2nd Amendment Protected Slavery

In the South, militias were also called "slave patrols," and they were regulated by the states.

A re-enactment of a militia patrol. (Colonial Williamsburg)
A re-enactment of a militia patrol. (Colonial Williamsburg)

Author Says Southerners Wanted to Keep Slave Patrols

As Hollywood puts slavery back in the American consciousness and the reaction to the Newtown, Conn., shootings has the Second Amendment on the front burner, an author and talk-show host links the two in an intriguing way.

The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery,” reads the headline over a piece by Thom Hartmann posted Tuesday on Truthout, a site that “works to spark action by revealing systemic injustice and providing a platform for transformative ideas, through in-depth investigative reporting and critical analysis.”

It begins, “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.

“. . . So Madison, who had (at [Thomas] Jefferson’s insistence) already begun to prepare proposed amendments to the Constitution, changed his first draft of one that addressed the militia issue to make sure it was unambiguous that the southern states could maintain their slave patrol militias.

“His first draft for what became the Second Amendment had said: ‘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 [emphasis mine]: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.’

“But Henry, Mason and others wanted southern states to preserve their slave-patrol militias independent of the federal government. So Madison changed the word ‘country’ to the word ‘state,’ and redrafted the Second Amendment into today’s form: