Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, " put arms into the hands of the people...", Dec. 8, 1835

"...Under the operation of our institutions, the public servant who is called on to take a step of high responsibility should feel, in the freedom which gives rise to such apprehensions, his highest security. When unfounded, the attention which they arouse, and the discussions they excite, deprive those who indulge them of the power to do harm; when just, they but hasten the certainty with which the great body of our citizens never fail to repel an attempt to procure their sanction to any exercise of power inconsistent with the jealous maintenance of their rights. Under such convictions, and entertaining no doubt that my constitutional obligations demanded the steps which were taken in reference to the removal of the deposites, it was impossible for me to be deterred from the path of duty by a fear that my motives could be misjudged, or that political prejudices could defeat the just consideration of the merits of my conduct. The result has shown how safe is this reliance upon the patriotic temper and enlightened discernment of the people...."

"...Occurrences, to which we as well as all other nations are liable, both in our internal and external relations, point to the necessity of an efficient organization of the militia. I am again induced, by the importance of the subject, to bring it to your attention. To suppress domestic violence, and to repel foreign invasion, should these calamities overtake us, we must rely, in the first instance, upon the great body of the community, whose will has instituted, and whose power must support, the Government. A large standing military force is not consonant to the spirit of our institutions, nor to the feelings of our countrymen; and the lessons of former days, and those also of our own times, show the danger as well as the enormous expense of these permanent and extensive military organizations...."

"...The armor and the attitude of defence afford the best security against those collisions which the ambition, or interest, or some other passion of nations not more justifiable, is liable to produce. In many countries it is considered unsafe to put arms into the hands of the people, and to instruct them in the elements of military knowledge. That fear can have no place here, when it is recollected that the people are the sovereign power. Our Government was instituted, and is supported, by the ballot-box, not by the musket...."

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Monday, December 25, 2006


"...Individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty, to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstances as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved..."
"... In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view that which appeared to us the greatest interest of every true American,--the consolidation of the Union,--in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety..."
"...we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness..."
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

House of Representatives of the United States, "History offers too many lessons of the fatal result of such a measure....", Dec. 4, 1832;

“...If a system compatible with the constitution cannot be devised, which is free from such tendencies, we should recollect that that instrument provides within itself the mode of its amendment; and that there is, therefore, no excuse for the assumption of doubtful powers by the General Government. If those which are clearly granted shall be found incompetent to the ends of its creation, it can at any time apply for their enlargement; and there is no probability that such an application, if founded on the public interest, will ever be refused. If the propriety of the proposed grant be not sufficiently apparent to command the assent of three-fourths of the States, the best possible reason why the power should not be assumed on doubtful authority is afforded; for if more than one-fourth of the States are unwilling to make the grant, its exercise will be productive of discontents which will far overbalance any advantages that could be derived from it. All must admit that there is nothing so worthy of the
constant solicitude of this Government, as the harmony and union of the people....”

"...Our fellow citizens upon the frontiers were ready, as they always are, in the tender of their services in the hour of danger. But a more efficient organization of our militia system is essential to that security which is one of the principal objects of all governments. Neither our situation nor our institutions, require or permit the maintenance of a large regular force. History offers too many lessons of the fatal result of such a measure, not to warn us against its adoption here. The expense which attends it, the obvious tendency to employ it because it exists, and thus to engage in unnecessary wars, and its ultimate danger to public liberty, will lead us, I trust, to place our principal dependence for protection upon the great body of the citizens of the republic. If, in asserting rights or in repelling wrongs, war should come upon
us, our regular force should be increased to an extent proportioned to the emergency, and our present small army is a nucleous around which such force could be formed and embodied. But, for the purposes of defence under ordinary circumstances, we must rely upon the electors of the country. Those by whom, and for whom, the Government was instituted, and is supported, will constitute its protection in the hour of danger, as they do its check in the hour of safety....”

"...Limited to a general superintending power to maintain peace at home and abroad, and to prescribe laws on a few subjects of general interest, not calculated to restrict human liberty, but to enforce human rights, this Government will find its strength and its glory in the faithful discharge of these plain and simple duties. Relieved by its protecting shield from the fear of war and the apprehension of oppression, the free enterprise of our citizens, aided by the State sovereignties, will work out improvements and ameliorations which cannot fail to demonstrate that the great truth, that the people can govern themselves, is not only realized in our example, but that it is done by a machinery in government so simple and economical as scarcely to be felt. That the Almighty Ruler of the Universe may so direct our deliberations, and overrule our acts, as to make us instrumental in securing a result so dear to mankind, is my most earnest and sincere prayer."


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Sunday, December 17, 2006

"...One great objt. of Govt. is personal protection...."

This government has for its object public strength and individual security. . . . .Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. . . . .The weak side of a republican government is the danger of foreign influence. This is unavoidable, unless it is so constructed as to bring forward its first characters in its support. I am therefore for a general government, yet would wish to go the full length of republican principles. . . . . Federal is an association of distinct Govts: into one--these fed. Govts. in some instances legislate on collective bodies, in others on individuals . . . . .Our powers have this object-the Freedom & Happiness of our Country--we must go all lengths to accomplish this Object--if the Legislatures have no powers to ratify because thereby they diminish their own Sovereignty the people may come in on revolution Principles--We have power, Upon the plan of the separation & independence of the States, you incourage those Habits, and opinions, that Esprit de Corps which is peculiar to the State and to every individual. These habits prefer their own State to those of the Genl. or fed. Govt.-- this has been the case, State Debts, State Crs. have always stood before the fedl. Debt or Cr.--Man loves power--State Magistrates will desire to increase yr. own power at the Expense of the Genl. or fed. Govt.

One great objt. of Govt. is personal protection and the security of Property....”

- Alexander Hamilton, June 19-20, 1787. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 [Farrand's Records, Volume 1]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

" that manly opposition to those Vile Invaders of their Just Rights..."

“...And the Serious attention of Every friend to American Liberty is Employed in giving that manly opposition to those Vile Invaders of their Just Rights, privaledges and property, Whether it would be prudent to hold out to the World Such numbers of Internal Enemies-Especially as by the manly and determined Spirit prevailing in the Congress their wings must and will be Clipped. The Declaration has laid the foundation-and will be followed by Laws fixing the degree of Offence, and punishment Suitable. Some people have done things, which if done in future nothing less than life will be Sufficient to Attone for. These Enemies to our Righteous Cause will (I apprehend) be Less on their Guard if they are not held up in that public way, than if they are-and Will undoubtedly meet their due Reward, provided you persue Steadily your line of Patriotism, and at the Same time keep a Watchfull Eye toward their Conduct in the pollitics of your County. These things Must and Will be Enquired into. But Sir, now is the time and Season that our open and avowed Enemies are pressing hard. They Call forth the attention and Utmost Vigilence of the Congress to that Point. They well know they have internal Enemies in disguise, And Whenever, by the blessing of God, their Virtuous Efforts Shall be Crowned with Success, They will imediately turn their thoughts toward those Sapper's of the Rights of Mankind. It is also the business of every Government so Soon as formed to take in hand that business. South Carolina has already Set them a Good Example.

I have sent you a pamphlet Called Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty &c. wrote by Doctr. Price in England. It is an Excellent Peice and don't Doubt (properly used) will tend to Strengthen Your Patriotic or in other words Independent party. I have also directed one to Doctr. McCall as present. The Militia of Pensylvania are beginning their March this day toward New York, and I do Suppose that by the last of this Week Generl. Washington will be Thirty Thousand Strong at Least. Coll. Haslet's Battalion (Except one Company Which [is] to Stay at Lewis) is ordered up to Wilmington, as a Security to Philadelphia,(1) in the Absence of their Militia as well as to the Lower Counties, And hopes for this Reason the Committee of Safety will permitted them to retain (while thus Employed) the Militia Arms
belonging to the public

- Caesar Rodney, July 10, 1776, letter to Thomas Rodney. [Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 4 May 16, 1776 - August 15, 1776. Library of Congress]

Sunday, December 10, 2006

" concerns our liberties, our lives our property..."

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 1
James Duane's Notes for a Speech in Congress

...We are contending with the State from whence we sprung, with those who were once our fathers, our guardians, our brethren, with those fleets and armies which were lately our protection, and contributed to rescue us from Gallic tyranny and oppression.

Cemented by the ties of blood, religion and interest, victory itself however decided must be fatal: and whichever side prevails must weep over its conquests. On our side we tremble for the dearest and most inestimable of all earthly blessings, our liberty and for those rights and that most excellent constitution and free government, which (resources) (2) were procured by the blood and handed down to us by the wisdom and the bravery of our renowned ancestors.

Doubly exposed to the cruel projects of an unrelenting and despotic Ministry, and if they are defeated to the danger of foreign invasions from bigots and tyrants, no condition can be more alarming

How necessary then while we summon up all our fortitude and rise superior to fear and every selfish regard while we are ready to lay down our fortunes and even our lives in the defence of the best of causes, that at the same time we restrain every emotion of intemperate zeal--every sally of anger and passion; and coolly and deliberately examine and consider the state of the Colonies uniting with one heart and one voice our best and wisest counsels for the preservation of our country....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, 1789-1873.
"...Assuring myself, that, under every vicissitude, the determined spirit and united councils of the nation will be safeguards to its honor and its essential interests, I repair to the post assigned me with no other discouragement than what springs from my own inadequacy to its high duties. If I do not sink under the weight of this deep conviction, it is because I find some support in a consciousness of the purposes, and a confidence in the principles, which I bring with me into this arduous service.
“To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality towards belligerent nations; to prefer, in all cases, amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences, to a decision of them by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries, and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence, too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves, and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the union of the states as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the constitution, which is the cement of the union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the states and to the people, as equally incorporated with, and essential to the success of, the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve, in their full energy, the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the press; to observe economy in public expenditures; to liberate the public resources by an honorable discharge of the public debts; to keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics; that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe; to promote, by authorized means, improvements friendly to agriculture, to manufactures, and to external as well as internal commerce; to favor, in like manner, the advancement of science and the diffusion of information, as the best aliment to true liberty....”
- President Thomas Jefferson, Inaugural speech.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Amendments to the Constitution, "to secure the rights and liberties of the people", Aug. 13, 1789

The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 4]
Amendments to the Constitution.
House of Representatives, August 13, 1789.
"...The Constitution derived no authority from the first Convention; it was concurred in by conventions of the people, and that concurrence armed it with power, and invested it with dignity. Now, the Congress of the United States are expressly authorized, by the sovereign and uncontrollable voice of the people, to propose amendments whenever two thirds of both houses shall think fit. Now, if this is the fact, the propositions of amendment will be found to originate with a higher authority than the original system. The conventions of the states respectively have agreed, for the people, that the state legislatures shall be authorized to decide upon these amendments in the manner of a convention. If these acts of the state legislatures are not good, because they are not specifically instructed by their constituents, neither were the acts calling the first and subsequent conventions...."
"...Nor is a greater number necessary to secure the rights and liberties of the people, for the representative of a great body of people is likely to be more watchful of its interests than the representative of a lesser body...."
"...Suppose they, the people, instruct a representative by his vote to violate the Constitution; is he at liberty to obey such instructions? . . . . Is he absolutely bound to perform what he is instructed to do? Suppose he refuses; will his vote be the less valid, or the community be disengaged from that obedience which is due, from the laws of the Union? If his vote must inevitably have the same effect, what sort of a right is this, in the Constitution, to instruct a representative who has a right to disregard the order, if he pleases? In this sense, the right does not exist; in the other sense, it does exist, and is provided largely for."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"let the citizens of Massachusetts be disarmed. . . . It would be regarded as a system of despotism.";

The Debates in the Federal Convention,
August 23, 1787
Mr. KING, by way of explanation, said, that by organizing, the committee meant, proportioning the officers and men -- by arming, specifying the kind, size, and calibre of arms -- and by disciplining, prescribing the manual exercise, evolutions, &c....
Mr. GERRY. This power in the United States, as explained, is making the states drill-sergeants. He had as lief let the citizens of Massachusetts be disarmed, as to take the command from the states, and subject them to the general legislature. It would be regarded as a system of despotism.
Mr. MADISON observed, that "arming," as explained, did not extend to furnishing arms; nor the term "disciplining," to penalties, and courts martial for enforcing them.....
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