Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Murray Rothbard and The Ulster Scots – Conceived in Liberty: "the revolutionary and even libertarian roots of America" (1975)


Murray Rothbard’s landmark 4 volume set from 1975 about the birth of American democracy, Conceived in Liberty, (Wikipedia entry here) includes a chapter entitled 'The Ulster Scots'. You can read it on Google Books here. Rothbard (1926-1995) was a hugely influential figure in 20th century libertarian thought (Wikipedia entry here).

‘The Ulster Scots were the largest immigrant group in the eighteenth century. These men were, in the main, intense Presbyterians from lowland Scotland whose families had been settled in Ulster in northern Ireland during the seventeenth century …'

The Mises Institute describes their recent combined edition as follows:

There's never been a better time to remember the revolutionary and even libertarian roots of the American founding, and there's no better guide to what this means in the narrative of the Colonial period than Murray Rothbard.

Rothbard's ambition was to shed new light on Colonial history and show that the struggle for human liberty was the heart and soul of this land from its discovery through the culminating event of the American Revolution. These volumes are a tour de force, enough to establish Rothbard as one of the great American historians.

It is a detailed narrative history of the struggle between liberty and power, as we might expect, but it is more. Rothbard offers a third alternative to the conventional interpretive devices. Against those on the right who see the American Revolution as a "conservative" event, and those on the left who want to invoke it as some sort of proto-socialist uprising, Rothbard views this period as a time of accelerating libertarian radicalism. Through this prism, Rothbard illuminates events as never before.