No, surely, No! they meant to drive us into what they termed rebellion, that they might be furnished with a pretext to disarm and then strip us of the rights and privileges of Englishmen and Citizens.
–George Washington, March 1, 1778 letter to Bryan Fairfax, Valley forge.
Quotations from executive officers at the local, state and federal level:
[Whitemarsh, Pa., 20 November 1777]
Freinds and Fellow Soldiers
The Enemy have thrown a considerable Force into your State, with intent to possess themselves of the post at Red Bank, and after clearing the obstructions in Delaware, make incursions into your Country.
To prevent them from effecting either of these purposes, I have sent over such a number of Continental Troops as I trust will, with the spirited exertions of the Militia, totally defeat their designs, and oblige them to return to the City and Suburbs of Philadelphia, which is the only ground they possess upon the Pennsylvania Shore, and in which they cannot subsist, if cut off from the supplies of the plentiful State of New Jersey.
I therefore call upon you, by all that you hold dear, to rise up as one man, and rid your Country of its unjust invaders. To convince you that this is to be done, by a general appearance of all its Freemen armed and ready to give them opposition, I need only to put you in mind of the effect it had upon the British Army in June last, who laid aside their intention of marching through the upper part of your State, upon seeing the hostile manner in which you were prepared to receive them. Look also at the glorious effects which followed that Spirit of Union which appeared among our Brethren of New York and New England, who, by the brave assistance which they afforded to the Continental Army, obliged a royal one flushed with their former Victories to sue for Terms, and lay down their Arms in the most submissive manner.
Reflect upon these things, and I am convinced that every Man who can bear a Musket, will take it up, and without respect to turn or Class give his Service in the Feild for a few Weeks, perhaps only for a few days. I am Your sincere Freind and Countryman
Can it be necessary to say that a merchant vessel is not a privateer? That though she has arms to defend herself in time of war, in the course of her regular commerce, this no more makes her a privateer, than a husbandman following his plow, in time of war, with a knife or pistol in his pocket, is. thereby, made a soldier? The occupation of a privateer is attack and plunder, that of a merchant vesstl is commerce and self-preservation.
[Thomas Jefferson, To Gouerneur Morris, iv, 41. FORD ED., vi, 385. (Pa., Aug. 1793.). (Jeffersonian Cyclopedia).]
Governor Shelby, “For if it is lawful for any one citizen of this state to leave it, it is equally so for any number of them to do it. It is also lawful for them to carry with them any quantity of provisions, arms, and ammunition”, Jan. 13, 1794
4th Congress. No. 72. 2d Session.
THE CREEKS AND SEVEN NATIONS
COMMUNICATED TO THE SENATE, JANUARY 4, 1797.
Gentlemen of the Senate:
I lay before you, for your consideration, a treaty which has been negotiated and concluded on, the twenty-ninth day of June last, by Benjamin Hawkins, Andrew Pickens, and George Clymer, commissioners on behalf of the United States, with the Creek Indians, together with the instructions* which were given to the said commissioners, and the proceedings at the place of treaty.
I submit, also, the proceedings and result of the treaty held at the city of New York, on behalf of the State of New York, with certain nations or tribes of Indians, denominating themselves the Seven Nations of Canada.
United States, January 4th, 1797. [Pg. 586]
…..June 1st.–The reply: COLERAINE, 1st June, 1796.
Your favor, of yesterday, was put into our hands in time to be answered on that day, but we have to that our Constant interruptions have not permitted us to give it a due consideration until this morning; but we now hope to obviate the objections you have made to some of our proceedings, in the commission, since we cane to post.
They respect the regulations we have thought it our duty to establish, in reference to the expected negotiations with the Indians, which, it seems, disagreeably affects you in two points: the guard brought round from Savannah with the stores for the treaty, and the citizens of Georgia who may attend it. But we would previously remark, that these were made on the 26th of May, and before your arrival; that they were then committed to the commanding officer, to be by him carried into execution, and not thrown into your face for the first time, by us, but ago.
The guard is authorized by the Governor of Georgia; but, however competent his authority to order them here, it must be superseded on this ground: militia, when put into service, are subject to the articles of war; and in the presence of the commander of a military post, liable to his orders exclusively. If circumstances have made it necessary to deny admittance to this body, it is fortunate that it is not necessary to retain them: Colonel Gaither feeling himself warranted to supply a guard to the stores, under the care of the militia, not only here, but even back to Savannah, if, by any failure in your negotiation with the Indians, it should be necessary to return them. Equal protection will, in either case, be afforded to the property, and your responsibility not the greater by the change.
The smallness of number seeming to strike you as a circumstance favorable, in this case, to a dispensation from the rule, it is sufficient for us, that, the rule being made in exact conformity to instruction, we cannot think ourselves, from any such consideration, at liberty to dispense with it. It is not our part to defend the instruction, but we can conceive it has been suggested by the experience of the past. It conforms, also, to our own sense of right, and though, in this instance, it has not an extensive operation, it is not the less useful as a principle, and as a precedent.
You will permit us, indeed, to express our surprise, that you should not, yourselves, have discovered a special interest in the observance of some such rule, considering its tendency to obviate some of the difficulties lying in the way of your own object. You are aware of the jealousies of the Creeks in all things relating to your state. Alarms have gone forth that they were to encounter the Georgia militia at the intended treaty, and with some effect, too, in lessening the otherwise very numerous representation that might have been expected at it.
Finding this, and in order to quiet all apprehension on that score, we have communicated the regulations to some of he chiefs assembled, and from the satisfaction it has apparently given, we have reason to hope good effects from it.
In this view of the matter, we cannot admit that the honor of the State has been in any wise derogated from, in our rule; but, if it must be so, in the eyes of the State, it is doubtless owing to the circumstances which it has itself produced. Neither is it wounded through the persons of its citizens individually, who may come armed to attend the treaty: for no compliance of the rule can be demanded of them, but at the moment when their arms shall have become unnecessary to them for their protection. Some citizens you have perceived with arms, within the area of the fort. We know of none; if it is so, our regulation has not been sufficiently regarded.
With regard to subsistence for attending citizens of the State, you seem to think it should be under your orders; we do not well perceive how this can be. On recurring to your own papers, you will find that it is only a portion of the expense your State is to bear, of supplying the Indians, and consequently not any part of those of the household, as it may be termed, of the commissioners of the United States; in which, that for the entertaining of those gentlemen, we conceive, is included. This results also from another consideration, that your powers are pointed at, and limited to a single article, whilst ours are various as the objects of the treaty, and equal to all the circumstances arising out of it. And we wish you to recur to the several communications made, in the last and present year, to your State. These contain the essential pit of your instructions, and will shew the relative situations oi the two commissioners. These communications, from the absolute conditions of your appointment and mission, we doubt not, but that you are possessed of them. To have put them into your hands, must have been a virtual acquiescence on the part of your government, in the terms they prescribe; unless you have been instructed to neglect them, in which case you must allow us to question the foundation on which your commission stands.
We must request you will excuse the freedom observable in some parts of our reply, but above all, that, if we have differed from you in some circumstances, it is with you only as commissioners; retaining for you all possible personal respect.
The Hon. Commissioners of Georgia. [Pg. 592]
[American State Papers. Class II. Indian Affairs. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative And Executive, Of The Congress Of The United States, From The First Session Of The First To The Third Session Of The Thirteenth Congress, Inclusive: Commencing March 3, 1789, And Ending March 3, 1815. Selected And Edited, Under The Authority Of Congress, By Walter Lowrie, Secretary of the Senate, And Matthew St. Clair Clarke, Clerk of the House of Representatives. Volume IV. Washington: Published By Gales And Seaton. 1832.]
One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.
[Thomas Jefferson, To President Washington, iv, 143. FORD ED., vii, 84. (M.,1796.). (Jeffersonian Cyclopedia).]
We have no magazines of small arms; the organization of our national strength is different from that of any other nation on earth. Each citizen carries his own arms always ready for battle.
–William Eaton, Secretary of the United States, June 28, 1801 letter to Thomas Jefferson, from Tunis, (Concerning a request for arms by the Bey of Tunis).
[American State Papers. Documents, Legislative And Executive, Of The Congress Of The United States, From The First Session Of The First To The Third Session Of The Thirteenth Congress, Inclusive: Commencing March 3, 1789 And Ending March 3, 1815. Selected And Edited Under The Authority Of Congress, By Walter Lowrie, Secretary of the Senate, And Matthew St. Clair Clarke, Clerk of the Home of Representatives. Volume II. Washington: Published By Gale and Seaton. 1832.]
A people can never be secured in their rights but when prepared with their own arms to resist aggression. The dangers to which our country may be subjected, will forcibly suggest themselves to your reflection, & it is in a time of perfect tranquility, like the present, that a wise and virtuous government should leave nothing undone towards establishing and perfecting the most certain barriers for the preservation of civil liberty, and the permanent safety of society.
–Gov. W.C.C. Claiborne, Dec. 1802 Address to the Mississippi Territory Legislature.
[The National Intelligencer And Washington Advertiser. Vol. III No. CCCLVI., Monday, January 31, 1803, Pg. 1]
Letters and orders from Gov. Mitchell, commissioner for the United States, relating to the affairs on Amelia Island.
St Marys’, 12th
Sir: When you arrive at Amelia, you will furnish Capt. Williams with a boat for the transportation of a detachment of his marines to the camp before St. Augustine; the remainder will remain with you under the command of one of their own sergeants until the boat returns for them, or some other opportunity offers for their conveyance to the same destination. Capt. Ridgeway will go in the boat with Capt. Williams, and the recruits from Savannah, and the few men who were taken from Point Petre, will remain until another opportunity is afforded for their transportation to the camp before St. Augustine. You will maintain strict discipline and subordination, and admit of no outrage or violence amongst the inhabitants of the place; you will not permit any one who you are not satisfied is an American, to have or use fire arms or other offensive weapons, neither will you permit any negroes to remain there, who cannot satisfy you of their general good behaviour, and who have an owner in the place. All those pretending to claim their freedom, who cannot satisfy you of their being so in reality by the laws of the province, without any claim attaching to them by any citizen of the United States, you will secure and send to this place for safe keeping, in case you are deficient in the means of securing them in Amelia.
You will not permit any property, particularly British property, to be taken from the island; nor will you admit of any provisions to leave the island upon any pretence, unless for the actual use and supply of such persons as may have leave to depart.
Yours, very respectfully,
Commanding United Stales’ troops on Amelia.
[Reports Of Committees Of The House Of Representatives At The First Session Of The Twenty-Second Congress, Begun And Held At The City Of Washington, December 7, 1831. And In The Fifty-Sixth Year Of The Independence Of The United States. In Five Volumes. Volume I. Containing Reports from No. 1 to No. 223. WASHINGTON: PRINTED BY DUFF GREEN. 1831. Rep. No. 176 – January 12, 1832. Pgs. 5, 6]
TO THE CITIZENS OF WASHINGTON.
The whole body of the militia of this district, having marched to meet the enemy, it is earnestly requested that every man exempt from military duty, who is able to carry a musket, will immediately enrol himself in the ward in which he resides–and as soon as a sufficient number is enrolled, choose the necessary officers, who will class the companies for the purpose of patrolling the city and preserving order. Such as have no arms and ammunition, will be furnished, upon application to either member of the committee of safety in their respective wards.
The citizens are requested to be vigilant, and take up all suspected persons; and none will be permitted to pass after ten o’clock at night, without a reasonable and lawful excuse.
The well known patriotism of the citizens of Washington, is a sure guarantee that they will cheerfully comply with so reasonable a request at a time of peril like the present. Affection for our wives. children and homes–patriotism and interest–all demand our services in the best way we can render them.
JAMES H. BLAKE, Mayor.
Washington City, August 20, 1814.
[The American Weekly Messenger; Or, Register of State Papers, History And Politics. For 1814–15. The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.–Washington. Vol. II. Philadelphia: Printed For John Conrad. 1815. Official Documents – Pg. 328]
The right of self-defence never ceases. It is among the most sacred, and alike necessary to nations and to individuals.
[President James Monroe, Nov. 16, 1818 message to the U.S. House and Senate.
Our Revolution commenced on more favorable ground. It presented us an album on which we were free to write what we pleased. We had no occasion to search into musty records, to hunt up royal parchments, or to investigate the laws and institutions of a semi-barbarous ancestry. We appealed to those of nature, and found them engraved on our hearts. Yet we did not avail ourselves of all the advantages of our position. We had never been permitted to exercise self-government. When forced to assume it, we were novices in its science. Its principles and forms had entered little into our former education. We established however some, although not all its important principles. The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.
–Thomas Jefferson To Major John Cartwright, Monticello, June 5, 1824.
[The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, (Memorial Edition) Lipscomb and Bergh, editors.]
The right to bear arms, is another important right guaranteed to all our citizens by the constitution. The right thus guaranteed, seems to me to impose upon the Legislature the duty of so organizing and disciplining the whole body of the citizens, that they shall be able not only to bear arms, but to use them with confidence and skill,” in defence of themselves and the State,” if such a necessity shall arise. I think, therefore, every encouragement should be given to our volunteer corps. Let the Legislature not forget that the great body of the people, their constituents, constitute the militia, and claim that such a law may be passed as shall make them what they ought to be, the pride and strength of their country, and its sure defenders against oppression at home or invasion from abroad.
–J. Andrew Shulze, Governor, November 4th, 1829, Journal of the Senate.
[Of The Commonwealthe Of Pennsylvania Which Commenced At Harrisburg On The Third Day of November, 1829.]
Every citizen is, from the nature of our social organization, a part of the public defense; and he is also, in the last resort, in common with his fellow-citizens, the safeguard of the liberties of all against the government itself. Thus it is that amendments to the Constitution of the United States have provided that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It seems indispensable to the accomplishment of the objects referred to that every citizen should be armed…–John C. Edwards, Secretary of State, 11/15/1833. ‘Military Affairs’, Application of Missouri for the establishment of a depot of arms near the northwestern boundry of that state.
(In 1830 Missouri Governor John G. Miller appointed Edwards as Secretary of State, a position he would hold until 1835, and then again briefly in 1837. In a move that would seem unusual by today’s standards, Edwards also concurrently held the post of district judge of Cole County, Missouri from 1832 to 1837. Politically John Edwards was a Jacksonian democrat and a staunch ally of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton. In 1836 Edwards was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives but would serve only briefly as in 1837 he was appointed a judge to the Missouri Supreme Court, a position he would hold until 1839.
John Edwards entered national politics in 1841 after being elected to the 27th United States Congress, serving one term until March 1843. While in the U.S. House of Representatives he worked on several key issues of importance to Missouri, such as opposing the Tariff of 1842 and helping block Federal settlement of the Missouri-Iowa border dispute, a.k.a. the Honey War.Congressman Edwards chose against seeking a second term in Washington D.C., instead setting his sights on the Missouri Governors mansion. In the election of 1844 John C. Edwards narrowly defeated Democrat-turned-Whig candidate Charles H. Allen to become Missouri’s 9th Governor.)
The constitution of the United States declares “that the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.” Then we cannot interdict any people, who have a political franchise in the United States, from immigrating to this state, nor from choosing what part of the state they will settle in, provided they do not trespass on the property or rights of others. Our state constitution declares that the people’s “right to bear arms, in defense of themselves and of the state, cannot be questioned.” Then it is their constitutional right to arm themselves.
[Daniel Dunklin, Governor of the State of Missouri, letter to Colonel J. Thornton, June 6, 1834.]
The armor and the attitude of defence afford the best security against those collisions which the ambition, or interest, or some other passion of nations not more justifiable, is liable to produce. In many countries it is considered unsafe to put arms into the hands of the people, and to instruct them in the elements of military knowledge. That fear can have no place here, when it is recollected that the people are the sovereign power. Our Government was instituted, and is supported, by the ballot-box, not by the musket.
— President Andrew Jackson, Dec. 7, 1835 message to U.S. House and Senate.
To take from the people the right of bearing arms, and put their weapons of defence in the hands of a standing army, would be scarcely more dangerous to their liberties, than to permit the Government to accumulate immense amounts of treasure beyond the supplies necessary to its legitimate wants.
–President Andrew Jackson, Message to U.S. House and Senate of Dec. 5, 1836.
The above quotation was one of the most quoted in newspapers all around the country at that time. It had been quoted nationwide on a regular basis for four full years after first being published.
Although the Constitution has guarantied to the citizen the right to carry arms in self defence, and therefore this right cannot be questioned or impaired, yet its abuse may be certainly prevented by law . . .
[Governor (James Clark), Dec. 5, 1837 message to the Senate and House of Representatives of Kentucky. Journal Of The Senate Of The Commonwealth Of Kentucky . . . 1837. Pgs. 17-18.]
I cannot bring myself to depict the humiliation to which this Government and people might be sooner or later reduced, if the means for defending their rights are to be made dependant upon those who may have the most powerful of motives to impair them.
— President Martin Van Buren, Dec. 2, 1839 message to U.S. House and Senate.
[Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Dec. 24, 1839.]
The right of suffrage is one of which every American citizen is justly proud. But this right is of no importance, if the power it confers is to be destroyed by the fraudulent votes of others. In what do the citizens of this country differ from the subjects of the despots of the old world? Mainly in the fact that they possess the right of suffrage, and the right to keep and bear arms in its defence. It is the right of suffrage and the right to bear arms, which principally distinguishes the freeman from the slave. It is by means of this right that the people govern–that they legislate for themselves, and execute the laws when made, through agents of their own choice. Take this right from us, and we are no longer free. Preserve it from fraud and corruption, and we never can be slaves.
-–Gov. Wilson Shannon, December 8, 1840.
[Democratic Standard, Georgetown, O., Tuesday, December 22, 1840. New Series.–Vol. I. No. 21. Pg. 4 – (Cont’d from Pg. 1)]
In what do the citizens of this country differ from the subjects of the despots of the of world! Mainly in the fact that they possess the right of suffrage, and the right to bear arms in its defense. It is the right of suffrage, and the right to bear arms that distinguishes the freeman from the slave. It is by means of this right that the people govern–that they legislate for themselves, and execute the laws when made, through agents of their own choice. Take this right from us, and we are no longer free. Preserve it from fraud and corruption, & we never can be slaves….
–Governor Thomas Corwin,
[The Ohio Democrat, Canal Dover, Tuscarawas County, (Ohio), December 18, 1840. Volume 2. Number 67. Pg. 3 – Excerpted from the article; “Governor’s Message.”, started on Pg. 1]
That war has demonstrated, that upon the breaking out of hostilities not anticipated, and for which no previous preparation had been made, a volunteer army of citizen soldiers equal to veteran troops, and in numbers equal to any emergency, can in a short period be brought into the field. Unlike what would have occurred in any other country, we were under no necessity of resorting to draughts or conscriptions. On the contrary, such was the number of volunteers who patriotically tendered their services, that the chief difficulty was in making selections and determining who should be disappointed and compelled to remain at home. Our citizen-soldiers are unlike those drawn from the population of any other country. They are composed indiscriminately of all professions and pursuits: of farmers, lawyers, physicians, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, and laborers; and this, not only among the officers, but the private soldiers in the ranks. Our citizen-soldiers are unlike those of any other country in other respects. They are armed, and have been accustomed from their youth up to handle and use fire-arms; and a large proportion of them, especially in the western and more newly-settled States, are expert marksmen.
–President James K. Polk, Washington, Message to the House and Senate, December 5, 1848.
[Journal of the Senate of the United States of America.]
Among the dearest rights of the freeman was that of bearing arms–give this right to the nations of Europe, and they cannot but soon be free.
–Maj. Gen. [Charles W.] Sandford, Dec. 12, 1851, at the Municipal Dinner in New-York to honor Gov. Kossuth of Hungary, by the Committee of Thirteen appointed to secure the legal defense of persons claimed as Fugitive Slaves.
[New-York Daily Tribune, Saturday, December 13, 1851. Vol. XI….No. 3,325. Pg. 5]
The amendments which this State was chiefly instrumental in procuring, secure the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and the right of the people to bear arms and to petition for redress of grievances. They shield the persons and property of our citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures by regulating criminal proceedings, and preserving the right of trial by jury. To prevent misconstruction and abuse of power, our State demanded the amendments which declare that “the enumeration of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” and that ” the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively.” These articles constitute the great barriers against the encroachments of the general government and the principal defences to the rights and sovereignty of the States, and the liberties of our citizens.
–Gov. Horatio Seymour, Albany, January 3, 1854.
[New-York Daily Tribune, Thursday, January 03, 1854. Vol. XIII. No. 3,966. Pg. 3.]
In other Governments, the military force is organized for the support of tyranny, and the mass of people are neither trained nor allowed to possess arms. Here the military force is organized for the support of popular Government, and the right of the people to bear arms is an express guaranty of the Constitution. The protection of the liberties of the country and the maintenance of public order, are confided to the hands of the free and independent citizens of the States.–[Gov. William Medill. Columbus, Jan. 7, 1856.]
[Western Reserve chronicle, Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio, Wednesday, January 23, 1856. Vol. 40, No. 23. Pg. 4]
Gov. (and 6th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) Salmon Portland Chase, “The Constitution of our country guarantees to every citizen the right to bear arms . . . the eternal rights of man, they are justified in resisting the tyrants”, July 5, 1856
Gov. Grimes to President Pierce, “Their right to defend themselves and to keep and bear arms has been infringed by the act of the Territorial officers, who have wrested from them the means of defense while putting weapons of offense into the hands of their enemies.”, Aug. 20, 1856
This is all that the constitution or laws can do, the balance is for ourselves. Let us then be prepared, eternal vigilance and sacrifice is the price of liberty; no people ever can long be free who are not military in their habits, and ever ready to defend their institutions and laws. We as a people enjoy the peculiar privilege of bearing arms, and being the defender of our own rights and liberties. If we should ever he deprived of the one, or lose the other, it will be because we were unworthy of them, and had not the courage to defend them.
—Gov. McWillie, of Mississippi, inaugural address.
[Daily Nashville Patriot, Nashville Tenn., Tuesday, December 8, 1857. Vol. XXI. New Series.–No. 634. Pg. 2.]
They are the sons of freemen, and they have a right to be free; many of them are descended from revolutionary sires, who shed their blood to secure liberty to their posterity. These men have political rights inherited from their ancestors, which are inalienable. They have the right to bear arms, and thousands of them know how to use them.
[So. Carolina Gov. Joseph E. Brown, Nov. 8, 1860. (Mr. Brown had also been a U.S. Senator.)]
Major General Sterling Price, “Their right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, can not be questioned, secured as it is by both the Constitution of the United States and of this State.”, June 4, 1861
Indiana Gov. O.P. Morton, “and advises all to exercise their constitutional right in keeping and bearing arms. . . . The constitutional right of the people to bear arms for their own defense has not been, and will not be infringed.”, Aug. 16, 1864
N.Y. Gov. Horatio Seymour, “The Government has so little confidence in the people of these States that it fears to trust them with the privilege of bearing arms. The Constitution declares that this right shall not be infringed. Our fathers believed it necessary for the protection of the people from the encroachments arbitrary power.”, Sept. 1, 1864
South Carolina Gov. A. G. Magrath, ” “In every quarter of the State, in every District, Village, and Town, let the men stand with their arms in their hands. . . . He is only safe who is armed; he is only spared who defends himself.”, March/April 1865
General [and soon to be President] Rutherford B. Hayes, “The Democratic plan . . . The rebels having laid down their arms and abandoned their attempt to break up the Union, are now entitled, as a matter of right, to be restored to all the rights, political and civil, which they enjoyed before the rebellion, precisely as if they had remained loyal. They are to vote, to hold office, to bear arms, immediately and unconditionally.”, Sept. 28, 1865
General Tilson, Acting Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, “All men, without distinction of color, have the right to keep arms to defend their homes, families or themselves. . . . The Constitution gives the right of arms to defend ourselves with“, Jan. 18, 1866
. . . The Constitution of the United States commands that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and that the right of a people to be protected in their persons, houses, papers and efforts against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.
The talk of insurrectionary violence is nonsense. The solemn pledge of the United States to the freed people of color that THAT SHALL BE AND REMAIN FREE, requires that the law, by whomsoever made and administered, and including their provisions, shall be faithfully and equally applied to all men, without distinction on account of color.
Forces of the United States were placed within this State to see that the provisions and pledge above cited were not treated as null. It was hoped that the good sense of the people of Alabama would soon relieve them from the necessary results of military occupation–and very much has been done in this direction.
[New-York Daily Tribune, New-York, Tuesday, February 6, 1866. Vol. XXV….No. 7,748. Pg. 8.]
General Grant has promised to furnish the citizens of Kansas cavalry arms to protect themselves against Indian depredations. . . . The Democratic Governor of Deleware, true to his instincts, announces in his late message that he intends to enforce the State law forbidding colored men to carry arms. . . He seems never to have heard of the right of the people to bear arms, or to imagine that an old pro-slavery statute of his State will justify him in violating it with impunity. . . . to devise plans for evading emancipation and re-establishing their favorite institution in a new form.
[The Evansville Journal, Jan. 10, 1867.]
We should deprecate the necessity of a resort to force, but we pour scorn upon the craven, the pusillanimous notion that freemen may not vindicate their rights by arms. Courage to resist oppression is the ultimate security for good government. This, at least, was the opinion of our brave forefathers when they took care to provide in the Constitution that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The right to bear arms implies the right, on a sufficient provocation, to use them. The only debatable question relates to the sufficiency of the provocation.”
– General Wade Hampton, (Wade Hampton III, (March 28, 1818 – April 11, 1902), was a Confederate cavalry leader during the Civil War. Afterward becoming a U.S. Senator from South Carolina, and serving as the 77th Governor of that state.)
[The Evening Telegraph, Philadelphia, Thursday, July 16, 1868. Vol. X–No. 13. Pg. 2.]
…The blacks and whites, indiscriminately, have, it seems, acquired the bad habit of carrying arms to political meetings, and also when they are moving from point to point in the country. But they do not bear arms as organized military bodies, under military discipline and drill. They bear arms, in accordance with their constitutional right to do so—a right the Executive of the State has no power to abridge…
–So. Carolina Governor R.K. Scott, Sept. 1, 1868, reply to “citizens of Spartanburg”.
[The Daily Phoenix, Columbia, S.C., Friday Morning, September 11, 1868. Volume IV–No. 149. Pg. 1]
Proclamation by the Governor.
Our readers will of course read with particular attention the proclamation by Gov. Holden. It is a clear, calm, decided, patriotic document. It not only announces and approves, but proposes to defend the Constitutionality of the present reconstructed State governments; acknowledging the right of the private citizen to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes. It expreses a firm purpose to punish, as the law shall allow, all attempts to arm one class of citizens against another, for the purpose of assaulting or intimidating voters. The rights of all classes of electors to the peaceful exercise of the ballot are wisely and strongly guaranteed.
The Governor hereby assures all good, law-abiding citizens that peace and security for life, rights and property shall be maintained. His appeal for the support of his fellow-citizens surely will not be unheeded. He shows himself to be a truly sleepless sentinel and an earnest and brave defender of popular liberty. But alone, single-handed his skill and bravery will be futile. The people, those who have cloaked him with authority must rally and by their words of cheer, and advocacy, everywhere endorsing and co operating with this measures, show those who would make mischief that they plot and conspire against a host–that they plot and conspire in vain.
Let those who are importing arms into the State for murderous purposes, read, mark and inwardly digest.
[The Weekly North-Carolina Standard, Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, October 21, 1868. Vol. XXXIV. No. 42. Pg. 1]
Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States,
FRIDAY, April 19, 1872.
A message was received from the President of the United States . . .
. . . Most, if not all, of this information, except what I derived from the Attorney General, came to me orally, and was to the effect that said counties were under the sway of powerful combination, properly known as “Ku-Klux Klan,” the objects of which were, by force and terror, to prevent all political action not in accord with the views of the members, to deprive colored citizens of the right to bear arms, and of the right to a free ballot; to suppress schools in which colored children were taught, and to reduce the colored people to a condition closely akin to that of slavery; that these combinations were organized and armed and had rendered the local laws ineffectual to protect the classes whom they desired to oppress; that they had perpetrated many murder, and hundreds of crimes of minor degree, all of which were unpunished; and that witnesses could not safely testify against them unless the more active members were placed under restraint.
U. S. GRANT.
Executive Mansion, April 19, 1872.
All private arms purchased by citizens will be taken to the respective homes of those who bear and own them.
–Col. Ezekiel John Ellis, [Later State Senator and U.S. Representative] General Order No. 7, Sept. 17, 1874.
[The Indiana State Sentinel, Indianapolis, Tuesday, September 22, 1874. Vol. XXIV—No. 7. Whole Number 1,767. Pg. 3]
…THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL.
The third plank in the Republican State platform, reads:
3. We are in favor of the full and equal enjoyment of accommodations, advantages, rights and privileges by all citizens and other persons within the jurisdiction of the United States, without regard to race, creed or color, and at the same time we deem it unnecessary and unwise to attempt, by Congressional legislation, or otherwise, to compel as between such races, creeds or colors, the joint exercises of such accommodations, advantages, rights or privileges. But we recognize the principle,which is older than our Constitution, that every man’s house is his castle, and that under our Government, every citizen, white or black, has the right to bear arms in conformity to law, and to express his opinions without interference or molestation.
This is an anomalous position. The Republican party of Tennessee declare the justice of certain demands by the colored race, and that it is in favor of certain rights claimed by that race, “but deem it unwise to grant the demands or secure these rights by legislation.” And in the same connection declare, that every man white or black has the right to bear arms in conformity to law, and to express his opinion, without interference or molestation….
[The Pulaski Citizen, Pulaski, Tennessee, Thursday, September 24, 1874. Volume XVI. Supplement, Pg. 5 – Excerpted from the article; “Gov. Brown. His Speech at Pulaski Yesterday on the Political Situation. An Elaborate Discussion of the Leading Issues. The Nashville and Chattanooga Platforms Compared. Seathing Denunciation of the Civil Rights Infamy.”]
Gov. Chamberlin, in his letter to the President regarding this affair, says: “Before the hour for trial arrived on Saturday many white citizens from the country around Hamburg began to gather in the town, armed with guns and pistols.” . . . “This armed mob demanded a surrender of the arms of the militia, which they had no right to do, for the negroes have the same right to bear arms as have the whites.”
[Nebraska Advertiser, Aug. 10, 1876]
When a people become so familiar with crime as to seek to defend it, and ridicule all attempts to repress it, it becomes incumbent on us to notice to where we are drifting. The right of free speech and to bear arms were held so dear by the fathers of our land that they deemed them important enough to throw around them the organism of protection by the constitution. . . . Whereas the colored people . . . do not possess the arms wherewith to defend themselves, for the reason that they have been taken away from them by force. What can they do to help them selves? Positively nothing. . . .
[Governor P.B.S. Pinchback, the first African American Governor, Aug 25, 1876.]
Carrying Concealed Weapons.
I recommend that the statute against carrying arms be repealed. The constitution of the United States provides that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Recent painful events have proved that it is not safe to travel unarmed on our highways, even in the vicinity of towns. And when the traveler reaches a town, it often happens that he has no convenient place to deposit his arms, and he is often arrested and severely fined for having on his person the means of defending himself against the infamous assassins who infest our country.
[Las Vegas Gazette, Las Vegas, New Mexico, January 12, 1878. Volume 5. Number 44. Pg. 3. Excerpted from the article; Governor’s Message to the Council and House of Representatives.]
* – Samuel Beach Axtell, (Oct. 14, 1819 – Aug. 7, 1891). Former Chief Justice of the New Mexico Territorial Supreme Court, Governor of New Mexico, Governor of Utah; and two term Congressman from California. President Ulysses S. Grant had appointed Samuel Beach Axtell as the territorial governor of Utah. Then moved Axtell from Utah to serve as governor of New Mexico Territory.
The right to keep and bear arms for self-defence or public safety is closely allied with the duty of being provided with such arms and in readiness to use them upon the call of the proper authority. For this purpose the mass of citizens should at all times be prepared to obey the lawful call of the State or Federal government, whenever it may be necessary to take up arms for the maintenance of authority or the execution of law.
–Gov. [Louis A.] Wiltz’s Message to the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Louisiana.
[Louisiana Capitolian, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, January 24, 1880. Vol. 1–No. 51]
Bully for Butler.
Boston, 12.–A committee of the Emmett Guard of Worcester, an independent military company, not attached to the state militia, appeared before the governor, to-day, with a petition for permission to parade under arms on the 17th of March. The governor read it and without saying a word wrote the following endorsement on the back of the petition. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. B.F. BUTLER, commander in chief.”
[The Salt Lake Herald, Salt Lake City, Wednesday Morning, March 14, 1883. Vol. XIII. No. 241 Pg. 2]
Columbus, O., Dec. 17, 1884.
Jos. Nicodemus, Esq., President Cigarmakers’ Union No. 115, Canton, O,;
Dear Sir:–Your letter of December 13 is just at band, and contents noted. The resolutions of the Cigarmakers’ Union No. 115 were passed under a misunderstanding of the facts. There have been no State troops in the Hocking Valley since October 3 last.
The mines are all guarded by private armed guards, employed and paid by the operators, and commonly, though improperly, called “Pinkerton Guards,” The resolution of your union must have referred to these. As the right of the people to bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution, and as there is and can be no law passed forbidding the carrying of the same, except concealed weapons, and as the right of every citizen to guard and defend his own property, by himself or his agents, is unqualified and absolute, it follows that I have no power to interfere with these guards, nor can any law be passes which, in my judgement, will deprive the operators of the power to defend their property if attacked in the way in which they are now doing.
I make no comment on the wisdom, or unwisdom of what is going on in the valley, but simply call your attention to the legal rules controlling the situation, and to my own want of power in the matter. Should the ”Pinkerton Guards” violate the laws of the State in any way the courts throughout the valley are open, and no doubt justice will be done.
Yours very truly,
[The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Wheeling, W. Va., Friday Morning, December 19, 1884. Volume XXXIII.—Number 101. Pg. 1]
The above article also appeared, almost word for word, in another newspaper:
[The Stark County Democrat, Canton, Ohio, Thursday, December 25, 1884. Vol. 51. No. 31. Pg. 5]
The Governor was asked if there was any law to prevent the companies to be dismissed from maintaining themselves as independent military organizations. He said that lie had not read the law on the question, but did not knew anything against their having all the guns and uniforms they wanted. They could also drill all they wanted. He was not so certain that they would have the right to make a display on the streets of their warlike manoeuvres, but did not suppose anybody would interfere with them. Every man, he said, has a constitutional right to bear arms provided it is with peaceful intent. The independent companies will not get any aid from the State and must defray their expenses. They must buy their own uniforms and accoutrements.–Register.
–Gov. Benjamin Ryan Tillman. (Governor of South Carolina from 1890 to 1894, and a United States Senator from 1895 until his death in 1918.)
[The Pickens Sentinel, Pickens, S.C., Thursday, May 10, 1894. Vol. XXII. No. 34. Pg. 4]
Firecrackers And The Fourth.
Mayor Moores Proclaims Two Days
for a General Jubilee.
Mayor Moores has issued the following proclamation concerning the observation of the 121st jubilee celebration by the American eagle :
OMAHA. June .10. 1897.–Whereas, Section 29 of chapter xiii of the Revised Statutes of 1890 of the city of Omaha provides as follows: “If any person shall unnecessarily discharge any firearms or shoot off any firecrackers or other fireworks, or shall light or throw any fire ball or cracker in said city without the permission of the mayor, such person so doing shall on conviction thereof be fined in any sum not exceeding twenty dollars ($20);” and,
Whereas. The congress of the United States has enacted a law making July 4 the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a national holiday; and,
Whereas, The evidences of awakened material prosperity are apparent on every hand in our city, and great business enterprises are being rapidly located here, and numerous magnificent buildings erected and many public improvements projected, and it is apparent that soon every man in our city will be able to secure remunerative employment and our former prosperity will return, making this a fitting time for rejoicing; and,
Whereas, It Is the duty of every liberty loving citizen to cease from his ordinary vocation on the 4th day of July and join with others in celebrating the anniversary of the birth of American independence and the proud history of more than a century of brilliant achievements, and, with public speaking, fireworks and the noise of booming cannon and popping firecrackers to give expression to their enthusiasm and patriotism.
Now , therefore, I , Frank E. Moores, mayor of the city of Omaha, under and by virtue of the authority in me vested by the ordinances of the said city, do hereby grant permission to any and all persons to discharge firearms, shoot off firecrackers, or other fireworks within the city of Omaha upon the 3d and 5th days of July, 1897, without such persons becoming amenable to the provisions of the said ordinances; hereinbefore quoted; provided, however, that no such firecrackers, firearms or fireworks shall be discharged in any alley of the city or near any barn, or near combustible material, which action might endanger the public safety.
Witness my hand this 30th day of June,
1897. FRANK E. MOORES, Mayor.
[The Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha, Friday Morning, July 2, 1897. Pg. 3]
Experts at Variance.
The points of difference between Virginia and Kentucky have been few in the past. At the time of the Revolutionary war Kentucky was a part of Virginia, and it was not until sixteen years later that she was admitted into the Union as a separate State. The two Commonwealths have much in common, as, for instance, horses, tobacco, liquid beverages, shotguns and dexterity in their use, Colonels and Majors, duels, and one of the principal causes of duels, namely, beautiful women. A possible severance of the friendly relations which have been maintained cordially for many years between the two Commonwealths is now threatened. The trouble concerns what ought to be a matter of cheerful concurrence, the carrying of firearms.
The circumstances which have led to this inter-State difficulty are few but important. A Kentucky man, a resident of the great Blue Grass Commonwealth, was sent to jail, or, more properly, was taken to jail, for no one goes to Jail peaceably in Kentucky, for the alleged “crime” of “engaging in a fist fight in the street.” When tidings of this occurrence were officially received by Governor Bradley at Frankfort, he pardoned the incarcerated Kentuckian, explaining that fist fighting, as a substitute for the usual Kentucky method of street fighting with firearms, was to be regarded with lenity, If not. Indeed, to be extolled and applauded.
Such was the Frankfort method, sanctioned by the Governor of Kentucky, of dealing with the reprehensible, local practice, so distasteful to all tourists, of shooting pedestrians at sight in times of local disagreement in Kentucky streets or on Kentucky roadways or turnpikes. The right to carry firearms has long been one of the reserved rights of the people of Kentucky, and it has been sedulously protected in practice, too, by their Virginia neighbors on tho other side of the Cumberland Mountains. A Virginian visiting Kentucky takes his six-shooter along with him as a matter of course, just as a New York man takes a railroad guide or his visiting card case when he goes to Boston. A Kentuckian visiting Virginia generally carries along his purse and his gun, forgetting neither.
Governor Bradley has wounded the neighborly sensibilities of the Virginians across the border, and they have not been slow in marking their disapproval. Mr. Parks of Southampton has introduced in the Virginia Legislature at Richmond what may be called a measure of reprisal. Under the present law of the Old Dominion, the minimum penalty for carrying concealed weapons is a fine of twenty dollars. Under the amendment proposed by Parks, it is reduced to two dollars and fifty cents. As it is not customary in Virginia courts to impose on white men fines less than three dollars for any offence, the practical effect of this amendment would be to abolish the penalty for carrying concealed weapons in the Old Dominion.
Kentucky may falter. Virginia is true. The gauntlet which one State throws down the other takes up.
[The Sun, New York, Tuesday, December 14, 1897. Vol. LXV.–No. 105. Pg. 6]
. . .Former Governor William J. Northen expresses himself as follows: “My first suggestion is that all homes should be made miniature arsenals, at least to the extent of one good Winchester and one good pistol; that women be allowed to carry weapons upon their persons, concealed, if so desired, and that they be taught the use and handling of firearms, so that they may become their own protectors in the absence of the husband and master of the house. . . .
. . . Inspector General O’Bear: “The Sheriff of each county should organize a regular posse of competent and determined men, who would be ready at a moment’s notice to respond to his call and in addition thereto should maintain a pack of trained dogs to follow the trail when a crime is committed in his county. No expense or effort should be spared to discover the criminal and bring him to justice. Women may assist in their own protection by becoming familiar with the use of firearms, and having them at hand when the occasion demands. It is not the duty of the militia to hunt crimes, but to assist the civil authorities in protecting them when called upon.
[The Record-Union, Sacramento, Tuesday Morning, April 25, 1899. Volume 97.–No. 63. Pg. 1 – Excerpted from the article; “People Of Georgia Greatly Stirred. Atlanta, April 24.”]