Libertarians Commemorate 161st Anniversary of Joshua Glover Rescue

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From Andy Craig for Congress, Libertarian (WI-4):

On March 10, 1854, an angry mob descended on the federal jail and courthouse in downtown Milwaukee. Local newspaper editor Sherman Booth, founder of the anti-slavery Liberty Party rallied over 5,000 residents of the city, riding through the streets proclaiming “Freemen, to the rescue!”

Joshua Glover was an escaped slave, and under the laws of Wisconsin he was a free man. The day prior, federal agents had kidnapped Glover from his home in Racine, and were holding him in the Milwaukee jail to be returned to his supposed owner in Missouri. Under the Fugitive Slave Act, Glover had no presumption of innocence, no due process of law, and wasn’t even allowed to speak on his own behalf at the perfunctory hearing where a federal judge rubber-stamped his extradition.

Wisconsin was founded as a free state, and its citizens were determined to keep it that way. Responding to Booth’s call, they rushed the jail, smashed down the door with a log, freed Glover from his cell, and successfully smuggled him via a series of safe-houses to Canada, where he lived the rest of his life a free man.

That incident would be worth remembering on its own, as the day the Milwaukee united to free a single victim of injustice. However the story does not end there. Sherman Booth was prosecuted for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. When a federal jury in Madison convicted him, he appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus. Our state’s highest court found that the Fugitive Slave Act was not only unconstitutional, but it was so repugnant and abhorrent as to be null and void in Wisconsin, and ordered Booth’s release.

The slaveholder-dominated US Supreme Court attempted to hear an appeal to overturn the order freeing Booth. Wisconsin refused to send the transcripts of their decision to Washington, preventing the US Supreme Court from hearing the case for four years.

By then, the case was moot, because Sherman Booth’s anti-slavery party, re-branded as the new Republican Party, had risen from sweeping statewide elections in Wisconsin, to electing a new President of the United States, prompting a civil war that would culminate in the adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. The road to the abolition of slavery in the United States began on the streets of Milwaukee, and the men who stormed the jail that day in 1854.

Today, unfortunately, Milwaukee is a city that incarcerates more of its African-American citizens than the Jim Crow South. Failed economic policies, a disastrously inadequate education bureaucracy, and a pattern of petty harassment and racial bias in the criminal justice system, leads our city to being described in national headlines as “The Worst City to Be Black in America.”

Libertarians seek to rekindle the ideas of liberty, unity, and resistance that motivated the heroic rescue of Joshua Glover. In that spirit, Libertarians including Congressional candidate Andy Craig (WI-4) will be gathering at the historical marker in Cathedral Square Park on March 10 at 4:00 pm, to mark the 161st anniversary of the storming of the jail that once stood on that spot. Members of the public are invited to attend this informal commemoration, in the hope that Milwaukee and Wisconsin can once again forge a new way forward in the fight for liberty and justice for all.

18 thoughts on “Libertarians Commemorate 161st Anniversary of Joshua Glover Rescue

  1. Guess what

    Should the LP really be endorsing the abolitionst rantings of their “Slave Power conspiracy” theory? Conspiracy theories reflect poorly on the party.

  2. Guess what

    Sherman Booth was well know for publishing rants about the “Slave Power conspiracy.” Read a book sometime.

  3. Andy Craig

    I normally wouldn’t bother to respond to a troll who’s too cowardly to identify himself, but since he’s determined to twist three words out of all context in the service of his pants-on-head point, here’s what Booth was talking about:

    It was an indisputable public-knowledge-at-the-time fact that slave-holders held a disproportionate role in the antebellum Federal government (it was even written into the Constitution!) and that a majority of the the US Supreme Court was made up of Southern slave-owners and sympathetic pro-slavery Northerners. You can use the word “conspiracy” to describe pro-slavery political efforts in a negative light, as Booth did, and in a literal sense it is true: slave-owners were conspiring to place their own into positions of Federal power which would be used to enforce and expand the institution of chattel slavery. Just like Sherman Booth was a leader of those conspiring to abolish slavery. just like today you could accurately say, in the exact same sense, that we have a Republican “Conspiracy,” the Democratic “Conspiracy” and the Libertarian “Conspiracy.” (or the progressive “conspiracy,” conservative “conspiracy,” environmentalist “conspiracy,” etc.)

    Get back to me when shoot down a plane that’s spraying chemtrails, or rally a mob of thousands of people to storm the government’s secret weather-control facility, or whatever modern pop-CT it is that my lack of support for offends you, and maybe then we can talk about how the modern tinfoil hat brigade is any way comparable to Sherman Booth’s actions against a government policy codified into published law and openly and publicly enforced by that same government.

  4. Guess what

    Obviously Congressional candidate Andy Craig has the right to associate his campaign with a noted conspiracy theorist like Booth. But he should know that “wise” LP leaders such as VP candidate Wayne Root and IPR writer Andy Craig have counseled against it.

  5. Andy Craig

    He’d probably be more busy getting freaked out by the Internet and automobiles, than worried about running for office. 😉 Hypothetically.

    Though plenty of abolitionists, particularly some of the radical ones, held views that were recognizably proto-libertarian, and the abolition of chattel slavery is much of a libertarian cause as it gets. Spooner and Thoreau come to mind as the two most obvious examples of abolitionists who also took libertarian positions on other issues. I don’t know that Booth himself would fall into that category, but he’d probably be a lot closer than Lincoln (and just to be clear, he could be a damn socialist for all I care as it relates to this issue). The abolitionists as a whole had a huge influence on the development of classical-liberal, proto-libertarian thought. But I’d typically reserve unqualified “libertarian” to post-WWII figures, to avoid imposing an anachronistic label.

    I also think we can all agree the abolition of slavery was a good thing, whatever your opinions of Lincoln or the war. Anybody who can’t agree to that, I’m not too worried about. And to the degree the forerunners of modern libertarians played a role in it, both in the US and in other countries, I think that’s a historical awareness worth having in the movement and party, just like we also point to (some of) the Founding Fathers and (some of) the Enlightenment-era philosophers as influencing what became modern libertarianism.

  6. Seymour Results

    Guess what: You’re a special kind of stupid. Only an illiterate idiot would call Booth a conspiracy theorist. Of course, the intention of such an illiterate idiot instantly leaps to mind: call anyone a “conspiracy theorist” and it will drive away those who aren’t good at research, and encourage knee-jerk reactions from those who instantly dissociate from the slightest hint of anything not accepted by mainstream academia.

    As Andy Craig noted, there is a difference between arguing a political position for maximum effect, as Booth did, (which includes portraying your legitimate and well-heeled enemies as despicable in a way that is seductive to even unintelligent minds, in order to better build support demographics for noble causes such as freeing fugitive slaves), and arguing that someone is putting forth a version of reality that contains a strange and unscientific conspiracy for which there is no good evidence. The dominant political institution of slavery had, in the 1850s, enlisted the help of the Northern court system in a real, verifiable, historically-recorded way. See: http://lysanderspooner.org/node/35

    Glover was rescued from a “voir dire” rigged trial (much the same as any drug user or other victimless crime offender faces to this very day, also for the purpose of enslaving them, now to justify building private prisons). See: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1998/12/the-prison-industrial-complex/304669/ and http://fija.org/docs/BR_YYYY_surviving_voir_dire.pdf

    Shared interests that have the law on their side don’t need “conspiracy.” Slaves counting for 3/5 of a person encouraged Southern slave-owners to enslave as many as possible to expand their political reach. That they did this, and conspired to do this is simple fact, not the stuff of “smoke filled rooms filled with billionaires.” However, there was no need for them to hide their “conspiracy” as it was done openly, with the force of corrupted “law” on its side, and with the full cooperation of federal “U.S. Commissioners” who could deputize posses to round up fugitive slaves in the North. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/underground-railroad-states-rights-114536.html?ml=m_ms

  7. paulie Post author

    It was an indisputable public-knowledge-at-the-time fact that slave-holders held a disproportionate role in the antebellum Federal government (it was even written into the Constitution!) and that a majority of the the US Supreme Court was made up of Southern slave-owners and sympathetic pro-slavery Northerners. You can use the word “conspiracy” to describe pro-slavery political efforts in a negative light, as Booth did, and in a literal sense it is true: slave-owners were conspiring to place their own into positions of Federal power which would be used to enforce and expand the institution of chattel slavery. Just like Sherman Booth was a leader of those conspiring to abolish slavery. just like today you could accurately say, in the exact same sense, that we have a Republican “Conspiracy,” the Democratic “Conspiracy” and the Libertarian “Conspiracy.” (or the progressive “conspiracy,” conservative “conspiracy,” environmentalist “conspiracy,” etc.)

    Since there’s no effort to conceal any of these attempts to gain political power, they don’t fit the 21st/late 20th century definition of conspiracy. Perhaps the word was used differently back in the 1800s?

  8. paulie Post author

    Obviously Congressional candidate Andy Craig has the right to associate his campaign with a noted conspiracy theorist like Booth. But he should know that “wise” LP leaders such as VP candidate Wayne Root and IPR writer Andy Craig have counseled against it.

    In what way was Booth a conspiracy theorist in the modern sense?

    As for Wayne, he has some conspiracy theories of his own, particularly about president Obama.

  9. paulie Post author

    I don’t think Abe Lincoln could qualify for the LP nomination or even membership today.

    He would have to lie on the membership pledge, but I don’t think “honest” Abe would have any problems doing so. As for the nomination, if Bob Barr could get it, I think Abe could have, had he wanted it (and lived long enough).

  10. paulie Post author

    Guess what: You’re a special kind of stupid.

    More likely just trolling for shits and giggles, although there’s always that possibility too.

  11. Dave

    What are Libertarians thoughts on John Brown? I personally have a dim view for his methods, but I’m curious how everyone else feels about him.

  12. Rob Banks

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with direct, non-legal action to stop a massive injustice such as chattel slavery. I’m not well versed enough in the details of John Brown’s actions to judge them fully.

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