Showing posts with label free people. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free people. Show all posts

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]

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Second Amendment History Online - Noah Webster's Federalist Arms Mantra

 Before a Standing Army can Rule, the People must be Disarmed
Updated January 25, 2013
[Noah Webster, of later dictionary fame, was a strong Federalist who wrote an early pamphlet, An Examination Into The Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (October 10, 1787), under the pseudonym A Citizen of America. This was published only three weeks after the Constitution was made public. Webster's purpose was to defend the proposed Constitution and argue for its ratification without amendment. His view on an armed populace is not based on any stated protection for such a concept in the Constitution. There was no constitutional assurance for the armed population that Webster so clearly described as the source of power and the check on possible government tyranny. This specific problem, the Constitution's failure to assure the people's control over the government they were being asked to ratify, was emphasized in period Antifederalist arms mantras, which will be presented in future posts of this series.]
   "But what is tyranny? Or how can a free people be deprived of their liberties? Tyranny is the exercise of some power over a man, which is not warranted by law, or necessary for the public safety. A people can never be deprived of their liberties, while they retain in their own hands, a power sufficient to any other power in the state. . . .
   Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any other force that exists among the people, or which they can command: for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in American cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, p.40]

[The Origin of the Second Amendment is the documentary source for the Second Amendment History Online series. This document collection was cited over 100 times in the U.S. v Emerson decision, cited in the Parker v District of Columbia decision, as well as several times in Justice Scalia's Heller decision. The reason for the extensive citations relative to Second Amendment intent in those decisions was because Origin reprints nearly 800 pages of documents (newspaper articles, letters, broadsides, notes, convention debates, speeches, etc.) from the Ratification Era relating to the need for the Federal Bill of Rights, the necessity of an armed populace, and militia related discussion, all emphasizing the limited nature of the Federal Government's intended powers.]

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