November 7, 2007
• Patrick Henry
The Virginia ratifying convention met from June 2 through June 26, 1788. Edmund Pendleton, opponent of a bill of rights, weakly argued that abuse of power could be remedied by recalling the delegated powers in a convention. Patrick Henry shot back that the power to resist oppression rests upon the right to possess arms:
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.
O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone…Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation…inflicted by those who had no power at all?