In Convention.--Dr. [William Samuel] JOHNSON.* The controversy must be endless whilst gentlemen differ in the grounds of their arguments: those on one side considering the states as districts of people composing one political society, those on the other considering them as so many political societies. The fact is, that the states do exist as political societies, and a government is to be formed for them in their political capacity, as well as for the individuals composing them. Does it not seem to follow, that if the states, as such, are to exist, they must be armed with some power of self-defence? This is the idea of Col. Mason**, who appears to have looked to the bottom of this matter. Besides the aristocratic and other interests, which ought to have the means of defending themselves, the states have their interests as such, and are equally entitled to like means. On the whole, he thought that as, in some respects, the states are to be considered in their political capacity, and, in others, as districts of individual citizens, the two ideas embraced on different sides, instead of being opposed to each other, ought to be combined-- that in one branch the people ought to be represented, in the other, the states.
[June 29, 1787, Debates In The Federal Convention Of 1787, Held At Philadelphia. [Elliot's Debates, Vol. V, Pg. 255]
* - Dr. William Samuel Johnson was in the Continental Congress, (1785-87), and was one of the most influential and popular delegates. Playing a major role in the Constitutional Convention, he missed no sessions after arriving on June 2; espoused the Connecticut Compromise; and chaired the Committee of Style, which shaped the final document. He also worked for ratification in Connecticut.
Johnson took part in the new government, in the U.S. Senate where he contributed to passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789. In 1791, the year after the government moved from New York to Philadelphia, he resigned mainly because he preferred to devote all his energies to the presidency of Columbia College, (1787-1800), in New York City. During these years, he established the school on a firm basis and recruited a fine faculty.
“XVII. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by the civil power.”–A Declaration of Rights made by the Representatives of the People of Virginia, June, 12th, 1776. [Written by George Mason. And parts of which were employed by Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence.]
The Extent of Government Authority and Power Over the Right of We The People of the United States of America to Keep and Bear Arms