Second Amendment never an ‘afterthought’
On Jan. 3, John Palmer wrote “What is the Second Amendment? It’s exactly what it says it is. It’s an amendment, a change, an addition, a modification, an afterthought to our Constitution.”
With all due respect, it is obvious to me that Mr. Palmer has not studied how our Constitution came into being. If he had, he would not list any of the first 10 amendments as an “afterthought.”
Here are the recorded facts:
After the Revolutionary War ended, the majority view, folks who called themselves Federalists, were in favor of the Articles of Confederation, which gave the states a strong state government.
The most prominent Federalists were Thomas Jefferson, George Clinton, James Monroe and Patrick Henry.
A minority view was in favor of a strong national government and weak state governments; these folks called themselves Nationalists.
The most prominent Nationalists were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.
The Nationalists knew that they could never sell their nationalist ideas to the Federalists, so they wrote a series of papers known as the “Federalist Papers.”
When these papers were published, it forced the Federalists to refer to themselves as Anti-Federalists.
The Nationalists, now called the Federalists, were successful in calling for a convention to propose a revision of the Articles of Confederation.
Although the “sole and express purpose” of the convention was to “revise the articles of Confederation” and not to replace them, Alexander Hamilton and his fellow Nationalists had other ideas.
They essentially hijacked the convention by introducing a new document that superseded the Articles of Confederation.
The Anti-Federalists were furious and threatened to boycott the convention. Apparently, the only thing that kept it together was that George Washington agreed to be the chairman.
After much contentious debate, it was clear that the Anti-Federalists would never agree to a constitution that they thought was overly oppressive.
And since the new constitution could not be ratified without the support of the Anti-Federalists, an agreement was made to add to the new constitution a series of checks, now known as “The Bill of Rights,” to prevent the new government from exerting too much power over the people.
For the Anti-Federalists, it was the rights of the individual as opposed to the power of the government.
Our Bill of Rights was never an afterthought. It was the only way that the Nationalists were able to get their Constitution approved.
John Palmer also wrote “We, as a society, have evolved over the past 200 years and that our Constitution needs to reflect that.”
Just read Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations,” written in 1776, and the Anti-Federalists’ arguments, written in 1787, about why we needed to prevent an all-powerful government from creating rules that lead to financial ruin and loss of liberty.
When you read the arguments that these authors present, it’s quite easy to see that the problems we have today are the same problems that people had back then.
People haven’t evolved. What has evolved is technology.
We are the same as people were more than 200 years ago.
We still exhibit the same basic tendency to be opportunistic and take advantage of anything that is to our benefit. And we still do the same brutal things to each other.
We just use different tools.
For a more in-depth study of these subjects, I recommend reading “The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates,” ISBN 978-0-451-52884-1.
In this book, you can read for yourself what our founding fathers meant about the right to bear arms and many other very enlightening subjects.
Jim Driver lives in Rough and Ready.
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