Friday, May 10, 2013

"which secures to the people the right to keep and bear arms"

   "The President has also violated that clause the Constitution of the United States which says that no money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the United States, except in consequence of appropriations by law. He has taken appropriations made by Congress for one purpose and applied them to another, in violation of law; and we are called upon to support that act of his which was subversive of the plainest principles, and the very letter of the Constitution, which he, and you, and I, have taken an oath to support.
   "The Federal Constitution was originally framed without any bill of rights; but, sir, the people, jealous of power--our fathers, knowing the lust and love of power--had certain amendments put to that Constitution, in the nature of a bill of rights. The President of the United States has, since the adjournment of the last Congress, and prior to the commencement of the present session, violated the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments to the Constitution.
   "By the first amendment to that instrument, it is provided that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances; yet, sir, the President of the United States has, by his orders, limited the freedom of speech and of the press. Sir, a reign of terror exists to-day. Even in this city men dare not speak the honest sentiments of their hearts in regard to the acts the Administration. Men have been arrested all over this country without process of law, upon no other charge than that they had uttered seditious language. Where is your authority to a man for the utterance of seditious language? Is anything said of it in the Constitution of United States? Is there any law upon the statute-book that authorizes these unconstitutional usurpations by the Executive of the country? Sir, a warrant was issued a few days ago by a commander, backed by four hundred soldiers, who surrounded one of the printing presses of this country, and removed the types and stopped the issuing of that paper. Why? Because, as was said, it contained libels upon the soldiery of United States!
   "The President has likewise violated the second amendment, which secures to the people the right to keep and bear arms. That right has been infringed. Arms, the private property of citizens, have, upon mere suspicion, been taken at the order of military commanders, and are now withheld from the citizens, whose property they are, and whose rights have thus been violated.

   "A MEMBER. Where?

   "Mr BURNETT. In my own State, in my own district, upon the soil of Kentucky, whose people have been loyal to this Government, and have done no act in derogation of their fealty to it. Yet the property of her citizens has been seized by military commanders, and is held today in violation of that clause of the Constitution which secures to the people the right to keep and bear arms.

- Rep. Henry C. Burnett, of Kentucky, July 16, 1861, U.S. House of Representatives, The Congressional Globe, Pgs. 150-151.

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