Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Second Amendment & Federalist No. 29: Concerning the Militia

Federalist No. 29 (full text) was an attempt by Alexander Hamilton to allay the fears of the Anti-Federalists of the risk of a National Guard, or "Well Regulated Militia" from getting out of hand, and oppressing the citizens.

From the Daily Advertiser | Thursday, January 10, 1788 | Author: Alexander Hamilton

The Anti-Federalists were fearful of the strength and centralization that this new Constitution would bring to the federal government. The Federalist Papers were op-ed pieces published anonymously by several Federalists to support the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. The Federalist Papers give us some of the most illuminating insight into what the founders were thinking.

In Federalist 29, Alexander Hamilton appears to be arguing in favor of a militia, even as a law-enforcement body, and rejects the idea that such a militia would be of any significant risk to citizens of the United States. Hamilton argues that we need not fear our sons, fathers and brothers, even if they are commanded by an executive magistrate. In fact, Federalist 29 uses the term “well-regulated militia” and variations on that phraseology. That turn of phrase seems to be well recognized in the lexicon of the time to describe the kind of national defense being contemplated.

James Madison believed that the Constitution, with its enumerated powers, would be sufficient to limit government specifically to the functions and authority granted therein. However, many were not so convinced. James Madison and others were finally persuaded to go along with the idea of a Bill of Rights – given the very real risk that the Constitution would not be ratified without it. If we think of the Articles of the Constitution as the “white list” of powers that the federal government should have, the Bill of Rights would be the “black list” of things that no good government would ever do. The Constitution granted certain powers to the federal government; the Bill of Rights guaranteed protection to the citizens from the government.

So Federalist 29 actually reinforces my conviction that people were worried that the federal government would have a “well-regulated militia”, so much so that Alexander Hamilton felt compelled to write Federalist 29, ridiculing that concern as being unfounded. But in the end, the Bill of Rights allowed that “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.” The first clause, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State”, acknowledges the need for the federal government to have armed services at its disposal, but the Bill of Rights guarantees that “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”, lest We the People lose control of our government.

The Bill of Rights was never intended to provide more power to the government; quite the reverse. The Bill of Rights was always intended to prevent the government from ever becoming tyrannical and oppressive. So any attempt to morph the Second Amendment into an instrument of authority for mustering a national guard, would be a distortion of grave proportions. The Second Amendment was intended to protect individual citizens from government, just like all nine of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights.

No comments :

Post a Comment

This is a moderated forum. Please try to avoid ad-hominem attacks and gratuitous profanity. Justifiable profanity may be tolerated.

I am sorry, but due to the un-manageable volume of spam comments, I have enabled the scrambled word verification. I apologize for the inconvenience.