Quote of the day—David Hackett Fischer

As late as 1733 gentlemen of Virginia were said to be naked when they went in public without their swords. They appear not to have gone naked in this sense very often.

David Hackett Fischer
1989
Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: A Cultural History)
[What does this tell you about the original intent of the Second Amendment?—Joe]

4 thoughts on “Quote of the day—David Hackett Fischer

  1. Swords were still a part of a gentleman’s wardrobe at the time of the revolution, for those who could afford them. I’m guessing they were too expensive for the average small farmer, but would have been assumed to be included under the category of arms.

    I would think that the privately owned cannon at some frontier settlements and the cannon aboard privately owned merchant vessels were also intended to be covered under the second amendment definition of arms.

    • From the record, I would argue that the primary purpose of the 2nd amendment is to secure the right of the people to defend themselves against an oppressive government. The secondary purpose is for the people to be able to defend themselves against a foreign enemy (as in the militia). Self defense, I suspect, was considered so obvious that it didn’t need to be stated. Or in other words, self defense is a 9th amendment issue.

      • And hasn’t the Ninth Amendment been respected even less than the Second? I recall it getting even less class time than the Second in Constitutional Law, and my Professor was some variety of libertarian.

        • Absolutely.
          I recommend “Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty” by prof. Randy Barnett. Not the easiest book to read, but well worth it. Among other things, it contains a lengthy analysis why it makes sense for people to consider the Constitution binding (given that none of us personally agreed to it). And it also discusses the 9th amendment in detail. He mentions that he was assigned the 9th as an exercise in law school, apparently because he was the only one willing to spend time on something so “irrelevant” and “obsolete”.

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