Documents on the First Congress Debate on Arms and Militia.
Extracted from The Origins of the American Constitution, A Documentary
Edited by Michael Kammen, Penguin Books, 1986;
and from Creating the Bill of Rights: The Documentary Record from the
First Federal Congress,
Edited by Helen E. Veit, et al., The Johns Hopkins University Press,
(Edacted by Jim Knoppow)
From the Madison Resolution, June 8, 1789.
Resolved, that the following amendments ought to be proposed by Congress to
the legislatures of the states, to become, if ratified by three fourths
thereof, part of the constitution of the United States... The right of the
people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well
regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person
religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military
service in person...
AMENDMENTS PROPOSED BY STATES
Massachusetts Convention — Did not propose a keeping and bearing
amendment, nor a militia nor a standing army amendment.
South Carolina — Proposed no keeping and bearing, or militia or
standing army amendment.
New Hampshire — TENTH, That no standing Army shall be Kept up in time
of Peace unless with the consent of three fourths of the Members of each branch
of Congress, nor shall Soldiers in Time of Peace be Quartered upon private
Houses without the consent of the Owners... TWELFTH Congress shall never disarm
any Citizen unless such as are or have been in Actual Rebellion.
Virginia — SEVENTEENTH, That the people have a right to keep and bear
arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained
to arms is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State. That standing
armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be
avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the Community will
admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination
to and governed by the Civil power. EIGHTEENTH, That no Soldier in time of
peace ought to be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, and
in time of war in such manner only as the laws direct. NINETEENTH, That any
person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms ought to be exempted upon payment
of an equivalent to employ another to bear arms in his stead... (Amendments
proposed to the body of the Constitution).... NINTH, that no standing army or
regular troops shall be raised or kept up in time of peace, without the consent
of two thirds of the members present in both houses. TENTH, That no soldier
shall be inlisted for any longer term than four years, except in time of war,
and then for no longer term than the continuance of the war. ELEVENTH, That
each State respectively shall have the power to provide for organizing, arming
and disciplining it's own Militia, whensoever Congress shall omit or neglect to
provide for the same. That the Militia shall not be subject to Martial Law,
except when in actual service in time of war, invasion, or rebellion; and when
not in the actual service of the United States, shall be subject only to such
fines, penalties and punishments as shall be directed or inflicted by the laws
of its own State.
New York — That the People have a right to keep and bear Arms; that a
well regulated Militia, including the body of the People capable of bearing
Arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State; that the Militia
should not be subject to Martial Law, except in time of War Rebellion or
Insurrection. That standing Armies in time of Peace are dangerous to Liberty,
and ought not to be kept up, except in Cases of necessity; and that at all
times, the Military should be under strict Subordination to the Civil Power.
That in time of Peace no Soldier ought to be quartered in any House without the
consent of the Owner, and in time of War only by the civil Magistrate in such
manner as the Laws may direct...that the Militia of any State shall not be
compelled to serve without the limits of the State for a longer term than six
weeks, without the Consent of the Legislature thereof.
HOUSE COMMITTEE REPORT, July 28, 1789.
... "A well regulated militia1,
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."2
HOUSE RESOLUTION AND ARTICLES OF AMENDMENT; August 24, 1789.
ARTICLE THE FIFTH. 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 one religiously scrupulous
of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in
On September 4, the Senate agreed to amend Article 5 to read as follows: A
well regulated militia, being the best security of a free state, the right of
the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
On September 9, the Senate replaced "the best" with
"necessary to the." On the same day, the Senate disagreed to a motion
to insert "for the common defence" after "bear arms." This
article and the following ones were then renumbered as articles 4 through 8.
ARTICLE THE SIXTH. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any
house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner
prescribed by law.
ADDITIONAL ARTICLES OF AMENDMENT; September 8, 1789
That no standing army or regular troops shall be raised or kept up in time
of peace, without the consent of two thirds of the members present in both
houses. That no soldier shall be enlisted for any longer term than four years,
except in time of war, and then for no longer term than the continuance of the
war. That each State respectively shall have the power to provide for
organizing, arming, and disciplining its own militia, whensoever Congress shall
omit or neglect to provide for the same. That the militia shall not be subject
to martial law, except when in actual service in time or war, invasion or
rebellion; and when not in the actual service of the United States, shall be
subject only tosuch fines, penalties, and punishments as shall be directed or
inflicted by the laws of its own State.
SENATE AMENDMENTS, September 9, 1789
 To erase the word "fifth" — & insert — fourth
— & to erase from the fifth article the words, "composed of the
body of the people — the word "best" — & the words
"but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled
torender military service in person" — & insert after the word
"being" in the first line — necessary to.
ARTICLES OF AMENDMENT, as Agreed to by the Senate, September 14, 1789
ARTICLE THE FOURTH. 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.
DEBATE ON THE MILITIA AND RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR IN THE HOUSE (Senate
debates were secret).
The Congressional Register, 17 August 1789
The house went into a committee of the whole, on the subject of amendments.
The 3d clause of the 4th 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 ith respect to a militia, as make a standing
army necessary. Whenever government 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 establishement 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.
Mr. Seney — Wished to know what question there was before the
committee, in order to ascertain the point upon which the gentleman was
Mr. Gerry — Replied, that he meant to make a motion, as he disapproved
of the words as they stood. He then proceeded, No attempts that they made, were
successful, until they engaged in the struggle which emancipated them at once
from their thralldom. Now, if we give a discretionary power to exclude those
from militia duty who have religious scruples, we may as well make no provision
on this head; for this reason he wished the words to be altered so as to be
confined to persons belonging to a religious sect, scrupulous of bearing arms.
Mr. Jackson — Did not expect that all the people of the United States
would turn Quakers or Moravians, consequently one part would have to defend the
other, in case of invasion; now this, in his opinion, was unjust, unless the
consitution secured an equivalent, for this reason he moved to amend the
clause, by inserting at the end of it "upon paying an equivalent to be
established by law."
Mr. Smith, (of S.C.) — Enquired what were the words used by the
conventions respecting this amendment; if the gentleman would conform to what
was proposed by Virginia and Carolina, he would second him: He thought they
were to be excused provided they found a substitute.
Mr. Jackson — Was willing to accommodate; he thought the expression
was, "No one, religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled
to render military service in person, upon paying an equivalent."
Mr. Sherman — Conceived it difficult to modify the clause and make it
better. It is well-known that those who are religiously scrupulous of bearing
arms, are equally scrupulous of getting substitutes or paying an equivalent;
many of them would rather die than do either one or the other — but he did
not see an absolute necessity for a clause of this kind. We do not live under
an arbitrary government, said he, and the states respectively will have the
government of the militia, unless when called into actual service; beside, it
would not do to alter it so as to exclude the whole of any sect, because there
are men amongst the quakers who will turn out, notwithstanding the religious
principles of this society, and defend the cause of their country. Certainly it
will be improper to prevent the exercise of such favorable dispositions, at
least while it is the practice of nations to determine their contests by the
slaughter of their citizens and subjects.
Mr. Vining — Hoped the clause would be suffered to remain as it stood,
because he saw no use in it if it as amended so as to compel a man to find a
substitute, which, with respect to the government, was the same as if the
person himself turned out to fight.
Mr. Stone — Enquired what the words "Religiously scrupulous"
had reference to, was it of bearing arms? If it was, it ought so to be
Mr. Benson — Moved to have the words "But no person religiously
scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms" struck out. He would always
leave it to the benevolence of the legislature — for, modify it, said he,
as you please, it will be impossible to express it in such a manner as to clear
it from ambiguity. No man can claim this indulgence of right. It may be a
religious persuasion, but it is no natural right, and therefore ought to be
left to the discretion of the government. If this stands part of the
constitution, it will be a question before the judiciary, on every regulation
you make with respect to the organization of the militia, whether it comports
with this declaration or not? It is extremely injudicious to intermix matters
of doubt with fundamentals. I have no reason to believe but the legislature
will always possess humanity enough to indulge this class of citizens in a
matter they are so desirous of, but they ought to be left to their discretion.
The motion for striking out the whole clause being seconded, was put, and
decided in the negative, 22 members voting for it, and 24 against it.
Mr. Gerry — Objected to the first part of the clause, on account of the
uncertainty with which it is expressed: a well-regulated militia being the best
security of a free state, admitted an idea that a standing army was a secondary
one. It ought to read "a well regulated militia, trained to arms," in
which case it would become the duty of the government to provide this security,
and furnish a greater certainty of its being done.
Mr. Gerry's motion not being seconded, the question was put on the clause as
reported, which being adopted.
Mr. Burke — Proposed to add to the clause just agreed to, an amendment
to the following effect: "A standing army of regular troops in time of
peace, is dangerous to public liberty, and such shall not be raised or kept up
in tim of peace but from necessity, and for the security of the people, nor
then without the consent of two-thirds of the members present of both houses,
and in all cases the military shall be subordinate to the civil
authority." This being seconded.
Mr. Vining — Asked whether this was to be considered as an addition to
the last clause, or an amendment by itself? If the former, he would remind the
gentleman the clause was decided; if the latter, it was improper to introduce
new matter, as the house had referred the report specially to the committee of
Mr. Burke — Feared that what with being trammelled in rules, and the
apparent disposition of the committee, he should not be able to get them to
consider any amendment; he submitted to such proceeding because he could not
Mr. Hartley — Thought the amendment in order, and was ready to give his
opinion of it. He hoped the people of America would always be satisfied with
having a majority to govern. He never wished to see two-thirds or three-fourths
required, because it might put it in the power of a small minority to govern
the whole union.
The question on mr. Burke's motion was put, and lost by a majority of 13.
AUGUST 20, 1789
Mr. SCOTT objected to the clause in the sixth amendment, "No person
religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms." He said, if this
becomes part of the constitution, we can neither call upon such persons for
services nor an equivalent; it is attended with still further difficulties, for
you can never depend upon your militia. This will lead to the violation of
another article in the constitution, which secures to the people the right of
keeping arms, as in this case you must have recourse to a standing army. I
conceive it is a matter of legislative right altogether. I know there are many
sects religiously scrupulous in this respect: I am not for abridging them of
any indulgence by law; my design is to guard against those who are of no
religion. It is said that religion is on the decline; if this is the case, it
is an argument in my favour; for when the time comes that there is no religion,
persons will more generally have recourse to these pretexts to get excused.
Mr. BOUDINOT said that the provision in the clause or something like it
appeared to be necessary. What dependence can be placed in men who are
conscientious in this respect? Or what justice can there be in compelling them
to bear arms, when, if they are honest men, they would rather die than use
them. He then adverted to several instances of oppression in the case which
occurred during the [revolutionary] war. In forming a militia we ought to
calculate for an effectual defence, and not compel characters of this
description to bear arms. I wish that in establishing this government we may be
careful to let every person know that we will not interfere with any person's
particular religious profession. If we strike out this clause, we shall lead
such persons to conclude that we mean to compel them to bear arms.
Mr. VINING and Mr. JACKSON spake upon the question. The words 'in person'
were added after the word 'arms', and the amendment was adopted.
LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS REFERING TO KEEPING AND BEARING
Fisher Ames to George R. Minor. 12 June, 1789
The civil departments will employ us next, and the judiciary the Senate.
They will finish their stint, as the boys say, before the House has done. Their
number is less, and they have matured the business in committee. Yet Mr.
Madison has inserted, in his amendments, the increase of representatives, each
State having two at least. The rights of conscience, of bearing arms, of
changing the government, are declared to be inherent in the people. Freedom of
the press too. There is a prodigious great dose for a medicine. But it will
stimulate the stomach as little as hasty-pudding. It is rather food than
physic. An immense mass of sweet and other herbs and roots for a diet drink.
Samuel Nasson to George Thatcher. 9 July 1787
I find that Amendments are once again on the Carpet. I hope that such may
take place as will be for the Best Interest of the whole. A Bill of rights well
secured that we the people may know how far we may Proceade in Every Department
then their will be no Dispute Between people and rulers in that may be secured
the right to keep and bear arms for Common and Extraordinary Occations such as
to secure ourselves against the wild Beast and also to amuse us by fowling and
for our Defence against a Common Enemy you know to learn the Use of arms is all
that can Save us from a forighn foe that may attempt to subdue us for if we
keep up the Use of arms and become well acquainted with them we Shall allway be
able to look them in the face that arise up against us for it is impossible to
Support a Standing armey large Enough to Guard our Lengthy Sea Coast and now
Spare me on the subject of Standing armeys in a time of Peace they allway was
first or last the downfall of all free Governments it was by their help Caesar
made proud Rome Own a Tyrant and a Traytor for a Master.
Only think how fatal they ware to the peace of this Countery in 1770 what
Confeusion they Brought on the fatal 5 of March [the Boston Massacre] I think
the remembrance of that Night is enough to make us Carefull how we Introduce
them in a free republican Government — I therefore hope they will be
Discouraged for I think the man that Enters as a Soldier in a time of peace
only for a living is only a fit tool to inslave his fellows.
For this purpose was a Standing Army first introduced in the World anoather
that I hope will be Established in the bill is tryals by Juryes in all Causes
Excepting where the parties agree to be without I never wish to be in the power
of any Sett of Men let them be Never so good but hope to be left in the hands
of my Countery and if any Enemey means to bribe he must have money anough to
settle it with the Country.
ROGER SHERMAN'S PROPOSED COMMITTEE REPORT. 21-28 July
...5 The Militia shall be under the government of the laws of the respective
States, when not in the actual Service of the united States, but Such rules as
may be prescribed by Congress for their uniform organisation & discipline
shall be observed in officering and training them. but military Service Shall
not be required of persons religiously Scrupulous of bearing arms.
6 No Soldier Shall be quartered in any private house, in time of Peace, nor
at any time, but by authority of law.
Richard Henry Lee to Charles Lee, 28 August 1789
The enclosed paper will shew you the amendments passed the H. of R. to the
Constitution — They are short of som essentials, as Election interference
& Standing Army &c. I was surprised to find in the Senate that it was
proposed we should postpone the consideration of Amendments until Experience
had shewn the necessity of any — As if experience was more necessary to
prove the propriety of those great principles of Civil liberty which the wisdom
of Ages has found to be necessary barriers against the encroachments of power
in the hands of frail Men! My Colleague was sick & absent. The laboring oar
was with me. A Majority of 2 thirds however agreed to take the Amendments under
consideration next Monday — I hope that if we cannot gain the whole loaf,
we shall at least have some bread.
Theodorick Bland Randolph to St. George Tucker, 9 September 1789
The house of Representatives have been for some time past engaged on the
subject of amendments to the constitution, though in my opinion they have not
made one single material one. The senate are at present engaged on that
subject; Mr. Richd. H. Lee told me that he proposed to strike out the standing
army in time of peace but could not carry it. He also sais that it has been
proposed, and warmly favoured that, liberty of Speach and of the press may be
stricken out, as they only tend to promote licenciousness. If this takes place
god knows what will follow.
John Randolph to St. George Tucker, 11 September 1789
A majority of the Senate for not allowing the militia arms & if two
thirds had agreed it would have been an amendment to the Constitution. They are
afraid that the Citizens will stop their full Career to Tyranny &
Richard Henry Lee to Patrick Henry, 14 September 17895
[I have] since waited to see the issue of the proposed amendts. to the
Constitution, that I might giver you the most [exact] account of that business.
As they came from the H. of R. they were very far short of the wishes of our
Convention, but as they are returned by the Senate they are certainly much
weakened. You may be assured that nothing on my part was left undone to prevent
this, and every possible effort was used to give success to all the Amendments
proposed by our Country — We might as well have attempted to move Mount
Atlas upon our shoulders — In fact, the idea of subsequent Amendments was
delusion altogether, and so intended by the greater part of those who arrogated
to themselves the name of Federalists. I am grieved to see that too many look
at the Rights of the people as a Miser examines a Security to find a flaw in
it! The great points of free election, Jury trial in criminal cases much
loosened, the unlimited right of Taxation, and Standing Armies in peace, remain
as they were. Some valuable Rights are indeed declared, but the powers
that remain are very sufficient to render them nugatory at pleasure.
The most essential danger from the present System arises, [in my] opinion,
from its tendency to a Consolidated government, instead of a Union of
Confederated States — The history of the world and reason concurs in
proving that so extensive a Territory [as the] U. States comprehend never was,
or can be governed in freed[om] under the former idea — Under the latter
is it abundantly m[ore] practicable, because extended representation, know[lege
of] character, and confidence in consequence, [are wanting to sway the] opinion
of Rulers, without which, fear the offspri[ng of Tyranny] can alone
answer. Hence Standing Armies, and des[potism] follows. I take this reasoning
to be unrefutable, a[nd] therefore it becomes the friends of liberty to guard
[with] perfect vigilance every right that belongs to the Sta[tes] and to
protest against every invasion of them — taking care always to procure as
many protesting States as possible — This kind of vigilance will create
caution and probably establish such a mode of conduct as will create a system
of precedent that will prevent a Consolidating effect from taking place by
slow, but sure degrees. And also not to cease in renewing their efforts for so
amending the federal Constitution as to prevent a Consolidation by securing the
due Authority of the States. At present perhaps a sufficient number of
Legislatures cannot be got to agree in demanding a Convention — But I
shall be much mistaken if a great sufficiency will not e'er long concur in this
measure. The preamble to the Amndmnts is realy curious — A careless reader
would be apt to suppose that the amendments desired by the States had been
graciously granted. But when the thing done is compared with that desired,
nothing can be more unlike...
By comparing the Senate amendments with [those] from below by carefully
attending to the m[atter] the former will appear will calculated to enfeeble
[and] produce ambiguity — for instance — Rights res[erved] to the
States or the People — The people here is evidently designed fo[r
the] People of the United States, not of the Individual States [page
torn] the former is the Constitutional idea of the people — We the
people &c. It was affirmed the Rights reserved by the States bills of
rights did not belong to the States — I observed that then they belonged
to the people of the States, but that this mode of expressing was evidently
calculated to give the Residuum to the people of the U. States, which
was the Constitutional language, and to deny it to the people of the Indiv.
State — At least that it left room for cavil & false construction
— They would not insert after people thereof — altho it was moved.
Also on August 17, 1789, Benson made a motion to strike out "but no
person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms." The COWH
turned down the motion by a vote of 24 - 22.
Also on August 17, 1789, Burke proposed to insert "A standing army of
regular troops in time of peace, is dangerous to public liberty, and shall not
be raised or kept up in time of peace but from necessity, and for the security
of the people, nor then withut the consent of two-thirds of the members present
of both houses, and in all cases the military shall be subordinate to the civil
authority." This was voted down by a majority of 13.
On August 20, the House agreed to insert "in person," so that the
clause read, "but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to
bear arms in person."
On August 24, 1789, a House Resolution and Articles of Amendments were
passed and sent to the Senate. The Amendment then read: "Article the
Fifth. 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 one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms,
shall be compelled to render military service in person."
On September 4, 1789, the Senate disapproved a motion to insert at the end,
"that standing armies, in time of peace, being dangerous to Liberty,
should be avoided as far as the circumstances and protection of the community
will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict
subordination to, and governed by the civil Power. That no standing army or
regular troops shall be raised in time of peace, without the consent of two
thirds of the Members present in both Houses, and that no soldier shall be
inlisted for any longer term than the continuance of the war."
Also on September 4, 1789, the Senate agreed to amend Article 5 to read:
"A well regulated militia, being the best security of a free state, the
right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
On September 8, 1789, the Senate Legislative Journal shows the
following entry as an additional article of amendment: "That each State
respectively shall have the power to provide for organizing, arming, and
disciplining its own militia, whensoever Congress shall omit or neglect to
provide for the same. That the militia shall not be subject to martial law,
except when in the actual service in time of war, invasion or rebellion; and
when not in the actual service of the United States, shall be subject only to
such fines, penalties, and punishments as shall be directed or inflicted by the
laws of its own State."
On September 9, 2789 the Senate replaced "the best" with
"necessary to the." Thus, the proposed amendment read: "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."
On September 14, 1789, the Senate agreed to twelve Articles of Amendment.
The preamble reads: "The Conventions of a Number of the States having, at
the Time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a Desire, in Order to
prevent misconstruction or abuse of its Powers, that further declaratory and
restrictive Clauses shuld be added: And as extending the Ground of public
Confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent end of its
Institution — " A joint resolution of the Senate and House of
Representatives was drafted to forward the twelve amendments to the States for
consideration. The House disagreed. The Fourth Amendment read: "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."
On September 24, 1789 a Conference Committee Report was issued whereby
difference were reconciled. The Fourth Amendment remained unchanged. The House
issued a resolution requesting the President forward the Articles of Amendments
to the States, plus Rhode Island and North Carolina.
1. On August 17, a motion by Gerry to
insert "trained to arms" at this point failed for want of a
2. On August 17, Jackson made a motion in
the Committe of the Whole House to insert "upon paying an equivalent to be
established by law," at this point. On the suggestion of Smith (S.C.),
Jackson proposed to change this phrase to, "No one, religiously scrupulous
of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person, upon
paying an equivalent." This was apparently superseeded by Benson's motion
to strike out "but no person" through "bear arms," which
the COWH disagreed to, 24-22. On the same day, a motion by Burke to insert the
following at this point was disagreed to, by a majority of 13: "A standing
army of regular troops in time of peace, is dangerous to public liberty, and
such shall not be raised or kept up in time of peace but from necessity, and
for the security of the people, nor then without the consent of two-thirds of
the members present of both houses, and in all cases the military shall be
subordinate to the civil authority." The House, on August 20, agreed to a
motion to insert "in person" at this point.
3. On September 4, by a recorded vote of
9-6, the Senate disagreed to a motion to insert the following at this point:
that standing armies, in time of peace, being dangerous to Liberty, should be
avoided as far as the circumstances and protection of the community admit; and
that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and
governed by the civil Power. That no standing army or regular troops shall be
raised in time of peace, without the consent of two thirds of the Members
present in both Houses, and that no soldier shall be inlisted for any longer
term than the continuance of the war.
4. Eleven articles were proposed in this
committee report, with the advisory that they be sent to the legislatures of
the several states to be adopted by them as amendments of the Constitution of
the United States. The 'natural rights' mentioned in this report include;
"rights of conscience in matters of religion; of acquiring property, and
of pursuing happiness & safety; of Speaking, writing and publishing their
Sentiments which decency and freedom; of peaceably Assembling to consult their
common good, and of applying to the Government by petition or remonstrance for
redress of grievances. Of these rights therefore they Shall not be deprived by
the government of the united States." No mention of keeping and bearing is
made in the document. According to the footnote in 'Creating the Bill of
Rights', "This document is apparently Sherman's proposal to the House
select committee, showing how Madison's amendments could be revised and placed
at the end of the Constitution."
5. The paper is in bad condition, the
words in brackets are from historian Charles Campbell's pre-Civil War
transcript in the Hugh Blair Grigsby Papers, Virginia Historical Society. There
are only two mentions of a standing army, but his view of the real strength of
the rights in amendment is interesting.