Monday, March 10, 2014

"Their right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, can not be questioned...."

From Missouri.

   Major General Price*, issued on the 4th inst., the following proclamation to the State troops of Missouri:

   Headquarters of the Missouri State Guards, Jefferson City, June 4, 1861.--To the several military districts in Missouri:--
In order to correct misrepresentations and prevent all misunderstanding of my opinions and intentions in reference to the military trust confided to me by the Governor of Missouri, I desire to state to you and the people generally my past and present position. As a private citizen and a member of our State Convention; as a military commander, my influence has been exerted to prevent the transfer of the seat of war from the Atlantic States to our own State.

   Having taken no steps towards dissolving our connection with the Federal Government, there was no reason whatever for disturbing the peace and tranquility of Missouri. I have therefore desired and such I am authorized to say has been and still is the desire of the Chief Executive, under whose orders I have acted, that the people of Missouri should exercise the right to choose their own position in any contest which might be forced upon them, unawed by any military force whatever. Their right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, can not be questioned, secured as it is by both the Constitution of the United States and of this State.

   For the purpose, therefore, of securing to the people of Missouri free exercise of their undoubted rights, and with a view to preserve peace and order throughout the State, an agreement has been entered into between Harney and myself, which I consider alike honorable to both parties and Governments represented. The Federal Government, however, has thought proper to remove him from the command of the Department of the West, but as the successor of Harney will certainly consider himself and his Government in honor bound to carry out this agreement in good faith, I feel assured that his removal need give no cause of uneasiness to our citizens for the security of their liberties and property. I intend on my part to adhere to it, both in its spirit and to the letter.

   The rumors in circulation that it is intended as an effort to win command of this Department, to disarm those of our citizens who do not agree in opinion with the Administration at Washington, or to put arms into the hands of those who, in some localities of the State, are supposed to sympathize with the views of the Federal Government are, I trust, unfounded.

   The purpose of such a movement could not be misunderstood. It would not only be a palpable violation of the agreement referred to and an equally plain violation of our constitutional rights, but a gross indignity to the citizens of this State which would be resisted to the last extremity.

   My wish and hope is that the people of the 8tate of Missouri be permitted, in peace and security, to decide upon their future course, and so far as my abilities can effect this object, shall be accomplished. The people of Missouri cannot be forced, under the terrors of military invasion, into a position not of their own free choice. A million of such people as the citizens of Missouri were never yet subjugated. If attempted,, let no apprehension be entertained of the result. I enjoin upon you, gentlemen, to see that all citizens, of whatever opinions in politics or religion, be protected in their persons and property.

   [Signed]    STERLING PRICE,
               Maj. Gen. Commanding.

[Fremont Daily Journal, [Fremont, Ohio] Thursday Morning, June 6, 1861. Vol. 1. No. 19. Pg. 4]
* - Sterling Price, (Sept. 20, 1809 – Sept. 29, 1867), was a lawyer, planter, and politician from the U.S. state of Missouri, who served as the 11th Governor of the state from 1853 to 1857. He also served as a United States Army brigadier general during the Mexican-American War, and a Confederate Army major general in the American Civil War. Price is best known for his victories in New Mexico and Chihuahua during the Mexican conflict, and for his losses at the Battles of Pea Ridge and Westport during the Civil War.

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