"What shall be done with the four million slaves if they are emancipated? ... Primarily, it is a question less for man than for God -- less for human intellect than for the laws of nature to solve. It assumes that nature has erred; that the law of liberty is a mistake; that freedom, though a natural want of the human soul, can only be enjoyed at the expense of human welfare, and that men are better off in slavery than they would or could be in freedom; that slavery is the natural order of human relations, and that liberty is an experiment. What shall be done with them? Our answer is, do nothing with them; mind your business, and let them mind theirs. Your doing with them is their greatest misfortune. They have been undone by your doings, and all they now ask, and really have need of at your hands, is just to let them alone. They suffer by every interference, and succeed best by being let alone." ~ Frederick Douglass
Shades of Grey (and Blue)
1Some readers have asked me to explain the reference to the 'sea-green banner of liberty.' The sea-green banner was the emblem of the Levellers, the first mass libertarian movement in history. The Levellers came to prominence in the 1640s, during the English Civil War, when ' to their credit ' they found themselves at odds with both King and Cromwell. They had a crucial influence on later classical liberal thinkers like John Locke. For some online versions of Leveller tracts, see www.constitution.org/lev/levellers.htm. I particularly recommend Richard Overton's delightfully titled
An Arrow Against All Tyrants and Tyranny, Shot from the Prison of Newgate into the Prerogative Bowels of the Arbitrary House of Lords, and All Other Usurpers and Tyrants Whatsoever; Wherein the Original, Rise, Extent, and End of Magisterial Power, the Natural and National Rights, Freedoms and Properties of Mankind are Discovered and Undeniably Maintained; the Late Oppressions and Encroachments of the Lords over the Commons Legally (By the Fundamental Laws and Statutes of This Realm, As Also By a Memorable Extract Out of the Records of the Tower of London) Condemned; the Late Presbyterian Ordinance (Invented and Contrived by the Diviners, and By the Motion of Mr Bacon and Mr Tate Read in the House of Commons) Examined, Refuted, and Exploded, As Most Inhumane, Tyrannical and Barbarous, by Richard Overton, Prerogative Archer to the Arbitrary House of Lords, Their Prisoner in Newgate, for the Just and Legal Properties, Rights and Freedoms of the Commons of England.
(And if you've got a spare $675.00 you feel like getting rid of, check out this massive hard copy collection, edited by my friend Jim Otteson.) So if there's a libertarian colour, it's sea-green. (Unfortunately, I haven't seen pictures of the Levellers' banners, so I don't know what shade of sea-green they used.)