Copperhead, C. Chauncey Burr, had some interesting thoughts about the Second Amendment within the context of the Lincoln Administration. This selection reveals his take on the issue.
Italics are in the original.
August Glen-James, editor
The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers.
The Amendment reads:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
In his comments on this Article, Chief Justice Story says--"One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offence to keep arms, and by substituting a regular army in the stead of the militia. The friends of a free government cannot be too watchful to overcome the dangerous tendency of the public mind to sacrifice, for the sake of mere private convenience, this powerful check upon the designs of ambitious men. * * The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers." The present administration has violated this article of the Constitution in every particular. It has, in a great many instances, disarmed the people by forcibly entering their houses and seizing their arms of every description. It has sent overwhelming numbers of United States soldiers into peaceable and law-abiding communities, to overawe the people, and render the militia ineffectual for the preservation of the peace and the protection of the citizens. In a word, it has substituted United States soldiery for the militia. It is said that there are at the present time (March 1864) over twenty thousand United States troops regularly stationed in the city of New York. The Governor, to his shame be it spoken, makes no protest against this invasion of the State on the part of the Federal Administration. The city of New York is virtually under military law. If the General commanding these troops does not plunge every citizen into a bastile (sic), it is only because it does not suit his whim or caprice of the moment. The same power by which he seizes one, menaces the liberty of all. The presence of such a United States force uninvited by the State Executive is a violation of both the Federal and State Constitutions, and ought not to be submitted to a single hour by the authorities of the State. The militia is the only military force the laws allow in a State, unless United States troops are sent there in response to the call of the Governor or Legislature of the State. Again, Congress has passed an act (the conscription) which tends to annihilate the State Militia to such an extent as to leave the States completely at the mercy of the Federal army. All these acts are revolutionary, and violative of the Constitution. This Second Article of the Amendments, is a restriction upon the powers of Congress, and which is contumaciously disregarded in the Act here referred to.