1. Bogus, Hidden History, at 321, arguing,
“The Second Amendment was not enacted
to provide a check on government tyranny;
rather, it was written to assure the Southern
states that Congress would not undermine
the slave system by using its newly acquired
constitutional authority over the militia to
disarm the state militia and thereby destroy
the South’s principal instrument of slave
2. Russell F. Weigley, History of the United States Army 202
(1984). Part of this would have been to check a British war
aim. During the war, a loyalist officer of the South Carolina
militia urged the British to attack the Southern states
because “the instant that The Kings Troops are put in
motion in those Colonies, these poor Slaves would be ready
to rise upon their Rebel Masters.” Randall M. Miller, A
Backcountry Loyalist Plan to Retake Georgia and the
Carolinas, 1778, 75 S. C. HIST. MAG. 207, 213 (1974)
(quoting letter of Moses Kirkland).
4. North Carolina’s 1741 slave code, for example, ordered that “no
slave shall go armed with gun, sword, club, or other weapon, or shall
keep any such
weapon.” Quoted in
Regulation, at 148.
5. One such uprising
was the Stono Rebellion
in British South Carolina on Sept. 9, 1739. Bogus, Hidden
History, at 332–334. Under a literate African named Jemmy,
about 20 slaves gathered at the Stono River to march to the
sanctuary of Spanish Florida. Their timing may have been to
avoid the September 29 effective date of the South Carolina
Security Act of 1739 (which required all white males to carry arms on Sundays). They marched chanting
“Liberty” and carrying a “Liberty!” banner. They seized weapons and ammunition from a store at the Stono
River Bridge, killing the two storekeepers. On the way, they gathered recruits, swelling their numbers to 80.
A mob of plantation owners and the mounted militia caught up with them the next day— 20 whites and 44
slaves died in the suppression. The whites decapitated most of their prisoners and spiked their heads on
every mile post from there to Charleston. After Stono and other uprisings, South
Carolina moved to penalize masters for imposing excessive work or brutal punish-
ments and started a school to teach slaves Christianity (not, however, to learn to
read and write). The Assembly also imposed a prohibitive duty on African slave
importation and passed a law requiring a ratio of 1 white for every 10 blacks on
any plantation. In addition, the Negro Act of 1740 prohibited slaves from growing
their own food, assembling in groups, earning money and learning to read.
6. For example, 44 percent of Virginia’s population was black. Bogus, Hidden
History, at 326 n. 73, 332 n.106 (citing 1 Bureau of the Census, Historical
Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, at 22–36 (1976) (stating
that in 1790, Virginia had total population of 692,000 people, consisting of
442,000 whites and 306,000 blacks; compared to Pennsylvania, second largest
state, with total population of 434,000)).
7. Slavery is War: Locke discussed slavery in An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil
Government beginning with the observation,
The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or
legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule.
Locke went on,
This is the perfect condition of slavery, which is nothing else but the state of war continued between a lawful conqueror and a captive, for if once compact enter between them, and make an agreement for a limited
power on the one side, and obedience on the other, the state of war and slaver ceases as long as the compact endures; for, as has been said, no man can by agreement pass over to another that which he hath not
in himself—a power over his own life.
Locke at 70. Colonial America read Locke, but certainly did not need him to understand “the state of war” they
perpetuated with slavery.
3. Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia all had regulated slave patrols whose work had passed to the militia.
Bogus, Hidden History, at 335. The fear of slave uprisings was ever-present in the South, as the example
“The Scenes which the above Plate represents are – Fig 1. A Mother entreating for the lives of her
children. – 2. Mr. Travis, cruelly murdered by his own Slaves. – 3. Mr. Barrow, who bravely defended
himself while his wife escaped. – 4. A comp. of mounted Dragoons in pursuit of the Blacks.”
Guns and Colonial Slavery
What was the true purpose of the colonial militia?
Fighting the French and Native Americans during the French and
Indian War would have been a use for them. And because there
were no police except for maybe a county sheriff or constable, the
militia would have had a role in assuring civil order from “
insurrections.” In the North there were not many “insurrections,” but the
Southern militias’ job was to prevent slave uprisings.
During the Revolutionary War, in fact, Southern states often
refused to send their militia to support the Revolution because
they had to stay home for slave control.
2 Nor would the Southern
colonies send arms to the Revolutionary Army because they needed their scarce guns against a possible slave uprising.
This went along with disarming blacks in general, all part of enslav-
4 The recorded uprisings were relatively few but vivid in
the minds of white Southerners.
5 Given the demographic realities,
white hatred born of fear is no surprise.
6 The last thing Southern
colonies wanted were armed black people or the loss of their mili-
tias as a means to control them. After all, John Locke noted that
“is nothing else but the state of war continued between a lawful
conqueror and a captive … .”
This role of the militias in slave control was very clear in the
later debates on whether Southern states should ratify the
Constitution. Patrick Henry at the Richmond ratifying convention focused on the militia as the people’s only protection against
federal control and thus, “the great object is that every man be
armed. … Every one who is able may have a gun.”
Putting down the Stono Rebellion.
8. LEVY at 147–48. Individual gun rights advocates often
take Henry’s statement out of context. He was talking
about the militia. On the other hand, what was a militia for
men like Henry but nothing more than free white men?
See LEVY at 148 (quoting from a Charleston, South
A century earlier, in 1689, Parliament addressed the
fear that Protestants might be disarmed and left defense-
less against Catholics. In 1789, Madison responded with
the Second Amendment to the analogous white fear that
the militia might be disarmed, leaving whites defenseless
against blacks. Bogus, Hidden History, at 386. John Locke