Saturday, May 11, 2013
"...this essential means of defending life and protecting property?"
"It was known, and would be admitted, that of them had, either in their laws or constitution, deprived free negroes and mulattoes of all political rights of citizens; such as denying them the right to vote at elections; or depriving them of the liberty to give evidence against a white person; forbidding them to bear arms; and several of these States have compelled them to depart, and forbidden them to return. For this we have been often reproached. To proceed with the course he had laid out to himself, he would begin with New Hampshire.
"New Hampshire had said in her constitution "that all men are born equally free and independent. Have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights--among which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty," &c.
"In the year 1808 she passed a law to regulate her militia, in which it is, amongst other things, enacted "that each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of this State, resident therein, who is, or shall be, of the age of sixteen years, and under the age of forty &c. shall be enrolled."
"If the white man and the black man are born equally free and independent, and have the same natural rights, &c., among which are the enjoying and defending his life and liberty, how is the colored man to defend his life if he is prevented from the means given to the white man? This absurdity is so palpable that no man attempt to reconcile it. No other conclusion can result, but that New Hampshire, too, has yielded her assent, that free negroes and mulattoes are not citizens; but that these governments are constituted of white citizens only. A man deprived of his arms, or deprived of the means of using them as his fellow-citizens do, is deprived at least of half his defence. Republican New Hampshire would never do that.
"He would next examine the laws and constitution of Vermont. Although this was one the new States, on account of her local situation and political habits, he had classed her with the States in her neighborhood.
"Vermont also had said in the first article her constitution, "that all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and inalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."
"She passed a law on the 10th of March, 1797, to regulate the militia. In which it is also enacted: "that every free able-bodied white male citizen above the age of eighteen, and under forty five, &c., shall be enrolled"* &c.
"The defending life and protecting property, by the appointment of Heaven, must depend upon our physical powers And will the State of Vermont, which knows so well the benefit arms, strip, by law, a portion of her citizens this essential means of defending life and protecting property? This, like the case of New Hampshire, proves that they have free negroes and mulattoes in Vermont, but have no black or yellow fellow-citizens there."
- Senator William Smith, Dec. 8, 1820. [Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. FROM GALES AND BEATON'S ANNALS OF CONGRESS, FROM THEIR REGISTER OF DEBATES; AND FROM THE OFFICIAL REPORTED DEBATES, BY JOHN C RIVES. Pg. 671-72]
“The best definition of citizen, according to European writers, which I have been able to find, is a "native or inhabitant of a city vested with its freedom and liberties." The "freedom and liberties," or "privileges and immunities," essential to a citizen, were those I have mentioned; and although the name was original confined to the inhabitant of a city, yet when these principles were diffused among, and conferred on, the inhabitants of the country, they, having the same attributes, took the name. The rights of an American citizen are essentially the same: to elect, be elected, and bear arms in his defence; they are essential, for, divest him of these, and you divest him of his citizenship. He has other essential rights, those of property and personal security under the protection of laws fairly administered; but he has these in common with foreigners, and in some respects with slaves."
- Senator John Holmes, of Maine, Dec. 9, 1820. [Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. FROM GALES AND BEATON'S ANNALS OF CONGRESS, FROM THEIR REGISTER OF DEBATES; AND FROM THE OFFICIAL REPORTED DEBATES, BY JOHN C RIVES. Pg. 681. (John Holmes (March 14, 1773 – July 7, 1843) was an American politician. He served as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts and was one of the first two U.S. Senators from Maine).