Friday, October 04, 2013

"Every man has a right to carry arms for his own defence..."

   "...While, therefore, we are justly sensible of the sympathy for us, and the indignation against those who seek to disturb our peace, expressed by large and intelligent assemblies of our northern and eastern brethren, we cannot but know that these expressions do in no way diminish our danger. While the abolitionists are allowed to pursue their course with no other check than the disapprobation of their fellow citizens, that disapprobation will little affect them, and bring no support or consolation under the evils that are likely to befal us. We ask not sympathy--for we feel not, from the institutions we possess, that we suffer injury. We ask protection, not to maintain our authority by force of arms,--for to that we know ourselves entirely adequate,--but we ask protection from the necessity of resorting to such force for that purpose. We ask not assistance to put down insurrectionary movements among our slaves,--for should such occur we are fully able to put them down ourselves,--but we ask that our slaves and ourselves may be relieved from external interference. Left to themselves, we believe our slaves a labouring class as little dangerous to society as any in the world. But we do ask, and think we have a right to demand, that others shall not teach them evil, of which they think not themselves; that they should not be stimulated by the base and violent of other lands, to deeds of bloodshed, of which the evils to us will be temporary--to the slaves themselves dreadful and lasting; that we may not be compelled by a factitious necessity, to adopt measures of rigour which such necessity only could justify. By some it seems to have been supposed, that the practices of the abolitionists cannot be put down by legislation, consistently with the constitutions of the states in which they live. If this were true, it would furnish no answer to our just complaint and afford no excuse to those states for permitting such practices to continue. The duty, the performance of which we invoke, is binding upon those states, and they have no right to disable themselves from its performance by an organic law, more than to refuse its performance by an ordinary act of legislation. The obligation being perfect, cannot be dissolved by any arrangement of the party on whom the obligation rests. If, therefore, any such difficulty did in reality exist, we should have a right to ask that the organic law which produced it, should be so altered as to remove it. But does any such difficulty exist? The one supposed is this--that as the abolitionists seek to accomplish their object by the issue of inflammatory publications, a law to arrest their progress would be a violation of the liberty of the press. This difficulty has its origin in a total misconception of what is meant by the liberty of the press; which means not the right to publish without responsibility, but to publish without previous permission. If it meant the former, the liberty of the press would be the greatest curse which could be inflicted on a nation. Where every man has a right to publish what he pleases, but is responsible to the law for the nature and tendency of his publication, the press is free. If he has the right to publish without such responsibility, the press is licentious. If the latter right exist, it is the only instance known to our laws, of a right to act without any accountability for the action. Every man has a right to carry arms for his own defence, and that right is as clear and as important as the freedom of the press; yet it was never supposed that he who used arms for violence or bloodshed, was therefore irresponsible, because he had a right to carry them for defence...."

                                                                                     Thomas G. Polk, Chairman
                                                                                     Of the Committe of twenty-six.

[Doc. No. 13.] Pg. 3 - Preamble And Resolutions On The Subject Of Incendiary Publications, Adopted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, December 19th, 1835. [Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Begun And Held At The Capitol, In The City Of Richmond, On Monday, The Seventh Day Of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Five. Richmond: Printed By Samuel Shepard, Printer To The Commonwealth. 1835. Pg. 43]

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