooner's theory of constitutional interpretation:

And also his response to Spooner in his book "Restoring the Lost Constitution."

Tom G. Palmer