Thursday, February 27, 2014

"The right of the people to bear arms is essential to liberty. It is a right that tyrants have always tried to destroy...."

"...Among the Germans every free man went armed. "They transact no public nor private business," says  Tacitus, "without being armed." When a youth arrived at the age of manhood he was brought before the assembled warriors of his tribe, and one of the chiefs in the name of the tribe presented him with a shield and a spear. It was his badge of citizenship and proof of his freedom. He became at the same time a citizen and a warrior. Taking his seat among other freemen, he heard questions of policy discussed and cast his first vote. He voted by rattling his spear against his shield. He was exercising the two great privileges essential to constitutional government--the right to vote and the right to fight. The right of the people to bear arms is essential to liberty. It is a right that tyrants have always tried to destroy. When the patriots of the American revolution were making the charter of our liberties they inscribed in it the declaration that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It is written in the constitution of the Union and of several States, but the law was born in the hearts of our savage forefathers in the forests of Germany. Weapons were carried by the ancient Germans on all occasions, and were even held in sanctity and reverence. "Thou shalt swear to me," said a German warrior, "by the deck of the ship, and by the rim of the shield, by the withers of the horse and by the point of the sword." It was considered dishonorable for a man to die without weapons in his hands, a feeling which endured nearly 1000 years in the English race. In the Eleventh century of the Christian era Siward, Earl of Northumberland, lay dying of mortal illness. Feeling that his end was nigh, he exclaimed, "What a shame that I could not die in so many battles, but must now end like a cow. At least put on my breast plate, gird on my sword, set my helmet on my head, my shield in my left hand, my battle ax in my right, so that a brave warrior like myself may die like a warrior." As the life of every German was spent in war, so after life, the crown of immortality was won only by the brave. None but warriors entered Walhalla, the happy home of the dead. These were blest in proportion to the number of enemies each had slain. At the burial of a warrior his weapons were placed in the grave along with his body. He would need them in Walhalla...."- President George T. Winston of the University of Texas. Excerpted from: "An address delivered before the Sam Houston Normal Institute at Huntsville, Texas, May 30, 1898." [The Houston Daily Post, June 6, 1898. Pg 8]

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