November 22, 2007

• Famous Second Amendment Quotes

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 11:47 pm by Rid

Founding Fathers on the Second Amendment

GEORGE WASHINGTON (First President) (NOTE FROM FASTMETAL: It appears there is some question on the authenticity of this particular quote. I am leaving it so the reader has a point of reference from the comments at the bottom.)

“Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the people’s liberty teeth keystone… the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable… more than 99% of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference. When firearms go, all goes, we need them every hour.” (Address to 1st session of Congress)

THOMAS JEFFERSON (Author of Declaration of Independence, member Continental Congress, Governor of Virginia, Minister to France, Secretary of State, Vice President, 3rd President )
• “On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” 12 Jun 1823 (The Complete Jefferson p.32)
• “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” (Jefferson Papers, p. 334, C.J. Boyd, 1950)
• “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” (Thomas Jefferson Papers p. 334, 1950)
• “And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms…The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Letter to William S. Smith 13 Nov 1787 (Jefferson, On Democracy p. 20, 1939; Padover, editor)
• “The few cases wherein these things (proposed Bill of Rights) may do evil, cannot be weighed against the multitude where the want of them will do evil…I hope therefore a bill of rights will be formed to guard the people against the federal government…” (letter to Madison 31 July 1788, The Papers of James Madison, Hobson & Rutland, p.11:212)
• “I have a right to nothing which another has a right to take away.” (letter to Uriah Forrest, 1787, Jefferson Papers, 12:477)
• “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” (letter to Isaac Tifany, 1819)
GEORGE MASON (Virginia House of Burgesses, Virginia delegate to Constitutional Convention, wrote Virginia Declaration of Rights, wrote “Objections to the Constitution”, urged creation of a Bill of Rights)
• “I ask, Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.” (Jonathan Elliot, The Debates of the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, [NY: Burt Franklin,1888] p.425-6)
• “Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised…to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia…” (In Virginia’s Ratifying Convention, Elliot p.3:379-380)
• “The militia may be here destroyed by that method which has been practiced in other parts of the world before; that is, by rendering them useless – by disarming them.” (Elliot, p. 3:379-80)
• “I consider and fear the natural propensity of rulers to oppress the people. I wish only to prevent them from doing evil.” (In Virginia’s Ratifying Convention, Elliot p.3:381)
JOHN ADAMS (Signed Declaration of Independence, Continental Congress delegate, 1st Vice President, 2nd President)
• “Arms in the hands of citizens (may) be used at individual discretion…in private self-defense…” 1788(A Defense of the Constitution of the Government of the USA, p.471)
JAMES MONROE (Served in Revolutionary Army, member Continental Congress, Governor of Virginia, U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary of War, 5th President)
• “But it ought always be held prominently in view that the safety of these States and of everything dear to a free people must depend in an eminent degree on the militia.” (his first Inaugural Address, 1817)
SAM ADAMS (Signed Declaration of Independence, organized the Sons of Liberty, participated in Boston Tea Party, Member of Continental Congress, Governor of Massachusetts)
• “And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the right of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; …or to prevent the people from petitioning , in a peaceable and orderly manner; or to subject the people to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, papers or possessions.” (Debates of the Massachusetts Convention of 1788, p86-87)
JAMES MADISON (Drafted Virginia Constitution, Member of Continental Congress, Virginia delegate to Constitutional Convention, named “Father of the Constitution”, author of Federalist Papers, author of the Bill of Rights, Congressman from Virginia, Secretary of State, 4th President)
• “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.. (where) ..the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” (Federalist Papers #46)
• “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
• “They [proposed Bill of Rights] relate 1st. to private rights….the great object in view is to limit and qualify the powers of government…” 8 June 1789 (The Papers of James Madison, Hobson & Rutland, 12:193, 204)
• “To these (federal troops attempting to impose tyranny) would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands.” (Federalist Papers #46)
RICHARD HENRY LEE (Signed Declaration of Independence, introduced resolution in Continental Congress to become independent, proposed Bill of Rights from beginning, author of Anti-Fed Papers, Congressman and Senator from Virginia)
• “A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves…and include all men capable of bearing arms.” 1788 (Federal Farmer, p.169)
• “To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them…” 1788 (Federal Farmer)
• “No free government was ever founded, or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the state… Such are a well regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizens and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen.”
PATRICK HENRY (‘Liberty or Death’ Speech, member of Continental Congress, Governor of Virginia, member Virginia convention to ratify U.S. Constitution, urged creation of Bill of Rights for Constitution )
• “The great object is, that every man be armed…. Every one who is able may have a gun.” (Elliot p.3:386)
• “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.” During Virginia Ratification Convention 1788 (Elliot p.3:45)
• “I am not well versed in history, but I will submit to your recollection, whether liberty has been destroyed most often by the licentiousness of the people, or by the tyranny of rulers. I imagine, sir, you will find the balance on the side of tyranny.” (Elliot P.3:74)
• “My great objection to this government is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights, or of waging wars against tyrants.” (Elliot, 3:47-48; in Virginia Ratifying Convention, before Bill of Rights)
• “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…” (Elliot p.3:50-52, in Virginia Ratifying Convention demanding a guarantee of the right to bear arms.)
BEN FRANKLIN (member, Continental Congress, signed Declaration of Independence, attended Constitutional Convention, 1st Postmaster General)
• “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” (Respectfully Quoted, p. 201, Suzy Platt, Barnes & Noble, 1993)
NOAH WEBSTER (Served in Revolutionary Army, Printed dictionary; a federalist)
• “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed….” (An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, Webster1787)
• “A people can never be deprived of their liberties, while they retain in their own hands, a power sufficient to any other power in the state.” (Webster, p.42-43)
ALEXANDER HAMILTON (Member of Continental Congress, Aid-de-camp to General Washington, commanded forces at Yorktown, New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention, wrote Federalist Papers, 1st Secretary of Treasury for George Washington, wanted ‘President for life’)
• “Little more can reasonably be aimed at with respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equipped.” (Federalist Papers #29)
TENCH COXE (friend of Madison, member of Continental Congress)
• “Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American…(T)he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” (Freeman’s Journal, 20 Feb 1778)
• “As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.” (introduction to his discussion, and support, of the 2nd Amend) “Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution” Philadelphia Federal Gazette, 18 June 1789, pg.2
• “The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, …will form a powerful check upon the regular troops…” (Coxe, An Examination of the Constitution of the United States of America p.20-21)
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMSON (member of the first Congress of the United States)
• “The burden of the militia duty lies equally upon all persons;” in Congress, 22 Dec 1790 (Elliot, p423)
WILLIAM GRAYSON (Senator from Virginia in first Congress under the United States Constitution)
• “Last Monday a string of amendments were presented to the lower house; these altogether respect personal liberty…” (in letter to Patrick Henry)
ZACHARIA JOHNSON (delegate to Virginia Ratifying Convention)
• “The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.” (Elliot, 3:645-6)



  1. Leif Rakur said,

    Fine! This catalog of “Famous Second Amendment Quotes” starts off with a phoney. Washington never said it.

    The “Liberty Teeth” speech is bogus, according to GunCite, a pro-gun outfit.

    And it’s not the only false quote in the catalog.

    None of the quotes mentions the Second Amendment, although one was based on a draft. Most are either misleading when twisted out of their context — or are totally irrelevant to the Second Amendment.

  2. fastmetal said,

    Interesting thing, the internet. It allows information to propagate itself almost exponentially. That is all fine and dandy – if the information is accurate. The problem comes when information is propogated, in my case – innocently enough, that is not factual. Take the G. Washington quote, “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.” When I posted it, I cross checked and found several other sources using the same quote. I assumed it to be accurate and truthful. Apparently not.

    Why someone would intentionally fake or miss-represent a quote opens the mind to several possibilities. The malicious intent could work both ways: present bogus information so people such as myself will propagate the rumor as fact (good way to make gun supporters look bad) or a gun supporter made it up to make the case. How stupid that would be. Their is a mountain of evidence supporting the 2nd amendment.

    Perhaps the American Freedom Library available from Laissez Faire Books features the best history of this alleged quote on their Version 3.1 CD-ROM. The searchable CD-ROM notes that the above statement is:

    “Attributed to George Washington.–Frank J. Wilstach, A Dictionary of Similes, 2d ed., p. 526 (1924). This can be found with minor variations in wording and in punctuation, and with ‘fearful’ for ‘troublesome,’ in George Seldes, The Great Quotations, p. 727 (1966). Unverified. In his most recent book of quotations, The Great Thoughts (1985), Seldes Says, p. 441, col. 2, footnote, this paragraph ‘although credited to the ‘Farewell’ [address] cannot be found in it. Lawson Hamblin, who owns a facsimile, and Horace Peck, America’s foremost authority on quotations, informed me this paragraph is apocryphal [fake].'”

    And yet another bogus Washington quote:

    A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government

    The actual quote:

    A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies.
    —George Washington’s First Annual Message to Congress (January 8, 1790)

    My intent is to provide accurate information. I invite ANY opinion and appreciate anyone showing inaccuracies in my blog.

  3. Leif Rakur said,

    From the above catalog of quotes:

    • “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” (Thomas Jefferson Papers p. 334, 1950)

    This is a Thomas Jefferson quote that GunCite says is fictional. It is not found in Jefferson’s speeches or personal correspondence, nor has it been cited in law journals by Second Amendment legal scholars, GunCite says.

    The publication cited exists, but the quote does not, and the editor’s correct name is Julian P. Boyd, not C.J.Boyd, according to GunCite.

  4. Paul Jones said,

    Dear Mr. Leif Rakur, ET el,

    You are incorrect in your observation regarding the quote. In your zealous attempt to discredit the assembled quotes you failed to recognize that the quote is in fact genuine. I would direct your attention to the “First Annual Message to Congress New York City, Federal Hall, Wall & Broad Streets, 08 January, 1790” for clarification. Paragraph number four of G. Washington’s addresses states implicitly as follows:

    “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”

    In that you seem enamored with the web site you referred to as “gunsite” I would direct you to a more succinct explanation from that very site that answers the question of “cumulative/individual” rights to keep and bear arms. Possibly, you may learn a few items that will enlighten you with regard to the historical context used by the original drafters of the Constitution.

    In your second repudiation, you are correct. However, according to Jefferson’s own Library he did in fact state “No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements].” That statement can be found in his second draft of the Virginia Constitution (Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1:353). You might also note that it was the “Virgina Plan” that formed the basis of the U.S. Constitution.


    P. Jones
    USN (Ret)

  5. […] is to protect the citizens and keep them free. Free from what, you may ask? Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last […]

  6. Bubba St. Jaques-Belanger said,

    The Seditious Persons being The “Present” Powers That Be !
    The Constitution is Not an Evolving Piece of Paper , it is Our Core , Like “Amen” , and Finis , The End !

    (An Edit from Myself)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: