Hot Take: NY Times Attempts To Link 2nd Amendment To Protection Of Slavery

Gun grabbers are always working hard to find a way to disarm the citizenry, making you wonder why

Was Slavery a Factor in the Second Amendment?

Every mass shooting, like the most recent at Santa Fe High School in Texas that left 10 people dead, reignites a passionate debate over the Second Amendment. For many Americans, if there is an image that comes to mind when they think about that amendment, it is the musket in the hands of minutemen at Lexington and Concord.

A dramatic but little-known story reveals that a more accurate image may be the musket in the hands of slave owners. It explains why, when he entered Congress and wrote a Bill of Rights, James Madison included a right to bear arms, and why it included the clause “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State …”

The story begins in June of 1788. Virginia was holding a convention in Richmond to decide whether to ratify the Constitution the founders had drafted in Independence Hall the previous year. Eight states out of the nine necessary to adopt the Constitution had already ratified, but Rhode Island, North Carolina, New Hampshire and New York looked unlikely to ratify. All hope for the ninth hung on Virginia.

The Virginia convention featured a dramatic debate between federalists, who favored ratification, and antifederalists, who opposed it. The debate pitted James Madison, a federalist and the principal drafter of the Constitution, against George Mason, the intellectual leader of the antifederalists, and Patrick Henry, Virginia’s governor and a renowned orator.

Mason and Henry raised many arguments against ratification. One concerned the militia. To appreciate their arguments, we must bear three things in mind about the time and place of the debate.

First, the majority population in eastern Virginia were enslaved blacks. Whites lived in constant fear of slave insurrection. Everyone knew about the 1739 slave rebellion in Stono, S.C., when blacks broke into a store, decapitated the shopkeepers, seized guns and powder, and marched with flying banners, beating drums and cries of “Liberty!” Up to 100 joined the rebellion before being engaged by a contingent of armed, mounted militiamen. Scores died in the ensuing battle.

And Mr. Carl T. Bogus, a professor of law at Roger Williams University, goes on to state that the 2nd reason is that it was the militia’s that put down the slave insurrections.

During the debate in Richmond, Mason and Henry suggested that the new Constitution gave Congress the power to subvert the slave system by disarming the militias. “Slavery is detested,” Henry reminded the audience. “The majority of Congress is to the North, and the slaves are to the South,” he said.

It’s a cute argument from Mr. Bogus, a perfect name for a stupid argument, one that has been shot down even by the hyper-racial web mag The Root all the way back in 2013, because this is not a new Talking Point from the gun grabbers. For one thing, the above wasn’t even about the Bill of Rights, but the passage of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights, which included the 2nd Amendment, was passed three years later. Mr. Bogus still gives it a shot

In the fall, Madison ran for Congress. His opponent, the rising young politician (and future president) James Monroe, lambasted Madison for not including a bill of rights in the Constitution. Because he believed rights were best protected by the structure of government, Madison previously opposed a bill of rights. Now he was fighting for his political life in a congressional district where a bill of rights was popular. Madison changed his position and promised voters that, if elected, he would write one.

As we know, he included a right to bear arms. Only four of the 13 state Constitutions had such a provision. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by none other than George Mason in 1776 when states controlled the militias, did not have one. Following its debate and decision to ratify, the Virginia convention proposed Congress consider a declaration of 20 rights, including a right to bear arms, and 20 constitutional amendments, including one giving states the power to arm their militias if Congress did not.

Money line

I believe it likely that Madison sought to correct the problem Henry and Mason had railed against in Richmond.

Substitute in “I feel” for “I believe”, because this narrative has little relation to reality. Bogus takes real facts and spins them to a “the 2nd Amendment was all about slavery” viewpoint.

Would we think differently about the amendment if we realized that its genesis was, at least in part, a concern with preserving a form of governmental tyranny?

No, because it wasn’t about slavery, it was about citizens protecting their homes, their states, their nation from invaders, for protection against bad actors, and protection from government itself, especially when certain people are making things up to take away that particular right.

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5 Responses to “Hot Take: NY Times Attempts To Link 2nd Amendment To Protection Of Slavery”

  1. Interesting twist. Of course, historically, gun control in America was about keeping former slaves disarmed so they couldn’t fight back against oppression. The second amendment is based on the principle that everyone has the inherent right to self defense and to participate in the defense of the community (militia). Something that isn’t possible if only police and government troops (National Guard) are armed.

    Yet blacks today universally support the party that wants to disarm them. Just as they universally support the party that is for unrestricted abortion that was founded to control black birth rates. Just as they universally support the party that campaigned against civil rights and supported the KKK. It’s as if they have totally forgotten history and focused all their memory on the promise of a free phone.

  2. Dana says:

    Facts omitted can make facts stated misleading, if not downright false. The quoted article said:

    Only four of the 13 state Constitutions had such a provision. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by none other than George Mason in 1776 when states controlled the militias, did not have one.

    True enough, but just which four were they?

    Before the federal Bill of Rights was adopted, explicit right-to-bear-arms guarantees appeared in the declarations of rights of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont, and Massachusetts. The Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 heralded the virtues of “a well regulated Militia, composed of the body of the People, trained to Arms,” and three other states adopted similar provisions. The first constitutions of four states included no bills of rights, and two states adopted no written constitutions until the nineteenth century.

    So, the Second Amendment was adopted to keep slaves in check, but of the four states which had prior provisions in their bills of rights, only one was a slave state! Omitting that fact makes it seem as though the author was talking about Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia.

  3. formwiz says:

    Carl T. Bogus, huh?

    Doubtless, he never heard of Indian raids.

    • Dana says:

      Don’t you understand? White settlers resisting the efforts of the noble Indians Native Americans to retake their land was not allowable!

  4. Jeffery says:

    Kid in uber-conservative Noblesville IN just shot another student and a teacher. This is getting to be a daily occurrence.

    How do these kids get guns? Should the adults that supply them be responsible?

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