Friday, January 18, 2013

The Second Amendment Was Intended To Preserve Slavery, Not The Ownership Of Guns

Digby highlights this article, and it is persuasive. That's why the Second Amendment has the odd language it does:
The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says "State" instead of "Country" (the Framers knew the difference - see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote.

...In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the "slave patrols," and they were regulated by the states.

...It's the answer to the question raised by the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained when he asks, "Why don't they just rise up and kill the whites?" If the movie were real, it would have been a purely rhetorical question, because every southerner of the era knew the simple answer: Well regulated militias kept the slaves in chains.

...Generally, though, she documents how most southern men between ages 18 and 45 - including physicians and ministers - had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives.

...By the time the Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South. Blacks outnumbered whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings. As Dr. Bogus points out, slavery can only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the militias.

...Their main concern was that Article 1, Section 8 of the newly-proposed Constitution, which gave the federal government the power to raise and supervise a militia, could also allow that federal militia to subsume their state militias and change them from slavery-enforcing institutions into something that could even, one day, free the slaves.

This was not an imagined threat. Famously, 12 years earlier, during the lead-up to the Revolutionary War, Lord Dunsmore offered freedom to slaves who could escape and join his forces. "Liberty to Slaves" was stitched onto their jacket pocket flaps. During the War, British General Henry Clinton extended the practice in 1779. And numerous freed slaves served in General Washington's army.

Thus, southern legislators and plantation owners lived not just in fear of their own slaves rebelling, but also in fear that their slaves could be emancipated through military service.

...But Henry, Mason and others wanted southern states to preserve their slave-patrol militias independent of the federal government. So Madison changed the word "country" to the word "state," and redrafted the Second Amendment into today's form:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State [emphasis mine], the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Little did Madison realize that one day in the future weapons-manufacturing corporations, newly defined as "persons" by a Supreme Court some have called dysfunctional, would use his slave patrol militia amendment to protect their "right" to manufacture and sell assault weapons used to murder schoolchildren.


  1. Anonymous11:27 AM

    There are many quotes from the founders that say the right to bear arms belong to the people.

    1. Anonymous11:48 AM

      Oh yeah that includes madison. At the time the average american owned the most high tech military rifles and pistols of their time. Also those outdated "less violent weopons" were used in americas blodiest war ever.

  2. Anonymous11:53 AM

    You liberals have your utopian states do what you please with them. Leave ours alone.Oh you don't like like that term anymore I mean progressive sorry.

  3. Like all rights, the right to bear arms belongs to the people - not exclusively to a lawless, armed minority.

    Most people in colonial days were not armed - arms were expensive and they couldn't afford them.

    Like the majority of politically aware Americans, I'm a proud liberal and progressive.

    The Second Amendment is an artifact that should have been repealed at the end of the Civil War. The time to repeal it is now!

    1. Anonymous6:24 PM

      Over 50 percent of Americans in the colonial days had firearms, you must get your data from Michael Bellesiles's dream that was proven to be mostly inaccurate and parts falsefied.

      With my guns I am a citizen of this great country, without them we will become subjects.

    2. More importantly, colonials did not have AR-15's.

      If we are all so armed, none of us will be citizens, and we will all be subjects.

  4. Anonymous2:20 PM

    The Founding Fathers had a command of the English language. They were very deliberate with their wording, unlike the intentionally misleading use of language practiced by liberal lawmakers and media today. The Founding Fathers knew that stating "the right of the People to keep and bear arms" was different than stating "the right of the militia members to keep and bear arms". They stated "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

    Individuals' constitutional rights do not hinge on public opinion. Gun laws are not a federal issue. And if state laws are implemented which infringe upon individuals' constitutional rights, then the federal government would have a role to assure the preservation of the individuals' constitutional rights, just as occurred in 1963 at the Univ of Alabama between federal marshalls and Gov. Wallace.

    Would liberals or progressives want their right to vote eliminated by a growing public sentiment against liberals and progressives? No. And their individual rights should not be infringed because of public sentiment. The same holds true for law abiding gun owners.

    And by the way, if you are going to try to explain the origins of the 2nd Amendment, then study Federalist Paper #46 by James Madison. A militia of the People is ultimately designed to defend against tyranny. Americans know the truth, quit trying to mislead, mis-interpret, and manipulate.

    1. I followed your advice and read Federalist #46. Madison had in mind a system whereby the States had governments elected from the People, and who would subsequently appoint the militia leaders. The People do not get to form their own militias or appoint their own militia leaders, except through the State. Madison never intended to defend a system whereby a 16 year old kills his mother, appropriates her weapons, thus forming a demented militia of one, and subsequently slaughters children. That is closer to anarchy, a system Madison abhorred, and which you should too. Repeal the Second Amendment, in order to speed sensible regulation and help minimize the assembly of uncontrolled and uncontrollable private arsenals. Repeal!

  5. There is a NRA tyranny in this country that now threatens life and liberty. The Constitution is intended to preserve life and liberty foremost. The people have the tools to address dangers like this, starting with Second Amendment repeal.

    Of course, there is a role for the federal government in control of arms, starting first with the gun show loophole, the primary means by which Mexican drug cartels are armed, and which makes the NRA and the GOP de facto allies of the Mexican Zetas.

    Please, no lectures. The NRA has been misinforming Americans for generations about the Constitution. Why should I listen to them?