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2nd Amendment And 'Slave Patrols'

By The Reverend Published: January 19, 2013

One good thing about life is learning new things. I learn new stuff all the time. It's invigorating. Radio personality, author and all around very smart guy, Thom Hartmann, taught me something this week that I didn't know.

The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says "State" instead of "Country" (the Framers knew the difference - see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.

In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the "slave patrols," and they were regulated by the states.

These southern "slave patrol" militias were common place...

As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, "The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search 'all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition' and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds."

When we read the word "militia" and the word "State" in the 2nd amendment....

'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.'

....we should understand what the Framers understood. State, slave patrol militias could not provide for security against rebelling slaves if the people who made up the militias did not have a federal guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.

Although I often wondered why the word "State" was chosen, rather than "Country" for the 2nd amendment.....I need wonder no more...

His (James Madison) first draft for what became the Second Amendment had said: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country [emphasis mine]: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person."

But (Patrick) Henry, (George) Mason and others wanted southern states to preserve their slave-patrol militias independent of the federal government. So Madison changed the word "country" to the word "state," and redrafted the Second Amendment into today's form:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State [emphasis mine], the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

I recommend reading the entire Hartmann article.

The 2nd amendment was written to reassure southern slave states that the Union would not take away their right to control their slaves and to squelch any slave insurrection activity. If slave patrol state militias in slave states did not have the right to own and bear arms.....then, the institution of slavery, itself, would have been threatened. Guaranteeing that southern state militias, militias used primarily in slave states to...keep slaves in line, would always have the permanent right to own and bear arms....made the ratification of the Constitution possible.




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