Friday, February 14, 2014

"that there are rights which no man under heaven can take from you..."

...If you will, in the language of freemen, stipulate that there are rights which no man under heaven can take from you, you shall have me going along with you; not otherwise.

[Here Mr. [Patrick] Henry informed the committee that he had a resolution prepared, to refer a declaration of rights, with certain amendments to the most exceptionable parts Of the Constitution, to the Other states in the confederacy, for their consideration, previous to its ratification, The clerk than read the resolution, the declaration of rights*, and amendments, which were nearly the same as those ultimately proposed by the Convention; which see at the conclusion.]

Mr. HENRY then resumed the subject. I have thus candidly submitted to you, Mr. Chairman, and this committee, what occurred to me as proper amendments to the Constitution, and a declaration of rights containing those fundamental, unalienable privileges, which I conceive to be essential to liberty and happiness. I believe that, on a review of these amendments, it will still be found that the arm of power will be sufficiently strong for national purposes, when these restrictions shall be a part of the government. I believe no gentleman who opposes me in sentiments will be able to discover that any one feature of a strong government is altered; and at the same time your unalienable rights are secured by them. The government unaltered may be terrible to America, but can never be loved till it be amended....

[The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution [Elliot's Debates, Volume 3] Tuesday, June 24, 1788.]

* - 17th. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia, including the body of the people capable of bearing arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state....

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