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A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers And The Origins Of Gun Control In America

1323 words - 6 pages

The second issue in this paper is about rebellions throughout American history. There were several rebellions, but Shays’ Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, and Fries’s Rebellion were an important part of the militia debate. “Shays’s Rebellion was the largest violent uprising in the new nation’s history, would become the first test of the radical potential of the militia and the right to bear arms in post-Revolutionary America”(Cornell, 31). Shays’s Rebellion revealed a tension in American constitutional theory if the militia was an agent of government authority or a popular system serving as a check on government. The notion that the militia refused to enforce an unjust law or took up arms against the government became the most important ideas in mental political confusion of the Revolutionary era. The consequence of the rebellion had influenced the content of the Constitution. Although the rebellion collapsed so quickly, it had an important effect on American constitutional development that motivated to reform the Articles of Confederation. (p.33-36) Following in the tradition of Shays, the Whiskey Rebellion in which farmers took up arms against the whiskey excise tax in western Pennsylvania believe that the people might bear arms to defend liberty. The tax protest had become an armed rebellion and Washington had to lead federal and state militia to put down. It appropriated the rituals and rhetoric of the militia muster and used the language of civic obligation and republican liberty. However, their idea that assembling in arms for liberty was rejected because Republicans believed that bearing arms was only for a well-regulated militia under state authority. The rebellion easily fell apart due to government forces (Cornell, 76-84). Fries’s Rebellion happened in southeastern Pennsylvania because of the tax on houses, land, and slaves. The state militia then was called out to put down the rebellion, so the rebellion fell apart quickly. The prosecution in Fries’s case was as same model set out in the trial as the Whiskey Rebellion that prevented the populist vision of the militia. From this rebellion, the notion that state might use their militias against the federal government gained more support when Republicans had to face another constitutional crisis. The crisis, apparently, forced Americans to consider both the militia’s role
Another noticeable issue in the the book is how slavery affected the debate over militias in the South. Abolitionists developed a new theory of the Second Amendment that provided the constitutional foundation for an individual right of revolution. They supported for an immediate end to slavery. From that event, a new revolutionary theory of the Second Amendment about an individual right of armed resistance became a cornerstone of abolitionist ideology. In addition, abolitionist Joel Tiffany stated that the right to bear arms also implied the right to use them in self-defense; Spooner thought that bearing arms for...

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