Monday, January 28, 2013

Second Amendment History Online - A Landholder's Antifederalist Arms Mantra

They May Arm or Disarm All or Any Part of the Freemen of the United States
[A Landholder requested republication of a Boston newspaper essay in the Philadelphia Freeman's Journal of January 16, 1788. The reprinted version was altered from the original by more strongly emphasizing the Antifederalist arms mantra presented. This text shows how period authors understood the militia to be the freemen, and that those opposed to the new Constitution feared the new government would disarm the people, thus enabling enforcement of tyranny by a standing army. The concept of an armed populace capable of preventing tyranny was presented as a well regulated militia - common, and well understood, period terminology.]

"It is asserted by the most respectable writers upon government, that a well regulated militia, composed of the yeomanry of the country, have ever been considered as the bulwark of a free people. Tyrants have never placed any confidence on a militia composed of freemen. Experience has taught them that a standing body of regular forces, whenever they can be completely introduced, are always efficacious in enforcing their edicts, however arbitrary; . . . No, my fellow citizens, this plainly shows they do not mean to depend upon the citizens of the States alone to enforce their powers; they mean to lean upon something more substantial and summary. They have left the appointment of [militia] officers in the breasts of the several States; but this appears to me an insult rather than a privilege, for what avails this right, if they at their pleasure may arm or disarm all or any part of the freemen of the United States, so that when their army is sufficiently numerous, they may put it out of the power of the freemen militia of America to assert and defend their liberties, however they might be encroached upon by Congress. Does any, after reading this provision for a regular standing army, suppose that they intended to apply to the militia in all cases, and to pay particular attention to making them the bulwark of this continent." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, pp. 211-212]

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