VII. CONCLUSIONS

Lysander Spooner’s contributions to constitutional theory rarely receive serious scholarly praise. Instead, the Athol, Massachusetts, native is described as having “always [been] a pamphleteer/advocate before he [was] a philosopher.”125 It is conceded that he was responsible for “the most highly developed and workable system of individualist anarchism that emerges in nineteenth century America,” but it is most often said that this did not result in the emergence of a consistent and highly developed political (or legal) philosophy.126 It is largely because of this prevailing attitude that The Unconstitutionality of Slavery has not been recognized as a valid work of constitutional theory. As this article has shown, a reevaluation of Spooner’s abolitionist reading of the Constitution is a worthwhile enterprise. This is because, unlike the more popular work of Wendell Phillips, it is a theory that heralds the commitment to individual liberty that lies at the heart of America’s supreme law.

Abstract

I. INTRODUCTION

II. SPOONER VERSUS PHILLIPS: AN OVERVIEW OF THEIR “GREAT DEBATE”

III. WENDELL PHILLIPS: GIVE ME HISTORY, NOT LIBERTY!

IV. LYSANDER SPOONER: GIVE ME LIBERTY . . . “[W]ITH [I]RRESISTIBLE [C]LEARNESS”

V. THE LIBERTARIAN PROMISE OF AN UNFINISHED TREATISE

VI. TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY POSTSCRIPT

VII. CONCLUSIONS

 

125 Hall, supra note 89, at 2 (emphasis in original).

126 Id. at 56.

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