1. "Whereas civil-rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms." -- Tench Coxe, in Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution
  2. "To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them." -- Richard Henry Lee, Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic (1787-1788)
  3. "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." -- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-188
  4. "No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -- Thomas Jefferson, Draft Virginia Constitution, 1776
  5. "If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defences.
  6. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair. -- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29
  7. "A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms . . . To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms . . ." -- Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer 53 (1788)
  8. "That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms ... " -- Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at 86-87 (Pierce & Hale, eds., Boston, 1850)
  9. "[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." --James Madison,The Federalist Papers, No. 46
  10. "To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, countries or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws." --John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States 475 (1787-1788)
  11. "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive." --Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia 1787).
  12. "Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American... [T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
  13. "Whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it." --Richard Henry Lee, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
  14. "And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that the people preserve the spirit of resistance? -- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Dec. 20, 1787, in Papers of Jefferson, ed. Boyd et al.
  15. "No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -- Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334,[C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950]
  16. "The right of the people to keep and bear ... arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country ..." -- James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1978
  17. "A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves ... and include all men capable of bearing arms." -- Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer (1788) at 169
  18. "What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty .... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins." -- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment, I Annals of Congress at 750, August 17, 1789
  19. " ... to disarm the people - that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them." -- George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 380
  20. " ... but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights ..." -- Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in Federalist 29
  21. "Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress?   If our defense be the real object of them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" -- Patrick Henry, 3 J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836

 

 

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