Anti-gun fanatic, Piers Morgan, made the bold claim it was FACT… that the Second Amendment was written with only “muskets in mind, not high-powered handguns and assault rifles…” He was simply echoing long held beliefs of the American Left- that following the logic of Original Intent(as Conservatives do) the Second Amendment is incompatible with modern weaponry and gun rights. The Framers would never have supported “assault rifles” as a form of personal defense.
Original assault rifle circa 1791
Original Intent has nothing to do with this juvenile line of reasoning… Muskets, particularly with rifled barrels were cutting edge technology in the late 18th century. The Second Amendment wasn’t written as a regressive ideal- they weren’t advocating the protection of swords, slingshots, or clubs. Rifled muskets were the “assault weapons” of their day. The Framers didn’t specify the firearm, knowing that technological advancement was inevitable. The bearing of arms must be construed as to the weapons presently available. Implying that the Framers would only consider one type of weapon, knowing it would be antiquated to future generations, is an insult to the men who gave us the Bill of Rights.
Fires one shot at a time
Automatic weapons have been outlawed in this country since 1934… the eyebrows of educated Americans should be raised as pundits blather about “automatic weapons” being bought, sold, and used in these mass shootings.
99 men signed the Declaration of Independence and Constitution… a group we consider the Founders. Plenty has been written about what set this generation apart- today, it seems most writers attempt to separate them for alleged transgressions. Today we accuse them of being greedy aristocrats determined to maintain their vast fortunes- we forget what actually made the Founders different. Of the 99 signers- only eight had fathers who attended college…
The Enlightenment in America
By all accounts, Peter Jefferson was a significant… part of early Virginia society. A wealthy planter, surveyor, and political leader- he had married into the powerful Randolph family. Jefferson was part of the vanguard of planters pushing into western Virginia. He was a self-made man whose hard work and ambition propelled him into the upper crust of Virginia society. But, he did not read Latin, he couldn’t play the violin, he wasn’t fluent in all the Romance languages, and he never questioned the religious or slave owning hierarchies in Virginia. The generation his son excelled in was very different- Thomas Jefferson was exceptional- yet, somehow, we have come to forget it today.**
**Gordon Wood explains this quite well in “Revolutionary Characters”
Filed under News, Ephemera
Delegates at the Constitutional Convention privately questioned whether George Washington’s attendance would make a difference… his comrades from the Revolutionary War knew it would; that his renowned resolve would provide legitimacy to their undertaking in Philadelphia. Some doubted Washington’s imposing presence could really move men.
Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s adjutant during much of the War… challenged a Pennsylvania delegate, the jovial Gouverneur Morris, to greet the General by grasping him by the shoulder. The bet was a feast for 12. Morris boasted to Hamilton that no man could intimidate him, even Washington.
At a formal dinner a few nights later… Morris approached Washington and greeted him with a firm grasp of the General’s shoulder,
“My Dear General, I am very happy to see you look so well.”
Washington removed Morris’s hand and took a step back… fixing on Morris what was described as an “angry frown” and “steely glance” that “withered” Morris and forced his retreat. He later confessed to Hamilton,
“I have won the bet but paid dearly for it, and nothing could induce me to repeat it.”
We celebrate the birth of Samuel Adams by expressing his desire for an educated electorate… Not the kind of rabble easily fooled by demagogues manipulating fear and emotion– the masses of people able to discern and decide on their own, using sound minds and commendable judgements.
“The said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of The United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
“Let Divines, and Philosophers, Statesmen and Patriots unite their endeavours to renovate the Age, by impressing the Minds of Men with the importance of educating their little boys, and girls — of inculcating in the Minds of youth the fear, and Love of the Deity, and universal Phylanthropy; and in subordination to these great principles, the Love of their Country — of instructing them in the Art of self government, without which they never can act a wise part in the Government of Societies great, or small…” 1790
Joe Ellis explained the absence of serious Madison biographies… by proclaiming “he’s boring as hell” and that “only lawyers like him.” As previously stated, Ellis’s recent comments on the Framers and Original Intent cast doubt on the rigor of his scholarship- and these nuggets of wisdom only enhance the evidence of his misguided revisionism.
Never far apart
The revision Ellis is peddling holds that Madison and other Framers… rejected the doctrine of Original Intent on its face. The only empirical evidence supporting this notion is Madison’s oft quoted explanation for not publishing his notes on the Constitutional Convention. Once established, the government continued to disappoint Madison, driving him closer to his friend Jefferson. During his presidency, Madison undoubtedly supported Original Intent as he battled John Marshall and Congress for the soul of the Constitution. He feared the elasticity in the Constitution was being abused by ambitious demagogues- Madison wanted the power of government restrained- his original intent.
What have your wrought, Joe?
Madison argues that oligarchy is difficult in America because of our size and diversity… but critics consistently cited the House of Representatives as the most susceptible institution in the new government.
Anti-Federalists argued that the Representatives would have the least amount of sympathy… with the masses of people; focusing exclusively on the narrow interests of their few electors, ignoring the will of the majority. Madison first counters with a historical analysis of the British system and the necessary role of states in the Federal system. But he concludes his argument in Federalist #57 by appealing to what he describes as the American Spirit:
“If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America — a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”
Filed under Ephemera, News
Madison and Hamilton allowed the grounds for impeachment of the President… open to necessary judgments and deliberations in the House of Representatives. Madison’s original draft suggested only the term “maladministration” of the duties of the office. Later amended to “misdemeanors” it is clear that the Framers were not only discussing indictable crimes- public men of this order would be above petty larceny and the like- abuse of the office and the neglect of official duty is what concerned them.
You doubt our words?
Hamilton explained the difference in Federalist #65:
“Those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”
Impeachment applies to political abuses of the office… not necessarily criminal acts. Delegates at the ratifying conventions were concerned about the President interfering in the legislative or judicial processes. Madison responded to the concerns by equating such Constitutional misconduct with criminality:
“Were the President to commit any thing so atrocious… he would be impeached and convicted, as a majority of the states would be affected by his misdemeanor.”
Failing to discharge the duties of his office
The President cannot abuse or misuse the powers of his office… without risking impeachment. The term “misdemeanor” as applied by the Framers establishes a standard extending far beyond simple criminal acts. Public men should be held to a greater standard.