posted on Jun, 4 2007 @ 04:20 PM
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.
America’s current constitution was written in Philadelphia - our largest and leading city of the era - in 1787. It stipulated it would become
effective only between the states that approved of it, and that it took 9 states for it to come into existence at all. See Article VII. The first
election had been planned for 1788, but the requisite number of states had not ratified. Indeed, Rhode Island did not send a representative to
Philadelphia and was last to approve the new document. But, early in 1789, the 9th and 10th states approved, and so the first election was held. NY,
NC and RI did not vote in the first election as they came onboard too late. George Washington carried all 10 states in the Electoral College and was
sworn in to office in mid-1789, in New York City, then the new nation‘s capital.
The Revolutionary War for independence from Great Britain had been waged under the preceding document, the Articles of Confederation. So what
happened? Why change documents if the first document gave us independence? It seemed to be working. But in fact, it was not working at all. The
country - what country? - was a mess. Several states were printing their own currency, only the Spanish ‘piece of eight’ silver coin enjoyed
general acceptance. Cutting pieces off that coin - into quarter sections - gave rise to our first native coin, the quarter. America was deeply in
debt to France and others, especially in Holland, who had loaned us money to wage the war. In fact, King Louis XVI loaned America so much of his
treasure that he went bankrupt in 1789 in large part because of his funding of the Americans against his enemy, the British. The enemy of my enemy is
my friend. The king lost his head in 1793.
So where did our country get its name? See Article 1 of the Articles of Confederation. Article 1. The Style of this Confederacy shall be "The United
States of America" And so it is.
Guns and Gun Control. I suppose there is more argument over what the Second Amendment means than any other part of our constitution. I have been
critical of the author of that Amendment. It is the most difficult portion of our glorious document to read. I have called it discombobulated. I once
paid an English teacher $50 to diagram the sentence. Her best effort produced 2 alternatives. How it diagrams depends on you making basic assumptions.
It remains a curiosity to me why this amendment alone is so oddly written.
Amendment II: 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. (27 words)
Gun control advocates claim the amendment relates to militias. Anti-gun control advocates say it relates to an armed citizenry who are incidentally
members of a militia or even, to citizens who are not in the militia at all, which POV leaves half of the amendment dangling. Which is why I favor the
former and not the latter.
I have argued the 2nd amendment is easier understood by reading its predecessor found in the Articles of Confederation. Article 6, Paragraph 4: “ .
. but every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly
have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of field pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage.” (47
In the 18th century, people who copied documents by hand charged by the word. Is it possible all our disputations over what the second amendment means
are due to the Founding Fathers’ parsimony? Or, what’s 20 words worth if you are making 100 copies? Because it is so poorly written, it will be
argued pro and con as long as there are guns and opinions.
Why did the Articles fail the country. Well, here’s one reason. It provided for no leader. Instead, the leadership role was vested in the entire
Continental Congress. Although each state had a number of representatives between 3 and 7 based on its population, on all votes, the states voted as 1
or unitary. That is, the individual member from a state had to agree on which way to vote, then cast a single ballot. As in Maryland votes Aye. Or
Virginia votes Nay. You can see that is a prescription for disaster. But it gets worse. Or better, depending on how distorted your view of the
Articles are. Or is.
When the Continental Congress is not in session, executive decisions are to be made by a Committee of the States. See Article X. The Committee of the
States, or any nine of them, shall be authorized to execute, in the recess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United States in
Congress assembled, by the consent of the nine States, shall from time to time think expedient to vest them with; provided that no power be delegated
to the said Committee, for the exercise of which, by the Articles of Confederation, the voice of nine States in the Congress of the United States
assembled be requisite.” Reminds me of ‘Amos and Andy’ when talking about insurance policies, “The big print giveth, the fine print taketh
Worse in practice than the mythological Greek Hydra, a monster with 9 heads. Was it just coincidence the Continental Congress required 9 members of
the Committee of the States to take action? Was this someone’s sense of irony? Or of humor?
I don’t know why, but Americans thought English-speaking people in Canada would like to join with us revolting against the King of England. To
facilitate this desirable state of affairs, the following provision was included in the Articles of Confederation. See Article XI: Canada acceding to
this confederation, and adjoining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union; but
no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States.” Canada yes, Bahamas no.
As you probably know, in the war of 1812, the US invaded Canada hoping to incorporate it into the US, but found the Canadians very much unwilling to
join us. Angered over their rejection, we decided to burn their capital, York, now Toronto. Later, in 1914, the British Red Coats made a special trip
to our new capital Washington, and reciprocated by burning our capital. What goes around comes around.
Finally, the Articles close with this: In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands in Congress. Done at Philadelphia in the State of
Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight, and in the Third Year of the independence of
Right. The Founding Fathers dated our War of Independence from 1775, with the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill. Not with the Declaration
of Independence done later, on July 4, 1776.
You may find all our founding documents at the Yale University Avalon Project, www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/artconf.htm
[edit on 6/4/2007 by donwhite]