The Second Amendment & Slavery
by KrisAnne Hall, JD
In an TMZ interview with Larry King recently it was said that the 2nd amendment was created by “Southern senators so they could ward off slaves uprising.” Yes there was slavery in the colonies and it was not confined to the South. Yes there were pro-slavery states pressuring convention delegates. However not everyone was pro-slavery and the right to bear arms was not something foisted upon the nation by those who wanted to continue the abominable trade. The oversimplification in the Larry King interview of this complex history presents a sad distortion and denies many honorable and brave people of color their proper station in history.
It doesn’t take extensive research to discover that the very first man to give his life in our battle for independence was a freed slave by the name of Crispus Attucks. Crispus Attucks not only gave his life so we could be free, but was one of the most honored patriots of this time. The Boston Globe reported that Attucks’ funeral was the most attended funeral in the history of Boston. This armed, freed slave fought for our freedom.
American history also reveals battalions of freed slaves that fought for our independence.
Peter Salem was one such hero. As a freed slave, Salem is credited with having killed Major Pitcairn, resulting in the American victory over the British troops in the very famous battle of Bunker Hill. Salem would receive many honors for this feat, even the praise of General George Washington. This armed, freed slave fought for our freedom.
Americans should learn of the Bucks of America, Ned Hector, and of the George Middleton, a free black man and colonel in a Massachusetts Militia. Middleton was a hero among those who fought in our war for independence. Upon his retirement from duty, in 1796, Middleton started the “African Benevolent Society,” a charitable organization to care for the needs of the widows and orphans of those black soldiers who fought in our war for Liberty. All those armed, freed slaves, fought for our Liberty.
Mr. James Forten the son of free blacks, at 14 years old, heard the public reading the Declaration of Independence in the streets of Philadelphia. Forten then joined the Navy to fight against the British oppression of the American colonists. He was taken captive and given the option of living with a captain of the British Navy as a slave companion of the captain’s son. Forten was told he would have comfort and provision like he had never known in America, if he would only agree to stop fighting and return to his life as a slave in Britain. Forten, as a young man, responded: “I have been taken prisoner for the liberties of my country, and never will prove a traitor to her interest!” He ended up spending 7 months in a British prisonship for his devotion to freedom and liberty. This armed, free black man, fought for our freedom.
Let us not forget Prince Whipple, the freed black man who fought along side General George Washington and is seen in the very famous painting of Washington crossing the frozen Delaware River. These are but just a few examples of the many armed freed slaves who fought for the new America. . Several of our States had a provision, that gave permanent freedom to all slaves wanting to fight for Liberty and independence. This history means there are some free men who gave their only free breath so America could be free and Americans do not even know their names.
I could write extensively of the reams of documented conversations in which the American founders held the right to bear arms out to be an essential right to protect a nation from government tyranny and oppression, not a means to subjugate slaves. In fact, the man known as the Father of the Bill of Rights, George Mason from the southern colony of Virginia, notably created the Fairfax Resolves of July 1774 which declared that slavery should be done away with. This matched the strong sentiments he expressed in an essay in 1773:
“That slow poison…is daily contaminating the minds and morals or our people. Every gentleman here is born a petty tyrant. Practiced in acts of despotism and cruelty, we become callous to the dictates of humanity, and all the finer feelings of the soul. Taught to regard a part of our own species in the most abject and contemptible degree below us, we lose that idea of dignity of man which the hand of nature has implanted in us for great and useful purposes.”
One cannot look at the strong abolitionist sentiment in many of the founders’ writings and accept such a simple broad-brush of history as put forth by Larry King and others like him. Many in our founding, both black and white fought against the evils of slavery. Many fought for it. Eventually good triumphed over evil. To trot out racial division every time we want to win an argument, not only dishonors all of those who sowed seeds and spilled blood to move us closer to liberty for all, it threatens to grow an irrational hatred that serves the best interests of no-one.
We need a renewed vigor for truth in history in America. We need to learn about the Liberty we possess that so many before us fought to secure. We cannot preserve our freedoms while denying the history that won them. Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.
Liberty First University has courses particularly to educated on this history and the principles that drove the creation of our Constitutional Republic. Please visit www.LibertyFirstUniversity.com and review the following courses to better educate yourself against these errors of history:
- Slavery and the American Founders
- Forgotten Founders
- The Right to Keep and Bear Arms: The Second Amendment