A wagon crests the top of a gentle hill, rolling to a stop as the woman driving the horses sets the brake. The horses chomp at their bits and stamp the tall damp grass as even they sense the end of the long journey. She climbs down from the wagon and goes about the business of unhitching the horses from the wagon, so they can go about grazing. Her husband rides up on his horse, having spent the morning surveying the edges of their property. He helps unhitch the other horse from the wagon.
In the next few weeks, their home built with lumber purchased from the settlement a few miles south stands beside a garden freshly planted with crops that will, with luck, be ready for harvest before winter’s first frost. Chickens strut around a pen with a small chicken behind the main house. A milk cow wanders their pasture among the rabbits that already call the place home. They meet their neighbors to the north and east. By a few months later, the garden is growing within its fence, and the chicken coup is even painted to match the house.
They take things day by day, solving problems as they come. Years pass, as they raise their family. News comes more regularly, so they learn that the territorial governor has been changed. There’s talk of turning the territory into a state. As they go about their daily business of tending the twenty cows and watching the corn grow, this is only so much noise. What matters to them is that their four children are all accounted for by supper time. When their neighbors need help, they offer it, but outside of social occasions, they keep to themselves.
In the evening, the husband and wife sit out on the porch of their home and sip tea quietly contemplating the days before and the days to come. This was the way of things in independent frontier America, right up to the Civil War.
“[A]nd reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind,
who will but consult it, that being all equal and
independent, no one ought to harm another in his
life, health, liberty, or possessions…”
Marred as the European culture is by a long history of tyrannical impulse, subjecting the lives of innumerable men, women, and children around the world to the brutality of their ever hungry, hereditary dictatorships, it is imprudent to condemn Europe wholly for all of their many misdeeds. After all, there are no other nations of people throughout time, if put into the European place of relative advantage, that would not have done exactly the same (with only one notable exception).
Even in the bloody melee of Europe’s fifteen hundred years of near ceaseless conflict, which even excludes the no less gory Roman Imperial era, there grew a series of ideas that, in the age of their greatest political, cultural, and military expansions, gave birth to the Enlightenment. At long last, people began to question the very hereditary social structures that had been just assumed for centuries. What if, for example, the lowly pig farmer was every bit the moral equal of the King himself?
The concept of a “primeval man“, living absolutely free of government and exercising his rights and beliefs to the limits of only his own conscience, was birthed in the realm of lounge parlor discussion. Nowhere in the developed nations of Europe could conditions exist that would allow the observation of human beings living independently of an entrenched government. Even the European colonies, though distant from their crown benefactors, weren’t without the dependence and necessary chains of their sponsoring nations.
In the century following the American Revolution, the country began to grow faster than the young Republic could keep up, doubling and tripling in size over the course of 50 years. In these vast gulfs of open and fertile land, free of government bureaucracy, America found herself. Men and women guided by only their consciences realized the very essence of the “primeval man” that had been only a pleasant intellectual theory for centuries.
With no government to take from them, they thrived. With no one to silence them, they advanced. With no one to tell them how best to live, they prospered.
“[Happiness] does not depend on the condition of life
in which chance has placed them, but is always the result
of a good conscience, good health, occupation,
and freedom in all just pursuits.”
It is the tyrannical impulse that drives people to impose their rule over others. In Europe, it was the crowns of state that imposed their rule through cliques of political and military force. In the Americas, for much of its expansion, it was through the enslavement of men, women, and children whose only fault was being born with dark skin. No society has failed to fall short of the highest ideals of Liberty, however it is the pursuit, not the destination, that matters.
In that pursuit, we must always remember that the instinct to shut down those whom we disagree with is never righteous, because it simply replaces one form of tyranny with another. Even while the social frameworks of America have been tested, from the earliest moments of the Revolution, when those who had committed themselves to independence found themselves at odds with those who had committed to the British crown, there have always been differences as to how much was too much and how much was too little.
I, personally, know that I take a hard line stance which seems extreme to many of my countrymen, but I ask only for you to trust me. In the home of the brave and the land of the free, someone must be the voice of the Primeval Man, even if alone, to remind America of who she is. Free of tax collectors, bureaucrats, and politicians. Free of social movements, identity politics, and progressive collectivist moralizing.
Let no man or woman put a chain on the neck of another, not in speech or in deed. Not even when they have managed to convince the mean and irrational masses of their tyrannical impulse. No matter how popular this imposition may be, so long as we do no actual harm to the life, health, liberty, or property of others, we are meant to be free in all things.
Liberty is For The Win!