Defending the Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & the American Constitution
Wednesday July 23rd 2014

Self-Educated Man

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Federalist 58 by James Madison. 1. Under the proposed Constitution whose interests were represented by the U.S. Senate? Is it so today? If not, how might it be remedied & by what means? 2. How did the Constitution provide for updating representation in Congress? 3. Madison credits the U.S Constitution with assigning the greatest power, that of the “purse strings” to the U.S. House. In your opinion, how might the House assert that power to reduce the size & cost of government today? 4. Explain in your own words Madison’s warning against too many men serving in the House. How might his warning be applied today as calls abound for a more direct democracy & for scrapping the electoral college system? 5. Is democracy the form of government our Founders gave us or was it a republican form? Explain the difference.


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Elbridge Gerry: Securing the People Against Tyrants

Liberty Letters, Elbridge Gerry, 1789

Elbridge Gerry Public Domain photo

American Founder, Elbridge Gerry

The House again resolved itself into a committee, Mr. Boudinot in the chair, on the proposed amendments to the constitution. The third clause of the fourth proposition in the report was taken into consideration, being as follows: “A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.”

Mr. Gerry: This declaration of rights, I take it, is intended to secure the people against the mal-administration of the Government; if we could suppose that, in all cases, the rights of the people would be attended to, the occasion for guards of this kind would be removed. Now, I am apprehensive, sir, that this clause would give an opportunity to the people in power to destroy the constitution itself. They can declare who are those religiously scrupulous, and prevent them from bearing arms.

What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. Now, it must be evident, that, under this provision, together with their other powers, Congress could take such measures with respect to a militia, as to make a standing army necessary. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins. This was actually done by Great Britain at the commencement of the late revolution. They used every means in their power to prevent the establishment of an effective militia to the eastward. The Assembly of Massachusetts, seeing the rapid progress that administration were making to divest them of their inherent privileges, endeavored to counteract them by the organization of the militia; but they were always defeated by the influence of the Crown.


Recommended read on the Second Amendment, Wayne LaPierre’s, Guns, Crime, and Freedom (with Foreword by Tom Clancy).


Source: Elbridge Gerry, 20 August 1789, U.S. House of Representatives, discussion on a proposed amendment to the Constitution protecting the right to bear arms on the federal level (the state governments already protected this right). The right to bear arms was already protected under all 13 of the state constitutions, consistent with the unalienable right to to self-defense or that fundamental right that legitimizes government in the first place – or in other words, consistent with the understanding that government is but an aid to individuals (or families) on the community, state, and national level to each man’s right to protect his life, liberty, and property.


Liberty Letters is a project of The Moral Liberal’s, Editor in Chief, Steve Farrell. Copyright © 2012 Steve Farrell.