Thursday, July 25, 2013

"as our citizens have constitutionally the right to bear arms"

The Neutrality Law.--The New York Commercial Advertiser very properly suggests the propriety of a modification of the neutrality law, which would better enable the Government to prevent the successful departure of filibustering expeditions from this country, by land and sea. The only law to that end in existence is that of 1818, which is to punish offences against our duty of neutrality, &c., and is not preventive, unfortunately. During the Canadian rebellion, (as it is termed,) when there was a disposition of our turbulent and reckless to rush over our Northern frontier to take part in those difficulties. Congress passed a special act, which expired with the occasion for it. Since then we have had no preventive act, though one is sadly needed indeed. Our neighbors in Mexico, in the West Indies, and in Central and South America, are so weak that we have not only to preserve the ordinary neutrality of other governments, but are compelled to exercise a sort of police jurisdiction in their favor, lest portions of our unemployed and adventurous population may rush out in a night and commit trespass upon them. After the French consul at San Francisco had put it out of the power of this Government to keep Walker*, for instance, from doing further harm than he had perpetrated in Sonora, by refusing to obey the mandate of the court calling on him to testify against Walker, there was no law whatever by which he and his followers could be prevented from leaving California to prey on Central America, as our citizens have constitutionally the right to bear arms, and to go singly, whither they will, on shipboard or otherwise. He and they left California for their last expedition in that way, in which, for want of law to prevent them, the Government could not interfere in their movements, whatever may have been the suspicions of its officers in that region as to their intentions. [Evening Star, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, November 13, 1855. Vol. VI. No. 893. Pg. 2]

* - William Walker, May 8, 1824 – Sept. 12, 1860, was an American lawyer, journalist and adventurer, who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as "filibustering." Walker became president of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies, principally Costa Rica's army. He was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.

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