by Robert Wilkinson
Yes, it seems that “the militias” referenced in the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution were actually “slave patrols” that most able bodied men in the southern states were obligated to join from time to time. Thom Hartmann has extensively researched the subject, and has a lot to say about how the American gun lobby has twisted the interpretation of the Second Amendment relative to the original intention of the law.
Courtesy of the ever-great Truthout, we find Thom Hartmann’s article The Second Amendment Was Ratified to Preserve Slavery. It’s a real eye-opener in the world of 18th century politics, the part slavery played in how our Constitution was created and negotiated, and how the 2nd Amendment has been contorted to somehow mean the right for all Americans to have unlimited firepower that can be used to kill whatever and whoever gets in the crosshairs of assault rifles in the hands of deranged people.
I won’t reprint the entire article, since I don’t have that legal right and it would be good for you to go over and explore the Truthout site, as it has quite a few great articles on all kinds of things. For now, to whet your appetites, here are a few pieces of this interesting in-depth look at “well regulated militias.”
The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says "State" instead of "Country" (the Framers knew the difference - see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.
In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the "slave patrols," and they were regulated by the states.
In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.
... Sally E. Haden, in her book Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, notes that, "Although eligibility for the Militia seemed all-encompassing, not every middle-aged white male Virginian or Carolinian became a slave patroller." There were exemptions so "men in critical professions" like judges, legislators and students could stay at their work. Generally, though, she documents how most southern men between ages 18 and 45 - including physicians and ministers - had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives.
And slave rebellions were keeping the slave patrols busy.
By the time the Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South. Blacks outnumbered whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings. As Dr. Bogus points out, slavery can only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the militias.
If the anti-slavery folks in the North had figured out a way to disband - or even move out of the state - those southern militias, the police state of the South would collapse. And, similarly, if the North were to invite into military service the slaves of the South, then they could be emancipated, which would collapse the institution of slavery, and the southern economic and social systems, altogether.
It’s a long article, but well worth the read. It continues the historical threads from how the British offered to free slaves who fought for them in the Revolutionary War to the Southern state paranoia that the Federal government would take away their right to form “slave patrols,” and how some of the “Founding Fathers” were sure that the new US Constitution would encourage slave rebellions across the south. He closes the article with this chilling observation:
Little did Madison realize that one day in the future weapons-manufacturing corporations, newly defined as "persons" by a Supreme Court some have called dysfunctional, would use his slave patrol militia amendment to protect their "right" to manufacture and sell assault weapons used to murder schoolchildren.
It is safe to say that globally there are too many guns killing too many good people who only want to live their lives in peace. Eventually this era will pass, and its madness of violent thanatophilia will fade into history. The “Path of Return” is arduous, and seems very slow relative to the length of human lives, but eventually we will see a different world where the law or the gun does not reign supreme over the law of right relationships. Now if only the Organians would show up, “raid the game” (in the words of the immortal Capt. James T. Kirk) and make all weapons too hot to handle...
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson