Thursday, July 11, 2013

"They realized that every man must be allowed not only to have a vote but if he wanted to have a gun..."

   "...The very essence of American tradition is contained in the proposal. Every Constitution of every state in the union forbids the State Legislature to abridge the right of its citizen to carry arms. At the very outset the makers of our institutions realized that the force of the nation must dwell in the homes of the nation. I do not mean the moral force merely; I mean the physical force.

A Vote and a Gun.

   "They realized that every man must be allowed not only to have a vote but if he wanted to have a gun, so that when the voices of peace did not suffice the voices of force would prevail. Knowing that great bodies of men do not use force to usurp their own liberties, but to declare and vindicate their own liberties, and that there will be no collusion among free men to upset free institutions; that whereas cliques and coteries and professional groups may conceive it to be of their interest to interfere with the peaceful life of the country the general bodies of citizens would never so conceive it to be.

   "What we are asking is this, that the nation supply arms for those of the nation who are ready if occasion should arise to come to the national defence, and that it should do this without withdrawing them from their pursuits of industry and of peace, in order that America should know that in the fountains from which she always draws her strength their welled up the inexhaustible resources of American manhood.

   "This is not a military policy, this is a policy of adequate preparation for national defence, and any man who represents it in any other light must either be ignorant or consciously misrepresenting the facts.

   " You will say: 'We have a national guard.' Yes, we have a national guard, and the units of it so far as I have observed them command my admiration and respect, but there are only 129,000 enlisted men in the United States, taking the nation as a whole, and they are divided up into as many units as there are states.

   "And the Constitution of the United States puts them under the direct command and control of the Governors of the States, not of the President of the United States, and the national authority has no right to call upon them for any service outside their States unless the territory of the nation is actually invaded...."--President Woodrow Wilson, Feb. 2, 1916 speech at Topeka, Kansas. [The Sun, New York, Thursday February 3, 1916. Vol. LXXXIII.--No. 156. Pg. 4]

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