As many of you probably know, Bryan Caplan, Will Wilkinson, and others have been debating whether there was a libertarian golden age, ca. 1880, to which libertarians would return if they could. The "pro Golden Age" side notes low taxes and regulation; the "anti" side notes Jim Crow, anti-sodomy laws, and the substantially reduced rights of women. For whatever reason, the debate has settled around the coverture laws of the period.
Interestingly, this debate seems mostly to be taking place among libertarian men, probably because there aren't that many libertarian women. But as one of the elusive creatures whose preferences are being discussed, I thought perhaps I'd weigh in. Straight from the horse's mouth, as it were.
First, let's point out that 1880 simply wasn't a libertarian paradise--and neither was any other era in American history. Yes, commercial taxes and regulation were lower. On the other hand--even leaving aside the special rules for various minority groups and women--we're talking about an era of school prayer, blue laws, various gross infringements of economic liberty by state legislatures cutting special deals for their friends, criminal punishment for union organizers, high tariffs, and so on. We're not arguing about whether we want to be in libertarian paradise, or not. We're arguing about whether the departures from the ideal in 1880 were better, or worse, than the departures today.