Friday, May 17, 2013

"of the right to keep and bear arms"

   "Mr Madison's ten amendments consisted of provisions in favor of the free exercise of religion, of speech ,and of the press; of assembling peaceably to petition the Government for a redress of grievances; of the right to keep and bear arms; against quartering soldiers in any house without the consent of the owner, except under certain qualifications; against unreasonable searches and general warrants; against being held to answer for crimes unless on presentment by a grand jury, with certain exceptions; against being twice put in jeopardy for the same offense; against being compelled to be a witness against one's self, or being deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; against taking private property for public use without just compensation; in favor of a trial by an impartial jury of the district in certain cases at common law and in all criminal prosecutions, of the party charged being informed of the nature of the accusation, of being confronted with the witnesses against him, of having compulsory process for obtaining witnesses and the assistance of counsel in his defense; against excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel punishments; against the enumeration of certain rights being construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people; and, finally, that powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.

   "These provisions embraced the points upon which the public mind was most susceptible, and upon which the old Anti-Federal party in particular had been, with obvious reason, most excited.

   "That Mr. Madison's success in this great measure saved the Constitution from the ordeal of another Federal Convention is a conclusion as certain as any that rests upon a contingency which has not actually occurred, and that it converted the residue of the Anti-Federal party which had not supported the Constitution, whose members, as well as their political predecessors in every stage of our history; constituted a majority of the people, from opponents of that instrument into its warmest friends, and that they and their successors have from that time to the present period, either as Republicans or Democrats, occupied the position of its bona fide defenders in the sense in which it was designed to be understood by those who constructed and by those who ratified it, against every attempt to undermine or subvert, it are undeniable facts.

   "It was by adding this great service to those he had rendered in obtaining the Convention, and in framing the Constitution in that body, that he deservedly won the noble title of "Father of the Constitution." He was neither as great a man nor as thorough a Republican, certainly not as thorough a Democrat, as Mr Jefferson; he had less genius than Hamilton; yet it is doing him no more than justice to say that, as a civilian, he succeeded in making himself more practically useful to his country than any other man she has produced. No one would have been more ready than Mr. Jefferson to award to Mr. Madison this high distinction. He either told me at Monticello, or I heard it from him at second-hand, (I am uncertain which was the case), that whilst he was in France, some one whom he named asked him to say whom he thought the greatest man in America, and that he replied, if the gentleman would ask him to name the greatest in the world he would comply with the request, which addition being made, he answered "James Madison!"

- [ex]President Martin Van Buren, [INQUIRY INTO THE ORIGIN AND COURSE OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE UNITED STATES. BY THE LATE EX-PRESIDENT MARTIN VAN BUREN. Nam quis nescit primam esse historiae legem ne quid falsi dicere audeat? deinde, ne quid veri non audeat? Ne qua suspicio gratise sit in scribendo? Ne qua simultatis? Cicero. De Orat. Lib. II, ["For who does not know history's first law to be that an author must not dare to tell anything but the truth? And its second that he must make bold to tell the whole truth? That there must be no suggestion of partiality anywhere in his writings? Nor of malice?"]. EDITED BY HIS SONS. NEW YORK: PUBLISHED BY HURD AND HOUGHTON. 1867.  

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