The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

December 14, 2018

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Bill Kauffman - 09/15/11

Ernest Crosby, who succeeded Theodore Roosevelt in the New York State Assembly in 1887, was a fervent admirer of Tolstoy and something of an anarchist himself. Crosby is remembered for Captain Jinks: Hero (1902), his satirical novel of American imperialism, but his poem, “The State,” might serve as a stark summation of the anarchist view:

They talked much of the State—the State.
I had never seen the State, and I asked them to picture it to me, as my gross mind could not follow their subtle language when they spake of it.
Then they told me to think of it as of a beautiful goddess, enthroned and sceptred, benignly caring for her children.
But for some reason I was not satisfied.
And once upon a time, as I was lying awake at night and thinking, I had as it were a vision,
And I seemed to see a barren ridge of sand beneath a lurid sky;
And lo, against the sky stood out in bold relief a black scaffold and gallows-tree, and from the end of its gaunt arm hung, limp and motionless, a shadowy, empty noose.
And a Voice whispered in my ear, “Behold the State incarnate!”
Further Reading
  • Madison, Charles A. “Anarchism in the United States.” Journal of the History of Ideas 6, no. 1 (January 1945): 46–66.
  • Martin, James J. Men Against the State: The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism in America, 1827–1908. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Ralph Myles Publisher, 1970.
  • Reichert, William O. Partisans of Freedom: A Study in American Anarchism. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1976.
  • Schuster, Eunice Minette. “Native American Anarchism.” Smith College Studies in History 17, nos. 1–4 (October 1931–July 1932): 1–202.
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