Why The 2nd?

College of Political Knowledge

Subject:  Early American History

We have once again returned to the debate over guns since the horrible shooting deaths of children at Sandy Hook……all the yelling and screaming about guns, all the interpretations, all the threats, all the hoopla…..all this got me to thinking about a paper I wrote back in my college days about the 2nd amendment…..so I started going through my archives, which is in sad shape since Katrina, to see if I could locate the paper…..sad to say the paper is not around….but I did find the notebook that had some of the notes I taken for the paper…….I apologize but this is a re-construction of the paper from notes and recollection….and I am an old fart some my memory is a bit sketchy…….

The question is….why was the 2nd amendment put into the Constitution?  Since there is NO one left that can answer that question we need to look at events, situations and issues of the time of the writing of the Constitution…….I’m sure we will hear from someone that will quote the Jefferson thing about the tree of liberty…..let’s put that to rest now…..that was NOT a public statement he made, it was written in a private letter to a close friend and was never intended to be published……now that is out of the way……

First, we need to examine the conditions in the country……….Let’s begin at the end of the war……Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown on October, 1781……..once the hostilities had ceased the Brits did not immediately leave……and the Continental Army dwindle down to about 1000 men….most of the fighters had left to return to their families and their businesses which had suffered much during the war……..by 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed the American army sole purpose was to keep an eye on the remaining Brit troops until they were removed……….

The Continental Army had been officially disbanded in November of 1783………

The year is 1783 and the troops that remained were disgruntled….disgruntle about the lack of back pay or the pensions they were promised if they continued the fight…….ever hear of the Newburgh Conspiracy?  (That is a rhetorical question)……..the Continental Army was camped near Newburgh, New York their mission was to watch the Brits in NYC…….during this time officers became disgruntled with the Congress and were threatening to march on Washington and bringing the rest of the Army with them…..the whole affair was settled by compromise but the Army had made a statement that they would do whatever necessary to get their way and their demands…….

After the ceasefire there was a concern that the Tories that had not fled back to England would re-group and form some sort of 5th column to undermine the government of the newly independent America…….

1786, there was a conflict between Maryland and Virginia called the “Oyster War”……….this conflict had raged for many years before the revolution and picked up again once the shooting had ceased……basically, it was a quiet war fought over control of the Potomac and at times was a bloody conflict…….

And then in 1786 was Shay’s Rebellion……..named for a Mass. rebel named Daniel Shay……..Seeking debt relief through the issuance of paper currency and lower taxes, they attempted to prevent the courts from seizing property from indebted farmers by forcing the closure of courts in western Massachusetts. The participants in Shays’ Rebellion believed they were acting in the spirit of the Revolution and modeled their tactics after the crowd activities of the 1760s and 1770s, using “liberty poles” and “liberty trees” to symbolize their cause.

Then there are the usual culprits post war…….Americans suffer from post-war economic depression including a shortage of currency, high taxes, nagging creditors, farm foreclosures and bankruptcies…………these problems effected all 13 states……and in doing so the population was becoming more and more resentful……..in short times were tough and government was not really helping  as much as the people had wanted……..

The year is now 1787 and the new country was living under the Articles Of Confederation……..and a convention was convened to draft a new constitution…..which would become the law of the land…….and this is where our story grows to the analysis on my part…….the convention by September of 1787 had a written document and was waiting for the states to ratify it.  Now the first 10 amendments were known as the Bill of Rights, which were proposed to a joint session of Congress in 1789 and formally became part of the Constitution in 1791, December to be exact…………(Another rebellion in the making was the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791)……..

Like I said, NO one can say for sure what the Founding Fathers were thinking at the time….but a check of the events proceeding the constitution leads me to believe that the 2nd amendment was put in to make up  for the lack of a standing army…..the government did not have the manpower to enforce many of its new laws….and for that reason the 2nd was inserted to make sure that there would be a well armed pool from which to draw from in the event of rebellion……I mean Jefferson conned Washington into staying another 4 years because he was worried that if Washington left it would leave a void and might incite rebellion……and end this country short history of independence………..

We all know the interpretations by the Left and the Right…….but the problem is it is their opinions which are no more valid or silly than anyone else…..do I think that the 2nd was suppose to be a permanent thing….nope, I feel that the Founders thought that when the country was stabilized and at real peace the amendment would be modified…….personally, I do not believe the 2nd was about protecting citizens from the government but rather protecting the government from its citizens……….

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8 thoughts on “Why The 2nd?

  1. This interesting stuff Dr. Chuq. Wasn’t part of the reason for the 2nd amendment also to allay fears that the new federal government would establish a standing army, much like King George had, to do his bidding in any part of the British empire? A “well-regualted militia” would not only ensure a source of firepower to put down insurrections like Shay’s rebellion – something the property owners who wrote the Constitution were concerned about – but would also give each new state their own army should a federal army impose their will like King George’s army did. Something the early Americans had just finished dealing with.

    • Larry, the more I research the days and years after the surrender of Cornwallis….I feel that the government was afraid of its citizens……..I will be posting next week part two of this line of thinking about the originator of the 2nd……watch for it…..

  2. Pingback: Why the right of the people to keep and bear arms? « Cry and Howl

  3. Very interesting premise, not to mention well-researched and presented…. It’s not the usual humdrum one hears from proponents of either side of the issue, and deserves attention, for certain….

    On first take, I’d tend to agree, but, only up to a point, at least until I can think about all of your arguments a bit more fully… In at least the respect you are speaking of, I believe you’re correct in assuming the mistrust of the FF’s of a standing army, combined with their fear of immediate rebellions, but am not prepared at this point to ascribe their motivation solely to those fears….

    In my own case, the motivation for what I believe to be its continued necessity arises out of my mistrust of EVERYONE…. whether they are pursuing a government agenda, or their own private agenda in life, each person alive is operating out of self-interest FIRST, no matter what they say, or may even believe, (and THAT is human nature, I’d add….), so, it makes sense to me, to diligently watch them ALL, very closely, and be prepared to deal with whatever may happen…. In which case, it matters little to me if guns are legal, or not… What will be, will be…. :roll:

    Nice… very stimulating post, my friend….

    • Glad you like it…I had a bunch of responses on my premise….I think that if one looks outside of conventional talking points there is merit…..thanx for the comment….always good to hear what people are thinking….I too have little trust in my fellow man….

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