Monday, May 27, 2013

" the natural and constitutional rights of the people to keep and bear arms"





"Upon the subject of the Attack on the Steamer Caroline, the Neutrality Law, and the Disturbances on the Canadian Frontier.

"FEBRUARY 19, 1839.

"Referral to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

"To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:

   "Your memorialists, citizens of the county of Franklin, State of Vermont, would respectfully represent: That in the opinion of your memorialists, the act passed at your last session, commonly called the "neutrality law," is unjust and dangerous to the rights and liberties of the citizens of the United States, and uncalled for by the character of the times and the position of the country; that, thereby, the natural and constitutional rights of the people to keep and bear arms, to remove at pleasure with their effects, to be exempt from unreasonable search and seizures in their persons and property, and from the terror of excessive bail, are all infringed and only allowed at the discretion of executive and judicial officers; and, as if it were apprehended that these unprecedented encroachments upon the rights of the people might excite distrust and alarm, the Executive is invested with the extraordinary power of employing the whole military and naval forces of the Union to awe the citizens into submission, or, in the mild words of the act, to prevent its violation. These provisions of the act your memorialists deem repugnant to the spirit and letter of all American institutions, incompatible with freedom, and in direct violation of the rights of the people, solemnly declared and guarantied by the constitution of the United States...."

   "In the execution of this law, your memorialists have witnessed, with deep regret the officers of the United States army moving, with hysterical agitation, from one part of the Union to another, and tarnishing their Profession by searching the houses and seizing the property of the citizens, and acting in the double capacity of a supervisory police over the citizens, and of informers to a foreign Power--watching the acts and sayings of the former, and communicating the information thus derived to the officers the British Government; and, under color of neutrality have afforded aid and assistance to one belligerant, and have restrained the citizens from all commerce with the other. Large sums of money have already been appropriated to this extraordinary defence of the frontier; and it is understood that a special appropriation has been asked for secret-service
, to render this military police complete.

   "Your memorialists are aware that the declared object of this law was to enable the country to fulfil the obligations of its treaties; but they would respectfully suggest that the laws of this country made to fulfil its treaty obligations prior to the passage of this act had been substantially the same for more than forty years--an eventful period in the history of the old and new world--and no reasonable complaints have ever been made that the citizens of this country were not sufficiently restrained from interfering with foreign states. And your memorialists are unacquainted with any obligations that the United States are under, by treaty, or otherwise to Great Britain or any other Power, that require the sacrifice of the rights of our citizens, whenever the exercise of those rights may come in conflict with the views of a foreign Government..."

[Message From The President of the United States, To The Two Houses of Congress, At The Commencement of the Third Sessionof the Twenty-Fifth Congress. December 4, 1838. Printed by order of the Senate of the United States. WASHINGTON: Blair and Rives, Printers. 1838.]

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