“Agreed to found our Rights upon the Laws of Nature....”
"The First Law of Nature is that every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war."
- Thomas Hobbs, "Leviathan", (Outlines the Laws of Nature), 1651
At the time of the founding of America as a British colony. The laws of the American Colonial governments and rights of the people were, in part, founded upon the English Constitution, Common Law, and various charters and compacts.
The first recording of the Liberties of the American people, in the Massachusetts colony, was in 1641. In this document lawful self defense is defined. In addition, you will discover clear indication of the origins of our present day Constitution. As well as proof that our early colonial laws were indeed founded on the laws of God and that America has always been a Christian nation:
4. If any person committ any wilfull murther, which is manslaughter, committed upon premeditated malice, hatred, or Crueltie, not in a mans necessarie and just defence, nor by meere casualtie against his will, he shall be put to death.
- The Massachusetts Body of Liberties, 1641
As early as the mid-1700's the colonists were becoming dissatisfied with the arbitrary rule, of both the crown and many of the various colonial governments. The rights of the people were left up to the interpretations of the crown, as well as to the various state and municipal governments. Which of course was just cause for increasing discontent on the part of the colonists.
The first apparent major breakthrough, as far as the American Right to Keep and Bear Arms is concerned. Was by Mr. Samuel Adams, in a collaborative work with Benjamin Franklin, titled 'The Rights of the Colonists', (actual title; 'The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting'). In the report, dated Nov. 20, 1772, Adams and Franklin assert that Self-Preservation is the First Law of Nature and that it was not only a right but a duty;
Natural Rights of the Colonists as Men.
Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature....
...In the state of nature every man is, under God, judge and sole judge of his own rights and of the injuries done him. By entering into society he agrees to an arbiter or indifferent judge between him and his neighbors; but he no more renounces his original right than by taking a cause out of the ordinary course of law, and leaving the decision to referees or indifferent arbitrators...
...The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.
In the state of nature men may, as the patriarchs did, employ hired servants for the defence of their lives, liberties, and property; and they should pay them reasonable wages. Government was instituted for the purposes of common defence, and those who hold the reins of government have an equitable, natural right to an honorable support from the same principle that "the laborer is worthy of his hire." But then the same community which they serve ought to be the assessors of their pay. Governors have no right to seek and take what they please; by this, instead of being content with the station assigned them, that of honorable servants of the society, they would soon become absolute masters, despots, and tyrants...
In short, it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave...
The Rights of the Colonists parallels very closely, with the words of a cousin of Samuel - Mr. John Adams, which were written almost ten years previously;
"Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs, and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would."
- Boston Gazette, Sept. 5, 1763
"Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the Author of nature, because necessary for his own sustenance."
- Thomas Jefferson, Legal Argument, 1770. FE 1:376.
John Adams convictions on the subject, were just as strong some eleven years later;
Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 1,
John Adams' Notes of Debates
Coll. Lee - "The Rights are built on a fourfold foundation--on Nature, on the british Constitution, on Charters, and on immemorial Usage....”
(Lee. Cant see why We should not lay our Rights upon the broadest Bottom, the Ground of Nature)."
(John) Jay - "It is necessary to recur to the Law of Nature, and the british Constitution to ascertain our Rights."
[1 Adams recalled in his autobiography that the committee debates revolved around two points. "1. Whether We should recur to the Law of Nature, as well as to the British Constitution and our American Charters and Grants. Mr. Galloway and Mr. Duane were for excluding the Law of Nature. I was very strenuous for retaining and insisting on it, as a Resource to which We might be driven, by Parliament much sooner than We were aware...]. - Adams, Diary (Butterfield), 2:128-31.
[Note 1: 1 The Committee to "state the rights &c" met on the 8th, entered into the subject, and adjourned. John Adams says the Committee sat all day, "and a most ingenious, entertaining debate we had." This debate is summarized in his Works, II, 370. Another meeting was held on the 9th. "Agreed to found our rights upon the laws of Nature, the principles of the English Constitution, and charters and compacts; ordered a Sub-Committee to draw up a Statement of Rights." (Ward.) Galloway and Duane were for excluding the law of nature; John Adams insisted on retaining it. A second question was the authority to be conceded to Parliament; "whether we should deny the authority of Parliament in all cases; whether we should allow any authority to it in our internal affairs; or whether we should allow it to regulate the trade of the Empire with or without any restrictions" Adams. The sub-committee, of which John Adams and John Rutledge were members, held sessions from the 10th to the 14th, and then reported to the great Committee, where the affair hung so long that other members of Congress were "jealous." On the 22d. a report was made to Congress.
On the 14th the great Committee appointed a sub-committee to "state the infringements of our rights." The report was laid before Congress on the 24th.]
- Journals of the Continental Congress, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 1774
This was declared by the newly formed Continental Congress;
“...The good people of the several colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North- Carolina and South-Carolina, justly alarmed at these arbitrary proceedings of parliament and administration, have severally elected, constituted, and appointed deputies to meet, and sit in general Congress, in the city of Philadelphia, in order to obtain such establishment, as that their religion, laws, and liberties, may not be subverted: Whereupon the deputies so appointed being now assembled, in a full and free representation of these colonies, taking into their most serious consideration, the best means of attaining the ends aforesaid, do, in the first place, as Englishmen, their ancestors in like cases have usually done, for asserting and vindicating their rights and liberties, DECLARE,
“That the inhabitants of the English colonies in North-America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following RIGHTS:
Resolved, N.C.D. 1. That they are entitled to life, liberty and property: and they have never ceded to any foreign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent....“
- Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, Oct. 14, 1774
And it was, once again, resolved two months later;
In Provincial Congress,
Cambridge, December 5, 1774.
THAT the Proceedings of the American Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia on the Fifth of September last, and reported by the honourable Delegates from this Colony, have with the Deliberation due to their high Importance been considered by us, and the American Bill of Rights therein contained, appears to be formed with the greatest Ability and Judgment, to be founded on the immutable Laws of Nature and Reason, the Principles of the English Constitution, and respective Charters and Constitutions of the Colonies; and to be worthy of their most vigorous Support, as essentially necessary to Liberty--Likewise the ruinous and iniquitous Measures, which in Violation of these RIGHTS at present convulse and threaten Destruction to America, appear to be clearly pointed out, and judicious Plans, adopted for defeating them.
John & Samuel Adams and Mr. Franklin were not alone in the idea that the Rights of Man were derived from the Laws of Nature. As shown by Mr. Alexander Hamilton here:
"You, Sir, triumph in the supposed illegality of this body; but, granting your supposition were true, it would be a matter of no real importance. When the first principles of civil society are violated, and the rights of a whole people are
invaded, the common forms of municipal law are not to be regarded. Men may then betake themselves to the law of nature; and, if they but conform their actions, to that standard, all cavils against them, betray either ignorance or dishonesty. There are some events in society, to which human laws cannot extend; but when applied to them lose all their force and efficacy. In short, when human laws contradict or discountenance the means, which are necessary to preserve the essential rights of any society, they defeat the proper end of all laws, and so become null and void."
- The Farmer Refuted, 23 Feb. 1775, Papers 1:86--89, 121--22, 135--36
As well as by Mr. Patrick Henry in his famous speech 'Give me Liberty or Give me Death', on March 23, 1775;
“There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free - if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending - if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained - we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength but irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable - and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.”
And again, by Govorner Jonathan Trumbull on the 18th of June, 1776;
BY THE HONORABLE
Governor and Commander in Chief of the English Colony of Connecticut in New-England.
The Race of Mankind was made in a State of Innocence and Freedom, subjected only to the Laws of God the Creator, and through his rich Goodness, designed for virtuous Liberty and Happiness here and forever; and when moral Evil was introduced into the World, and Man had corrupted his Ways before God, Vice and Iniquity came in like a Flood, and Mankind became exposed, and a prey to the Violence, Injustice and Oppression of one another. God, in great Mercy, inclined his People to form themselves into Society, and to set up and establish civil government for the Protection and Security of their Lives and Properties from the Invasion of wicked Men: But through Pride and Ambition, the King's and Princes of the World, appointed by the People the Guardians of their Lives and Liberties, early and almost universally, degenerated into Tyrants, and by Fraud or Force betrayed and wrested out of their Hands the very Rights and Properties they were appointed to protect and defend....In this distressing Dilemma, having no Alternative but absolute Slavery, or successful Resistance; this, and the United American Colonies, have been constrained by the over-ruling Laws of Self preservation, to take up Arms for the Defence of all that is sacred sacred and dear to Freemen, and make their solemn Appeal to Heaven for the Justice of their Cause, and resist Force by Force....
Further evidence of the Laws of Nature being the basis of our government, can be found in the Declaration of Independence, of which there are known to be at least three different drafts. As it turns out, the Declaration included input from both John and Samuel Adams, Mr. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson:
First, and Reported Drafts;
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a one people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the equal and independent Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes, which impell them to the Change.
We hold these Truths to be self evident; that all Men are created equal and independent; that from that equal Creation they derive Rights inherent and unalienable; among which are the Preservation of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these Ends, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the governed...
hitherto remained, & to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with other another and to assume among the powers of the earth the equal & independent separate and equal station to which the laws of nature & of nature's god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the change the separation.
We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable self-evident; that all men are created equal,& independent; that from that equal creation they derive in they are endowed by their creator with equal rights some of which are certain [inherent &] inalienable rights; that among which these are the preservation of life,& liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government shall becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, & to institute new government...
- Independence, as declared on July 4, 1776:
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...
That the Rights of man, based upon the Laws of Nature, were accepted as the basis for which our government(s) were erected, can readily be shown as well:
"...At the same time he trusts that the Spanish nation will receive no inconsiderable retribution from the freedom of that commerce the monopoly of which contributed so much to strengthen and aggrandize her rival and her foe; nor can anything give more lasting satisfaction to the royal mind than the reflection of having employed those means which God has put into his hands in assisting an oppressed people to vindicate those rights and liberties which have been violated by twice six years of incessant injuries and insulted supplications; those rights which God and nature, together with the convention of their ancestors and the constitution of their country, gave to the people of the States. Instead of that protection in those rights which was the due return for sovereignty exercised over them, they have seen their defenseless towns wantonly laid in ashes, their unfortified country cruelly desolated, their property wasted, their people slain; the ruthless savage, whose inhuman war spares neither age nor sex, instigated against them; the hand of the servant armed against his master by public proclamation, and the very food which the sea that washes their coast furnishes forbidden them by a law of unparalleled folly and injustice. Proinde quasi injuriam facere id demure esset imperio uti. Nor was it enough that for these purposes the British force was exhausted against them, but foreign mercenaries were also bribed to complete the butchery of their people and the devastation of their country. And that nothing might be wanting to make the practices equivalent to the principles of this war, the minds of these mercenaries were poisoned with every prejudice that might harden their hearts and sharpen their swords against a people who not only never injured or offended them, but who have received with open arms and provided habitations for their wandering countrymen. These are injuries which the Americans can never forget. These are oppressors whom they can never again endure. The force of intolerable and accumulated outrages has compelled them to appeal to God and to the sword. The King of Spain, in assisting them to maintain that appeal, assists in vindicating the violated rights of human nature. No cause can be more illustrious, no motive more magnanimous."
- Arthur Lee, March 17, 1777, Letter to Florida Blanca, [The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Volume 2]
"When obliged to take this first Step the People proceeded with the utmost Caution. No tumult or disorder appeared, every man was impressed with an awful Sense of the Necessity he was under of Exercising that Right which Nature gave to every Man, and which the British Constitution expressly Assented, that of Consulting and resolving Concerning his Safety and Happiness, and each was determined to Exercise it no farther than the Necessity pressingly required."
- Delegates in Congress, May 29, 1777 address to Inhabitants of the United States.
“Pursued by the injustice and the vengeance of the King and Parliament Great Britain, these United States have been compelled to engage in a bloody and expensive war. Amidst much great every distress that they have yet experienced may befal them, it will be their consolation to appeal to Heaven for the rectitude of their measures; since they have her influence they have had recourse to arms, not from ambition or the lust of power, but to resist actual invasion and boundless rapine, and to secure to themselves and to their Posterity the common rights and privileges of human nature: the blessings of freedom and safety that they have had recourse to arms."
- Journals of the Continental Congress, Nov. 22, 1777
"Trust not to appearances of peace or safety. Be assured that, unless you persevere, you will be exposed to every species of barbarity. But, if you exert the means of defence which God and nature have given you, the time will soon arrive when every man shall sit under his own vine and under his own fig-tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid."
- AN ADDRESS OF THE CONGRESS TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. MAY 8, 1778.
"Let it be remembered finally, that it has ever been the pride and boast of America, that the rights for which she contended, were the rights of human nature. By the blessing of the author of these rights, on the means exerted for their defence, they have prevailed against all opposition, and form at this time the basis of thirteen independent states. No instance has heretofore occurred, nor can any instance be expected hereafter to occur, in which the unadulterated forms of Republican government can pretend to so fair an opportunity of justifying themselves by their fruits. In this view the citizens of the United States are responsible for the greatest trust ever confided to a political society. If justice, good faith, honor, gratitude and all the other virtues qualities which ennoble the character of a nation, and fulfil the ends of government, be the fruits of our establishments, the cause of liberty will acquire a dignity and lustre which it has never yet enjoyed; and an example will be set which cannot fail to but have the most favourable influence on the rights of mankind. If on the other side, our governments should be unfortunately blotted with the reverse of these cardinal and essential qualities virtues, the great cause which we have engaged to vindicate will be dishonored and betrayed; the last and fairest experiment in favour of the rights of human nature will be turned against them, and their patrons and friends exposed to be insulted and silenced by the sycophants votaries of tyranny and usurpation."
- James Madison, Journals of the Continental Congress, Address to the States, by the United States Congress Assembled. April 26, 1783
The Rights of the people in America are therefore irrefutably based upon the Laws of Nature. This precedent continued from the Confederated government, into the present Constitutional government. Witness;
"...The power of self-defence was essential to the small states. Nature had given it to the smallest insect of the creation. He could never admit that there was no danger of combinations among the large states. They will, like individuals, find out and avail themselves of the advantage to be gained by it...."
- Oliver Ellsworth, June 29, 1787. [The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. Elliot's Debates, Volume 5.]
"Taking the opinions to be the same on this point, and he was sure if there was any room for change, it could not be on the side of the majority, the question will be shall less than 1/4 of the U. States withdraw themselves from the Union; or shall more than 3/4 . renounce the inherent, indisputable, and unalienable rights of men, in favor of the artificial systems of States....
Can we forget for whom we are forming a Government? Is it for men, or for the imaginary beings called States? Will our honest Constituents be satisfied with metaphysical distinctions?"
- James Wilson, The Debates in the Federal Convention, Sat. June 30, 1787.
"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, (Notice the use of the word CITIZENS - NOT MILITIA!), without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair. The usurpers, clothed with the forms of legal authority, can too often crush the opposition in embryo. The smaller the extent of the territory, the more difficult will it be for the people to form a regular or systematic plan of opposition, and the more easy will it be to defeat their early efforts. Intelligence can be more speedily obtained of their preparations and movements, and the military force in the possession of the usurpers can be more rapidly directed against the part where the opposition has begun. In this situation there must be a peculiar coincidence of circumstances to insure success to the popular resistance."
- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #28, Dec. 26, 1787.
“ . . . demonstrated the impracticability of forming a bill, (Amendments - Bill of Rights), in a national constitution, for securing individual rights, and showed the inutility of the measure, from the ideas, that no power was given to Congress to infringe on any one of the natural rights of the people by this Constitution; and, should they attempt it without constitutional authority, the act would be a nullity, and could not be enforced.”
- Theophilus Parsons, Jan., 1788. The Debates in the Several State Conventions, (MASSACHUSETTS), on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 2]
"....The express authority of the people alone could give due validity to the Constitution....
"...The first question is answered at once by recurring to the absolute necessity of the case; to the great principle of self-preservation; to the transcendent law of nature and of nature's God, which declares that the safety and happiness of society are the objects at which all political institutions aim, and to which all such institutions must be sacrificed. Perhaps, also, an answer may be found without searching beyond the principles of the compact itself...."
"...A compact between independent sovereigns, founded on ordinary acts of legislative authority, can pretend to no higher validity than a league or treaty between the parties. It is an established doctrine on the subject of treaties, that all the articles are mutually conditions of each other; that a breach of any one article is a breach of the whole treaty; and that a breach, committed by either of the parties, absolves the others, and authorizes them, if they please, to pronounce the compact violated and void...."
"It is one of those cases which must be left to provide for itself. In general, it may be observed, that although no political relation can subsist between the assenting and dissenting States, yet the moral relations will remain uncancelled. The claims of justice, both on one side and on the other, will be in force, and must be fulfilled; the rights of humanity must in all cases be duly and mutually respected; whilst considerations of a common interest, and, above all, the remembrance of the endearing scenes which are past, and the anticipation of a speedy triumph over the obstacles to reunion, will, it is hoped, not urge in vain moderation on one side, and prudence on the other."
- James Madison, The Federalist No. 43, Jan. 23, 1788.
"...The limits of a letter would not suffer me to go fully into an examination of them; nor would the discussion be entertaining or profitable, I therefore forbear to touch upon it. With regard to the two great points (the pivots upon which the whole machine must move,) my Creed is simply,
1st. That the general Government is not invested with more Powers than are indispensably necessary to perform the functions of a good Government; and, consequently, that no objection ought to be made against the quantity of Power delegated to it.
2ly. That these Powers (as the appointment of all Rulers will for ever arise from, and, at short stated intervals, recur to the free suffrage of the People) are so distributed among the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, into which the general Government is arranged, that it can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an Oligarchy, an Aristocracy, or any other despotic or oppressive form, so long as there shall remain any virtue in the body of the People.
I would not be understood my dear Marquis to speak of consequences which may be produced, in the revolution of ages, by corruption of morals, profligacy of manners, and listlessness for the preservation of the natural and unalienable rights of mankind; nor of the successful usurpations that may be established at such an unpropitious juncture, upon the ruins of liberty, however providently guarded and secured, as these are contingencies against which no human prudence can effectually provide. It will at least be a recommendation to the proposed Constitution that it is provided with more checks and barriers against the introduction of Tyranny, and those of a nature less liable to be surmounted, than any Government hitherto instituted among mortals, hath possessed. We are not to expect perfection in this world; but mankind, in modern times, have apparently made some progress in the science of government. Should that which is now offered to the People of America, be found on experiment less perfect than it can be made, a Constitutional door is left open for its amelioration...."
- George Washington, letter to Marquis De LaFayette, Feb. 7, 1788.
"Whereas civil-rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms."
- Tenche Coxe, 'Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution' using the Pseudonym "A Pennsylvanian" in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789 at 2 col. 1.
"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? ... Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."
- Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
(Mr. Coxe was a prominent Philadelphian and political economist who was named assistant secretary of the treasury in 1790, commissioner of revenue in 1792, and purveyor of public supplies in 1803).
“We have one, sir, that all men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into society, they cannot by any compact deprive or divest their posterity. We have a set of maxims of the same spirit, which must be beloved by every friend to liberty, to virtue, to mankind: our bill of rights contains those admirable maxims."
- Patrick Henry, The Debates in the Several State (Virginia) Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 3] Friday, June 6, 1788.
"If the clause stands as it is now, it will take from the state legislatures what divine Providence has given to every individual--the means of self-defence. Unless it be moderated in some degree, it will ruin us, and introduce a standing army."
- George Mason, The Debates in the Several State Conventions, (Virginia), June 14, 1788
"It will be a desirable thing to extinguish from the bosom of EVERY MEMBER of the community, ANY apprehensions that there are those among his countrymen who wish to DEPRIVE them of the LIBERTY for which they VALIANTLY FOUGHT and
HONORABLY BLED. And if there are Amendments desired of such a nature as will NOT INJURE the Constitution, and they can be ingrafted so as to give satisfaction to the DOUBTING part of OUR FELLOW-CITIZENS, the friends of the Federal Government will evince that SPIRIT of deference and concession for which they have hitherto been distinguished....We ought NOT TO DISREGARD their inclination, but, on PRINCIPLES of amity and moderation, CONFORM to their wishes, and expressly DECLARE THE GREAT RIGHTS OF MANKIND SECURED under this CONSTITUTION."
- James Madison, Debates on the Bill of Rights, House of Representatives, June 8th, 1789.
In view of the evidence above, it is then made quite clear that the Right of the People to keep and Bear Arms is beyond contention. And that this right is an individual God-given, Natural and Inherent Right that is Unalienable. The right was supposed to receive the protection, rather than regulation or interference, from the government. For there had long been fears expressed, quite validly as it turns out, that government could and would become tyrannical:
"In short some Individauls from too much Zeal not tempered Sufficiently with wisdom and foresight, from apprehensions too lively and Judgements a little defective, from a busy Enterprising Disposition not quite enough Controll'd by caution and Circumspection or from some other defect of Capacity very frequently gave too much importance to trifling objects (15) and generally Suggested and urged the Exercise of acts of mere arbitrary power as remedies on every Occasion. Of late this Disposition was become more extensive, and appeared more frequently, and whoever spoke of the Internal Police or rights of the States as restraining the power of Congress was generally exposed to Sarcasm or ridicule. State Necessity was urged on all Such Occasions as Sufficient to Justify every act of power. I who am firmly persuaded that arbitrary Power has a Natural tendency to abuse, and am therefore Jealous of it in any Hands, who have marked the force and progress of precedents and have observed that those which have happened under the direction of Virtuous men have given Authority to Corrupt men to Violate the rights of mankind have always Considered this propensity as dangerous so far as it tended to Establish Precedents of such acts of Power exercised by Congress as are repugnant to or Inconsistent with the purposes of its Institution and the rights of the States."
- Thomas Burke, Letter to the North Carolina Assembly, April 29, 1778,
"The great object is, that every man be armed. But can the people afford to pay for double sets of arms, &c.? Every one Who is able may have a gun. But we have learned, by experience, that, necessary as it is to have arms, and though our Assembly has, by a succession of laws for many years, endeavored to have the militia completely armed, it is still far from being the case. When this power is given up to Congress without. limitation or bounds, how will your militia be afraid? You trust to chance; for sure I am that that nation which shall trust its liberties in other hands cannot long exist. If gentlemen are serious when they suppose a concurrent power, where can be the impolicy to amend it? Or, in other words, to say that Congress shall not arm or discipline them, till the states Shall have refused or neglected to do it? This is my object. I only wish to bring it to what they themselves say is implied. Implication is to be the foundation of our civil liberties; and when you speak of arming the militia by a concurrence of power, you use implication. But implication will not save you, when a strong army of veterans comes upon you. You would be laughed at by the whole world, for trusting your safety implicitly to implication.
"The argument of my honorable friend was, that rulers might tyrannize. The answer he received was, that they will not. In saying that they would not, he admitted they might. In this great, this essential part of the Constitution, if you are safe, it is not from the Constitution, but from the virtues of the men in government. If gentlemen are willing to trust themselves and posterity to so slender and improbable a chance, they have greater strength of nerves than I have."
- Patrick Henry, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Virginia, June 14, 1788. [Elliot's Debates, Volume 3]
"I incline to think that unless some such alterations & provisions as these are interposed for the security of Those Essential Rights of Mankind Without Which Liberty Cannot Exist, we shall soon find that the New plan of Government will be far more inconvenient than anything sustained under the present Government."
- Richard Henry Lee to Elbridge Gerry, (Concerning the Bill of Rights), 9/29/1787. [American Memory, Library of Congress, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875 Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 24, Page 452]
"A bill of rights is only an acknowledgment of the preëxisting claim to rights in the people. They belong to us as much as if they had been inserted in the Constitution."
- George Nicholas, June 16, 1788, The Debates in the Several State Conventions, (Virginia), on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. [Elliot's Debates, Volume 3].
"I still think that a bill of rights is necessary. This necessity arises from the nature of human societies. When individuals enter into society, they give up some rights to secure the rest. There are certain human rights that ought not to be given up, and which ought in some manner to be secured. With respect to these great essential rights, no latitude ought to be left. They are the most inestimable gifts of the great Creator, and therefore ought not to be destroyed, but ought to be secured.
- Samuel Spencer, July 29, 1788. [Debates in the Convention of the State of NO. Carolina, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. Library of Congress.]
Post all political posts here.
The rules are simple...
- no advocation of violence to anyone
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The rules are simple...
- no advocation of violence to anyone
- no cursing
Violation of the rules will result in deletion of the topic.
1 post • Page 1 of 1
hope this is useful to some in countering the gun grabber movements. it's out of my notes and some or all from a website sited at the end. it is the legal precedent to our human right of self-defense, and someone somewhere will hopefully get this on the table before the last firearm is melted. but and if that does not happen, I happen to make spearheads if someone wants to enlarge their armory.... grizz sends
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