Belowis the promised scholarship on the Whigs. As I mentioned earlier, the Whigs in Englandwere the political party most closely associated with freedom, including individual ownership of arms. Their influence carried into the Colonies, with John Adams estimating up to 90% of the colonists having Whig sympathies. A number of Founders had Whig writings in their personal libraries.
The entire article, Armed Citizens, Citizen Armies: Toward a Jurisprudence of the Second Amendment, is excellent. The author, David Hardy, maintains a good website at www.armsandthelaw.com. Permission for WWW use of the article for educational purposes has been granted by the publisher and author.
Here is the address for the entire article: www.guncite.com/journals/hardcit.html.
Here is an excerpt:
"A second important political legacy of the Glorious Revolution is the eventual emergence of the Whigs as a major political (p.584)party and Whiggism as the dominant ideology of freedom. This had no small impact on the New World; John Adams estimated that nine-tenths of Americans were Whigs by the outbreak of our Revolution, and even the British general John Burgoyne admitted that "I look with reverence, almost amounting to idolatry, upon those immortal Whigs" responsible for the Declaration of Rights.
The early Whig theorists unanimously stressed individual ownership of arms, the formation of a citizen army, and the limitation of standing armies as the basis of political freedom. They drew upon Sir Walter Raleigh, who wrote that among the "sophisms of a barbarous and professed tyranny" would be plans "to unarm his people of weapons, money and all means whereby they may resist his power," while the "sophistical or subtle tyrant" would plan "to unarm his people, and store up their weapons, under pretence of keeping them safe, and having them ready when service requireth." Algernon Sydney, a leading Whig thinker and politician executed by Charles II, counseled that "No state can be said to stand upon a steady foundation, except those whose whole strength is in their own soldiery, and the body of their own people," and more concisely, that in a proper commonwealth, "the body of the people is the public defense, and every man is armed."
The post-1688 Whigs maintained the same principles. Roger Molesworth summed it well in his famous foreword to Hotman's Franco-Gallia: "[T]he arming and training of all the (p.585)freeholders of England, as it is our undoubted ancient constitution, and consequently our right; so it is the opinion of most Whigs, that it ought to be put into practice." Molesworth praised the Swiss as examples of this wisdom and rejected the Game Laws as a reason for disarming the poor: "The preservation of the game is but a very slender pretence for omitting it. I hope no wise man will put a hare or a partridge in balance with the safety and liberties of Englishmen." James Harrington expanded upon these principles in his Oceana, a Whig Utopia. To Harrington, it was "the possession of land that gave a man independence, this independence being in the last analysis measured by his ability to bear arms and use them in his own quarrels ...." In his Prerogative of Popular Government, Harrington added that a republic is virtually unconquerable because its citizens, "being all soldiers or trained up unto their arms, which they use not for the defense of slavery but of liberty" cannot be subdued: "Men accustomed to their arms and their liberties will never endure the yoke." Harrington's follower, Henry Neville, added that "democracy is much more powerful than aristocracy, because the latter cannot arm the people for fear they should seize upon the government."
In the early Eighteenth Century, Andrew Fletcher added his Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias. Like Harrington, Fletcher shared Machiavelli's admiration for the ancient armed republics of Rome and Sparta. Fletcher also noted the contemporary example of the Swiss: "the freest, happiest, and the people of all Europe who can best defend themselves, because they have the best Militia." He saw his proposal "that the whole people of any Nation ought to be exercised to Arms" as supported by both the common law and by history; "and I cannot see, why Arms should be denied to any man who is not a (p.586)Slave, since they are the only true Badges of Liberty ...." His successor, James Burgh, was still more popular in the colonies. Burgh devoted an entire chapter of his Political Disquisitions to the Militia-Army issue. "No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people," Burgh wrote, adding, "The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave." Writing on the eve of the American Revolution, Burgh argued that the emerging conflict was itself a product of ignoring these principles:
The Whig writings have more than purely historical interest. John Adam's estimate that ninety percent of Americans were Whig sympathizers at the time of the American Revolution has been mentioned, and many of these American Whigs were deeply familiar with the writings of their English predecessors. John Adams held special regard for Harrington, although he probably did not endorse the 1779 proposal to change Massachusetts's name to Oceana. Adams and Madison both studied Molesworth in detail; Jefferson's library (p.587)boasted copies of Sydney, Molesworth and Harrington. These works, and those of Fletcher, were also owned by the likes of Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and George Mason. When Burgh's Political Disquisitions were printed in the colonies, Benjamin Franklin served as editor, and the subscription list for the first edition included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Hancock, and John Dickinson."
The confidence which a standing army gives a minister, puts him upon carrying things with a higher hand than he would attempt to do if the people were armed and the court [royal officials] unarmed, that is, if there were no land force in the nation, but a militia. Had we at this time no standing army, we should not think of forcing money out of the pockets of three millions of our subjects. We should not think of punishing with military execution, unconvicted and unheard, our brave American children, our surest friends and best customers.... We should not--but there is no end to observations on the difference between the measures likely to be pursued by a minister backed by a standing army, and those of a court awed by the fear of an armed people.
What do you think? Is the Monkey a "Whig?"