Anarchy in the United States is a phenomenon that existed mostly in colonial times. The historical records of it are sketchy, since historians tend to display scant interest in stateless societies.[1] Nonetheless, Murray Rothbard and other historians have identified instances of it.


The coastal area north of the Albemarle Sound in what is now northeastern North Carolina may have existed in a quasi-anarchistic state until 1663, when the English Crown included Albemarle in the Carolina land grant bestowed on a group of eight feudal proprietors. It had been a haven for people chafing under the rule of the English Crown, the Anglican Church, and the planter aristocracy of Virginia.

Rhode IslandEdit

Rhode Island (or "Rogue's Island") originated as a series of more or less anarchic settlements founded by people fleeing from the perceived oppression by the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay. However, Roger Williams and his group, by purchasing illegitimate land titles from the Indians, became a feudalistic group of land-monopolists. Anne Hutchinson became the first explicit anarchist in North America. William Coddington established his own theocratic rule over the infant colony. Hutchinson's husband, William Hutchinson, defeated him in an election; Coddington and his followers left to establish New Port, subsequently attacked the colony; and Coddington was again chosen as governor. Anne Hutchinson persuaded her husband to resign from his position as Coddington's assistant. Anne settled at Pelham Bay, near New York City. Some of her followers, led by her sister Catherine Scott, headed the new Baptist movement in Rhode Island, which was later to erupt as a movement of Baptist anarchists. Samuel Gorton founded Shawomet (later Warwick) which lived in an anarchist idyll for over five years. In 1648, however, it joined with three other towns to form the colony of Providence Plantation, and from that time on, Warwick was under a government, albeit a rather libertarian one by the standards of the day. Other anarchists included Rebecca Throckmorton, Robert West, and Ann Williams, wife of Robert.


William Penn initially set aside all taxes to encourage rapid development. When he later sought to collect quitrents, the people insisted on further postponements. The colony continued in a state of individualist anarchism from fall 1684 to the end of 1688. After a brief flurry of State activity in 1688, taxes were rejected and the colony lapsed back into anarchy. When John Blackwell sought to impose government, the people nonviolently resisted. Even in 1692, the Assembly refused to pass a tax law. King William, in late 1692, named Benjamin Fletcher Governor of both New York and Pennsylvania. Anarchy ended in April 1693, when taxes were imposed. But in 1694, taxes again disappeared. Pennsylvania was restored to the ownership of William Penn. In spring 1695, the Council again refused to consider any tax bill. All told, Pennsylvania remained in a quasi-anarchist state of taxlessness from its founding in 1681 to 1696, with the exception of one year. The experiment with anarchy was termed the "Holy Experiment".

The American western frontierEdit

Private production of law has occurred, for instance, in American frontier associations that moved west at a rate that far outpaced the geographic expansion of formal local, state, territorial, and federal governments. Law and legal systems were established by land claim clubs, cattlemen's associations, wagon trains, and mining camps. Violence arrived on a large scale with the arrival of the state, as the U.S. Army began attacking American Indians (a conflict that spilled over onto civilians) and the state took over the lawmaking and law enforcement functions.

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