Talking About Reading About Renegades

Dave Killion — May 11, 2011

The Book Club recently met for its first discussion on Thaddeus Russell’s latest title “A Renegade History of the United States“. The book is divided into four parts, and we are well into Part One – Making Renegades Into Americans. So far, the book is fun, albeit in a shocking, horrifying, and bizzare way. David C offered me this from his notes –

  • Interesting how many people were alcoholics during the American revolution and how this ended years later. I was blown away by how many taverns there were in Philadelphia.
  • Prostitution levels very high as well.
  • Mixing of blacks and whites in city centers was happening long ago: my impression is that many people only think this happened post civil war but that is not the case!
  • Pirate/merchant’s of the 1700’s introduced a raucous culture to port town’s and city in the colonies.  Puritans were dominant before that.
  • Founding fathers didn’t like rambunctiousness of the crazies on the streets and in taverns.

David’s point on racial mixing is, I think, very important. From the book-

Lower-class taverns were the first racially integrated public spaces in America. Black, white, and brown Americans came together through mutual desire centuries before the federal government brought them together by force.”

This is in keeping with libertarian arguments that the market punishes discrimination and rewards tolerance, and that slavery, bigotry, and racism can only endure through (and are in fact encouraged and even required by) government policy.

Russell also wants to show that the Founding Fathers felt that rigid self-denial was necessary in order to maintain the discipline required to manage a self-ruled society. To that end, the self-indulgences of drinking, whoring, race-mixing, dancing, and just about every other element of the pleasure culture had to be curtailed –

“Personal freedom and sensual pleasure came under attack during the democratic revolution nut because the revolutionaries were puritans, but because democracy is puritanical.”

Lots more good stuff to come!

Leave a Comment

Disclaimer: The articles and opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Libertarian Book Club.