Thursday, January 21, 2010

Historians Try to Sell Brooklyn London Bridge to U.S. Supreme Court - Part 2

Errors, Misquotes, and Omissions in the Professional Historians' McDonald Amicus Brief

The historians' brief claims that:

"Historical records show that the Second Amendment was unrelated to any seizure of colonists’ arms by British troops." [36]

American historical records directly contradict this claim, instead indicating that the Second Amendment was clearly related to seizure of Americans' privately owned arms by the British in Massachusetts. As noted in Part 1, the essential information missing from the historians' McDonald brief relates to development of the eight state bills of rights, each of which included an American progenitor of the Second Amendment. Examination of these provisions and their relationship to development of the Second Amendment is the key to unlocking the American constitutional history avoided and missing in the historians' brief.

The state bills of rights provided no protection against violation of individual rights under laws passed by the new federal government proposed by the 1787 Federal Convention. The new Constitution provided that federal laws were paramount to state constitutions. Thus, George Mason sought a bill of rights based on the protections of the state bills of rights near the end of the convention, but a committee to form one was rejected by an overwhelming Federalist majority. As a result, Mason refused to sign the Constitution and became a major ratification era opponent seeking a bill of rights based upon the state power limiting bills of rights provisions.

In 1788, while chairman of an Antifederalist amendments committee in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, Mason wrote a model bill of rights for the proposed U.S. Constitution. This was based directly on the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, of which Mason was the author, with added language taken from other state bills of rights. His 1788 model was adopted almost verbatim by Virginia, and Virginia's proposal was adopted by North Carolina. Mason also sent his model bill of rights to Antifederalist leaders in New York. As a result, New York's ratification declaration of rights included a Second Amendment provision nearly identical to that in Virginia's proposed bill of rights. James Madison and the First Congress relied on these ratifying convention proposals in developing the U.S. Bill of Rights. [See The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms, pp.82-83, 131-136, 139-153]

George Mason's original 1788 Second Amendment predecessor stated:

"That the People have a Right to keep & to bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, composed of the Body of the People, trained to Arms, is the proper natural and safe Defence of a free State;"
[The Origin of the Second Amendment, p.390]

Here is the actual wording of the 1780 Massachusetts Declaration of Rights arms provision:

"XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence." [OSA p.773]

Mason's proposal used an exact quote from the Massachusetts 1780 Declaration of Rights arms provision added to an exact quote of the Virginia Declaration of Rights arms provision. This is the American origin of the two-clause Second Amendment predecessor in 1788. It is also the direct link between the Second Amendment and the Massachusetts 1780 Declaration of Rights "keep" arms provision that the historians misquoted and only identified as a 1780 Massachusetts Constitution provision, as noted in Part 1.

It is most curious how uninterested these 21 historians are concerning language in the 1780 Massachusetts Declaration of Rights that is so directly connected to development of the Second Amendment. They relate the Massachusetts language only to a Massachusetts law, and it is so unimportant to them that they manage to misquote it in both provisions. This is just further proof that the historians' McDonald brief avoids essential American sources to divert attention to much less relevant English sources that cannot enlighten concerning subsequent American constitutionalism.

In Part 3, the historical links between this Massachusetts Declaration of Rights "keep" arms provision and the seizure of colonists' arms by the British in Massachusetts will be examined.

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