Nov 28 2018


Sometimes, they’re not funny.

Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr.

The Second Amendment is not for Black people.

The Second Amendment states: “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.”

Why was the term “free State” used, rather than “free Nation” or “free Country”? Actually, the term “free Country” appeared in the original version of the Second Amendment. However, the wording was changed to appease the slave states. Why? Was it because influential slaveholders wanted the Bill of Rights to sanction slave control militias? As H. M. Henry noted: “Slavery was not only an economic and industrial system … it was a gigantic police system.” Each southern police state was “kept safe”—at least for its white citizens—by armed militias. Unfortunately, if the free states wanted a Union, they would have to make a “deal with the Devil” in the form of terrible compromises with the slave states. The first terrible compromise was to allow the ghastly institution of slavery to be “legal” in the United States. A second terrible compromise can be found, ironically, in the Second Amendment. And that compromise is now allowing children to be gunned down by serial killers in schools like Virginia Tech University, Columbine High School, Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and even grade schools like Sandy Hook Elementary, thanks to the NRA and its gung-ho Second Amendment supporters.

Blacks outnumbered whites in many areas, which meant armed militias were required to “keep the peace.” Thus, Virginia’s delegates demanded that the Bill of Rights include one granting white citizens the right to bear arms and form state militias.

In her book Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, Sally E. Haden explains that, with only a few exceptions such as judges, legislators and students, nearly every white man in Virginia and the Carolinas became a slave patroller between the ages 18 and 45, even physicians and ministers.

Without slave patrols, the southern police states would have collapsed. And because southerners knew how strongly many northerners opposed slavery, they were worried that if the federal government controlled the only militia, their slaves might be emancipated through military service.

Such possibilities troubled southern slaveholders like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Mason (the owner of more than 300 slaves) and Patrick Henry. Jefferson and Henry opposed slavery on principle, and yet opposed freeing slaves. They were definitely “conflicted.”

Some slaveholders were concerned that Article 1, Section 8 of the then-proposed Constitution, which gave the federal government the power to raise and supervise a militia, could result in a federal militia that absorbed the state militias and ended up freeing the slaves they had been keeping in chains. And there had been a precedent. Twelve years earlier, Lord Dunsmore had offered freedom to slaves who escaped and joined his forces with “Liberty to Slaves” stitched onto their jacket pocket flaps. Freed slaves had also served in General Washington’s army. So it was no idle fear that slaves might be emancipated through military service.

Thus, at the ratifying convention in Virginia in 1788, Henry said:

Let me here call your attention to that part [of the proposed Constitution] which gives the Congress power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States … By this, sir, you see that their control over our last and best defence is unlimited. If they neglect or refuse to discipline or arm our militia, they will be useless: the states can do neither … this power being exclusively given to Congress. The power of appointing officers over men not disciplined or armed is ridiculous; so that this pretended little remains of power left to the states may, at the pleasure of Congress, be rendered nugatory.

Mason concurred:

The militia may be here destroyed by that method which has been practised in other parts of the world before; that is, by rendering them useless, by disarming them. Under various pretences, Congress may neglect to provide for arming and disciplining the militia; and the state governments cannot do it, for Congress has an exclusive right to arm them [under this proposed Constitution] …

Henry again:

If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress [slave] insurrections [under this new Constitution]. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress … Congress, and Congress only [under this new Constitution], can call forth the militia.

Henry again:

In this state, there are two hundred and thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States … May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this last war? We were not so hard pushed as to make emancipation general; but acts of Assembly passed that every slave who would go to the army should be free.

Henry was obviously convinced that the power granted the federal government in the new Constitution could be used to strip the slave states of their slave control militias. He anticipated exactly what Abraham Lincoln would end up doing:

They will search that paper [the Constitution], and see if they have power of manumission. And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide for the general defence and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power? This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it. This [slavery] is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress.

Madison thought Henry was going overboard, replying:

I was struck with surprise, when I heard him express himself alarmed with respect to the emancipation of slaves … There is no power to warrant it, in that paper [the Constitution]. If there be, I know it not.

Henry, however, argued that southerner’s “property” [slaves] would be lost under the new Constitution, and the resulting slave uprisings would ruinous. His response to Madison was:

In this situation, I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone.

So Madison changed his first draft to one that unambiguously declared that the southern states could maintain their militias.

Founders, am I right? And how about that Airplane food?