Shut Up and Memorize Your Fourth-Grade Textbook

Today I had someone tweet me this message: “Nullification is idiotic and unconstitutional.”

Not an unusual opinion, to be sure; it’s held by the New York Times, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton. My critic, such as he is, has simply absorbed all the presuppositions of the modern state, in which nullification is indeed “idiotic.” For the modern state is one and indivisible, with a single, infallible authority dictating orders to all subordinate institutions. My critic believes in the Hobbesian model of political association, as do 99 percent of his fellow countrymen – who, like him, have absorbed it without thinking. They don’t even know they’ve absorbed it, so ubiquitous has it become in modern Western political thought.

So when someone comes along and challenges these assumptions, all my critic can do is shout at the heretic.

I told him that as soon as he can reply to my “Nullification: Answering the Objections,” he should let me know. I will not hear from him again.

What I found especially interesting was this: on his blog, he criticizes people who have written to him with unkind words about Abraham Lincoln. Let me allow my critic to speak for himself:

Not content to recycle the same-old same-old absurd insults (dictator, tyrant, warmonger, racist and so on), some of these ranters cite bogus Lincoln quotes floating around the internet, such as:

“I have no intention of interfering with slavery or freeing the slaves. The white race is supreme and blacks will never marry whites, serve on juries or vote. This is my firm belief.”

Of course, Abraham Lincoln never said this or wrote this or even thought this. Ronald Reagan (R-CA) had these words of advice for anyone who feels compelled to malign Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President:

Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.

And that includes Abraham Lincoln! Reagan’s 11th Commandment. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

Now this is funny. “Abraham Lincoln never said this or wrote this or even thought this”? True, the blogger’s paraphrase of Lincoln is not the precise word order the sixteenth president used. But has he never read the Lincoln-Douglas debates? (I ask rhetorically.) There, Lincoln said:

I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say, in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

As for slavery, Lincoln said in his First Inaugural (you can see I’ve had to dig into some obscure sources to find Lincoln’s views): “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

So poor Grand Old Partisan, as he calls himself, is demolished. Lincoln said precisely the things this critic claims Abe never said, wrote, or even thought. These are facts one could gather by reading any book about Lincoln at all.

At the end of the passage I reproduced from his blog, we’re treated to the Stalinist line that politicians, as long as they belong to a certain political party, should never be criticized. So when your fourth-grade textbook tells you all about your heroic overlords, you are supposed to shut up and salute.

Why am I not surprised that someone with this mentality opposes nullification?

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  • chris

    Billow… as in blows.


  • chris


    Sometimes, in order to defend the constitution, it is necesarry to actually leave the union to prevent the unconstitutional activity from spreading to the other sovereign states.

  • DWF

    This is why I personally object to statues and monuments being erected that are dedicated to past presidents.  They seem to be promoted as little dieties to me and therefore beyond reproach.  I suspect Grand ‘ol is only objecting to his perception his beliefs are being “attacked”.  Things he KNOWS with certainity to be true on faith alone regardless of whatever evidence that may be presented to the contrary.   Does that not sound like a person who is defending his religion? 

  • chris

    This implies that a state has the right, even duty, do defend it’s residents against unconstitutional action by the federal government.

    A governor with some intestinal fortitude would order his state police to oust the EPA, OSHA, IRS (for the states that didn’t ratify), DEA, ATF… any agency not explicitly formed by the constitution.

    It would be a far better use of the state police than giving speeding tickets to hapless drivers.

  • chris

    Sad day in Texas.

  • chris

    This same guy, finding himself in a job he doesn’t like, with a boss who mistreats him, will go and seek another job.  Nullification of employment.

    This same guy, having a neighbor that plays loud music at all hours, displays a half dozen old toilets in his yard, junk cars on the street, barking dogs, constant noise and garbage everywhere, would move to a better neighborhood.  Nullification of residence.

    But he simply cannot expound on the principle.  When the state is concerned, he cannot fathom that the government can be wrong, that any state action may not have been justified.

    He cannot allow his paradigm to shift, because then he would have the responsibility to do something about it.

    Maybe like write a book called Nullification.

  • chris

    (Except Ron Paul)

  • chris

    Point 1 is so true.  It’s becasue to study the Austrian school, and actually come to an understanding of it, is to accept its logic and become Austrian yourself.

  • chris

    You do not understand the intent of the constitution.  It was not to force the states to obey the federal government; it was to force the federal government to obey the states.

    Nullification is the “take my ball and go home” option.  It’s not racist.  It’s not slavery.  It is logic; The states are sovereign, the federal government subservient.

  • chris

    “How am I supposed to reason with someone who worries about something that will never happen, when an outcome 50 billion times worse is happening right before his eyes every day?”

    Ridicule, scorn, and scorched-earth logic backed by historical quotes from founding documents.

    I call it the “Woods effect”.

  • chris

    Does it matter that Hamilton was lieing when he wrote that?  B/c he lawyered his way out of it after the document was signed…

  • Lou Bjostad

    We hosted Bruce Fein at our YAL meeting at Colorado State University last night, and about 40 of us showed up to hear him speak.  Bruce talked to us in part about the irony of Lincoln’s career views on war, in that Lincoln early in his political career was actually opposed to the Mexican-American war on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, yet Lincoln was later fully comfortable immersing America in the bloodbath of the Civil War (350,000 direct deaths, about 650,000 deaths overall).  Bruce signed copies of his 2008 book Constitutional Peril for us (I bought one).

  • Lou Bjostad

    Like the gigantic statue of Lincoln in Washington, DC, at the Lincoln Memorial? The thing is obscene.  Lincoln sits in a throne staring down indulgently at the little people (us) gathered at his feet.  Why would anybody build such a thing?  And in such a patronizing pose?  To remind us gently that we have a sacred obligation to be dutiful servants of a wise overlord, and it is polite fiction at best that we little people have any claim to individual liberties as members of a republic.  In the 1939 Jimmy Stuart movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, there is a poignant scene in which the newly-elected Mr. Smith stares upward at the Lincoln statue with a look of impassioned fervor on his face, and he catches the eye of an African-American man looking upward at the same statue with the same expression of awed reverence.  The only thing missing was a choir of angels singing in the background.

  • Metaljaybird

    Guy has a picture of himself with Romney.  Nothing to see, he’s a robot, not a thinker.

  • Joseph

    I did a book report on Lincoln in 6th grade along with a hand drawn portraiture of him for a complementary book cover project many many moons ago. If memory serves me well, I received very high marks for my glowing recital of the virtues of Lincoln. I wonder now what reception my report would have received if I had dared to quote actual primary source materials and arrived at a subversive opinion rather than the officially sanctioned public school account.

  • StandardConny


  • Joe


  • Matthew Swaringen

    And if the Democratic states did such a thing, it would sure be one heck of a way to make sure that the Federal government limited it’s debt or the Democratic states would be purged from the union entirely.  This sounds like a great idea even by Republican standards.  

    Or perhaps you admit that the Republican states are actually more often the recipients of cross-state wealth transfers by the Feds more often than the Democratic states?

  • Michael Zak

    I have yet to see Tom Woods or anyone else on this website provide a link or citation for that alleged Lincoln quote. They can’t, because it is a fabrication. This article and nearly all the comments are based on a lie, that Abraham Lincoln said or wrote those words attributed to him within quotation marks.

    That alleged Lincoln quote is one of many bogus Lincoln quotes floating around the internet. Tom Woods and his followers should not be so blinded by their hatred for the Great Emancipator as to follow the “make stuff up” school of political discourse.

  • Michael Zak

    Of course, Abraham Lincoln made statements and sometimes held beliefs, which though far more advanced than those of his Democrat rivals, are less than enlightened by today’s standards. My original point remains unrefuted, that Abraham Lincoln did not say or write those sentences placed within quotation marks. That alleged quote is bogus.

  • Anonymous

    So I googled your “alleged quote”, and amazingly, I came up with no responses, no ranters. But Woods never claimed that that exact quote was valid, but he did quite specifically quote from very well accepted sources Lincoln expressing all the sentiments you claim he never expressed.

    Woods claims it was a paraphrase, and you cannot deny that.

    Woods made nothing up, unless you want to dispute Lincoln’s first inaugural address, or the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

    And it’s not like the quotes he uses from either is difficult to find. The line from the inaugural address is in the fourth paragraph. The line from the debates is in paragraph two.

  • Mike Krupa

    I would like to point to an interesting piece of historical literature I found on the internet as part of my doctoral studies. Says some truths about Lincoln:

  • Michael Zak

    If Thomas Woods has indeed admitted that the alleged Lincoln quote was bogus, then my dispute with him on this point is at an end.

    Being placed within quotation marks implies that Abraham Lincoln spoke or wrote those words, as stated. These sentences, as stated, are nowhere to be found in Lincoln’s writings or speeches, which means that it is a bogus quote. One may indeed claim, though others may disagree, that the alleged quote is a paraphrase or summary of Lincoln’s words or beliefs, but the alleged quote is not actually a quote, meaning it is a bogus quote.

    BTW, don’t forget to place Lincoln’s Charleston speech in context, that he was appealing for votes in a Democrat-dominated area against a Democrat senator who owned more than a hundred slaves.

  • Tom Woods

    You are unbelievable. So you think it is of any significance whatsoever that the president didn’t use the word “of” in that particular place, but of no significance at all that he believed every single thing you claim he didn’t believe.

    You said he NEVER EVEN THOUGHT those things. You obviously didn’t mean, “He never even thought this configuration of words.” You meant, “He never even thought it desirable not to make voters or jurors of blacks.”

    Oh, I’m making a whole blog post out of this one. This is too good. You are actually debating me over an issue of absolutely zero significance, in order to save face after being totally shown up. You may not be with it enough to realize how embarrassing this is; that much is obvious. Other readers will be, I promise you.

  • Mmyoung57

     OMG, I nearly choked to death laughing.

  • ThomasC

    Are you unable or unwilling to read? 

  • jaffi411


    This would be funny to watch if it weren’t for the fact that you actually consider yourself a “scholar” (yet you do not have the pertinent qualifications of such).


  • Smackabout

    Tom Woods hasn’t seen fit to admit that this quote from George Bush: “I believe that god is a green alien that lives on mars and that zagblork is his prophet” is a bogus quote that I pulled out of my ass, and until he fesses up that George Bush never said these exact words then obviously he’s not a serious scholar…

    Michael Zak, you’re an embarrassment to anyone capable of thought.

    “When you think about it, the Jim Crow laws were very good laws, if you remember to place them in context. After all, the south was very racist at that time, so it was obviously quite acceptable to institute racist de-humanizing laws.” This is a direct bogus quote from Michael Zak that he never said. Michael Zak, I challenge you to admit that this quote from you is bogus.

  • Mothybalz0169

    HAHAHAHA! Tom, perfect!

  • Mothybalz0169

     Chris, we should market that as a Television Show, but we need a Freedom Channel.

  • Leon Haller

    Dr. Woods:

    I own or have read many of your books. I hate to be a pest, but .. two matters bother me. 

    First, were you quoting the following Lincoln passage with disapprobation?

    I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say, in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

    I hate to put you on the spot, but I hope you don’t disapprove of Lincoln’s words. Lincoln was certainly an enemy of liberty and the Constitution, but he was right on race (as all the black flash mob attacks on whites over the decades relentlessly demonstrate).

    Second, and even more disturbing to me, why do you criticize Read ID? Don’t you care about the honesty of official documents? Or do you think any criminal trespasser on US sovereignty should be allowed to partake of the benefits of US citizenship, including voting for socialist criminals like Obama? 

    I generally hate libertarians, for the same reasons that have given arch-Austrian Hans Hoppe pause about associating with such a leftist loony crew. These people simply act as though the State doesn’t exist – which reminds one of the old joke about the economist, the canned peaches, and the desert island (“assume we have a can opener …”). 

    I had hitherto thought you were a rational, or paleo, libertarian. Now, I;m less sure.

    Leon Haller

  • Guest

    It’s important to distinguish between race and cultural identity.

    One’s race does not infer one’s cultural identity, since genetics do not directly effect our beliefs.

    And, insofar as certain aspects of a given culture are not based on race, those aspects transcend that specific culture, because all races of people are capable of farming, hunting, manufacturing, etc. One’s race is no barrier to any economic outcome, good or bad.

    With those points in mind, consider that the so-called “black community”, aside from the members of that community sharing similar skin tone [a voluntary membership, I would add], they also share similar economic beliefs – which beliefs can be completely divorced from skin color.

    The shared economic beiefs of those who belong to the so-called “black community” entail an embracing of Marxist economics. For example, they believe in welfare programs and in the Minimum Wage.

    Of course, anyone from any race can believe in these things, too. And anyone, or any group, who practices Marxist economics, is going to be poorer.

    And the fact is that this particular race-based culture embraces Marxist economics more than other cultures, race-based or otherwise.

    Here’s my main point, the so-called “black community” embraces Marxism, and because of this they are poorer as a group; The color of their skin is completely irrelevant.

    This is why those who the group calls “race traitors” tend to do better, economically – they choose to embrace the free market.

    Here’s a relevant article, by Walter Williams, on this point:

    Race and

  • Pwrwagn

    Oh, I failed that one.   I wasn’t “trained”.  Training is a process of removing intellectual control from the process or conduct or means by which we accomplish complex things. Sure, I graduated high school with good grades, made Who’s Who, and all ,and got a 3.93 in my college career, but then it all fell apart, after I decided that thinking about things, and applying my then weak and flabby un-exercised intellect to matters that were supposed to be settled resulted in me finding a lot to disagree with…and eventually becoming a conservative / Constitutionalist in my politics.