Reply To: The Founders Weren't Isolationists Nor Libertarians



This is a very good topic and I think one that needs to be addressed.

First, the Founders were not isolationists. Ron Paul as said this. They were anti-intervention, which is different from isolation, and that is the position Dr. Paul has adopted. They preferred to be peaceful trading partners with the world and opposed intervention in Europe and elsewhere. Washington did warn against alliances–and the U.S. for years attempted to get out of the one they singed with France during the American War for Independence–precisely because he, and other members of the founding generation, understood the potential danger for American sovereignty. They did not want to close down the borders and simply reject foreign intercourse. They did demand that other powers play by the same rules, and of course when the British and French became rather obnoxious, the United States took action, at first through diplomacy, non-importation and an embargo, then later through military action. Both John Adams and James Madison attempted to pull the reins on a headlong rush to war. Adams was more successful than Madison, obviously. And, the Monroe Doctrine did not advance an interventionist swing by the Monroe administration. That would be T. Roosevelt’s Corollary almost one hundred years later.

Second, as for the the founding generation as libertarians, they were not in the modern sense, but they had a firm grasp of the principles of liberty and fear of central authority. Even the “big government” bunch among them would be appalled by the current destruction of civil liberty in the United States. Remember, each State had a bill of rights, as did the federal government, all in an attempt to safeguard the liberty of the people. They were men of their time and yes many owned slaves, but so did the Greeks and Romans, the progenitors of classical republican principles. The founding generation were republicans, not democrats, and that is a key distinction to make.

The piece is also littered with mistakes:

There is a “founders'” view of the Constitution. It is the Constitution as ratified in 1787 and 1788. That is the Constitution the Jeffersonians continually tried to force the opposition to accept.

The Second Bank of the United States was chartered during Madison’s administration, but not the first, and the idea was rejected outright at the Philadelphia convention. The Bank was only made “constitutional” by John Marshall in 1819, but even Hamilton conceded that the power had to be implied and was not an enumerated power in Article 1, Section 8. Madison, in signing the Second Bank bill, recognized that nothing had changed, but precedent forced him to agree to another bank.

The American War for Independence was not a “democratic revolution” and nothing like the French variety.

Ok, enough for now. Hope that helped.