The Founding Fathers and the Right to Bear Arms

The Founding Fathers and the Right to Bear Arms

The tumultuous founding of these United States did not happen overnight.  In fact, it wasn’t complete when the Revolutionary War ended. The beginnings of our foundation stretch back to the time of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, and John Smith first setting his foot down in Jamestown.  The next 150-175 years hewed into existence, a nation the likes of which the world had never seen.

Central to this new nation were the ideals of limited government, and individual freedom and liberty. These freedoms included, and often revolved around, the idea of independence of a person and as a corporate whole.  But the actions, writings, and beliefs of the founders prove by any reasonable argument that individual liberty was sacred, and not to be infringed upon or harmed.

Pro-2nd Amendment T-Shirts!

This is made abundantly clear in our Bill of Rights.  The freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom to be secure in one’s own residence, and the freedom of the individual to keep and bear arms.

The Founders of this nation hailed from many different backgrounds, slave owners, and those completely opposed to the institution of slavery.  Protestants and Deists. Quakers to Masons. Lawyers to Surveyors.  But all of them had a universal fear of Tyranny.

Every one of them had seen the privations heaped upon the colonies and the United States by British, French, Spanish and Hessian troops over a course of a century and a half.  Many had seen the devastations of frontier warfare.  All of them were convinced a heavily armed and trained populace was essential, vital even, to the preservation of Liberty and the continuation of the United States as a whole.

The view that the entire population was to be armed is strongly echoed by the words of the founders.

I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.” – George Mason, Address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 4, 1788

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”  – James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.” – James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789

“The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” – Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788

“What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty …. 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.” – Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, I Annals of Congress 750, August 17, 1789

“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

“[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28, January 10, 1788

To disarm the people…[i]s the most effectual way to enslave them.” – George Mason, referencing advice given to the British Parliament by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, June 14, 1788

In light of the overwhelming evidence from the men who crafted the Declaration, wrote the Constitution, included the Bill of Rights, and led the United States during its first decades of existence it is abundantly clear to all but the very gullible (or those who would impose tyranny), that our founders wished us to be armed. They demanded we be armed. And in force, capability and training so as to thwart any infringement by a runaway government.  Noah Webster, often considered the father of American Education and Scholarship wrote:

 “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.” – Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787

George Washington was concerned that a Civilian Militia would be lacking in training and organization, and so he wrote, “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”

Washington believed that not only should the people be armed, and well trained (well-regulated in 1700 wording), but they should be able to procure weapons, ammunition, and supplies independently of a Federal Government.

In closing the common view in much of academia, and political circles concerning the founding father’s view on our 2nd Amendment is not only false, but it is also a blatant lie to the American People.

Buy a copy of the Federalist Papers Today! 


  1. Bubba

    We are free because we are armed. Otherwise we are just the UK, where you can get arrested for a Facebook post…

  2. Pete

    Molon Labe. Never surrender your Liberty!

  3. Avatar


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About The Author

Zach Dunn

Zach Dunn is one of the owners of 1776TV and serves as Senior Editor. He is a passionate Constitutionalist. He enjoys the Outdoors, Firearms, and History. He is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. Zach is married to Amy and they have a son and three daughters. He currently resides in the Mountains of North Carolina.

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