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The Founding Father Who Told Americans We Have A Right To Military Weapons

Daily Caller – by Robert Natelson

Does the Constitution’s right to keep and bear arms apply to everyone? Or only to law enforcement and the National Guard? Does the right include so-called “assault weapons?”

A newly published document from America’s founding offers a clue. 

When interpreting the Constitution, judges and scholars consider what people said about the document around the time it was adopted. Writings by the Constitution’s advocates explaining its meaning to the general public are particularly helpful, because Americans relied on those explanations in deciding to ratify the document.

The most famous writings of this kind were penned by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay and collected as “The Federalist.” But there were many others. Among the most important were newspaper op-eds produced by Tench Coxe.

Few people know of Coxe today, but during the founding era he was famous. He served in the Confederation Congress. After the Constitution was ratified he became our first assistant secretary of the treasury, working directly under Alexander Hamilton.

Public release of the proposed Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787 ignited a massive public debate. Opponents argued that if the instrument were ratified it would create an all-powerful central government. Coxe supported the Constitution — and like Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, he was frustrated by opponents’ misrepresentations.

Coxe wrote a series of op-eds to accurately explain the Constitution’s legal effect. His informal style was much easier to understand than the scholarly tone of The Federalist, and his articles became extremely popular.

Many of Coxe’s op-eds were republished long ago, but new ones sometimes surface. The editors of the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution recently issued new volumes that include four productions by Coxe previously known to only a few dedicated scholars.

In a Pennsylvania Gazette article published February 20, 1788, Coxe addressed the right to keep and bear arms: “The power of the sword, [opponents] say … is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for THE POWERS OF THE SWORD ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE YEOMANRY OF AMERICA FROM SIXTEEN TO SIXTY … Who are the militia? are they not ourselves[?].”

Coxe added, “The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

In other words, all able-bodied adult men have the right to keep and bear arms — not just law enforcement and the military. (Since ratification of the 14th Amendment, women also possess the right.)

Coxe also addressed the kinds of arms included: “Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American.” In other words, the right to keep and bear includes military arms, not just hunting pieces. Rifles such as the AR-15 (misleadingly branded “assault weapons”) are protected — not despite the fact that they are military weapons, but precisely because they are military weapons!

Coxe’s view is hardly surprising to those of us who study the founders: The Revolutionary War had ended only five years before. If American citizens had not possessed military-style weapons, we would have lost.

Coxe wrote further, “Congress have no power to disarm the militia. What clause in the state or federal constitution hath given away that important right[?]”

This passage was composed well before the Second Amendment was proposed. Even then, Congress had no power to disarm the people. This was part of Coxe’s wider argument that federal powers were strictly limited. In other op-eds, Coxe listed many other matters outside the federal sphere and reserved exclusively to the states: education, social services, agriculture, most business regulation, and others.

Despite the fact that Americans relied on such representations when ratifying the Constitution, the federal government now asserts almost unlimited authority. Since politicians always seek to expand their power, that is understandable. Unfortunately, writers on the Constitution often pervert history and constitutional meaning to provide “cover” to the politicians. An example is the ludicrous claim — promoted by some leading law professors — that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause granted Congress vast power over our national life.

Tench Coxe’s writings provide a useful corrective. They are valuable reading for anyone who wants to understand what the Constitution actually says.

Robert G. Natelson is a senior fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the nonprofit Independence Institute in Denver and author of The Original Constitution: What It Actually Said and Meant.

Daily Caller

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13 Responses to The Founding Father Who Told Americans We Have A Right To Military Weapons

  1. KOYOTE says:

    In other words, all able-bodied adult men have the right to keep and bear arms — not just law enforcement and the military. (Since ratification of the 14th Amendment, women also possess the right.)
    BWAHAHAHAHA
    !!!!!!!!
    SO…. GENIUS, IT TOOK THE 14TH AMMENDMENT FOR IT TO BE “LEGAL” FOR A WOMAN TO KILL HER ATTACKER??
    DOOFUS!!!
    WHO WRITES THIS SHIT?
    HE “14TH AMMENDMENT SOLIDIFIES NO NATURAL RIGHT, BUT SIGNS INTO LEGALESE WHAT THE BANKERS DESIRED AT THE FOUNDING OF THIS COUNTRY;
    TO STRIP AMERICAS RESOURCES WITHOUT EVER HAVING TO BREAK A SWEAT……..
    THE “DAILY CALLER” SHOULD HANG THEIR HEAD IN SHAME……………COLLECTIVELY………….

  2. galen says:

    When I saw the title of this article I could not wait to see which “Founding Father” it was that the author was citing. Lo and Behold, Tench Coxe!! I have never heard of him being referred to as a “Founding Father,” but seems he was.

    I just learned that Coxe was known to his political enemies as “Mr. Facing Both Ways,” and was accused of having “Royalist sympathies.” From the little I’ve read of his bio, I do not know the all of his stance or where he might have compromised (and who can fully trust the history books anyway), but those quotes on who the militia is/are and on the peoples’ right to bear whatever arms or weapons the military does, are so potent, so energized, and so true to the forthcoming Bill of Rights – they themselves are artillery.

    In this article, beyond the b.s. of the 14th Amendment and Coxe’s upholding of the state, his message shines through for the people. I remember the first time I heard Henry read the Coxe quote. It was as if I was given an ally for all time, one who accepted no limitation to what I am entitled to by birth. It was a heavenly balm that set me in armor to claim my right to self defense against whatever, and with whatever weaponry I can muster. In that regard I am in a debt of gratitude to Mr. Coxe, and to any who repeatedly speak his famous quote. They bring a powerful gift.

    .

    • Norm says:

      Nicely put.

    • Mark Schumacher in LV says:

      Henry has a wonderful quote too. “THIS SHIT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE”. 🙂

    • Freeillinois says:

      Like most articles written about Tench Coxe they do not do the man justice

      Coxe held the office of Arm Purveyor ; in 1798 he gave Whitney the contract for 10,000 rifles

      Under the guidance of Coxe the US government in 1803 began to use a power trip hammer to make rifle barrels and were building 40,000 standards of arms a year for the militia.

      If it wasn’t for Coxe we would not have had the Arms to win the war of 1812.

      A standard of arms is a rifle, a pistol, a bayonet, a sword if you were an officer. It also included a shot bag and powder horn which in modern terms is your ammunition and web gear..

      Coxe’s view was that the USA should be more than an agrarian nation but an industrial nation.

      Because of the work and direction of Tench Coxe the USA became the .world leader in machine tools by 1867 and worlds largest economy by 1871

      Not bad for a guy that most people have never heard of.

  3. # 1 NWO Hatr says:

    “Writings by the Constitution’s advocates explaining its meaning to the general public are particularly helpful, because Americans relied on those explanations in deciding to ratify the document.”

    Word is that they relied far more upon the Bill of Rights being attached to that treasonous Constitution for it to ‘pass muster’.

    “Opponents argued that if the instrument were ratified it would create an all-powerful central government. Coxe supported the Constitution…”

    But ONLY with the BoR attached… correct?

    Not a single mention of it (other than the 2nd ‘Amendment’ reference in passing)

    “Despite the fact that Americans relied on such representations when ratifying the Constitution, the federal government now asserts almost unlimited authority.”

    Thanks mainly to television ‘programming’, communist indoctrination in the schools & Big Pharma.

  4. galen says:

    In case you’d like just a touch of insanity in you Sunday:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Peu6CnxAqA

    .

    • Norm says:

      Just watched this, it is from 2014, wonder if this fkn retard shill still believes this dreck…

    • Martist says:

      I really need to work on my tech skills.

      Does anyone know how to email someone a throat punch? Asking for a friend.

    • Mark Schumacher in LV says:

      I could only watch about 1.3 minutes of it. Perfect example of what happens when your last job was a mop boy in an adult book store.

  5. galen says:

    Thanks, Angel. And wow, what educational comments. I learned so very much. And Martist, I think your comment already accomplished what you were inquiring about. Right to the Adam’s apple.

    So… I just found out that The War of 1812 is called “The Second War of Independence.” We did it again, although not all the way. What will we call the finishing product? “The Third War of Independence?” No, it needs more than that. Maybe “The Final War of Independence with Victory for The Bill of Rights.” Some might say, “That’s too long.” To them I will say, “Get used to it.”

    “The Final War of Independence with Victory for The Bill of Rights.”

    “The Final War of Independence with Victory for The Bill of Rights.”

    “The Final War of Independence with Victory for The Bill of Rights.”

    🙂

    .

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