FLASHBACK: Ron Paul Believed That The Federal Government Should Have Paid Off Slave Masters To Free The Slaves

Author: December 23, 2011 9:39 am

Ron Paul is currently surging in the polls, especially in Iowa. So, let the dirt be dug up and the skeletons unearthed. The good folks over at Mediaite discovered this little Ron Paul gem from 2007. During an appearance on Meet The Press with the late Tim Russert, Paul said that he would have favored a federal slaveholder bailout over the Civil War. Such a bailout would have required the government to buy 4 million slaves and then set them free. Russert asked about Paul’s comments to The Washington Post regarding Abraham Lincoln, slavery, and the Civil War.


RUSSERT: “I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. ‘According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery.’”

PAUL: “Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn’t have gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was that iron fist…”

RUSSERT: “We’d still have slavery.”

PAUL: “Oh, come on. Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I’m advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. You buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where the hatred lingered for 100 years? Every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war. I mean, that doesn’t sound too radical to me. That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach.”

Here’s the footage:

So, Ron Paul favored Abraham Lincoln bailing out the slave owners as a way to end slavery and prevent Civil War. The problem is that Paul is wrong. First, Abraham Lincoln didn’t start the Civil War. The South did by attacking Fort Sumter. Second, Paul is supporting slave owners as if they’re the victims. He should tell that to all the slaves that were brutally mistreated before, during, and after the Civil War. Third, Paul is advocating for a federal bailout for people who didn’t deserve one. That kinda goes against his opposition to the 2008 bailout of the banks.

Paul is also naïve if he really thinks slavery would’ve ended in America simply by purchasing all the slaves and freeing them. What stops slave owners from simply getting more slaves? Southerners used slaves to pick the crops and do all of the work around the plantations. Many Southerners were also very racist. It’s unlikely they would have agreed with selling their slaves only for them to be set free. That’s one of the reasons why the South wanted to secede in the first place. They also didn’t want government telling them what to do, so they certainly wouldn’t obey orders to not own slaves. Purchasing the slaves would have also been expensive. In Britain, the government bought the 40,000 slaves still in servitude and set them free. It cost £20 million. The United States government would have had to purchase 4 million slaves, which would have amounted to an impossible price tag to come up with. Unless of course Paul was advocating for borrowing money from other nations or printing exorbitant amounts of cash here in the states, which would cause inflation and huge debt. Either way, it contradicts Paul’s economic philosophy that he has been preaching for years now.

Honestly, it sounds to me like Paul wanted the government to pay off the South in exchange for not starting a war. That’s bribery, not to mention hostage taking. It also sounds to me like he wanted the South to have all the money and the Federal Treasury to have massive debt. Can you imagine the power the South would have possessed with all that cash? They could have had a better army, and more clothing, food, and weapons to equip them with. In other words, the South would have just started a civil war anyway and with the money from their bailout, the Confederacy could definitely have won the Civil War, which would have made all of Paul’s dreams of anarchy a reality. With the defeat of the Union, the South would have just brought slavery back. They’d have the power, the money, and their precious institution of slavery. The Civil Rights Act would’ve never happened. The 13th 14th, and 15th amendments would never have been added to the Constitution. And you just know that 150 years later, Ron Paul would have finally been elected President, of the Confederate States of America.

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12 Comments

  • I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Paul on this one (though I generally loathe him). Having the government buy the slaves at fair market value and then free them was exactly how the British Empire rid itself of slavery more than a generation before we did in the USA and without the massive violence of the Civil War here. This would have been a MUCH preferable solution to early America’s problem with slavery than the War was.

    • Actually a buyout program was proposed by Lincoln during his campaign. It was to phase out slavery over 35 years and allow for compensation in the first 15 years for freeing slaves. It was rejected preemptorily by the slaveholders of the South, about 20% of the citizenry. The argument was that since Christ had said there slavery would be with us always that to oppose slavery meant you worked for the AntiChrist. If you look up the sermons of Southern churches between 1840 and 1865 you will see this very thing said.

      One person asked what would have stopped the people of the South from just buying new slaves. The law. It was illegal in all states in the Union to import more slaves. BUT since the Sherriff of New York regularly rounded up free blackmen and held them for proof of freed status and when no white man came forward with proof, blacks were not allowed to provide legal testimony, he sold them at market in Baltimore.

      Though it is nice to believe that a buyout program would have worked, it is fanciful. It was only the blood sacrifice of 380,000 Northern soldiers, 45,000 of them black, that forged the Fourteenth Amendment.

  • The US had an anti slavery movement too. If the south had left the union, the north certainly wouldn’t have restarted up slavery.

    and again, it was more complicated than just slavery. the north doubled the souths tariffs. why wuold they do that if they were so intent on keeping the union together?

    • The North had an anti-slavery movement, not the South. And I never said there weren’t other factors in the South succeeding from the Union. But even if that’s the case, would higher taxes justify succeeding? Unless you’re Rick Perry, that would be an extreme idea.

      • ever heard the phrase “no taxation without representation”?

        • Um.. they did have representation. It’s called congress.

        • They HAD representation! Heck, they were OVER-represented thanks to the 3/5’s Compromise. And in 1860, tariffs were the lowest they had been in 20+ years. Yes, the tariffs went up during the war . . . to help PAY for the war.

          [Yes, the Republican Party was pledged to higher taxes when the won the election in 1860 -- which of course concerned the South -- but had the Southern states remained in the union, they would have been in a position to block any steep increases.]

  • Other countries ended slavery peacefully was his point. Obviously that would have been a much better solution than 600,000 almost none of whom had much to do with the slave trade, dying.

    As he notes, England bought the slaves and freed them. There is not slavery in England today.

    Besides, the south were within their rights to leave the union. It’s union, not a prison. If it’s not advantageous to them they can leave. THat goes for any state now.

    and the civil war wasn’t ONLY about slavery. washington raised tariffs to crazy levels.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo44.html

    ^just saying, it’s not racist to not worship Lincoln, war, state power etc

    • Unlike the U.S., England already had an anti-slavery movement when they abolished slavery. It wasn’t the same in the U.S., the south was obviously not ready to give up their slaves. And as a result of defeat, the southern states had no choice but to agree to end slavery to rejoin the union. So Ron Paul is wrong, we couldn’t have just “bought the slaves.”

      • If we had said $500 per head and by Jan 1 1870 slavery would be outlawed, After that time they would be automaticly free. then 99% of the slaves would have been freed before the deadline and we would have had no war AND slaves would have been brought into the public culture without having to go through the agonies of reconstruction and not having some of the best and brightest on that generation dead in a usless civil war.

        • That would be true, except that the South didn’t want that to happen, so they seceded from the Union and attacked Fort Sumter. Had Southern slaveholders been interested in compensated emancipation, we could have indeed avoided the war. However, that was the very thing they wanted to stop.

  • Cost of civil war for Union: $6,190,000,000
    Cost of civil war for CSA: $2,099,808,707
    Average price of slave in 1850: $500
    No of slaves in 1850: 4,000,000
    Cost of “buying” all the slaves: $2,000,000,000

    Savings with this plan: $6,289,808,707 + about 625,000 human souls.

    How could anyone ever even consider such a horrible idea?

    Also, the international slave trade was outlawed in 1807. “What stops slave owners from simply getting more slaves?” There would be none to buy!

    Maybe he’s wrong, but this idea maybe could have solved the problem while avoiding one of our nation’s bloodiest conflicts. Probably former slaves would have been mistreated and marginalized and lynched for many decades afterward, but that happened anyway. How was the civil war a better solution?

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