On January 19, 1808, Lysander Spooner was born.
Spooner’s achievements in American life, law, and political philosophy, are among the most colorful of the 19th century. Studying law privately, he sued to practice without joining the bar, and won the suit. He set up a postal service that directly competed with the United States Postal Service, delivering mail at a fraction of the cost. He wrote The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, and convinced noted Garrisonian abolitionist Frederick Douglass of his argument. (The book became the centerpiece of intellectual ammunition for the Free Soil Party.) Later in life Spooner turned against constitutionalism itself, and penned some of the most radical political works of his day, including Vices Are Not Crimes and The Constitution of No Authority. Spooner also clearly articulated a “jury nullification” position in his classic treatise Trial by Jury.