Thursday, January 24, 2013

Second Amendment History Online - Tench Coxe's Federalist Arms Mantra

The Birthright of An American
[Tench Coxe wrote more than one series of articles supporting ratification of the proposed Constitution. His pseudonymous article, A Pennsylvanian III, presents one of the most detailed and explicit statements of the Federalist Arms Mantra ever penned. It appeared in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Gazette on February 20, 1788. Once again, there was no assurance whatsoever within the proposed Constitution that the armed populace Coxe was claiming as the ultimate power under the Constitution would exist in the future. It must be remembered that it was the Antifederalists who supported amendments of the Constitution, and it was they who promoted and developed the proposals that became the U.S. Bill of Rights. The reference below to "the minority of Pennsylvania" is to the members of that state's ratifying convention who opposed the Constitution and proposed amendments including a bill of rights with Second Amendment related protection. This article was based on a copy of The Federalist #46, which dealt with the same subjects, that had been provided to the author by James Madison. A Pennsylvanian III was addressed "to the citizens of America".]
"The power of the sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for THE POWERS OF THE SWORD ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE YEOMANRY OF AMERICA FROM SIXTEEN TO SIXTY. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army must be tremendous and irresistable. Who are these militia? are they not our selves. Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom, Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. What clause in the state or foederal constitution hath given away that important right. . . . If the people see the least reason to apprehend a breach in the constitution by the grant of money for more than two years [for a standing army -ed.], they can elect new representatives, and they can by virtue of those military powers, which are inseparable from their own persons, suspend every operation of a Congress, which shall have thus ceased to be a lawful and constitutional power. From this circumstance, and from the citizens of the United States possessing the right of creating directly or indirectly every military officer and of granting every military resource, I do not hesitate to affirm, that the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the foederal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, pp.275-276, emphasis original]

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