Monday, May 27, 2013

"to keep within their power their only sure means of defence"

   "This Committee, however, which was appointed on the 2d of September, resorted to one measure, that proved unpopular, and caused a good deal of excitement. Many of the soldiers, enlisted into the continental service in New York, were without arms, and all efforts to purchase them in a sufficient number had failed. To remedy this defect, the committee issued an order, 'that all such arms, as are fit for the use of the troops raised in this colony, which shall be found in the hands or custody of any person, who has not signed the general Association, shall be impressed for the use of the said troops.' To carry this order into effect, persons were sent out with instructions to seize and collect arms, to have them appraised, and to give a certificate of their value to their owners, who were to be paid for them out of the treasury of the colony, if they should not be returned before the unhappy controversy with Great Britain was brought to a close. The persons sons thus disarmed were, moreover, exempt from militia duty. The reception, which this order met with among the people, may be imagined by an extract from a letter to the Committee, dated Jamaica, Long Island, September 25th.
   "I have endeavored in the towns of Jamaica and Hampstead to carry the resolutions of the Congress into execution, but without the assistance of the battalion, I shall not be able to do it to any good purpose. The people conceal all their arms, that are of any value. Many declare that they know nothing about the Congress, nor do they care anything for the orders of the Congress, and say that they would sooner lose their lives than give up their arms. and that they would blow any man's brains out who should attempt to take them away. We find that there is a number of arms, that belong to the county, in the hands of the people. Some persons are so hardy and daring, as to go into the houses of those that are friendly, and take away by force those county arms, which our friends have received from the clerk of the county. We are told, that the people have been collecting together in sundry places armed, and firing their muskets by way of bravado.'
   "The Committee reasoned but imperfectly from the facts of history, and the principles of human nature, when they supposed that people, with arms in their hands, would be tempted to resign them, by such motives as were held out. They must either be treated as friends or enemies. If friends, their safety and interest required that the soldiers, who were to protect their property, and defend their rights, should be armed, and the call of patriotism would be the loudest that could be made to them. While deaf to this call, they would made to listen to the orders of a committee, or the resolves of a congress. If enemies, the sense of present danger, operating on the first law of nature, would prompt them to keep within their power their only sure means of defence. In either case, the idea of taking away their arms, by a compulsory impressment, had little to recommend it, either in policy or prudence. Indeed the project was soon abandoned for when the Congress assembled again the subject came before them and a resolution was passed disapproving the measure. [The Life of Gouverneur Morris WITH SELECTIONS FROM HIS CORRESPONDENCE AND MISCELLANEOUS PAPERS; DETAILING EVENTS IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, AND IN THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. BY JARED SPARKS. IN THREE VOLUMES. VOL. I. BOSTON: PUBLISHED BY GRAY & BOWEN. 1832. Pg. 63-4] 

(Gouverneur Morris, (Jan. 31, 1752 – Nov. 6, 1816), was an American statesman, a Founding Father of the United States, and a native of New York City who represented Pennsylvania in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation. Morris was also an author of large sections of the Constitution of the United States and one of its signers. He is widely credited as the author of the document's preamble, and has been called the "Penman of the Constitution." In an era when most Americans thought of themselves as citizens of their respective states, Morris advanced the idea of being a citizen of a single union of states.)

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