Slavery and the Second Amendment, Free Essay in American History

Published: 2022-02-23
Slavery and the Second Amendment, Free Essay in American History
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: Slavery James Madison Constitution American history
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1502 words
13 min read

The second amendment of the United States constitution took place in 1789; it was drafted by James Madison who is famously known as "the father of the Constitution" (Ciocchetti) The amendment advocated for the ownership of arms by the citizens as he puts forward that the regulated militia will serve in boosting the security of the nation. Over the years, there have been numerous controversies surrounding the amendment, since its inception, there have been several killings taking place without serious action being taken against the perpetrators, this has spurred a series of discussion about the amendment, and it has made many people think that the amendment had a different motive (Goldschein). The amendment of the constitution came at a time when slavery was rampant in the United States more so in the southern part where agricultural practiced, since the amendment time, there have been various discussions which claims that this amendment is linked to the slavery.

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In 1789 when the bill was first drafted, slavery was at its peak in united states, and it was considered a legal activity (Goldschein). In 1787, two years before drafting of the bill, there was a Constitutional convention which brought together delegates from both northern and southern part of America. The convention seeks to establish the population of the Americans in the south and northern part of America, from the convention, it was evident that the Southern part of the United States had many slaves. This was because the southern part of America practiced farming which required a large workforce which was provided by slaves.

James Madison who drafted the bill hailed from Virginia, and he was brought up in a plantation where more than 100 slaves were working in the plantation (Ciocchetti). In his amendment, Madison puts forward that the militia should be allowed to have an arm. The militia is the one who was entitled to carry out a routine check on the slaves in their quarters to confiscate any arm which the slaves might be in possession, with this in mind; several cases have been put forward to show that indeed the amendment by Madison had a relation with the slavery. In the draft, despite the allowance of the white people to have arms, Madison placed more emphasis on the Militia who were known to be checking on the Slaves regularly hence this amendment was concerned with slaves.

Even though it has been foggy to link the second amendment to slavery, research has revealed that the right to own a gun was used to derail black Americans (Goldschein). White were the only persons who were allowed to possess guns; this meant that it would be easy for them to suppress and control the black Americans without their retaliation. With the whites having guns which they used in threatening the enslaved blacks, they could easily make the slaves work according to their wish since they had no weapons to retaliate.

The population of the southern part of Virginia was majorly made of enslaved blacks who were working in the white farms. With their increase in number, it sparked fear to the whites that at one point, the blacks might stage a rebellion against their masters as it had been witnessed in 1739 in Stono (McDonald). The slaves staged a revolt against their masters and demanded their freedom; this revolt came at a time when slavery was viewed as a legal activity hence the government intervened in quelling the revolt hence defeating the slaves. With this fear in place, it was necessary for the whites to arm themselves with weapons which were sophisticated to scare away the blacks in case of a rebellion. With the whites' fear of the population of slaves, the amendment was necessary to allow the possess guns.

The militia was the key instrument in the control of Slaves (McDonald). This made it necessary for them to be allowed to arm themselves. Even though during the American Revolt, the militia had proven not to fit for the war, they were deemed as the right group to control the slaves, and there was a need to ensure that they are adequately armed. This is evident since, in the amendment, Madison explicitly puts more emphasis on the arming of the militia.

Before the second, amendment in 1755 and 1757, during the American revolution, regulations were passed that all the whites who owned plantations should join the militia (McDonald). By this, we can depict that Madison had an intention of strengthening the Militia as he knew that they were plantation owners and they would get enough control over the slaves when they are allowed to possess arms. There was fear that the state was going to strip off the militia their power to regularly check the slaves to determine if they have any arms which can give them the strength to stage a revolt. Due to this fear, there was a need to have ordinary whites to have arms so that they can continually have control over slaves even if the state bares militia from conducting regular checks on the Militia residential place.

Madison came from Virginia where the larger population of whites practiced farming, as a politician and he knew that people from Virginia are the ones who will vote for him. Therefore, he was doing what would please them (Ciocchetti). Being in possession of arms excited the citizens of Virginia as from the amendment they knew they were going to control the slaves with ease and this gave Madison a milestone boost in his politics as this was received positively by the whites. Furthermore, the militia was used as the guard to the slaves as they in charge of quelling and incidences of a demonstration staged by the slaves. By possessing weapons, they were posing enough treats to slaves, and they could not protest but submit to their masters.

There was fear by the Virginians that the constitution would deter them from using the militia to control the slaves (Ciocchetti). With this fear in place, Virginians were to get a section of the constitution which could guarantee them authority over the slaves, Madison ailing from Virginia and he owned some of the slaves, he was aware of the treat too and never wanted to lose authority over slaves as that would be detrimental to their farming activities. Therefore, Madison opted to forward the second amendment to take care of their fear and ensure they have total control over the slaves.

Despite the second amendment being linked to slavery, there are also point which delinks the second amendment to slavery. They argue that the amendment had nothing to do with slavery and that the time of amendment came as a coincidence with the more pronounced slavery cases in the Southern part of America. In Pennsylvania, they had enacted a protection order where all citizens were to be protected against the uprising slaves (Goldschein). If that enactment had anything to do with the oppression of slaves, Vermonters who were championing for the rights of citizens could have noted that campaign against it, but they saw it as a normal bill which seeks to enhance the security of the citizens. Furthermore, in Massachusetts, a law was passed in 1780 which allowed citizens to have arms as they argued that all men are free and equal and they have a right to protect themselves. With this in place, the second amendment in united states is not an exception and should have been taken to mean that the amendment yearned to bolster the security of citizens.

In conclusion, we can depict that indeed the second amendment had the upper hand in slavery. The amendment was brought out by Madison who was ailing from Virginia where slaves were utilized in plantations, and there was a need to have control over them. Their number was surging at a high rate; hence there was a need to devise a way of controlling them easily and to avert any attempt of revolt from slaves. Since the inception of the amendment, there have been no serious actions taken against those who commit crimes using guns; this tends to depict that the amendment was targeting the slaves. Despite the evident link of the amendment with slavery, there is still a room to delink the amendment to slavery. In Pennsylvania, a protection order was passed, and individuals were allowed to have arms which they would use in protecting themselves, and it was not seen as an attempt to oppress others, in Massachusetts the right to own gun was also enacted and viewed as a way of protecting oneself.

Work Cited

Ciocchetti, Corey. "Understanding The Second Amendment: A Five Page Synopsis." SSRN Electronic Journal (2013): n. Pag. Web.

Goldschein, Eytan Michael. "Gun Control & The Second Amendment: A Philosophical Perspective." SSRN Electronic Journal (2010): n. Pag. Web.

McDonald, Robert M. S. "The Militia And The Right To Arms, Or, How The Second Amendment Fell Silent (Review)." The Journal of Military History 68.1 (2004): 248-249. Web.

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