Legislative

Quotations from local, state and federal legislators concerning the right to keep and bear arms [or not, as the case may be (for slaves)]:

Virginia Grand Assembly, “ALL persons except negroes to be provided with arms and amunition or be fined at pleasure of the Governor and Council.”, Jan. 6, 1639

_____

Virginia, 13thly That all amunition, powder and arms, other then for private use shall be delivered up, securitie being given to make satisfaction for it, March 12, 1651.

_____

. . . and if any negro or slave shall be so apprehended or taken, without the limits aforesaid, with any gun or fire arms as aforesaid, such arms shall be forfeited to him or them that shall apprehend or take the same . . . And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every master or head of any family, shall keep all his guns and other arms, when out of use, in the most private and least frequented room in the house. . .

[The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, 1712.]

_____

Provided also, that no slave who shall be possessed of such gun, shall lend such gun to any other slave whatsoever; and every gun, pistole, sword, cutlace, or other offensive weapon, which shall be found in the hand or custody of any slave, not qualified to keep or carry the same, as aforesaid, shall be forfeited to the finders, who are hereby empowered to seize and keep the same to their own use, without further law or process.

[The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, 1722.]

_____

. . . and every gun, pistol, sword, cutlass, or other offensive weapon, which shall be found in the custody of any slave not qualified to carry or keep the same as aforesaid; shall be forfeited to the finders or other persons seizing the same, who are hereby impowered to seize and detain the same to their own use, without other form, law or process.

[The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, 1735.]

_____

26. And in case any person shall find any slave using or carrying fire-arms, or other offensive weapons, contrary to true intention of this act; every such person may lawfully seize and take away such fire-arms or offensive weapons. . .

[Public Statute Law Of South-Carolina, 1740.]

_____

And it shall and may be lawful to and for any white person or persons whatsoever, to seize, take away, and keep to his and their own proper use, any gun or other fire arm which he or they shall find in the possession of any slave . . . any former law, usage of custom, to the contrary thereof notwithstanding. . .

[The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, 1751.]

_____

By the Colony Law of 1647, officers were prohibited from levying execution on “any man’s necessary bedding, apparell, tools or arms, neither implements of household which are for the necessary upholding of his life.

[Hanlon vers. Thayer, 1764]

_____

An Act for the better Security of the inhabitants, by obliging the male white persons to carry fire arms to places of worship.

[Laws Of Georgia, No. 191, A.D. 1770]

_____

We condemn, and with arms in our hands,–a resource which Freemen will never part with,–we oppose the claim and exercise of unconstitutional powers.

[Journals of the Continental Congress, Dec. 6, 1775.]

_____

. . . or, if the case admit not the delay, by impressing arms & ammunition of private property, which ammunition so far as not used, & arms, shall be duly returned as soon as they may be spared.

[Thomas Jefferson, Draft Of A Bill, May 10, 1777.]

_____

. . . the officer shall levy the execution upon any of the personal or moveable estate of the debtor, except necessary apparel, bedding, tools, arms, implements of his household, necessary for upholding life.

[Vermont State Law, Feb., 1779.]

_____

James Madison, Property vs. Liberty; “Allow the right exclusively to property, and the rights of persons may be oppressed. . . . the rich may oppress the poor; in which property may oppress liberty“, July 5, 1787

_____

Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts?* And can history produce an instance of rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independent 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusetts: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen-yard in order. I hope in God this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted. [*Shay’s Rebellion]

[Thomas Jefferson to U.S. Representative, Diplomat and First U.S. Marshal of New York William S. Smith, Nov. 13, 1787.]

_____

It was, he said, a chimerical idea to suppose that a country like this could ever be enslaved. How is an army for that purpose to be obtained from the freemen of the United States? They certainly, said he, will know to what object it is to be applied. Is it possible, he asked, that an army could be raised for the purpose of enslaving themselves and their brethren? or, if raised, whether they could subdue a nation of freemen, who know how to prize liberty, and who have arms in their hands?

[Theodore Sedgwick, Jan. 24, 1788. The Debates in the Several State Conventions, (Massachusetts), on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. Elliot’s Debates, Volume 2]

_____

To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.

–George Mason, June 14, 1788, in the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution.

[Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot, ed., v.3 p.380]

(Mr. Mason drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and was an ally of James Madison and George Washington.)

_____

. . . and more efectually guard against an undue administration of the federal government . . . Congress shall never disarm any citizen, unless such as are or have been in actual rebellion. . .

[New Hampshire Ratification of the U.S. Constitution, June 21, 1788.]

_____

State of Virginia, In Convention, “On motion, Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to prepare and report such amendments as shall by them be deemed necessary to be recommended . . . Mr. Madison, [4th President of the U.S.] . . . Mr. John Marshall, [4th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court] Mr. Monroe [5th President of the U.S.] . . . compose the said Committee. . . . MR. Wythe reported, from the Committee appointed, such amendments to the proposed Constitution of Government for the United States, as were by them deemed necessary to be recommended to the consideration of the Congress . . . where the same were again read, and are as followeth: That there be a Declaration or Bill of Rights asserting and securing from encroachment the essential and unalienable rights of the people in some such mannner as the following: 1st. That there are certain natural rights of which men when they form a social compact cannot deprive or divest their posterity, among which are the enjoyment of life, and liberty, with the means of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety . . . 17th. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free state. . . .”, Wednesday, June 27th, 1788

_____

If we have this inherent, this unalienable, this indefeasible title to those rights, if they are not given up, are they not retained? If Congress should make a law beyond the powers and the spirit of the Constitution, should we not say to Congress, “You have no authority to make this law. There are limits beyond which you cannot go. You cannot exceed the power prescribed by the Constitution. You are amenable to us for your conduct. This act is unconstitutional. We will disregard it, and punish you for the attempt.

[William Maclaine, July 29, 1788. The Debates in the Several State Conventions, (North Carolina), on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. Elliot’s Debates, Volume 4]

_____

State of North-Carolina, In Convention, “Resolved, That a Declaration of Rights, asserting and securing from incroachment the great Principles of civil and religious Liberty, and, the unalienable Rights of the People, together with Amendments to the most ambiguous and exceptionable Parts of the said Constitution of Government, ought to be laid before Congress, and the Convention of the States that shall or may be called for the Purpose of Amending the said Constitution, for their consideration, previous to the Ratification of the Constitution aforesaid, on the part of the State of North Carolina. . . . 17th. That the people have a right to keep and hear arms; that a well regulated militia composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free state. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to Liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by the civil power.”, Aug. 1, 1788

_____

To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike especially when young, how to use them.

[Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters From The Federal Farmer, 53 (1788). Walter Bennett, ed., Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, at 21,22,124. Univ. of Alabama Press, 1975.]

(Mr. Lee was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and a U.S. Senator.)

_____

Mr. Scot objected to the clause in the sixth amendment, “No person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.” He said, if this becomes part of the constitution, we can neither call upon such persons for services nor an equivalent; it is attended with still further difficulties, for you can never depend upon your militia. This will lead to violation of another article in the constitution, which secures to the people the right of keeping arms, as in this case you must have recourse to a standing army.

–Sketch Of Proceedings Of Congress. In The House Of Representatives of the United States. Monday, August 17, 1789. Further Sketch of the Debate on Amendments to the Constitution. In Committee of the whole House.

[Gazette of the United-States. [No. XXXVIII.], August 22, 1789, Pg. 2]

_____

State of Rhode-Island Ratification, “that those clauses in the Constitution which declare that Congress shall not have or exercise certain powers, do not imply that Congress is entitled to any powers not given by the said Constitution; but such clauses are to be construed either as exceptions to certain specified powers, or as inferred merely for greater caution. . . . That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia, including the body of the people capable of bearing arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State; that the militia shall not be subject to martial law”, May 29, 1790

_____

That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property and reputation. . . . That the right of the citizens to bear arms, in defence of themselves and the state, shall not be questioned. . . . To guard against the transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, WE DECLARE, That everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall for ever remain inviolate.

[Constitution Of The Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania, Sept. 2, 1790.]

_____

Mr. Jackson said that he was of opinion that the people of America would never consent to be deprived of the privilege of carrying arms–Tho it may prove burthensome to some individuals to be obliged to arm themselves, yet it would not be so considered when the advantages were justly estimated.

–U.S.A. Congress, House of Representatives, Sketch of the Debates on the Militia Bill. Thursday, Dec. 16 [1790]

[Gazette of the United-States. Wednesday, December 22, 1790. No. 68, of Vol. II. Whole No. 172. Pg. 1]

_____

[C]onceived it to be the privilege of every citizen, and one of his most essential rights, to bear arms, and to resist every attack upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made. The particular states, like private citizens, have a right to be armed, and to defend, by force of arms, their rights, when invaded.

–Roger Sherman*, Debates on 1790 Militia Act; Debates in the House of Representatives, editor Linda Grand De Pauw, (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1972), 92-3.

(*Roger Sherman, (April 19, 1721 – July 23, 1793), was the only person to sign all four great state papers of the United States: Declaration of Independence, Articles of Association, Articles of Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution. Sherman served as Justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut from 1766 to 1789, then left to become a member of the U.S. Congress.)

_____

That nothing herein contained shall be deemed or construed to extend to any person lawfully using fire-arms . . . against the attacks of rebels, highwaymen, robbers, thieves, or others unlawfully assailing him or her, or in any other manner where such opposition, defence, or resistance is allowed by the law of the land.

[The Statutes Of Ohio And Of The Northwestern Territory, Aug. 4, 1790.]

_____

Provided always, That in no case whatever, distress shall be made or taken of any person of his tools or implements necessary for his trade or occupation, nor of his arms or utensils of household, necessary for upholding of life.

[The Laws of the State of New-Hampshire, Feb. 11, 1791.]

_____

Substance of Mr. Harper’s Speech on the question of permitting Merchants Ships to arm for defence in the West-India trade. . . .

. . . He said the right of arming for defence; for he took this to be a right inherent by the law of nations, in every neutral State. He had not, he confessed, made researches into the law of nations on this point, but the general course of his reading had led to this conclusion. It was also confirmed by history and the practice of neutral States, whose merchant ships did very frequently sail armed in time of war. It was a natural right to carry arms for defence, as much on water as on the land. The offence, lay in either case, not in the arming, but in the improper use of arms. If a man on a journey should carry arms for his defence against robbers, this would be proper; but should he use them to rob himself, he becomes punishable as a felon–So it is at sea.

The arms may be carried, and may be used properly. If used improperly, punishment ensues. This he had moreover understood to be the result of the best legal opinions in this country; and indeed it had not been denied. . . .

–Robert Goodloe Harper, U.S. Rep. from So. Carolina (1795-1801), and U.S. Senator from Maryland, Maj. Gen. in War of 1812.

[Gazette of the United States, And Philadelphia Daily Advertiser. [Number 1484 Volume XI.], Saturday Evening, June 10, 1797, Pg. 2]

_____

If the proposition were to go to war to-morrow, those fears could not be stronger; tho’ in reality, the question was no more than to arm merchants vessels against pirates; a measure quite as safe as arming persons for their defence, when going into a back country, against Indians or others who might attack them.

–Mr. [John] Rutledge [Jr.], Congress, House of Representatives, Tuesday, December 26, 1797.

[Gazette of the United States, And Philadelphia Daily Advertiser. Philadelphia, Thursday Evening, December 28, 1797. Number 1654. Volume XII. Pg. 3]

_____

. . . but all and every gun, weapon and ammunition found in the possession or custody of any negro, mulatto or Indian, may be seized by any person . . . be forfeited to the seizor for his own use . . . Provided, nevertheless, That every free negro, mulatto or Indian, being a house-keeper, may be permitted to keep one gun. . .

[Statute Law of Kentucky, 1798.]

_____

That every free negro, mulatto or indian, being a house keeper may be permitted to keep one gun, powder and shot.

[Laws of Kentucky, 1799]

_____

A Bill

For establishing the government of the Territory of Columbia. [Washington District of Columbia; (D.C.)]

[Now before the House of Representatives.]

Be it enacted, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the government of the territory of Columbia, (with a reservation of the constitutional authority of Congress over the same,) shall be exercised in the manner following. . . .

[Pg. 2]

. . . . Sec. 13. And be it further enacted, That no law shall be made respecting any establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, otherwise than by a liability to private action for falshood in point of fact; or abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition for a redress of grievances; nor shall the right of the people to keep and bear arms be infringed . . .

[The National Intelligencer And Washington Advertiser. Vol. II. No. CXCV., Friday, February 5th, 1802. Pgs. 1 & 2]

_____

Resolved . . . . That, when the governors of any people shall have betrayed the confidence reposed in them, and shall have exercised that authority with which they have been clothed for the general welfare, to promote their own private ends, under the basest motives, and to the public detrimentit is the unalienable right of a People, so circumstanced, to revoke the authority thus abused, to resume the rights thus attempted to be bartered, and to abrogate the act thus endeavoring to betray them….

–Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Feb. 20, 1804. (Concerning an act done by the Legislature of the State of Georgia).

_____

Mr. Varnum* (Speaker) said as the bill now stood he thought it violated a correct principle–that the people should hold the arms in such a manner that neither the general or state governments should take them from them. He was perfectly disposed to go as far as any gentleman to extend the manufacture of arms in our own country, provided those arms should be placed in such a situation that every individual citizen might purchase them at his own expense.– Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Mr. Varnum, Monday, April 18, 1808.

(* Joseph Bradley Varnum, (Jan. 29, 1751 – Sept. 21, 1821), was a Democratic-Republican Party member from Massachusetts. He served as a U.S. Representative and United States Senator, and held leadership positions in both bodies.)

[The National Intelligencer And Washington Advertiser. [volume], August 24, 1808. Pg. 1]

_____

To me, sir, the embargo always appeared a blessing to this country. True, it has always operated to prevent us from making money, but that was all that was injurious in its operation; and, sir, I was so much of a fool, had so little knowledge of human nature as to believe that there was patriotism enough, love of country enough, PRIDE enough in the nation, to induce its freemen to be willing to abstain from making money, for the good of the nation. I have been egregiously mistaken, sir, I thought I was legislating for freemen who valued their rights; that whilst they were the only people in the world trusted with arms to defend themselves, they would have scorned to take money for the prostitution of their country. I did not think there was a man in the nation who would act the part of a pimp to his mother. It has been so, however; and dreadful, cruel must be the torments of those who have been accessory to it.

–D.R. Williams, U.S. House of Representatives, Jan. 30, 1809. Debate on raising Embargo, and authorising Letters of Marque and Reprisal.

[The National Intelligencer And Washington Advertiser. Washington City, Friday, February 3, 1809. Vol. IX. No. 1298. Pg. 1]

_____

Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That every male white inhabitant liable to and appear as aforesaid, shall when summoned and appearing as aforesaid, in his division or district, if required, carry with him one good and sufficient gun or pair of pistols, and at least nine cartridges to fit the same, or twelve loads of powder and ball, or buck shot, under the penalty of one dollar for every day he shall neglect so to do. 

   Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That no civil officer or any person whatsoever, shall on any pretence, execute any warrant or process, unless for felony, treason or breach of the peace, on any person or persons, during the time any such person or persons, shall working upon the said roads, or in going to, and returning from working and as aforesaid on the same, or Within twenty four hours after such person or persons be discharged from working upon such roads, under the penalty of ten dollars; and the service of such warrant or summons on any person, is hereby declared to be null and void all intents and purposes; and during the time aforesaid, not any implement, for any cause, matter or things whatever, except it be for any payment or assessment mentioned in, or for any fine or forfeiture incurred by this act; but arms and accoutrements shall not be liable to be seized or taken under any pretence whatsoever; and in case any person shall seize, distrain or levy upon any such implements of labor, arms and accoutrements except as aforesaid, every such person shall forfeit and pay the sum of ten dollars.

[A Compilation Of The Laws Of The State Of Georgia, Passed By The Legislature Since The Political Year 1800, To The Year 1810, Inclusive. Containing All the laws, whether in force or not, passed within those periods, arranged in a chronological order, with comprehensive references to those laws or parts of laws, that arc amended, suspended, or repealed. TOGETHER With an appendix, comprising such concurred and approved resolutions, as are of a general operative nature, and as relate to the duty of officers, the relief of individuals, and the settlement of boundary between counties, and this State with North Carolina. Concluding with a copious Index to the whole. By Augustin Smith Clayton, Esq’r. Printed By Adams & Duyckinck. 1812. Pg. 352]

_____

   It was believed, that by placing the arms in the hands of the citizens themselves, they would consider them as their own property, and take care of them as such; and they would become better acquainted with the use of them than if they were only put into their hands occasionally. Besides, it would be more strictly complying with the constitutional provision, “that the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.” Having them in possession, they would be ready for any emergency which might occur…. [U.S. Militia Bill – Pg. 434-5.]

…It was argued, in favor of a reconsideration, that this amendment might defeat the object of the bill, which was to put arms into the hands of every young man when he attained the age of 18; that this amendment placed it in the power of the state legislatures to lay up the arms in armory, or put them into the hands of a favored party, instead of arming the nation, the arms might be locked up from the people–it would be arming the government against the people, and not placing the people in a situation to defend themselves against any oppression with which they might be menaced from whatever quarter it might come. Allusions made to the period when McPherson’s Blues threatened the peace of the city of Philadelphia, and to the Embargo times, in order to shew that the arms would he safer in the hands of the people, than laid up in armories by the states…. [Congress – Pg. 458-9]

[The Weekly Register. Baltimore, Sat., Feb. 15, 1812. Vol. I, No. 24. Printed and published by H. Niles, Water-street near the Merchants’ Coffee House, at $5. per annum.]

  _____

From among the rights retained by our policy, we have selected those of self defence or bearing arms, of conscience, and of free inquiry, for two purposes; one, to shew the vast superiority of our policy, in being able to keep natural rights necessary for liberty and happiness, out of the hands of governments; the other, to shew that this ability is the effect of its principles, and beyond the reach of Mr. Adams’s system, or of any other, unable to reserve to the people, and to withhold from governments, a variety of rights.

[John Taylor, U.S. Senator, (1792 – 94, 1803, 1822 – 24). An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States: Section the Sixth; The Good Moral Principles Of The Government Of The United States, (1814).]

_____

29. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances [Amendments to the const. art. 1. [Pg. 72]

30. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed [Amend to const. art 2] ib

[Laws of The United States of America, From The 4th Of March, 1789, To The 4th Of March, 1815, Including The Constitution Of The United States, The Old Act of Confederation, Treaties, And Many Other Valuable Ordinances And Documents; With Copious Notes And References. Arranged And Published Under The Authority Of An Act of Congress. In Five Volumes. Vol. V. Published By John Bioren And W. John Duane, Philadelphia, And R.C. Weightman, Washington City. 1815.]

_____

U.S. Rep. John W. Taylor, “The citizens of Missouri have certain rights, of which congress cannot deprive them. . . . of keeping and bearing arms”, Jan. 27, 1820

_____

That no free negro or other free person of color, shall carry any fire-arms or other military weapons, abroad, except with a written ticket from his or their guardian, under pain of forfeiting the same, and being fined or whipped. . .

[The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, 1823.]

_____

Should we at any time, unfortunately, find ourselves involved in war with any power in Europe, we shall always have time enough to prepare for the event; and, as we should have to meet in battle, I believe it be of little consequence to the American people, how, or where. Our large cities, concentrating much wealth, and attracting the attention of an enemy, ought to be secured by strong and judicious fortifications; for the rest, the arms of the citizens should be their fortresses, as none can doubt, that, in all time to come, should an enterprising enemy come to our shore, and wish to land, he can do so, in despite of all the fortifications raised, or to be raised. Again, might it not be an objection to this vast system of fortifying our frontier, the favorite plan of some, that the fortress might fall into the hands of an enemy, and offer him a safe place to obtain water, and secure their ships, and repair all damage to the army and navy? This occurrence would be a most serious thing to us. He would then have to be beaten out by a much superior force, which would require an expense correspondingly large, nor could these vast fortresses be safely entrusted to a few men; the force ought to be at least sufficient to man the works, which, at one point in Virginia, I have understood, would require from seven to ten thousand men, this too, at a place, where, during the late war, we had not a man. I repeat it, that, in my opinion, the rifle, and a knowledge of its use, is the best defense for our country, with the exception of the commercial cities, which should be secured by strong forts. Sparta thought so, in days long past; and Napoleon has proved, in the late wars of Europe, how easy it is to march by those fortresses, and Conquer his enemy, which had cost so much time, labor, and expense, besides the loss of so many lives, in the fine armies commanded by Saxe, Marlborough, and others.

–Mr. [John] Floyd, of Virginia, Dec. 20, 1824. U.S. House of Representatives, Occupation of the Mouth of the Oregon.

[Register Of Debates In Congress, Comprising The Leading Debates And Incidents Of The Second Session Of The Eighteenth Congress: Together With An Appendix, Containing The Most Important State Papers and Public Documents To Which The Session Has Given Birth: To Which Are Added, The Laws enacted During the Session, With A Copious Index To The Whole. Volume I. Washington: Published By Gales & Seaton. 1825. Pgs. 14-15]

_____

Legislature of New-York, “which declares the right of the people to keep and bear arms . . . and if one legislature exercised such power, another might do the same, and the result might be, that the constitution might be declared to mean any thing and every thing that the legislature chose.”, Sept. 14, 1827

_____

Not in the regular Army, but in volunteer and self-created bodies; self-trained, and mounted on their own horses, and armed with their own rifles, and other arms, such as they could procure; all at their own expense, without the aid, or even the knowledge the General Government. They annoyed the enemy by hanging on their borders, killing their light troops, cutting off their foraging parties, shooting their sentries at their posts, and destroying and dispersing the tory parties wheresoever they assembled. No friend of his country could remain at home in safety. Many who ventured there for a moment, were dragged from the bosoms of their families, and butchered at their own doors. Others who were taken in arms, were treated as rebels, and hung upon the limbs of trees, on the road sides. These scenes became so familiar, that the spilling of human blood lost the most of its horrors. [Pgs. 190-91]

…Under all those disadvantages, these volunteer officers and citizens, without a moment’s training, met a veteran officer of great experience, and as brave a partisan officer as any in the British army, on ground chosen for the occasion by himself; and with a very small loss on their part, killed and wounded 225, among them Col. Ferguson, their commander; and took 800 prisoners, with all their arms, ammunition, and baggage. The annals of the whole revolutionary war do not afford a more brilliant achievement, or one effected with more cool and deliberate bravery, by any portion of the regular army

   It were these resistances and these successes that gave the first check to the British arms. It destroyed their hopes of submission; and proved that freemen, without training and without discipline, were too brave to be conquered

   Those men and officers did not fight your battles for money. They never cost your government a single cent. They furnished their own rifles, with which they principally fought. They furnished their own clothes, and their own horses; and their slender and humble rations they picked up where they could find them; and, like the other citizens who fought our battleswithout the aid of government, if any were wounded or disabled, the government has positively refused to place them on the Pension Roll, but has left them to beg their bread, or starve, if they could find no other relief. And yet we are confidently told by gentlemen, in this debate, that we owe our independence as a nation, and the freedom of debate which we enjoy in this Senate, exclusively to the officers of the revolutionary army.” [Pg. 193]

Senator William Smith, of South Carolina, Jan. 29, 1828.

[Register Of Debates In Congress, Comprising The Leading Debates And Incidents Of The First Session Of The Twentieth Congress: Together With An Appendix, Containing Important State Papers And Public Documents And The Laws Enacted During The Session, With A Copious Index To The Whole. Volume IV. Washington: Published By Gales & Seaton. 1828.]

_____

Sir, the obligations of man in his social state are two-fold; to bear arms, and to pay taxes for the support of Government. The obligation to bear arms, results from the duty which society owes him, to protect his rights of person. The society which protects me, I am bound to protect in return. The obligation to pay taxes, results from the protection extended to property. Not a protection against foreign enemies; not a protection by swords and bayonets merely; but a protection derived from a prompt and correct administration of justice; a protection against the violence, the fraud, or the injustice of my neighbor. In this protection, the owner of property is alone interested. Here, then, is the plain agreement between Government on the one hand, and the tax-paying citizen on the other. It is an agreement which results, of necessity, from the social compact; and when the consideration is fairly paid, how can you honestly withhold the equivalent?”

– Judge Upshur, Oct. 27, 1829, (Present at the start of the proceedings were; Mr. James MadisonMr. John Marshall, and Mr. James Monroe who was nominated by Mr. Madison to be President of the Convention, and elcted nem. con.)

[Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention, of 1829-30. To which are subjoined, The New Constitution of Virginia, and the Votes of the People. Richmond: Printed by Samuel, Shepard & Co. For Ritchie & Cook. 1830.]

(Judge Abel Parker Upshur, (June 17, 1790 – February 28, 1844), was an American lawyer, judge, and politician from Virginia. Active in Virginia state politics, he later served as Secretary of the Navy. As well as Secretary of State during the Whig administration of President John Tyler. Upshur was instrumental in negotiating the secret treaty that led to the annexation of Texas to the United States. Playing a key role in ensuring that Texas was admitted into the the Union of the United States.

_____

The Americans, generally, are accustomed from infancy to the use of fire arms; very little training will therefore be required to make them gun-men.

–Senator Isaac D. Barnard, from Pennsylvania, March 1, 1830.

[Register Of Debates In Congress, Comprising The Leading Debates And Incidents Of The First Session Of The Twenty-First Congress: Together With An Appendix, Containing Important State Papers And Public Documents And The Laws Enacted During The Session, With A Copious Index To The Whole. Volume VI. Washington: Published By Gales & Seaton. 1830. Pg. 222]

_____

[REGISTER OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS, COMPRISING THE LEADING DEBATES AND INCIDENTS OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CONGRESS: TOGETHER WITH AN APPENDIX, CONTAINING IMPORTANT STATE PAPERS AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS AND THE LAWS ENACTED DURING THE SESSION, WITH A COPIOUS INDEX TO THE WHOLE. VOLUME VI. WASHINGTON: PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY GALES AND SEATON. 1830. Pg. 222] 

. . . any free negro or mulatto who shall disregard this provision, shall, on conviction thereof before a justice of the peace, for first offence pay the cost of prosecution, and forfeit all such arms to the use of the informer . . . and for the second or any subsequent offence. . .

[State Of Maryland, 1831]

_____

Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defence of himself and of the state. . . . To guard against transgressions of the high powers herein delegated: We Declare, that every thing in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall for ever remain inviolate; and that all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be void.

[Constitution Of The State Of Mississippi, Oct. 26, 1832.]

_____

Had I voted against the bill, believing this modern doctrine, should have felt myself bound, as a consistent man, to have gone home and told my constituents that a proposition was made in Congress to relieve them from two millions of their burdens, which I had rejected with scorn, but that I had brought them the glorious remedy of nullification. I knew the temper of that people too well; I knew they were devotedly attached to the Union of these States, as the last hope of liberty upon earth, and that they were not inclined to jeopard it upon a doubtful point of political economy. Whenever sir, I persuade the people whom I represent, to resist the laws of this Government, it will be such resistance as freemen should makewith arms in their hands, and not a pettifogging chicanery through the courts.

–Mr. WILLIAM B. SHEPARD, Jan. 29, 1833, Speech in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Tariff Bill.

[REGISTER OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS COMPRISING THE LEADING DEBATES AND INCIDENTS OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE TWENTY-SECOND CONGRESS: TOGETHER WITH AN APPENDIX, CONTAINING IMPORTANT STATE PAPERS AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS, AND THE LAWS, OF A PUBLIC NATURE, ENACTED DURING THE SESSION: WITH A COPIOUS INDEX TO THE WHOLE. VOLUME IX. WASHINGTON: PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY GALES AND SEATON. 1833. Pg. 1440]

_____

In vain the constitution allows the privilege to the citizen to bear arms for his protection, if, when he rubs up his musket and furnishes it with a flint, he runs the risk of becoming a traitor!

[U.S. Rep. Augustin Smith Clayton, Feb. 27, 1833.]

_____

. . . that the free person of color, so detected in owning, using, or carrying firearms, shall receive upon his bare back thirty-nine lashes. . . .

[Statute Law of Georgia, Dec. 23, 1833.]

_____

In addition to these provisions for the distribution of power, and for the action of the people upon their government, the constitution contains a bill of rights ‘recognizing and forever unalterably establishing the essential principles of liberty and free government.’ By this instrument the great and salutary doctrines of the ordinance are, in a more solemn and ample manner, set forth and confirmed. Beside this, it declares the complete right of the people, as the original source of power, to alter, reform, or abolish their government; it provides against unwarrantable searches and seizures; and asserts the right of the citizen to speak, write or print, as he thinks proper, on every subject, being liable for the abuse of that liberty. It requires that prisoners shall be humanely treated; that accused persons shall have a speedy and impartial trial, and that all penalties and punishments shall be proportioned to the nature of the offences committed. It restricts imprisonment for debt, and it declares the right of the people to instruct their representatives, and to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state. It prohibits the imposition of poll taxes, and forbids the legislature to conferor grant any hereditary privileges. It also provides for the incorporation of associations regularly formed within the state, on their application to the legislature for that purpose.” [Pg. 34]

4. Be it enacted. That if any person shall presume to discharge or fire, or cause to be discharged or fired, any gun or other fire-arms at any mark or object, or upon any pretence whatever, unless he or she shall at the same time be with such gun or fire-arms at the distance of at least one-quarter of a mile from the nearest building of any such city, town, village or station, such person shall for every such offence, forfeit and pay to the use of the county in which the same shall be committed, a sum not exceeding five dollars, nor less than one dollar. And if any person being within a quarter of a mile of any city, town, village or station as aforesaid, shall at the same time wilfully discharge or fire any gun or fire-arms, or cause or procure the same to be discharged or fired, at any time after the setting of the sun and before the rising of the same, he or she so offending, shall in like manner forfeit and pay to the use aforesaid, a sum not exceeding five dollars, nor less than one dollar; reserving nevertheless to any person who will inform, and sue for either of the penalties hereinbefore last mentioned within one month from the commission of the offence, a moiety of the penalty Which the party offending shall on conviction be adjudged to forfeit and pay, the other moiety thereof to go to the use of the county as aforesaid; which said several penalties, or either of them, shall be recoverable with costs, before any justice, judge, or court having cognizance of the same.

Provided always, That nothing herein contained shall be deemed or construed to extend to any person lawfully using fire-arms as offensive or defensive weapons, in annoying, or opposing a common enemy, or defending his or her person or property, or the person or property of any other, against the invasion or depredations of an enemy, or in the support of the laws and government; or against the attacks of rebels, highwaymen, robbers, thieves, or others unlawfully assailing him or her, or in any other manner where such opposition, defence, or resistance is allowed by the law of the land. [Pg. 106]

[Laws Of The Territory Northwest Of The River Ohio Including The Laws Of The Governor And Judges The Maxwell Code And The Laws of the Three Sessions of the Territorial Legislature 1791-1802 With A Sketch Of The State Of Ohio The Ordinance Of 1787 Etc Cincinnati 1833.]

_____

There are certain clauses of the constitution of the United States which restrain Congress, as the national Legislature, from passing certain laws: As that which forbids the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, the passage of a bill of attainder or ex post facto law; a law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom speech or of the press; or the right of the people to assemble and petition; or the right of the people to keep and bear arms; or the right to be secure in persons, houses, papers, and effects: As in that which says: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Will it be contended that the local Legislature of the District of Columbia has unlimited power to pass laws impairing any of these rights?

–Henry A. Wise, Dec. 22, 1835. Representative of Virginia. (Henry Alexander Wise, Dec. 3, 1806 – Sept. 12, 1876, was a U.S. Congressman and governor of Virginia).

[Register Of Debates In Congress, Comprising The Leading Debates And Incidents Of The First Session Of The Twenty-Fourth Congress Together With An Appendix Containing Important State Papers And Public Documents, And The Laws, Of A Public Nature, Enacted During The Session: With A Copious Index To The Whole. Volume XII. Washington: Printed And Published By Gales And Seaton. 1836. Pg. 2027-28]

_____

This difficulty has its origin in a total misconception of what is meant by the liberty of the press; which means not the right to publish without responsibility, but to publish without previous permission. If it meant the former, the liberty of the press would be the greatest curse which could be inflicted on a nation. Where every man has a right to publish what he pleases, but is responsible to the law for the nature and tendency of his publication, the press is free. If he has the right to publish without such responsibility, the press is licentious. If the latter right exist, it is the only instance known to our laws, of a right to act without any accountability for the action. Every man has a right to carry arms for his own defence, and that right is as clear and as important as the freedom of the press; yet it was never supposed that he who used arms for violence or bloodshed, was therefore irresponsible, because he had a right to carry them for defence. . . .

Thomas G. Polk, Chairman
Of the Committe of twenty-six.

[Doc. No. 13.]

Pg. 3 – Preamble And Resolutions On The Subject Of Incendiary Publications, Adopted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, December 19th, 1835.

[Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Begun And Held At The Capitol, In The City Of Richmond, On Monday, The Seventh Day Of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Five. Richmond: Printed By Samuel Shepard, Printer To The Commonwealth. 1835. Pg. 43]

_____

That no free negro or other free person of color shall carry any fire-arms, or military or dangerous weapons abroad, except with a written ticket from his or their guardian, under pain of forfeiting the same, and being fined or whipped . . .

[The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, 1835]

_____

. . . Now, in Europe, the regular armies only were armed, while the body of the people went unarmed. Our people should be well armed, and not suffered to muster in time of peace with cornstalks, and carry arms in time of war that they are afraid of. The secret of the great success of the western people in battle was in their being accustomed from their childhood to the handling of arms.”–June 28, 1836 [Pgs. 1882-83]

. . . Still the Texians did not take up arms: they did not acquiesce, but they did not revolt. They retained their State Government in operation, and looked to the other States older and more powerful than Texas, to vindicate the general cause, and to re-establish the federal constitution of 1824. In September 1835, this was still her position. In that month a Mexican armed vessel appeared off the coast of Texas, and declared her ports blockaded. At the same time General Cos appeared in the west with an army of fifteen hundred men, with orders to arrest the State authorities, to disarm the inhabitants, leaving one gun to every five hundred souls, and to reduce the State to unconditional submission. Gonzales was the selected point for the commencement of the execution of these orders; and the first thing was the arms, those trusty rifles which the settlers had brought with them from the United States, which were their defence against savages, their resource for game, and the guard which converted their houses into castles stronger than those “which the King cannot enter.” A detachment of General Cos’s army appeared at the village of Gonzales on the 28th of September, and demanded the arms of the inhabitants; it was the same demand, and for the same purpose, which the British detachment under Major Pitcairn had made at Lexington, on the 19th of April, 1775. It was the same demand! and the same answer was given–resistance–battle–victory! for the American blood was at Gonzales as it had been at Lexington; and between using their arms and surrendering their arms, that blood can never hesitate. Then followed the rapid succession of brilliant events, which, in two months, left Texas without an armed enemy in her borders, and the strong forts of Goliad and the Alamo, with their garrisons and cannon, the almost bloodless prizes of a few hundred Texian rifles. This was the origin of the revolt; and a calumny more heartless can never be imagined than that which would convert this just and holy defence of life, liberty, and property, into an aggression for the extension of slavery.

Just in its origin, valiant and humane in its conduct, sacred in its object, the Texian revolt has illustrated the Anglo-Saxon character, and given it new titles to the respect and admiration of the world.

It shows that liberty, justice, valor–moral, physical, and intellectual power–discriminate that race wherever it goes.

–Senator Thomas Benton, July 1, 1836.

[Register Of Debates In Congress, Comprising The Leading Debates And Incidents Of The First Session Of The Twenty-Fourth Congress Together With An Appendix Containing Important State Papers And Public Documents, And The Laws, Of A Public Nature, Enacted During The Session: With A Copious Index To The Whole. Volume XII. Washington: PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY GALES AND SEATON. 1836. Pg. 1926-27]

_____

Be it further enacted, That it shall not be lawful for any slave, free negro, or mulatto, to keep or retain in his or their house or houses, any fire arms whatsoever . . . That no free negro or mulatlo . . . shall be suffered to keep or carry any firelock of any kind, or military or other weapons, or any powder or lead, without first obtaining a license . . . any free negro or mulatto who shall so offend . . . forfeit all such arms and ammunition to the use of the informer.

[Territory Of Florida, 1832-36]

_____

Ours is a written constitution. The powers and privileges of Congress, which may be in some measure regarded as distinct, are there laid down. We cannot transcend them. Any effort to enlarge them would be to usurp from the people authority heretofore not granted to us by them . . .

…Suppose a citizen should shut himself up in his castle, and resist your process even unto the death of your officer; would you try, and condemn, and execute him? How, when, where? Suppose your Sergeant should apply to a magistrate of this city for a posse comitatus, and be refused, would you punish the magistrate for a contempt? Can you punish editors who speak contemptuously of your proceedings? If so, God help the letter writers! Can you convert this House into a judicial tribunal, which shall be judge, witness, accuser, and prosecutor, in its own case, and inflict any punishment it chooses? If so, where is the freedom of the citizen, where our boasted trial by jury; where that “due process of law,” that “liberty” guarantied by the constitution? Carry Out these undefined, discretionary doctrines, and it will demonstrate either your unbounded power or your utter impotency. Tell me not, sir, of the precedents of the British Parliament. That is a body confessedly omnipotent. This is one of limited powers. Their claim to punish for offences of this nature is drawn from a system of recognized law. We are mere agents for the exercise of limited and specific grants; and I thank God that it is so. I rejoice that freedom of speech and the right of self-defence cannot be curtailed; that all your enactments in relation to are void; that gentlemen cannot, if they would, have a legislative auto da fe, and burn every man for contempt who will not follow them or applaud their acts.

–Mr. John Francis Hamtramck Clairborne, U.S. Representative from Mississippi, Feb. 10, 1837.

[Debates In Congress Part II OF Vol. XIII. Register Of Debates In Congress, Comprising The Leading Debates And Incidents Of The Second Session Of The Twenty-Fourth Congress: Together With An Appendix, Containing Important State Papers And Public Documents, And The Laws, Of A Public Nature, Enacted During The Session: With A Copious Index To The Whole. Volume XIII. Washington: Printed And Published By Gales And Seaton. 1837. Pgs. 1691-93]

_____

It is expressly provided in the Constitution of the United States, that the States may provide for their own defence in times of imminent danger. We are bound by that Constitution and we have a right to defend ourselves in the way that is reserved in the Constitution of the United States; that is left to every State in the Union, unrestricted and in full force. He knew that the people of the United States had reserved the right of self defence; but the States have given up the right to keep ships of war or troops in time of peace. What he had said he took from the book, and he had not gone beyond that. The right of preparing for war is exclusively reserved to the Government of the United States, and the States cannot, for their own defence, keep ships of war or troops in time of peace. Now for the qualification of these remarks, he would refer to the amendment to the Constitution which had already been read as follows: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Why this was intended to convey to individuals certain personal rights. This is a personal right reserved to individuals to bear arms; this was adopted to grant to every man the shield of self defence.

–Mr. Walter Forward, Oct. 3, 1837 Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention. [The Convention Of The Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania To Propose Amendments To The Constitution Commenced At Harrisburg May 2 1837, Vol. IV. Pages 96-97]. Mr. Forward, (Jan. 24, 1786 – Nov. 24, 1852), was an American lawyer and politician. Elected to the 17th Congress in 1822, and reelected to the 18th Congress. He was appointed on March 6, 1841 by President William Henry Harrison to be First Comptroller of the Treasury. Served in that post until September 13, 1841. And was then appointed 15th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury by President John Tyler).

_____

Why he asked in a time of profound peace should we keep up an oppression–a practice known to operate as an oppression? After fifty years experience, not one solitary instance of good could be shown to have been produced by it. He had nothing to say against making it obligatory for men to be organized and enrolled–to be armed for their own defence. It was perfectly right that all free citizens should be armed for that purpose. Who doubted it?

–Benjamin Martin, Oct. 25, 1837, delegate from Philadelphia county.

[The Convention Of The Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania To Propose Amendments To The Constitution Commenced At Harrisburg May 2 1837, Vol IV.]

_____

He had, he said a deep and abiding impression that the liberties of no people could be maintained unless their yeomanry were armed and disciplined This principle was at the foundation of national independence and national freedom. It was important in reference to national defence from foreign aggression and still more so for the support of the liberties of the people against domestic invasionAll history showed that no nation could retain its liberty in opposition to the ambition of its own rulers unless the people were armed and disciplined for their own defence. . . .

. . .I do not regard this duty of taking up arms as a tax. I recognize in it a privilege, of which no citizen is to be deprivedthe high privilege of a freemanthe privilege to bear arms. This we are not to regard as a tax or a burden. It is a duty to the public and a right appertaining to the character of a freeman; and in the old Constitution, which was framed at a time when men scrupulously criticised every word they used in such an instrument, the word equivalent is employed from a knowledge that the term tax would be inadequate for the idea intended to be conveyed.

–Mr. Scott, Oct. 26 1837.

[The Convention Of The Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania To Propose Amendments To The Constitution Commenced At Harrisburg May 2 1837, Vol IV.]

_____

In peace however the maxim of “cedunt arma togoe,” should be remembered and practised. Our national Constitution, strictly construed, is found to be, in the spirit and letter, opposed to the concentration of military power, and, in effect aims at preserving, in each State of the confederacy, a sovereignty that alone claims the right of training troops, until called into service under the contingencies therein defined. Thus, an enrolment seems the extent of organization, the distribution of arms in quotas to the States, and a system of discipline adopted by Congress, in the enforcement of which the training is specially reserved to the States, is the extent of the authority indisputably conceded in the Constitution to the General Government, while, at the same time, the United States shall guaranty to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government, and cannot impair the right of the people to keep and bear arms, nor exercise any power to call forth the militia, unless to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, and repel invasions. . . .

it cannot be doubted that there are more arms in possession of the people, and belonging to them, than could be required or needed under any emergency. Every one admits that the great arm of defence is the people….

–Mr. George M. Keim, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania, June 6, 1840.

[Volume of Speeches Delivered in Congress, 1840: REPORT ON THE MILITIA. Pg. 6]

_____

And be it further Ordained That this Ordinance shall not be so construed, as to extend the penalty to cases, where fire arms may be discharged at the places designated, for good and sufficient reasons.

[Edgefield, S.C. Ordinance, Aug. 26, 1841.]

_____

As slaves may declare themselves free, free colored persons who carry arms, are directed to carry with them a certificate of a justice of the peace, attesting their freedom. . .

[A Digest of the Penal Law of the State of Louisiana, 1841.]

_____

Here were personal rights secured; and so on with the rest—such as the right of bearing arms in time of peace . . . These were all great personal rights of the people, which this fundamental law declared should not be violated. Was it not true that, at the time the Constitution was framed, these rights had been violated? . . . If the power of dictation could begin, it could go on . . .

[U.S. Rep. Robert Barnwell Rhett, Sr., Jan. 10, 1844]

_____

There are certain clauses of the Constitution which restrain Congress, as the national legislature, from passing certain laws–as that which forbids the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus; the passage of a bill of attainder, or ex post facto law; a law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speeeh or of the press; or the right of the people to assemble and petition; or the right of the people to keep and bear arms . . . There is no such unlimited, absolute, and sovereign power . . .

[U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Wise’s Report, Feb. 17, 1844.]

_____

To us belong freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of citizenship, freedom of suffrage; the right to assemble and discuss measures of government, and demand the redress of all grievances; the right to an impartial trial by jury; the right of personal security against searches and seizures unreasonable; the right of protection against unlawlul restraint and imprisonment; the right to keep and bear arms; and all these principles are placed, by our Constitutions, above the power of party or of faction, or even of the despotism of any majorities to infringe.

[U.S. Representative Chesselden Ellis, Jan. 25, 1845.]

_____

I need but bring the National and state Constitutions to my defence, which place the right of the citizen “to bear arms in self-defence,” beyond the power of legislation, higher and more sacred than the Constitution itself.

[U.S. Rep. [later American Minister to Russia and abolitionist and Republican Party founder] Cassius M Clay [Appeal of Cassius M. Clay to Kentucky and the World] (1845).]

_____

That the people have the right . . . and that their right to bear arms in defence of themselves and of the State, cannot be questioned. . . . That every thing in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate, and that all acts of the Legislature contrary to this or any other article of this Constitution shall be void.

[Constitution Of The State Of Missouri, Declaration of Rights, Jan. 14, 1846.]

_____

I put on arms, supposing it possible that I might be attacked, and simply for the purpose of defending myself. Having a constitutional right to bear arms in my own defence, I exercised it.

–U.S. Senator, (and later Gov. of Mississippi), [Henry S.] Foote, of Mississippi, In Congress Of The United States, Thirty-First Congress–First Session. Wednesday, April 17, 1850. Senate [Slavery–Select Committee.]

[The Daily Union, “Liberty, The Union, And The Constitution.” City Of Washington, Thursday Morning, April 18, 1850. Volume V. Number 302. Pg. 2]

_____

Indiana Constitutional Convention, “No law shall restrict the right of the people to bear arms, whether in defense of themselves or of the State.”, Nov. 7, 1850

_____

Section 12. Every person has a right to bear arms for the defence of himself and the State.

Mr. BAGG moved to insert the word “white” between the words “every” and “person.”

Mr. B. said–I move the amendment simply because I wish, so far as our sable population is concerned, under the operation of our laws, to keep them in their present sphere. I would extend to them benefits and charity, &c., &c., but I would not let them come into our civil, political, social, conjugal, or connubial relations.

Mr. WILLIAMS–I would like to put one question. I know in Kalamazoo a native born citizen, a man of large possessions, who is a black man. Would you not put the means of self-defence in that man’s hands? If a gang of kidnappers were to come into the State, would you deprive that man of the means of defending his home, his children and his property?

Mr. BAGG–There may be isolated cases of individuals to whom I would extend more liberality than to others, but must go on general principles, which are so extensive that I should have to forego them, as they cannot adapt themselves to isolated cases. This is a general principle which I look to. Colored people, negroes and Indians should not be allowed to bear arms with us. It will be made a pretext with them to get into other circles. I am for keeping them where they are, believing them to be a species at least one link beneath us. The moment you let them into the political circle, you open the social and every other circle. I trust the Convention will never leave out the word “white” in the organic law.

Mr. BUSH would ask the gentleman from Wayne if this was a new feature in the constitution.

Mr. CORNELL–This would take away his natural rights, the right of self-defence which has never been given up.

Mr. McLEOD–There is an old Latin maxim, “satis est leoni prostrasse,” which, translated, signifies it is quite sufficient for the lion to have conquered. He goes no further–he does not insult. This unfortunate class of people are thrown almost out of the protection of our laws. They are named with contumely and reproach.

They are not permitted to exercise the franchises which those who are distinguished from them by the mere accident of color exercise. It is sufficient that we, in our power, go thus far, without going still further and adding insult. I know many, both among the Indians and negroes, who, in point of intelligence virtue and personal appearance, in all that elevates the man above the brute, are at least equal to the delegate from Wayne, [Mr. Bagg]

Mr. CROUSE would suggest the propriety of amending by striking out the word “person,” and inserting the word “citizen.”

Mr. WILLIAMS would ask the gentleman from Livingston [Mr. Crouse] if he would not allow the women to defend themselves.

The amendment offered by Mr. Bagg did not prevail.

Mr. BAGG moved to strike out words “and the State.” In that article it would incorporate the colored with our white citizens. He was opposed to obliging them to do military duty, thus insinuate themselves among us.

The amendment was negatived.

And here is how the right finally appeared in their Constitution:

Sec. 7 Every person has a right to arms for the defence of himself and the State.

[Report of the Proceedings And Debates In The Convention To Revise The Constituion Of The State Of Michigan. 1850. Lansing: R.W. Iingals, State Printer. 1850.]

_____

We the people of the State of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom . . . All men are, by nature, free and independe[n]t, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property . . . The people shall have the right to bear arms for their defence and security.

[Ohio Constitutional Convention, Jan. 29, 1851.]

_____

we, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God . . . We declare, That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . . The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves.

[Amended Constitution Of The State Of Indiana, Feb. 10, 1851.]

_____

. . . if any person or persons shall fire or cause to be fired within the corporate limits of Woodsfield, any gun, pistol, musket or rifle for sport or amusement…

[Woodsfield, Ohio Ordinance, Sec. 2., Dec. 22, 1852.]

Have not their hirelings entered that Territory with arms–not fitted for sport, but war; not designed to kill game, but men? . . . Does not the constitution guaranty to them, in common with the people of Massachusetts, the right to bear arms, and freedom of transit into or out of the States or Territories? . . . The entrance of armed men from Missouri or Massachusetts into Kansas is no invasive aggression if they go as law-abiding citizens; and the character in which they go is not to be prejudged, but determined by their acts after they enter. . .

–U.S. Senator Clement C. Clay, Jr., speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, April 21, 1856.

[The Daily Union, City of Washington, [D.C.] Thursday Morning, May 1, 1856. Volume VI Number 14 Pg. 1]

_____

I will not go to the gentleman’s State, or to any other gentleman’s State, to find laws that I do not approve. We have plenty of them in my own State. And the gentleman ought to feel highly blessed if he has none in Indiana that he disapproves. We have a great many in Georgia I do not approve. There is one in particular which I fought in the legislature and opposed before the courts with all the power that I had. It was a law making it penal to bear concealed deadly weapons. I am individually opposed to bearing such weapons. I never bear weapons of any sort; but I believed that it was the constitutional right of every American citizen to bear arms if he chooses, and just such arms, and in just such way, as he chooses. I thought that it was the birthright of every Georgian to do it. I was defeated in our legislature. I was defeated before our courts. The question went up to the highest judicial tribunal in our State, the Supreme Court*, which sustained the law. [*Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. (1 Kel.) 243 (1846). (Concerning concealed carry of arms).]

–Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, June 28, 1856, U.S. House of Representatives.

(Mr. Stephens served as a U.S. Representative from Georgia, (before and after the Civil War). He was also Vice President of the Confederate States of America, and the 50th Governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death in 1883).

_____

The rifle has ever been the companion of the pioneer, and, under God, his tutelary protector against the red man and the beast of the forest. Never was this efficient weapon more needed in just self-defence, than now in Kansas, and at least one article in our National Constitution must be blotted outbefore the complete rights to it can in any way be impeached.

–U.S. Senator Charles Sumner, Speech in the U.S. Senate May 19-20, 1856.

[Belmont Chronicle, St. Clairsville, Ohio, Thursday, July 3, 1856. New Series, Vol. VIII, No 39. Whole No. 934, Pg. 1 – Excerpted from the article; “The Crime Against Kansas. The Apologies for the Crime. The True Remedy….”]

_____

I said that he had no right to take a man’s rifle, that he had no right to enter a man’s house, except he had a search warrant or to take a rifle there unless it was stolen and described in his search warrant; he agreed to all this: I then told him I had been asked in council by the citizens of Lawrence my legal opinion of his right to take men’s rifles, and my reply was that if any man entered my house to take my rifle I had a perfect right to shoot him and he had no redress, even though it was Mr. [U.S. Marshal] Donaldson himself; I asked him if that was so; he laughed and said ‘ Yes.” Some one spoke up and said ”That’s cool;” I told the [U.S.] Marshal that I had given my opinion and my advice, and I wanted to know if I was right; he said I was…

–Col. John A. Perry, testimony taken before the [U.S.] Congressional Committee, June 9, 1856.

[New-York Daily Tribune, New-York, Friday, July 25, 1856. Vol. XVI…….No. 4,763. Pg. 6]

_____

Were the muskets of the freemen of this country indicted as nuisances? I have not heard that they were I read in the highest law of the land that the right to bear and keep arms shall not be infringed. There is no pretense of any law for this outrage. No law exists or can exist in these United States which will authorize a Sheriff–admitting now that he is the valid Sheriff–or a Marshal, to go to a town and demand from its citizens their arms.

Senator Trumbull, June 9, 1856 Speech in the U.S. Senate.

[New-York Daily Tribune, New-York, Saturday, June 14, 1856. Vol. XVI……No. 4,729. Pgs. 9 & 10]

(Senator Lyman Trumbull from Illinois was a member of State house of representatives 1840-1841; secretary of State of Illinois in 1841 and 1843; justice of the supreme court of Illinois 1848-1853; elected to the Thirty-fourth Congress in 1854, but before the beginning of the Congress was elected to the United States Senate; reelected in 1861 and again in 1867, and served from March 4, 1855, to March 3, 1873.)

_____

Sec. 16. And be it further enacted . . . And the people of said Territory shall be entitled to the right to keep and bear arms, to the liberty of speech and of the press, as defined in the constitution of the United States, and all other rights of person or property thereby declared and as thereby defined.

[Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Saturday, June 28, 1856.]

_____

I will not go to the gentleman’s State, or to any other gentleman’s State, to find laws that I do not approve. We have plenty of them in my own State. And the gentleman ought to feel highly blessed if he has none in Indiana that he disapproves. We have a great many in Georgia I do not approve. There is one in particular which I fought in the legislature and opposed before the courts with all the power that I had. It was a law making it penal to bear concealed deadly weapons. I am individually opposed to bearing such weapons. I never bear weapons of any sort; but I believed that it was the constitutional right of every American citizen to bear arms if he choosesand just such armsand in just such wayas he chooses. I thought that it was the birthright of every Georgian to do it. I was defeated in our legislature. I was defeated before our courts. The question went up to the highest judicial tribunal in our State, the Supreme Court*, which sustained the law. [*Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. (1 Kel.) 243 (1846).] 

–Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, June 28, 1856, U.S. House of Representatives.

(Mr. Stephens served as a U.S. Representative from Georgia, (before and after the Civil War). He was also Vice President of the Confederate States of America, and the 50th Governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death in 1883).

_____

Thirty-Fourth Congress, Senate, “that no law shall be enforced in the Territory infringing the liberty of speech, or of the Press, or the right of the people to bear arms“, June 30, 1856

_____

Really, sir, has it come to this? The rifle has ever been the companion of the pioneerand, under God, his tutelary protector against the red man and the beast of the forest. Never was this efficient weapon more needed in just self-defence, than now in Kansas, and at least one article in our National Constitution must be blotted out, before the complete rights to it can in any way be impeached. And yet such is the madness of the hour, that, in defiance of the of the solemn guaranty, embodied in the Amendments to the Constitution, that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” the people of Kansas have been arraigned for keeping and bearing them, and the Senator from South Carolina has had the face to say openly, on this floor, that they should be disarmed–of course, that the fanatics of Slavery, his allies and constituents, may meet no impediment.

–U.S.Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, Speech in the Senate of the United States, May 19th and 20th, 1856.

[Belmont Chronicle, St. Clairsville, Ohio, Thursday, July 3, 1856. New Series, Vol. VIII, No 39. Whole No. 934, Pg. 1 – Excerpted from the article; “The Crime Against Kansas. The Apologies for the Crime. The True Remedy….”]

_____

Telegraphic news.

Reported For The Dispatch

Congressional.

Washington, July 1–Senate–The Senate adopted resolutions calling on the President for information relative to the proclamation of martial law and the arrest of the judge of the district court of Washington Territory by Governor Stephens.

Mr. Collamer, from the Committee on Territories, submitted the minority report on the Kansas question which was read and ordered to be printed.

Mr. Thompson, of Kentucky, spoke somewhat in favor of the bill reported by judge Douglas, yesterday. The following is the substance of the bill: . . .

. . . The bill provides that no law shall be of force, or enforced, in the Territory, infringing the liberty of speech, or the liberty of the press, or the right of the people to bear arms, &c. Also, for punishing illegal voting, or fraud, or violence at the election, and to use the military force for that purpose. The main point is, “the present inhabitants shall decide all points in dispute in Kansas, at a fair election, without fraud or violence, or any other improper influence.” All male white inhabitants over the age of twenty one years to be allowed to vote, if residing in the county and Territory three months previous to the day of election, and no other test is to be required; no oath to support the fugitive slave law, or any other law, nor any other condition whatsoever

[The Daily Dispatch, Richmond, July 2, 1856. Vol. X.–No. 2. Pg. 2]

_____

News From Congress, “if they choose to go in companies and with arms, as all emigrants to new territories have usually gone in all past time, and, as the experience of this settlement shows, is the only safe way to go now”, July 11, 1856

_____

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America,

TUESDAY, July 8, 1856.

“…On the question to agree to the amendment reported by the Committee on Territories, viz: Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the following:

“…Sec. 18. And be it further enacted, That inasmuch as the Constitution of the United States and the organic act of said Territory has secured to the inhabitants thereof certain inalienable rights, of which they cannot be deprived by any legislative enactment, therefore no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust; no law shall be in force or enforced in said Territory respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition for the redress of grievances; the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized; nor shall the rights of the people to keep and bear arms be infringed. No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.…”

“…It was determined in the affirmative,

“Yeas … 32

“Nays … 13

_____

The Kansas Question In Congress, “The bill provides further, that no law shall be enforced in the Territory infringing the liberty of speech, or of the Press, or the right of the people to bear arms . . . Douglas and his slaveholding masters no doubt feel sure that they can make Kansas a slave State under this arrangement.”, July 12, 1856

_____

The great object is to with draw the stormy question from the halls of Congress and remand its decision to the people of the several States and Territories, subject to no other conditions or restrictions than those imposed by the constitution of the U.S. . . . nor shall the rights of the people to keep and bear arms be infringed.

[Senate of the United States, Aug. 11, 1856.]

_____

Washington, D.C.

Slavery Question.

Speech Of Hon. Edward Wade,

Of Ohio,

In The House Of Representative,

August 2, 1856. . . .

Second amendment.–“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

In this amendment the same spirit of LIBERTY is developed, as was so apparent in the preceding. The right to “keep and bear arms,” is thus guarantied, in order that if the liberties of the people should be assailed, the means for their defence should be in their own hands. But this right of the people of the United States, of which the free-state settlers of Kansas are a part, has been torn from them by the treasonable violence of this ill-starred administration, which is used as the mere pack-mule of the slave democracy. . . .

[The National Era, Washington, D.C., Thursday, September 11, 1856. Vol. X. No. 506. Pg. 4.]

_____

Bill abrogating certain laws enacted by the legislative assembly of the Territory of Kansas . . .That inasmuch as the constitution of the United States and the organic act of said Territory has secured to the inhabitants thereof certain inalienable rights, of which they cannot be deprived by any legislative enactment . . . nor shall the rights of the people to keep and bear arms be infringed. . .

[U.S. Senator John B. Weller, Aug. 25, 1856.]

_____

Resolved, That the constitutional rights of the people of Kansas have been fraudulently and violently taken from them. Their territory has been invaded by an armed force; spurious and pretended legislative, judicial and executive officers have been set over them, by whose usurped authority, sustained by the military power of the Federal Government tyrannical and unconstitutional laws have been enacted and enforced; the right of the people to keep and bear arms has been infringed

[Judge, (and U.S. Rep.), William D. Kelley, Union State Convention, Pennsylvania Convention of Delegates, March 25, 1857.]

_____

This my friends, is no fancy sketch. It is all a sad reality. Every one of the charges upon which I have arraigned the self-styled Democracy here to-night, s susceptible of demonstration. Do you ask when it violated the Constitution? I point you to Kansas, ruled over by the self-styled Democracy, through a Legislature forced upon its inhabitants in violation of the professed principle of self-government and of law, passing and enforcing laws abridging the freedom of speech and of the press, by making it a Penitentiary offense to speak or publish anything denying the right to hold slaves in that Territory. Witness the disarming of the people of Kansas, when assembled in self-defense against invaders, and their dispersion by Federal troops when peaceably assembled for a redress of grievances, in direct violation of those clauses of the Constitution which declare that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, nor their right peaceably to assemble for a redress of grievances be abridged.

–Senator [Lyman] Trumbull, Of Illinois, Except from the Speech: On The Politics Of The Day: In Reply To That of Senator Douglas. Delivered at the Capitol of Illinois, June 29, 1857.

(Co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.)

[Belmont Chronicle. St. Clairsville, Ohio, Thursday, July 30, 1857 New Series, Vol. I, No. 31. Whole No. 988. Pg. 1]

_____

. . . that there is nothing in our constitution and laws, or treaty stipulations, to interfere with the right of individual citizens of this country to emigrate to Nicaragua, and if they think proper, to aid in the establishment of a government of liberal principles–and that in the exercise of that right they can carry arms with them.

[Alabama Legislature, Dec. 30, 1857.]

_____

Public policy has made it necessary for the slaveholding States, by statute, to impose other restrictions on free persons of color. They have been forced to extend over them their patrol and police regulations, to deny to them the privilege of bearing arms. . .

[An Inquiry Into The Law Of Negro Slavery In The United States of America, 1858.]

_____

Mr. Powell looked upon this bill as an attempt to abridge the rights of the people, he did not see what authority the Council had to pass a law prohibiting a man from carrying a gun through the streets on the Sabbath.

[Washington, D.C. Common Council, Dec. 2, 1858.]

_____

The constitution is Topeka revamped. The principal points are as follows: The right to bear arms is guarantied to individuals.

[Kansas Constitutional Convention, April 13, 1858.]

_____

[U.S.] HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

. . . Haskin replied that he did not so intend. The gentleman from Virginia had alluded the fact that a firearm had fallen on the floor. It was due to truth to say that, about the time he was talking somewhat excitedly in reference to the harsh and unjust remark by his colleague, a pistol in his breast-pocket accidently fell to the floor. No man who knew him believed that he would use a pistol except in an honorable way. He regretted that this accident had occurred. He put the pistol in his pocket last night about twelve o’clock, to protect himself, if necessary, for he resided in the neighborhood of English Hill, where outrages have been committed, and wanted to feel secure in going home. Until he came to Washington he had never thought it necessary to be armed. He did not carry a pistol for any purpose here, but for his protection while passing through this sometimes violent city. He had seen occasions when, to protect one’s self from insult, it was necessary to carry firearms. When the House should become organized, he wonld ask a pledge of honor to the country that no firearms be brought here. . . .

[Holmes County Republican, Millersburg, Holmes County, Ohio, Thursday, January 26, 1860. Vol. 4. No. 23. Pg. 1]

_____

U.S Representative Thomas G. Davidson

_____

What says the Constitution? The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed, and the right to keep arms implies the right to buy arms, and the right to buy ammunition for those arms, and lead and percussion caps included.

–U.S. Representative Clement L. Vallandigham from Ohio.

[The McArthur Democrat, M’Arthur, Vinton County, Ohio, April 9, 1863. Vol. 11. No. 34. Pg. 1 – Excerpted from article “10,000 Democrats in Council on the 21st, at Hamilton, Butler Co., Ohio”]

_____

. . . 14. That the present executive government of the United States has subverted, for the time, in large portions of the loyal states, the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, and free sufferage, the constitutions and laws of the States and the United States, the civil courts and trial by jury. It has ordered, ad libitum, arbitrary arrests by military officers, not only without warrant but without any charge or imputation of crime or offense, and has hurried the persons so arrested from home and vicinage to distant prisons. and kept them incarcerated there for an indefinite time, some of whom it discharged without trial and in utter ignorance of the cause of their arrest and imprisonment, and others it caused to be brought before courts created by itself and to be tried and punished without law; in violation of the constitutional guarantee to the citizen of his right to keep and bear arms, and of his right of property, it has forcibly deprived, as well the loyal as the disloyal, of both; it has usurped the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and to proclaim martial law, and has established military tribunals in States  and parts of States where there was no obstruction to the due administration of the laws of the United States and the States ny the civil courts and authorities; and ordered many citizens, who were not connected with the Army or Navy, to be dragged before its drum head courts, and to be tried by them for new and strange offenses declared by itself and by an undefined and indefinable law being but the arbitrary will of the court; ordained at pleasure a military despotism in the loyal States by mans of courts martial, provost marshals, and military forces, governed neither by law, principles not rules, from whose tyranny and oppressions no man can claim immnity; all of which must be repudiated and swept away by the sovereign people. . .

–U.S. Senator Garrett Davis, Resolutions offered in the U.S. Senate,

[Daily State Sentinel, Indianapolis, IND., Saturday Morning, January 16, 1864. Volume XII. Number 4,135. Pg. 2]

_____

. . . But on this point I do not mean to be misunderstood. I fully endorse the constitutional right of the people to bear arms for their self defense. . . . Democrats have all the rights which Republicans have, and among those which they share in common is the right to bear arms for their defense and protection. . . .

[Letter from Hon, D.W. Voorhees, (U.S. Senator from Indiana, and leader of the Democratic party), to Brig. Gen. H.B. Carrington, August 23, 1864.]

[The Plymouth Weekly Democrat, September 8, 1864. Volume 10. Number 6 Pg. 1]

_____

U.S. Senator William A. Wallace

_____

…But while giving you this explanation, I wish you to distinctly understand that I claim and assert the right to sell or dispose of arms to any citizen or citizens resident in the States now in the Unionwho recognize the obligations of the Constitution. In the second amendment of that Constitution I read, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

   Lincoln loyalty would interpret this to mean–such people only as Lincoln pleases to permit. I do not subscribe to this interpretation, never having belonged to a Loyal League or shared the profits of a war contract. The right “to keep and bear arms,” I take it, carries with it the right to sell and to purchase.

 Our fathers seem to have set great store by the amendment, for they place it among the first of those not unaptly called “The Ten Commandments of American Freemen.” It stands next to the right of an unmolested religion, a free press, free speech, and the right to assemble to petition for redress of grievances. If these were not written upon tables of stone, and delivered mid the lightnings of Sinai, they were traced by the finger of the Almighty on the hearts of freemenand the man who would deprive the citizen of them is a tyrantand the people who would submit to such deprivation without a struggle only fit to be slaves.

                                                                                             Yours, respectfully,
                                                                                                 James W. Wall.

[Daily State Sentinel, Indianapolis, IND., Wednesday Morning, September 7, 1864. Volume XII. Number 4,333. Pg. 2 – Excerpted from the article; “The Indiana Conspiracy Story–The Humbug Exposed. Letter From Hon. Jas. W. Hall.”] 

(James Walter Wall, (May 26, 1820 – June 9, 1872), was a U.S. Senator from New Jersey during the American Civil War. He was the son of U.S. Senator Garret Dorset Wall).

_____

[U.S. Military almost fight each other, and armed citizens, at a political rally for Democratic Presidential hopeful Gen. George B. McClellan]

“but the right of the individual citizen to bear arms cannot be infringed; his right to assemble, his right to defend himself being assembled, is one that never can be surrendered. . .

[U.S. Rep. Clement L. Vallandigham, Oct. 6, 1864.]

_____

A just, patriotic, and constitutional administration of the Government would never attempt to subvert the right of the opposition, of all the people, to keep and bear arms. It is a right formidable only to tyrants, usurpers, and oppressors.

U.S. Senator Garret Davis, Feb. 27, 1865. Speech in the U.S. Senate.

_____

The House of Representatives, Columbia, S.C. Oct. 30, 1865. . . . Resolved . . . the fact that numerous arms of various descriptions and ammunition in considerable quantities are in the possession of free negroes . . .

[The New York Herald. New York, Sunday, November 12, 1865. Whole No. 10,667. Pg. 2]

_____

An Act

To punish certain offences therein named and for other purposes:

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Mississippi, That no freedman, free negro or mulattoe, not in the millitary service of the United States Government, and not licensed so to do by the Board of Police of his or her County, shall keep or carry fire arms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk or bowie knife, and on conviction thereof in the County Court, shall be punished by fine, not exceeding ten dollars, and pay the costs of such proceedings, and all such arms or ammunition, shall be forfeited to the informer, and it shall be the duty of every civil and military officer, to arrest any freedman, free negro or mulattoe, found with such arms or ammunition, and cause him or her to be committed for trial, in default of bail. . . .

Sec. 3 Be it further enacted, That if any white person shall sell, lend or give to any freedman, free negro or mulattoe, any fire arms, dirk or bowie knife or ammunition, or any spirituous or intoxicating liquors, such person or persons so offending, upon conviction thereof, in the County Court of his or her County, shall be fined not exceeding fifty dollars, and may be imprisoned at the discretion of the Court, not exceeding thirty days . . .

[The Daily Clarion.Jackson, Miss., Tuesday Morning, December 5, 1865. Volume III. Number 118. Pg. 4]

_____

Sir, what is ‘appropriate legislation’ on the subject, namely, securing the freedom of all men? It can be nothing less than throwing about all men the essential safeguards of the Constitution. The ‘right to bear arms’ is not plainer taught or more efficient than the right to carry ballots. And if appropriate legislation will secure the one, so can it also the other.

[U.S. Senator Samuel C. Pomeroy, March 5, 1866.]

_____

. . . the right to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to have full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings concerning personal liberty, personal security, and the acquisition, enjoyment, and disposition of estate real and personal, including the constitutional right to bear arms, shall be secured to and enjoyed by all the citizens . . . Resolved, That the said bill pass, two-thirds of the House of Representatives agreeing to pass the same. . . . Resolved, That the bill do pass, two-thirds of the Senate agreeing to pass the same.

[OFFICIAL. Laws Of The United States. Passed at the First Session of the Thirty-Ninth Congress, July 16, 1866.]

_____

. . . before a public assemblage of citizens and others, said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, speaking of and concerning the Congress of the United States, did, in a loud voice . . . exciting that portion of the population, the black population, to arm themselves and prepare for the shedding of blood.

[Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, March 4, 1868.]

_____

Sec. 15. All persons shall have a right to keep and bear arms for their defence.

[Mississippi Constitution, May 16, 1868.]

_____

. . . he would, if he had his way, arm every loyal man in the Southern States with a Springfield rifle and cartridges, ad libitum, and so far as he was concerned he was perfectly willing for it to be written on this bill that these arms were intended for the protection of the loyal men at the polls.

[U.S. Senator [And later Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Claims] Charles D. Drake, July 21, 1868.]

_____

Now, there was not the slightest desire, as you seem to think, of interfering with the constitutional right of black and white “to keep and bear arms,” or to have Republican meetings–as many and as long as they desire. We only desired to prevent military drills, and organizations not authorized by law, and armed assemblages calculated to break the peace; and these we desired to prevent by legal authority, executed by the civil officer.

–U.S. Senator Benjamin Harvey Hill, September 24, 1868.

[Staunton Spectator, Staunton, VA., Tuesday, October 6, 1868. Volume XLVI. Number V. Pg. 1].

No officer, civil or military, or other person, shall take from or demand of the owner any firearms mentioned in this chapter, except where the services of the owner are also required to keep the peace or defend the state.

[The Organic and Other General Laws of Oregon, Oct. 24, 1868]

_____

“…Sec. 26. That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense.

   “Mr. Gardner said, that within a few years past, there has been a fearful and alarming increase in the number of high crimes such as murders and robberies committed by means of violence, and by the use of arms, in this State. This evil has grown into frightful proportions, and the public peace, and private security, demand the most rigorous measures o[f] repression. The members of the Legislature are impressed with the importance of this subject, but, I understand, they are restrained from providing efficient remedies, from a doubt they entertain as to the extent of their power in this direction, Under the provisions of the 26th section of the Bill of Rights. This power, I consider, is secured for the common, and not for individual defense as when the peace and safety of the people of the whole State, or of a county, or even a single neighborhood, is threatened, the people shall have arms, and a right to bear and use them to preserve the peace and good order of society. I would not, however, interfere with, or in the slightest degree abridge, the citizen’s right of self-defense.”–[Joshua Gardner, Thursday, Jan. 20, 1870, In (Tennessee Constitutional) Convention.]

[Nashville Union and American, Nashville, Tenn., Friday, January 21, 1870. New Series, No. 435. Pg. 1]

_____

There is with the people down there an unfortunate habit of carrying arms. Almost everybody carries arms; I do not know anybody but myself that never has done so.

[U.S. Rep. Peter M. Dox, [And others] Testimony Taken By The Joint Select Committee Of The House Of Representatives, July 11, 1871.]

_____

It declared that when the constitutional rights of Vermont were invaded it was the duty of Massachusetts and all other States to rally to the support of Vermont in sustaining her constitutional rights. “That State was then wrong. She was not only wrong but she was felo de se, as will yet be proved in the future. In this terrible war of ours, when the standard of rebellion was raised, when States like Maryland and Delaware and Kentucky stood upon their constitutional rights, it was our duty and our right to defend them, even by force of arms against the aggressions of the President and the Congress of the United States. It was the right and it was the duty of every State of every friend of reserved State rights, of every friend of constitutional liberty, of every friend of popular government to rally to the support of Delaware and Maryland and Kentucky and every other State whose rights were invaded and trampled upon by the usurping United States Government. Sir when Seymour was Governor of New York he was at the of an imperium in imperio. He might have called in the aid of hundreds of thousands of armed freemen to stand up for the maintenance of the rights of the people of his State in their government and in their persons against the aggressions of the United States. It his duty and it ought to have been the last act of his life, if he perished in the act, to stood in their defense.

–Senator Lot M. Morrill, Feb. 1st, 1872,

[The Congressional Globe, Volume 66, Part 1  By United States. Congress,(Page 766).]

_____

I have been informed that, by a decision of the courts of Philadelphia, under the provisions of this clause of the Constitution a person has even the right to carry concealed weapons, contrary to the general opinion on that subject.

[Pennsylvania Rep. Charles B. Brockway, March 7, 1872.]

_____

Thus the right of the people to keep and bear arms as provided in the Constitution is infringed . . . the country divided into military districts and garrisoned with troops, whose officers were ever ready, at the slightest bidding, to annoy and oppress an unarmed people, and with myriads of Treasury agents. . . .

[Report Of The Joint Select Committee To Inquire Into The Conditions And Affairs In The Late Insurrectionary States, 1872]

_____

Here is another right of a citizen of the United States, expressly declared to be his rightthe right to bear arms; and this right, says the Constitution, shall not be infringed.

[U.S. Senator A.G. Thurman, Feb. 6, 1873.]

_____

All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety. . . . The people have a right to bear arms for their defense and security . . .

[Ohio Proposed Constitution, May 14, 1874.]

_____

There is no more terror in the fact that a negro has armed himself in self-defense than there is in the fact that a white man has done so for the same reason . . . They have as clear a right to do this as the white man . . . We rarely hear of unprovoked assaults upon those who are known to be ready.

[New Orleans Republican, Official Journal Of The State Of Louisiana, June 14, 1874.]

_____

…Mr. B. then quoted from a speech of his made on the Louisiana bill in 1873, where he warned the American people that the dangers menacing the liberties of Louisiana menaced at the same time the liberties of all the other States.

A PROPHET IN HIS OWN COUNTRY.

   What he had foretold then had come to pass word for word. The policy or the President, instead of being modified, had been doggedly intensified. Lieutenant General Sheridan is sent secretly to New Orleans to dragoon the people of Louisiana into submission. Scarcely there three days, having no intercourse with any but the adherents of Kellogg, he sends out his dispatches over the country. He would not say one word against whatever glory or renown accrued to this officer. But he was the servant or the people of the United States, fed and clothed by them, educated by them, and was not their master. Has he forgot that by the Constitution of his country the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, that they shall be secure from unlawful searches and seizures, that no man shall be tried without indictment by a grand Jury. Sir, this issue cannot come too soon. If this cavalry officer, with his bloody sword, is stronger than all our personal guarantees of liberty. It is time that we should know it. Let us see whether the dispatches sent by this officer do not prove him unfit to breathe the air of a republic. In a three days’ stay in one city of a large State he proclaims that whole State to be a lawless community. But there have been replies to these communications of General Sheridan. Mr. B. then read from the resolutions passed by the different exchanges in New Orleans and the bishops and clergy and others, pronouncing as calumnious the statements of General Sheridan. The meanest man of all there, said Mr. B, was ‘the peer of General Sheridan in every respect. Reading from the dispatch of General Sheridan asking that Congress proclaim the White Leaguers banditti, Mr. B. said that if there was the tone that once existed at the White House

GENERAL SHERIDAN WOULD NEVER AGAIN SIGN

his name as Lieutenant General of the army. Did this dispatch sound like an American officer? Did it not rather sound like the commander of a band of Janissaries, asking for instructions from some Oriental despot? In a time of profound peace he asks that Congress shall pass an ex post facto law, that he shall try by military commission and murder his own fellow-citizens. As he (Mr. B.) said, if the proper feeling existed in high quarters General Sheridan would not remain where he was five minutes. He had proved himself utterly unfit for his position. Instead of conciliation, kindness and obedience to the civil law, he rushes at once to set up a military despotism…. [–U.S. Senator Thomas F. Bayard* from Delaware, debate in the Senate, Friday, Jan. 8, 1875.]

[National Republican, Washington, D.C., Saturday Morning, January 9, 1875. Vol. XV. No. 39. Pg. 1]

* – Thomas F. Bayard, (Oct. 29, 1828 – Sept. 28, 1898), was a U.S. Senator from Delaware. In addition to being the 30th U.S. Secretary of State, (March 7, 1885 – March 6, 1889).

_____

. . . out of which grew your local liberty, security against unjust seizures, open and honest courts, frugal government, the right of the people to bear arms in their defense, and the subjection of the military to the civil power! . . . It was a renewed devotion, in the agony and peril of the time, to constitutional limitations, reserved rights and municipal rule. It lifted up the decision of the United States supreme court as the aegis of personal liberty and a break-water against subverted government. . . .

[U.S. Rep. Samuel S. Cox, April 1, 1875.]

_____

It is your interest then to foster the system which has given you this prosperity. Where is the magic which evoked it? where but in the ring of your governor of the Elder Day, more powerful than the ring of Aladdin which made the earth reveal the jewels of whole Satrapies of the Orient, the ring which Charles I. gave to Winthrop and with which Winthrop evoked the charter, out of which grew your local liberty, security against unjust seizures,–open and honest courts,–frugal government,–the right of the people to bear arms in their defense, and the subjection of the military to the civil power! These are the genii which have bestowed on you the diverse and marvellous prosperity and production which made your state splendid with memories, puissant in arms, elegant in art and exalted in position!

–Speech of Hon. Samuel S. Cox, of New York. In Hartford Conn. April 1, 1875. (Excerpted form the article Connecticut Product And Prosperity Under Home Rule.)

(Samuel S. Cox represented both Ohio and New York in the U.S. House of Representatives, and also served as United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.)

[The Daily Argus, Rock Island, Illinois, Tuesday, April 13, 1875. Pg. 2]

_____

Convention of 1875

Eighteenth Day.

Tuesday, May 25, 1875.

Prayer by Rev. Mr. Barrett. . . .

In Committee Of The Whole. . . .

Afternoon Session. . . .

. . . Mr. Lay moved to strike out all of secion 18, except the following:

That the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, when lawfully threatened, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question; but nothing herein contained, is intended to justify the practice of wearing concealed weapons. Adopted.

Mr. Spaunhorst moved to strike out the words “when unlawfully threatened.” Adopted.

Section 18, as amended, adopted.

[The State Journal. Jefferson City, MO., Friday, May 28, 1875. Vol. 3. No. 23 Pg. 6]

_____

These men said that they were willing to surrender the few arms they had . . . Did they expect from Gen. Butler any more than is accorded to them by the constitution? I ask whether they had not as much right to bear arms as Gen. Butler or anybody else. . . . I ask you, citizens of the United States, would you stand it? . . . Are you not going to allow us any right of self-defence? In the name of my race and my people, in the name of humanity, in the name of God, I ask you whether we are to be American citizens, with all the rights and immunities of citizens, or whether we are to be vassals and slaves again? I ask you to tell us whether these things are to go on, so that we may understand now and henceforth what we are to expect.

[U.S. Representative Joseph Rainey, July 21, 1876, (the first African American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the first African American to preside over the House.)]

_____

Debate in the State Legislature

The Temperance Bill Defeated By A Vote of 74 To 22. . . .

. . . Dr. Riley’s Speech

Mr. Riley spoke at length. He would oppose the bill. He believed it to be one the most damnable things ever forced down the throats of a law-abiding people. He was opposed to it in its every section, from first to last, on conscientious principles.

Referring to the vital statistics of the state, I find that but six men died of intemperance last year–two of delirium tremens and four of something else which they couldn’t tell anything about and so called it intemperance. And yet you want to stop drinking. Eleven were killed by horses during the same time. Why don’t you abolish horses–never use them or go near them! Thirty-five committed suicide. Why don’t you prohibit the use of firearms, knives and ropes, and drain all your lakes and rivers for fear some poor fool will drown himself? Some hundred and fifty-two died of heart disease. I don’t want any heart in mine. Twenty ladies were scalded to death. You ought to prohibit the use of hot water for fear that more ladies will get into it and perish. (Laughter.) . . .

[The Princeton Union, Princeton, Minn., Wednesday, February 26, 1879. Vol. III. No. 10. Pg. 1]

_____

POINTING FIRE ARMS

Sec. 4122. A person who intentionally without malice, points a fire arm toward another person shall be fined not more than fifty dollars and not less than five dollars. If he discharges such fire arm so pointed without injury to another person he shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars. or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.

Sec. 4123. If he maims or injures another person by the discharge of such fire arm so pointed he shall be fined not less than fifty dollars or imprisoned not more than two years, and the person maimed or wounded by the discharge of such fire arm or the heirs or representatives of a person killed by such discharge may have an action on the case against the offending and recover damages therefor.

Sec. 4124. The two preceding sections shall not apply where fire arms are used in self-defence or in the discharge official duty, or in case of justifiable homicide. [Pgs. 792-93]

Sec. 4316. A person who hunts, shoots or pursues, takes or kills wild game or other birds or animals, or discharges fire arms except in the just defence of person or property or in the performance of military or police duty, on Sunday, shall be fined ten dollars, one half to go to the person who makes the complaint and one-half to the state. [Pg. 826]

[The Revised Laws Of Vermont, 1880: With The Public Acts Of 1880, And The Constituions Of The United States And The State Of Vermont. Published by Authority. Rutland: Tuttle & Co., Official Printers And Stationers To The State Of Vermont. 1881.]

_____

All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property . . . The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned. . . . The blessings of a free government can only be maintained by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles. . . . The state of Dakota is an inseparable part of the American union, and the constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land. . . . To guard against transgressions of the high powers we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate.

[South Dakota Constitution, Sept. 9, 1883.]

_____

That all persons are born equally free, and have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reconed the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties . . . protecting property . . . That the right of no person to keep and bear arms in defence of his own home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question . . .

[Montana Constitutional Convention, Feb. 7, 1884.]

_____

And that the citizens may familiarize themselves with their use, it is the constitutional right of every citizen to keep such weapons in times of peace; to purchase them; to provide himself with ammunition; to keep arms in order and repair; to practice with them, and to use them for all ordinary purposes, and in all the ordinary modes usual in the country and to which such arms are adapted.

[The Code of Tennessee, 1884.]

_____

U.S. Senator Richard Coke, 1885

_____

“this ordinance does not forbid the necessary shooting of rabid dogs or burglars….”

[The Dallas Daily Herald, Dallas, Texas, Monday, October 24, 1887. New Series, Vol. 2 No. 240 Pg. 7]

_____

§ 3172. No officer, civil or military, or other person, shall take from or demand of the owner any fire-arms.

[The Codes And General Laws Of Oregon, 1887]

_____

Delaware Gazette and State Journal, “which guarantee to every citizen the right to carry arms”, Oct. 3, 1889

_____

What are the inalienable and inherent rights that belong to the individual? The first and nearest one is what? The right of enjoying and defending his life. Whether he be saint or sinner, Protestant or Catholic, or what not, the first inalienable right he has, and ought to be protected in, is that of enjoying and defending his life. The next in importance is the right of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of his conscience. The third, the right of seeking and pursuing his safety and happiness. The fourth, the right of communicating his thought and his opinions. Fifth, the right to acquire and protect property. Sixth, the right to meet and consult with his fellows as to what will promote the common welfare. Seventh–and while enjoying all these rights, these six that I have just mentioned, he has the right to bear arms in defense of himselfhis family and his state, and no man can take it awayThere are seven inalienable and inherent rights of the individual man.

–Mr. C.T. Allen, Oct. 9, 1890.

[Official Report of the Proceedings and Debates in the Convention, Kentucky]

_____

It is useless to talk about keeping a people free when they cannot use the jewelry of freedom, when they cannot fight force with force, when they cannot plead their cause on the battlefield with gunpowder and bayonets. Our fathers secured to us the right to keep and bear arms so that no power in the Union can take it from us. In case the government shall become a despotism the arms of the freeman is the last resort of the people for the preservation of their libertiesThey have said that no power shall disarm the people of the United States….

–U.S. Senator Roger Quarles Mills, from Texas.

[The Salt Lake Herald, Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday, February 18, 1895. Number 257 Pg. 4]

_____

[The Wichita Daily Eagle, Wichita, Kansas, Sunday Morning, January 29, 1899. Volume XXX Number 64 Pg. 1]

_____

What are the inalienable and inherent rights that belong to the individual? The first and nearest one is what? The right of enjoying and defending his life. Whether he be saint or sinner, Protestant or Catholic, or what not, the first inalienable right he has, and ought to be protected in, is that of enjoying and defending his life. The next in importance is the right of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of his conscience. The third, the right of seeking and pursuing his safety and happiness. The fourth, the right of communicating his thought and his opinions. Fifth, the right to acquire and protect property. Sixth, the right to meet and consult with his fellows as to what will promote the common welfare. Seventh–and while enjoying all these rights, these six that I have just mentioned, he has the right to bear arms in defense of himself, his family and his state, and no man can take it away. There are seven inalienable and inherent rights of the individual man.

–Mr. C.T. Allen, Oct. 9, 1890.

[Official Report of the Proceedings and Debates in the Convention, Kentucky]

_____

It is useless to talk about keeping a people free when they cannot use the jewelry of freedom, when they cannot fight force with force, when they cannot plead their cause on the battlefield with gunpowder and bayonets. Our fathers secured to us the right to keep and bear arms so that no power in the Union can take it from us. In case the government shall become a despotism the arms of the freeman is the last resort of the people for the preservation of their liberties. They have said that no power shall disarm the people of the United States….

–Senator Roger Quarles Mills, from Texas.

[The Salt Lake Herald, Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday, February 18, 1895. Number 257 Pg. 4]

Next Page