More from Rothbard on War, Religion, and the State

From Murray Rothbard, “Two Just Wars: 1776 and 1861,” in John Denson, ed., The Costs of War (1997), describing the motivations of the New England Yankees in 1861:

“The North, in particular the North’s driving force, the ‘Yankees’ — that ethnocultural group who either lived in New England or migrated from there to upstate New York, northern and eastern Ohio, northern Indiana, and northern Illinois — had been swept by a new form of Pr0testantism. This was a fanatical and emotional neo-Puritanism driven by a fervent ‘postmillenialism’ which held that, as a precondition for the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, man must set up a thousand-year Kingdom of God on Earth.”

“The Kingdom is to be a perfect society. In order to be perfrect, of course, this Kingdom must be free of sin . . . . It was very clear to these neo-Puritans that in order to stamp out sin, government, in the service of the saints, is the essential coercive insturment. . .”

Thus, the North’s war “partook of fanatical millenialist fervor, of a cheerful willingness to uproot institutions, to commit mayhem and mass murder, to plunder and loot and destroy, all in the name of high moral principle and the birth of a perfect world. The Yankee fanatics were veritable Patersonian humanitarians with the guillotine: The Anabaptists, the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks of their era. This fanatical spirit of Northern aggression for an allegedly redeeming cause is summed up in the pseudo-Biblical and truly blasphemous verses of that quintessential Yankee Julia Ward Howe, in her so-called “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”


3:29 pm on January 28, 2006