The Anniversary That (Almost) Everyone Overlooked

Yesterday was the 213th anniversary of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, that great Jeffersonian document that made the case for state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws. I meant to blog about this but simply forgot. (In my defense, I have been feeling under the weather, and had hosted the Peter Schiff Show that morning on about 45 minutes of sleep.)

Here are some fun ways to commemorate this important anniversary:

(1) Read this piece on the Kentucky Resolutions and their importance, written for the anniversary, by the Tenth Amendment Center’s Michael Boldin;

(2) Read the document itself (as approved by the Kentucky legislature);

(3) Read my essay “Nullification: Answering the Objections”;

(4) Watch “Interview With a Zombie,” my pro-nullification video (be sure to see the blooper reel as well);

(5) Pick up a copy of my book Nullification for a mere ten smackers.

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  • Kaj Grüssner

    Hello Tom and thanks for the reminder :)

    I’m from Europe myself and there is a particular person in US history that I’m somewhat curious about: Benedict Arnold. I know that he switched sides from the Colonial Army to the British and that this betrayal has made his name synonymous with treason. 

    But I can’t help but wonder, does he have any redeeming qualities? Were there any mitigating circumstances? I always get suspicious when someone is so universally hated and condemned.

    So, is Benedict Arnold worthy of all the scorn?

  • Mike Maharrey

    I remembered. Did you?

  • Caleb Swerens

    I’ve wondered the same thing, and I’m from America! It’s so hard to determine if what one reads is the truth, or merely propaganda… I’d love to hear Tom’s opinion on the subject.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody laughs at me any more when I bring up the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

    That is real headway.

    Thanks to your great part in this discussion. KEEP IT UP!

  • Brian

    45 mins sleep!?  Whoa, man, that’s crazy.

    It was a good show.  I always enjoy Pat Buchanan’s insights.  I remember watching McLaughlin Group one time and being stunned when he referenced “nullification” and “Tom Woods.”  That was awesome!

  • Tom Woods

    Even better:

  • Anonymous

    Watched V for Vendetta and read some great stuff on Nullification tonight… I feel so powerful right now.

    Quick question:  While I agree with the principles behind nullification, what would keep a state from declaring a CONSTITUTIONAL law unconstitutional (like if Congress passed a law that WAS pursuant to Article 1 Sec 8 but that this particular state did not like so declared it unconstitutional)… Should that just be an expected outcome sometimes?  Would they forfeit the protection of the US military and be “outcast” as a state for “breaking compact?” 

    I guess since right now the opposite situation is what’s been happening through history it isn’t necessary to consider my “hypothetical” but I’m just curious…

  • Muriel Katz

    After reading this document, my mind is still spinning at how much Constitutional ‘line crossing’ our federal government has done!  We MUST get back to obeying our Constitution!  It’s not an obsolete piece of paper but, instead, a document that shows us how to keep our freedoms intact!!!

  • Brian

    Whoa, didn’t know about that one!

  • Toby

    this was used to support slavery

  • Tom Woods

    You’re joking, right?

  • Robert Roddis

    Michigan’s own loathsome new neo-con Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette (“Shootie”) violates his duties to his client, the State of Michigan, by siding with the Feds against the voters who legalized medical marijuana in a referendum in 2008

    Schuette said the provision in the state’s 2008 law directly conflicts with and is pre-empted by federal law.

    “By returning marijuana to a registered patient or caregiver, a law enforcement officer is exposing himself or herself to potential criminal and civil penalties under the (federal law) for the distribution of marijuana or for aiding or abetting the possession or distribution of marijuana,” the opinion stated.
    The opinion followed a request by state Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, who asked the attorney general to clarify a provision in the law.

    Disbar him. 

  • Greg LeFevre

    Because hey—the paper says so.

  • Webtop88

    I highly commend your fight for liberty but you are wrong on slavery and the civil war.

    this resolution gave the south the idea that they could just leave the union if the northern states really pushed for abolishing slavery.  after the south lost the civil war the slave owners and KKK (both the old and new (look it up)) continued to think that any federal law which attacks slavery/segregation can be attacked by invoking nullification.  
    most important point: slavery would not have ended unless we had the civil war.  slavery was profitable (look up Stanley Engerman’s “time on the cross”) that is why the slave owners did not want to end it (otherwise they would have themselves ended it and employed free labor).  for some reason everyone forgets this point!!!

    and unfortunately we could not have afforded to simply buy all the slaves and free them (as ron paul has recently suggested).  

    although the civil war greatly expanded the power of the government, that was a necessary evil we had to pay to free the slaves!!! 

    so anyway.  certainly these resolutions is ammunition against government power but it was also used for slavery and segregation.  it is up to you whether you want to use this tainted weapon. 

  • Tom Woods

    Translation: I have not clicked on any of the links above.

    If you had, you’d see they address and refute pretty much everything you’re saying. You are actually repeating one of the arguments of teh zombie when you say, incredibly, that nullification was used to support slavery. It was used to fight slavery!

    It’s never too late to shed the propaganda you were taught in school. We’ve all had to do it. Now it’s your turn.

    And so I repeat:

  • Anonymous

    45 minutes of sleep? I couldn’t tell.

  • Toby

    there is no need to be so insulting, Woods!  I am on your side!

    I did not read the links you provided because I was well aware of your arguments.  But I had a read of your nullification link to double check.
    you wrote “The “shameful history” remark is surely a reference to southern resistance to the civil rights movement, in which the language of nullification was indeed employed.”  this is what i mean.  the fact of the matter slavery was ended because of the civil war and there was no other way to end it, everyone from Washington to Lincoln said so (actually they would always say “it will end in 150 years from now”) as does modern economic research: Stanley Engerman.  nullification was used to justify racism (which you have never been on the sharp end of, being a white male) segregation and slavery.  

    As classical liberals (although you are an anarchist) we must face up to the fact that there was slavery, and a lot of constitutional arguments we might have against government today were used to protect slavery in the past.  

    To be honest I would be more supportive of your views on nullification (not that I am important) if you stopped trying so hard to hide the fact that nullification was used by KKK and the old south.  If you were just to come out and say “yes there is a long history of this argument being used for this bad thing.  here is a detailed list of where and how these arguments were used…I admit this, but still I think these arguments are still valid for the other side too because…”  if you were just a little bit fairer to the other side maybe they would listen just a little bit instead of just dismissing you.

    You chief problem is that you seem like a racist.  You moved to the whitest state in the union, your chief affiliation (mises institute) is in ALABAMA (a racist state), you write book about ideas which were used to support segregation (as you yourself grudgingly admit), and you are favorable to those ideas, and you seem to implicitly/under-the-radar-/3am-at-the-bar to support the confederacy. 

  • Tom Woods

    OK, now I know you’re joking.

    My chief problem is that I “seem like a racist”? Only to the hysterics who seek out “racism” everywhere. See, I’m the guy who doesn’t want the U.S. government incarcerating people for victimless crimes or bombing nonwhites around the world. Why would that seem “racist” to you or to anyone I should care about for one second?

    The whitest state in the Union is Maine. I have no idea what state you are referring to.

    Nice of you to condemn an entire state as “racist,” despite having a huge and growing black population. Since you haven’t even bothered to find out why the Mises Institute was initially housed at Auburn University (a “racist” university, no doubt), there is no point talking to you about this. You are a p.c. hysteric.

    You yourself support an institution (the U.S. government) whose Supreme Court upheld segregation and whose marshals sent slaves back to their masters. My doctrine defied the Supreme Court on this and protected slaves from their masters. Why can you not bring yourself to acknowledge this?

    You yourself support an institution that literally has the blood of millions on your hands in its various unjust wars. But that’s apparently OK, because it’s p.c. to support the U.S. government. I, on the other hand, oppose the modern centralized state, which has been the most lethal institution in history, and I’m the bad guy who probably likes the Confederacy.

    Yes, I do believe in the right of secession, because the
    opposite view is morally indefensible. Buy why would you think I, an anarchist, would “support” any government, particularly the Confederacy?

    I’m deeply moved by your devotion to the cause of racial minorities and everything, but next time you’re so prepared to champion the modern central state as their great liberator you might ask how that arrangement worked out for the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the Asians in Uganda,
    the Ukrainians in the Soviet Union, or the Jews in Germany.

    In my writing and speeches I have dealt with this issue at
    length.  Here’s one for you.

  • Toby

    I did type up a very long response but my laptop crashed.  so all i am going to say is that your reply was very vitriolic Woods, very vitriolic indeed.  vitriolic and disappointing.  I think if we were face to face you would not be so.  lets leave your family out of this conversation.  i was not trying to smear you and most importantly, for a havard mathematician, quite a bit of what you’ve said does not at all follow from what i’ve said.  

    my main point was that i think there is a lot of truth in what you say and write about, but i am disappointed that you do not recognise that slavery did happen, that it was bad and that it only ended because the civil war.

    at the end of the day your business is selling your books and speeches to a very particular market.  so i guess you have to bend certain ideas and facts and ignore certain ideas and facts.  

    may be if were were to ever meet face to face we could talk about these things.  until then i guess we are wasting each other’s time here.

  • Tom Woods

    Which person was throwing around career-destroying smears at the other? I think you can put a sock in the “Woods is being mean to me!” bit.

    Now the insinuation that I suppress facts in order to make millions selling books. If only you knew how little an author earns, for one thing.

    Since you have read none of my books, you are not in a position to level this charge. Your concern about slavery is replied to in chapter 10 of my 33 Questions book. And for the third time, slavery has nothing to do with nullification, which is the topic of this post.

  • Tom Woods

    Which person was throwing around career-destroying smears at the other? I think you can put a sock in the “Woods is being mean to me!” bit.

    Now the insinuation that I suppress facts in order to make millions selling books. If only you knew how little an author earns, for one thing.

    Since you have read none of my books, you are not in a position to level this charge. Your concern about slavery is replied to in chapter 10 of my 33 Questions book. And for the third time, slavery has nothing to do with nullification, which is the topic of this post.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for pointing out the Nullification book for $10, I finally have a copy headed my way!!! What a deal for a hardcover.

  • Anonymous

    Yep. Just bought one myself.