"And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side..."--Exodus 32:27
Holy Bible - The scriptures concerning Arms
Gordon’s Discourses II, History
(Books 1-2) [120 AD]
By Publius* Cornelius Tacitus
[The Works of Tacitus. In Four Volumes. To which are prefixed, Political Discourses upon that Author by Thomas Gordon. The Second Edition, corrected. (London: T. Woodward and J. Peele, 1737). Vol. 3.]
The infatuation of Men in power: they are much apter to oppress, than the People to rebel. People oppressed rejoice in public misfortunes. In disputes between Magistrates and People, the former generally to blame.
IT is a miserable infatuation of Men in power, to push that power and the People’s patience as far as either will go, and leave no room for a retreat. Those of this spirit finding the People tame and patient to a certain degree, conclude that they will or must be so to every and the utmost degree, and so never think of taking off their heavy hands, till the People, grown desperate, throw of them and their power, and having found no mercy, may be tempted to shew none. Promises of amendment will then be too late. They will not trust to the faith and good usage of one, who had dealt faithlessly and barbarously with them, even before they had exasperated him by opposition. His remorse and promises, however sincere, will be thought false and ensnaring; and even of his good actions unkind constructions will be madea.
Under an evil Administration, or one suspected and hated (a misfortune that seldom comes without cause) People will rejoice in the public distress, suffer themselves to be invaded, submit to be vanquished, bear national dishonour and private loss, rather than assist their Governor to prevent it. Thus the Romans behaved under the Decemvirate. That People of all others the most brave, of all others the most signal for public spirit, refused to fight, and bore a defeat; because rather than not be revenged upon that usurped Magistracy, they chose that the public enemy should execute that revenge, and to obtain it, ventured the worst that could befall themselves and their Country. Under Tiberius, people received with joy any news of revolts and invasions. In the year 1639, the English Nation was pleased that the Scots had seized the four northern Counties; and in the Reign of Charles the second his Subjects hated the French, because the King loved them, as a Droll pleasantly told him, when he was wondering what might be the reason.
The People are sometimes long patient under unjust usage, where it is not altogether violent and severe. The Romans under the usurpation of the Decemvirate, continued peaceable whilst the exercise of that power was tolerable; nay, they suffered many efforts of Tyranny, oppressive enormities, murder, arbitrary imprisonment, lawless decrees, and lust passing for Law, before they had recourse to resistance and self-defence. At last they roused themselves, driven to outrage by outrageous oppression. This their proud Oppressors might have foreseen, had not power and pride made them altogether blind. Appius Claudius the chief of them, had hardened his spirit against all reason and tenderness: So strangely was he intoxicated with the possession of his enormous power. Yet with all their provocation, they hurt no man’s person. They at first threatned high, and sufficient cause they had: But by a few reasonable words they were soon softened, upon assurance of seeing the usurpation abolished. These Usurpers were like most others: They had their authority from the Law, would keep it against Law, and stretch it beyond Law. I could mention a Commonwealth, in which the People have seen themselves for many years, daily divested of their rights, and instead of chusing their Magistrates themselves, according to the very fundamentals of their Constitution, see their Magistrates chuse one another, their Government changed, and an Aristocracy grown out of a popular Government. This public abuse, corruption and breach of Trust, the People see, complain of it indeed, but bear it. Their patience too may have a period: I wish that they may never be prompted to seek a violent remedy, such as may shake or overturn their State.
Governors are apt to censure the People as restless and unruly, the People their Magistrates as unjust and oppressive. It is generally very easy to decide who are most to be censured. There are many Countries where arbitrary oppressions are felt every day, yet not one insurrection or rebellion known in an age. Power is an incroaching thing, and seldom fails to take more than is given. Men in limited authority are apt to covet more, and when they have gained more, to take all. The People, who aim chiefly at protection and security, are content to keep what they have, nor seek to interfere in matters of Power, till Power has attempted to rob them of liberty and right: When these are seized by those who are bound to defend them, are the People to blame for expressing resentment, and seeking redress? It is but the natural Law of self-preservation, a Law that prevails even amongst Brutes; and is the effect of Reason as well as of Passion. In the first sallies of their wrath, they sometimes discharge it violently and shed blood, and when justice is denied, seek redress from force: but their wrath lasts not, and when they once have recovered their usurped rights, they even spare the Usurpers.
[a ]Inviso semel principe, seu bene seu male facta premunt.
* - “Publius” was the pseudonym used by Hamilton, Jay and Madison, (authors of The Federalist Papers).
Theory of the Feudal Laws among the Franks in the Relation They Bear to the Establishment of the Monarchy.
18. Of the double Service.
It was a fundamental principle of the monarchy that whosoever was subject to the military power of another person was subject also to his civil jurisdiction. Thus the Capitulary of Louis the Debonnaire,  in the year 815, makes the military power of the count and his civil jurisdiction over the freemen keep always an equal pace. Thus the placita  of the count who carried the freemen against the enemy were called the placita of the freemen;  whence undoubtedly came this maxim, that the questions relating to liberty could be decided only in the count's placita, and not in those of his officers. Thus the count never led the vassals  belonging to the bishops, or to the abbots, against the enemy, because they were not subject to his civil jurisdiction. Thus he never commanded the rear-vassals belonging to the king's vassals. Thus the glossary of the English laws informs us  that those to whom the Saxons gave the name of Coples  were by the Normans called counts, or companions, because they shared the justiciary fines with the king. Thus we see that at all times the duty of a vassal towards his lord  was to bear arms  and to try his peers in his court.
 Art. 1, 2, and the council in verno palatio of the year 845, art. 8, edition of Baluzius, tome ii, p. 17.
 Or assizes.
 "Capitularies," book iv of the "Collection of Angezise," art. 57; and the fifth capitulary of Louis the Debonnaire, in the year 819, art. 14, edition of Baluzius, tome i, p. 615.
 See the 8th note of the preceding chapter.
 It is to be found in the "Collection of William Larabard," De Priscis Anglorum legibus.
 In the word Satrapia.
 This is well explained by the assizes of Jerusalem, chaps. 221, 222.
 The advowees of the church (advocati) were equally at the head of their placita and of their militia.
- Baron de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, Book XXX. (1748).
1. Let every holder of a knight's fee have a hauberk, a helmet, a shield and a lance. And let every knight have as many hauberks, helmets, shields and lances, as he has knight's fees in his demise.
2. Also, let every free layman, who holds chattals or rent to the value of 16 marks, have hauberk, a helmet, a shield, and a lance. Also, let every free layman who holds chattals or rent worth 10 marks have an aubergel and a headpiece of iron and a lance....
4. Moreover, let each and every one of them swear before the feast of St. Hilary he will possess these arms and will bear allegiance to the lord king, Henry, namely the son of empress Maud, and that he will bear these arms in his service according to his order and in allegiance to the lord king and his realm..."
"25. That men go not to worke in the ground without their arms (and a centinell upon them).
"26. That the inhabitants go not aboard ships or upon any other occasions in such numbers, as thereby to weaken and endanger the plantations.
"27. That the commander of every plantation take care that there be sufficient of powder and amunition within the plantation under his command and their pieces fixt and their arms compleate.
"28. That there be dew watch kept by night.
"29. That no commander of any plantation do either himselfe or suffer others to spend powder unneccessarily in drinking or entertainments, &c.--Laws and Orders Concluded by the Virginia General Assembly, March 5, 1624
"Nevertheless, with all these defects, the colony was admirably governed in the main. One great right of freemen, the right of bearing arms, a highly necessary right to men planted suddenly among wild beasts and savages, was certainly not taken from the people. On the contrary, the government took care that all should be duly trained to self-defence. There is no man who bears a head, says Wood, (New Englands Prospect, 1639,) but bears military arms; even boys of fourteen years of age are practised with men in military discipline every three weeks. And they practised to some effect, as the records of the time prove, and as the Pequods learned to their cost."-- John Lothrop Motley, (1814–1897). 'Polity of the Puritans'. (Concerning early colonial times).[The North American review. Vol. 69, Issue 145, Oct. 1849]. Son of Thomas Motley, born in Dorchester, Mass. Graduated Harvard in 1831. American historian, and briefly a Secretary of Legation to Russia.
August 4, 1642
From John Rushworth, Historical Collections of Private Passages of State, Weighty Matters in Law, Remarkable Proceedings in Five Parliaments: Beginning the Sixteenth Year of King James, anno 1618, and Ending with the Death of King Charles the First, 1648
(London : Printed by J.A. for Robert Boulter, 1680-1701).
"We the Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled, having taken into serious Consideration, the present State and Condition of imminent Danger in which the Kingdom now stands, by reason of a Malignant Party prevailing with his Majesty, putting him upon violent and perilous Ways, and now in Arms against us, to the hazarding of his Majesty's Person, and for the Oppression of the true Religion, the Laws and Liberties of this Kingdom, and the Power and Priviledge of Parliament: all of which every honest Mand is bound to defend, especially those who have taken the late Protestation, by which they are more particularly tied unto it; and the more answerable before God, should they neglect it:
"Wherefore we finding ourselves ingaged in a Necessity to take up Arms likewise for the Defense of these, which otherwise might suffer and perish, And having used all the good ways and means to prevent Extremities, and preserve the Peace of the Kingdom (which good endeavors of ours the Malignity of our Enemies hath rendered altogether successless and vain) do now think fit to to give this Account unto the World, to be a Satisfaction unto all Men of the Justice of our Proceedings, and a Warning unto those who are involved in the same Danger with us, to let them see the Necessity and Duty which lies upon them, to save themselves, their Religion and Country, for which purpose we set out this ensuing Declaration...."
"29. It is ordered, that all ye Inhabitants in each Towne shall choose their Military Officers from among themselves on the first Tuesday after the 12th of March; and that eight sevarall times in the yeare, the Bands of each plantation or Towne, shall, openlie in the field, be exercised and disciplined by their Commanders and Officers, in the months of May, August, January and February excepted; and on the first Monday of ye other months, all the Train Bands to make their personal appearances completely armed, to attend their colors, by 8 o’clock in the morning, at the second beate of ye Drum; and if any appear not, they shall forfeit and pay five shillings into the hands of the Clarke of ye Band; and if any shall come defective in his Armes or furniture, he shall forfeit and pay ye sum of twelve pence, after the Town Council have caused them to be supplied; and that all men who shall come and remaine ye space of twenty days, shall be liable to ye injunction of this order; Provided, herdsmen, fighter-men and such as be left of necessity at Farmes, shall pay two shilings and sixpence for every dayes absence: And that the two Chief officers in each Towne, to witt: one of the Commonweale, the other of the Band, upon the exhibition of the complaint by ye Clark (which shall be within three dayes after the fault committed,) shall judge and determine of ye reasons of the excuses, who, upon the hearing thereof, shall determine whether every such person shall pay five shillings, two shillings and sixpence, or nothing; and according as they find any defective, shall give their warrants to ye Clark to distraine their Goods if they shall refuse to pay what is ordered. And if the Clarke shall neglect to gather up what is ordered, he shall forfeit and pay so much into the hands of the Captain, the next training day; And that all the fines and forfeitures shall be imployed to the use and service of the Band. And the Towne Councils shall have power to cause those which are defective in armes, to be supplied in an equal way according to Estate and strength. And if any of ye Traine Band after his appearance shall refuse or neglect the command of his Captain, to be exercised and disciplined, he shall forfeit as much as if he had not appeared: And that the Town Council shall order the power of the Military Officers within the Towne, and in all caes that concerne ye whole, the President and ye foure assistants, and ye Captains of every Band shall be the Councill of Warr; that if any of the Officers of ye Band be at any time left out, they shall beare Armes again, for ye Constitution of our place will not beare the contrary: that every Inhabitant of the Island above sixteen or under sixty yeares of age, shall alwayes be provided of a Musket, one pound of powder, twenty bullets, and two fadom of Match, with sword, rest, bandaleers all completely furnished.
"30. It is ordered, that in regard of ye many incursions that we are subjected vnto, and that an Alarum for ye giving of notice thereof is necessary when occasion is offered. It is agreed, that this form be observed. Vidg’t: Three Muskets distinctly discharged, and a Herauld appointed to go speedilie threw the Towne, and crie, Alarum! Alarum!! and the Drum to beate incessantly; upon which, all to repair (upon forfeiture and the Town Councill shall order) unto the Town House, there to receive information of the Town Councill what is farther to be done.
"31. It is ordered and agreed, that if any person or persons, shall sell, give deliver, or any otherwayes convey any powder, shott, lead, gunn, pistoll, sword, dagger, halberd or pike to the Indians that are or may prove offensive to this Colonie, or any member thereof, he or they, for the first offence, shall forfeit ye sum of five pounds; and for his second offence, offending in the same kind, and being lawfully convicted, shall forfeit ten pounds; half to the State, and half to him that will sew for it, and no wager of Law by any means to be allowed to the offender. And, it is further ordered, that if any person shall mend or repaire their Guns, or [ ] he shall forfeit the same penaltie."--Acts and Orders
Made and agreed upon at the Generall Court of Election, held at Portsmouth, in Rhode Island, the 19, 20, 21 of May, Anno. 1647, for the Colonie and province of Providence.
[Bartlett, Vol. I, 1636 to 1663, 38–65.]
July 8th 1663
Granted by King Charles H. in the Fourteenth Year of his Reign.
Quintadecima pars Patentium Anno Regni Regis Caroli Secundi Quintodecimo.
Printed Collection of Amer. Charters Lon. 1766
"...And that they may be in the better capacity to defend themselves in their just rights and liberties, against all the enemies of the Christian faith, and others, in all respects; . . . "
". . . That for the more peaceable and orderly Government of the said Plantations, it shall and may be lawful for the Governor, Deputy Governor, Assistants, and all other Officers and Ministers, of the said Company, in the Administration of justice, and exercise of Government, in the said Plantations, to use, exercise, and put in execution, such methods, rules, orders, and directions, not being contrary and repugnant to the laws and statutes of this our realm, as has been heretofore given, used, and accustomed in such cases respectively, to be put in practice, until, at the next, or some other General Assembly, especial provision shall be made and ordained in the cases aforesaid. And We do further, for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, give and grant unto the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, by these presents, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said Governor, or in his absence the Deputy Governor, and major part of the said Assistants for the time being, at any time, when the said General Assembly is not fitting, to nominate, appoint and constitute such and so many Commanders, Governors, and Military Officers, as to them shall seem requisite, for the leading, conducting, and training up the inhabitants of the said Plantations in martial affairs, and for the defence and safeguard of the said Plantations; and that it shall and may be lawful to and for all and every such Commander, Governor, and Military Officer, that shall be so as aforesaid, or by the Governor, or in his absence the Deputy Governor, and six of the Assistants, and major part of the Freemen of the said Company, present at any General Assemblies, nominated, appointed and constituted, according to the tenor of his and their respective commissions and directions, to assemble, exercise in arms, marshal, array, and put in warlike posture the inhabitants of the said Colony, for their especial defence and safety, and to lead and conduct the said inhabitants, and to encounter, repulse, and resist by force of arms...."
Aug. 25-Sept. 4, 1663
"...7. We will grant to every present undertaker for his own head, one hundred acres of land, to him and his heires forever, to be held in free and common soccage; and for every man-servant that he shall bring or sent thither, that is fit to bear arms, armed with a good firelock musket, performed bore, twelve bullets to the pound, and with twenty pounds of powder and twenty pounds of bullets, fifty acres of land; and for every woman-servant thirty acres; and to every man-servant that shall come within that time, ten acres after the expiration of his time; and to every woman-servant six acres after the expiration of her time...."
Written by Mr. Nathanael Byfield, to his Friends, &c.
[The American Republic: Primary Sources, ed. Bruce Frohnen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).]
April 18, 1689
"...Upon the Eighteenth Instant, about Eight of the Clock in the Morning, in Boston, it was reported at the South end of the Town, That at the North end they were all in Arms; and the like Report was at the North end, respecting the South end: Whereupon Captain John George was immediately seized, and about nine of the clock the Drums beat thorough the Town; and an Ensign was set up upon the Beacon. Then Mr. Bradstreet, Mr. Dantforth, Major Richards, Dr. Cooke, and Mr. Addington & c. were brought to the Council-house by a Company of Soldiers under the Command of Captain Hill. The mean while the People in Arms, did take up and put in to Gaol, Justice Bullivant, Justice Foxcroft, Mr. Randolf, Sheriff Sherlock, Captain Ravenscroft, Captain White, Farewel, Broadbent, Crafford, Larkin, Smith, and many more, as also Mercey the then Goal-keeper, and put Scates the Bricklayer in his place. About Noon, in the Gallery at the Council-house, was read the Declaration here inclosed. Then a Message was sent to the Fort to Sir Edmund Andros, By Mr. Oliver and Mr. Eyres, signed by the Gentlemen then in the Council-Chamber, (which is here also inclosed); to inform him how unsafe he was like to be if he did not deliver up himself, and Fort and Government forthwith, which he was loath to do. By this time, being about two of the Clock (the Lecture being put by) the Town was generally in Arms, and so many of the Countrey came in, that there was Twenty Companies in Boston, besides a great many that appeared at Charles Town that could not get over (some say Fifteen Hundred). There then came information to the Soldiers..."
English Bill of Rights 1689
"An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown
"Whereas the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons assembled at Westminster, lawfully, fully and freely representing all the estates of the people of this realm, did upon the thirteenth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred eighty-eight [old style date] present unto their Majesties, then called and known by the names and style of William and Mary, prince and princess of Orange, being present in their proper persons, a certain declaration in writing made by the said Lords and Commons in the words following, viz.: . . ."
". . . That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law; ..."
2. Sect. IV. If any person or persons, of what sex, age, degree or quality soever, shall fire any gun or other fire arms, or shall make or cause to be made, or sell or utter, or offer to expose to sale any squibs, rockets or other fireworks, or shall cast, throw or fire any squibs, rockets, or other fireworks, within the city of Philadelphia, without the governor's special license for the same, of which license due notice shall first be given to the mayor of the said city, such person or persons so offending, and being thereof convicted before any one justice of the peace of the said city, either by confession of the party so offending, or by the view of any of the said justices, or by the oath or affirmation of one or more witnesses, shall for every such offence forfeit and pay the sum of five shillings; one half to the use of the poor of the said city, and the other half to the use of him or them who shall prosecute, and cause such offender to be as aforesaid convicted; which forfeitures shall be levied by distress and sale of the offender's goods as aforesaid; and for want of such distress, if the offender refuse to pay the said forfeiture, he shall be committed to prison, for every such offence, the space of two days, without bail or mainprize: Provided, That such conviction be made within ten days after such offence committed. [Pg. 231]
ACT of 9th February 1750-51. 1 Dallas p. 339. 1 Bioren p. 311. 1 Smith p. 208.
3. Sect. I. If any person or persons whatsoever, within any county town, or within any other town or borough in this province, already built and settled, or hereafter to be built and settled, not hitherto restricted nor provided for by our laws, shall set on fire their chimnies to cleanse them, or shall suffer them or any of them to take fire, and blaze out at the top, or shall fire any gun or other fire arm, or shall make or cause to be made, or sell or utter, or offer to expose to sale, any squibs, rockets or other fire works, or shall cast, throw or fire any squibs, rockets or other fire works, within any of the said towns or boroughs, without the governor's special license for the same, every such person or persons so offending, shall be subject to the like penalties and forfeitures, and to be recovered in like manner, as in and by an act, passed in the eighth year of the reign of king George the first, entitled 'An act for preventing accidents that may happen by fire,' are directed to be levied and recovered. [Act of 26th August 1721.] [Pg. 232]
"...AND be it farther Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the Deputies of the several Towns be, and they are hereby impowered to procure at the Expence of the Colony, half a Pound of Powder, twenty Bullets, six Flints, and seven Day's Provision, for each Soldier going upon the present Emergency; and they are farther impowered and directed to hire Horses for the Men, and to procure Arms and all other Necessaries, in like Manner. And if the said Arms, Horses, or any other Necessaries cannot be procured but by an Impress, the Deputies are hereby fully impowered to press each and every Article which they shall have Occasion for, to forward the said Men, they taking and keeping an exact Account of what they shall procure of any Man, that the same may be paid for by the Colony. Provided, that any Deputy who is a Captain, or who on any reasonable Account, cannot attend the above Service, may appoint some proper Person to do the same in his Stead; and said Person so appointed, is hereby requir'd and fully impower'd to perform the same...."
"...AND be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That each and every Commission Officer, and Soldier, who has a Gun fit for Service, shall make Use of the same, and those who have none, to be provided as above-mention'd. And each and every Officer and Soldier, shall take a Blanket with him, if he has any that can be spared from his Family; if not, to be furnished as above directed...."
by Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin
The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting.
November 20, 1772
"Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature...."
"...When men enter into society, it is by voluntary consent; and they have a right to demand and insist upon the performance of such conditions and previous limitations as form an equitable original compact.
"Every natural right not expressly given up, or, from the nature of a social compact, necessarily ceded, remains.
"All positive and civil laws should conform, as far as possible, to the law of natural reason and equity...."
"...Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty," in matters spiritual and temporal, is a thing that all men are clearly entitled to by the eternal and immutable laws of God and nature, as well as by the law of nations and all well-grounded municipal laws, which must have their foundation in the former...."
"... The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule...."
"...In short, it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave...."
"...2. That it is an indespensable Duty which we owe to GOD, our Country. Ourselves and Posterity, by all lawful Ways and Means in our Power, to maintain, defend and preserve those civil and religions Rights and Liberties for which many of our Fathers fought--bled--and died; and to hand them down entire to future Generations.
"...9. That the Fortifications begun and now carrying on upon Boston Neck are justly alarming to this County, and give us Reason to apprehend some hostile Intention against that Town, more especially as the Commander in Chief has in a very extraordinary Manner removed the Powder from the Magazine at Charlestown, and has also forbidden the Keeper of the Magazine at Boston to deliver out to the Owners the Powder which they had lodged in said Magazine.
"...11. That whereas our Enemies have flattered themselves that they shall make an easy Prey of this numerous, brave and hardy People, from an Apprehension that they are unacquainted with military Discipline, We therefore for the Honor, Defence and Security of this County and Province advise, as it has been recommended to take away all Commissions from the Officers of the Militia, that those who now hold Commissions or such other Persons be elected in each Town as Officers in the Militia as shall be judged of sufficient Capacity for that Purpose, and who have evidenced themselves the inflexible Friends to the Rights of the People, and that the Inhabitants of those Towns and Districts who are qualified do use their utmost Diligence to acquaint themselves with the Art of War as soon as possible, and do for that Purpose appear under Arms at least once every Week...."--At a Meeting of the Delegates of every Town and District in the County of Suffolk, on Tuesday the Sixth of September, 
- 2dly. We recommend earnestly to every particular Troop and military Company within said two Counties, both Officers and Soldiers, and all others living within their several and respective Limits, who by Law are required to provide and keep Arms and Ammunition, as speedily as possible to arm and equip themselves, agreeable to the Directions of the Laws of this Colony; excepting where in Arms it may be thought expedient to vary; that such Variation be uniformly adopted...."
Sir, Philadelphia. Saturday Sepr. 17th 1774 By Express Which arrived here Yesterday, from the Committee of the Town of Boston to the general Continental Congress, Who are Informed the County of Suffolk of which the Town of Boston is the Capital, had entered into Certain Resolutions, a Copy of Which was inclosed us. Generally to the purport of not Suffering the Commander in Chief to Execute the Act of Parliament changing their Government by Persuading, protecting and Compelling officers under the new Regulation to Resign and by a Refusal in jurymen to Serve &c, That they have ordered all those able to bear Arms to keep in Readiess, to defend their inherent rights, Even with Loss of Blood & Treasure; That they are determined not [to] Injure the General or [any of the Kings Troops, Unless Compelled thereto by an Attack made by the Troops on them.
They complain of the General's Seizing the Powder at Cambridge Which they say was private property..."
"Mr. Henry for it. Says that a preparation for Warr is Necessary to obtain peace--That America is not Now in a State of peace--That all the Bulwarks, of Our Safety, of Our Constitn. are thrown down, That We are Now in a State of Nature--That We ought to ask Ourselves the Question should the planns of Nonim [portatio] n & Nonexp [oratio] n fail of success--in that Case Arms are Necessary, & if then, it is Necessary Now. Arms are a Resource to which We shall be forced, a Resource afforded Us by God &c.; Nature, & why in the Name of both are We to hesitate providing them Now whilst in Our power."-- Silas Deane's Diary, Oct. 3, 1774. [Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 1 AUGUST 1774 - AUGUST 1775]
Samuel Adams to Thomas Young
My dear Sir Philadelphia Octob [17?] 1774
"I have receivd your (1) favors of 29th Sept and 11th Instant, the latter of which is just come to hand. The affidavit inclosed confirms the report in Boston about the begining of July, of a Mans being seizd by the Soldiery, put under Guard & finally sent to England. But what Remedy can the poor injurd Fellow obtain in his own Country where inter Arma silent Leges! I have written to our Friends to provide themselves without Delay with arms &; Ammunition, get well instructed in the military Art, embody themselves & prepare a complete Set of Rules that they may be ready in Case they are called to defend themselves against the violent Attacks of Despotism. Surely the Laws of Self Preservation will warrant it in this Time of Danger & doubtful Expectation...."
In Provincial Congress,
Cambridge, October 26, 1774.
"...Also Resolved, That as the Security of the Lives, Liberties and Properties of the Inhabitants of this Province depends under Providence on their Knowledge and Skill in the Art Military, and in their being properly and effectually armed and equipt, if any of said Inhabitants are not provided with Arms and Ammunition according to Law, they immediately provide themselves therewith; and that they use their utmost Diligence to perfect themselves in Military Skill; and that if any Town or District within the Province is not provided with the full Town Stock of Arms and Ammunition according to Law, the Selectmen of such Town or District take effectual Care without Delay to provide the same."
A true Extract from the Minutes.
Benjamin Lincoln, Sec'ry.
5. Sect. I. If any person or persons shall on any thirty-first day of December, or first or second day of January, in every year, wantonly, and without reasonable occasion, discharge and fire off any hand-gun, pistol or other fire arms, or shall cast, throw or fire any squibs, rockets or other fire works, within the inhabited parts of this province, to the disturbance of any of his majesty's subjects there inhabiting and being, every such person so offending, and being thereof convicted before any one justice of the peace of the county, or mayor or other head officer, or justice of peace of any city or town corporate, where such offence shall be committed, either by confession of the party so offending, or the oath or affirmation of one or more credible witness (which oath or affirmation the said justice or other officer aforesaid, is hereby empowered and required to administer) shall for every such offence forfeit, for the use of the poor of the township or district, where such offender lives, the sum of ten shillings, to be levied by distress and sale of the offender's goods and chattels by warrant, under the hand and seal of the justice or other officer, before whom such offenders shall be convicted, returning the overplus, if any, to the owner, the reasonable charge of distraining being first deducted; and for want of such distress, such offender shall be committed to prison for the space of five days, without bail or mainprize.
6 Sect. II. If any person or persons shall willingly permit or suffer within the time aforesaid, any person or persons to discharge or fire off at his or her house, any hand-gun, pistol or other fire arms, or to cast, throw or fire any squibs, rockets or other fire works as aforesaid, every person so as aforesaid offending, and being thereof convicted in manner aforesaid, shall for every such offence, forfeit and pay, for the use aforesaid, the sum of twenty shillings, to be recovered in manner aforesaid. [Pgs. 232-33]
[A Digest of the Laws of Pennsylvania: From the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred, To The Twenty Fourth Day of March One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighteen. WITH References to Reports of Judicial Decisions in the SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA. BY JOHN PURDON. PHILADELPHIA: PUBLISHED BY PHILIP H. NICKLIN, No. 175, CHESNUT STREET. W. Fry, Printer. 1818. (Fines and Recognizances. Fire. Firing of Guns).]
"...Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed, that the deity, from the relations, we stand in, to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is, indispensibly, obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever.
"This is what is called the law of nature, "which, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over ALL the globe, in ALL countries, and at ALL times. No HUMAN LAWS are of any validity, if CONTRARY to this; and such of them as are valid, derive all their authority, mediately, or immediately, from this original. - Blackstone
"Upon this law, depend the natural rights of mankind, the supreme being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beatifying that existence. He endowed him with rational faculties, by the help of which, to discern and pursue such things, as were consistent with his duty and interest, and invested him with an inviolable right to personal liberty, and personal safety....
" The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power....
"Had the rest of America passively looked on, while a sister colony was subjugated, the same fate would gradually have overtaken all. The safety of the whole depends upon the mutual protection of every part. If the sword of oppression be permitted to lop off one limb without opposition, reiterated strokes will soon dismember the whole body."-- Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 23 Feb. 1775.
"America, never will Submit to the Claims of Parliament and Administration. New England alone has 200,000 fighting Men. And all in a Militia, established by Law, not exact Soldiers, but all used to Arms."--John Adams to James Burgh, Decr. 28. 1774, Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 1.
"...They at the same time consider our Eastern Neighbours as highly irritated, impatient under severe and unmerited Sufferings, and so ready to rush into war that they are constrain'd by no other Consideration than a Respect to the advice of their Sister Colonies. The Enterprize of our New Hampshire Friends against Fort William &c.; Mary; the Seizure of the Cannon & Ammunition, and their removal into an interior Town, which some Construe to be repugnant to the Spirit of that Resolution of the Congress which restrains the Massachusetts from offering Violence to the King's property, they conceive to be a strong Indication of the Impetuosity of our Eastern Brethren. They therefore conclude it to be impolitic to inflame their Ardour or stimulate them to Action by military preparations in other Colonies. Besides it is apprehended that if such preparations shoud become general it will afford the ministry an opportunity of representing us as in a State of actual Hostility and of inciting against Us the passions, prejudice &c.; the Vengence &c.; Resentmt of the whole nation, frustrating all our moderate Councils, and extinguishing every Hope of Accommodation. These seem to be the prevailing Sentiments of a people who have engaged in this Contest with unusual Calmness &c.; Deliberation, and who [. . .] it in all its Stages with a fixd & pensive Attention. And under such Impressions you will naturally imagine that they will enter into Measures which may be ascribed to a hostile and unconciliating Spirit with Caution and Reluctance.
"But notwithstanding all I have said you may rest fully assured that the most tremendous prospect will never intimidate them into mean Submissions or an unworthy Surrender of an Atom of their Liberties; however great their Attachment to England & Monarchy, &c.; their desire of peace &c.; Tranquillity...."--James Duane to Thomas Johnson, 29th Decemr 1774, Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 1.
By George Wyllys, Sec'ry.
Philadelphia, June 19, 1775.
To the COMMITTEES of the several Towns and Counties of the Province of NORTH-CAROLINA, appointed for the purpose of carrying into execution the Resolves of the Continental Congress;
"When the liberties of a people are invaded, and men in authority are labouring to raise a structure of arbitrary power upon the ruins of a free constitution, when the first minister of Britain exerts every influence that private address or public violence can give him, to shake the barriers of personal security and private property, it is natural for us, inhabitants of America deeply interested in the event of his designs, to be anxious for our approaching fate and to look up to the sources which God and the constitution furnish, to ward off or alleviate the impending calamity...."
"Carefully preserve the small quantity of gunpowder which you have amongst you; it will be the last resource when every other means of safety fails you; Great-Britain has cut you off from further supplies; we enjoin you, as you tender the safety of yourselves and fellow colonists, as you would wish to live and die free, that you would reserve what ammunition you have as a sacred deposit; he, in part, betrays his country who sports it away, perhaps in every charge he fires he gives with it the means of preserving the life of a fellow being.
"We cannot conclude without urging again to you the necessity of arming and instructing yourselves, to be in readiness to defend yourselves against any violence that may be exerted against your persons and properties. In one word, fellow subjects, the crisis of America is not at a great distance. If she falls, Britain must go hand in hand with her to destruction; every thing depends upon your present exertion, and prudent perseverence; be in a state of readiness to repell every stroke that through you must wound and endanger her; strengthen the hands of civil government; by resisting every act of lawless power; stem tyranny in its commencement; oppose every effort of an arbitrary minister, and by checking his licentiousness, preserve the liberty of the constitution, and the honour of your Sovereign; look to the reigning monarch of Britain as your rightful and lawful Sovereign; dare every danger and difficulty in support of his person, crown and dignity, and consider every man as a traitor to his King, who, infringing the rights of his American subjects, attempts to invade those glorious revolution principles which placed him on the throne, and must preserve him there...."
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1775
George Washington To The Massachusetts Legislature
Cambridge, January 16, 1776.
the President of the Massachusetts Council
April 3d 1776
The Congress being Inform'd by a Letter from Genl. Washington, that two Thousand of the Continental Troops at Cambridge & Roxbury are deficient in Fire Arms, & that he has not been able to Purchase the Same from the Inhabitants or obtain them from the Assemblies of the. New England Colonies, have Directed the General to make Returns to the Assemblies of the Numbers of men Inlisted from their Respective Colonies that are destitute of Arms, & to Dismiss from the service such of them as cannot be thus supplied.(1)