James Madison, Comic Books and Other Letters to the Editor

James Madison, Comic Books and Other Letters to the Editor

Up in Arms To the Editor: I was relieved, near the end of his review of “The Second,” by Carol Anderson (May 30), to come across Randall Kennedy’s rejection of Anderson’s assertion that the Second Amendment was written to appeal to slave owners whose need to bear arms was primarily to protect themselves against the threat of a slave revolt. James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 46, published in 1788, that the reason to permit citizens to arm themselves was rather to be ready to fight against an armed force sent against the states by the federal government. He guessed that such an army might amount to 30,000 men. “To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands … fighting for their common liberties.” Robert Davey Bridgeport, Conn. ♦ To the Editor: In his review of “The Second,” Kennedy states that Anderson “argues unconvincingly, in the face of formidable scholarship to the contrary, that the aim to protect slavery was the predominant motive behind the Second Amendment.” But Anderson has a point. James Madison drafted the Second Amendment during Virginia’s debate over ratification of the Constitution to appease the Virginia governor Patrick Henry, who feared that if slave states did not retain the right to their own “well regulated Militia,” they would be unable to suppress slave uprisings and pursue runaway slaves. And, of course, it was “conservative” Justice Antonin Scalia who took a cleaver to the amendment […]

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