Congress complied, and during Jefferson’srnsecond term and Madison’s first,rn”public arms” were supplied at federalrnexpense to state militias all over the nation.rnThe militia was intended to preventrnthe conquest of America, not only by arnforeign power but also by a centralizedrnnational government and its standingrnarmy. At his first inaugural, Jefferson explainedrnthat “a well-disciplined militia” isrn”our best reliance in peace and for thernfirst moments of war, till regulars may relievernthem,” and also a guarantee of “thernsupremacy of the civil over the militaryrnauthorit)’.” For Jefferson, there was an intimaternconnecfion between sovereigntyandrnthe possession of arms. As long as thernpeople were armed, the people wouldrnrule.rnIn an 1811 letter to Destutt de Tracy,rnJefferson acknowledged that demagoguesrncould arise. But while the force ofrna demagoguernmav paralyze the single State inrnwhich it happens to be encamped,rnsixteen other, spread over a countr)’rnof two thousand miles diameter,rnrise up on every side, ready organizedrnfor deliberahon by a constitutionalrnlegislature, and for acfion byrntlieir governor, consfituhonally, therncommander of the militia of thernState, that is to say, of ever}’ man inrnit able to bear arms; and that militia,rntoo, rcgidarly formed into regimentsrnand battalions, into infantry,rncavalry and artiller)’, trained underrnofficers general and subordinate,rnlegally appointed, always in readiness,rnand to whom they are alread-rnin habits of obedience.rnhi France, thought Jefferson, the republicansrnfell because there were no localrncenters to resist nahonal control.rnBut with us, sixteen out of seventeenrnStates rising in mass, underrnregular organizahon, and legalrncommanders, united in object andrnacdon by their Congress, or, if thatrnbe in duresse, bv a special convention,rnpresents such obstacles to anrnusurper as forever to stifle ambition.rnWithout arms, the weak fall prey to thernstrong, as in the feudal system of Europe,rnwhere the largest and the strongest madernquasi-slaves of the rest. But as Jeffersonrnexplained in his famous October 1813rnletter to John Adams, the proliferahon ofrnfirearms had allowed an aristocracy ofrnvirtue and talent to supplant the aristocracyrnof brute force:rnFor I agree with you that there is arnnatural aristocracy among men.rnThe grounds of this are virtue andrntalent. Formerly, bodily powersrngave place among the aristoi. Butrnsince the invention of gunpowderrnhas armed the weak as well as thernstrong with missile death, bodilyrnstrength, like beauty, good humor,rnthe politeness and other accomplishments,rnhas become but anrnauxiliarv ground for distinchon.rnBecause arms and sovereignt}’ were sornbound together, Jefferson argued thatrnproperty ownership should not be thernsole basis for voting rights. As he wrote tornSamuel Kercheval on July 12, 1816, anyonernwho served in the miliha deser’edrnthe -ote: “Let every man who fights orrnpays, exercise his just and equal right inrntheir election.” hideed, as ChiltonrnWilliamson, Sr., detailed in his 1960rnbook, American Suffrage from Froperty tornDemocracy, 1760-1860, argimients likernJefferson’s were used throughout thernUnited States to broaden suffrage.rnWliat of those excluded from the polity?rnJefferson recognized that, if the slavesrnwere ever armed, slavery would end. Asrnhe wrote to Edward Coles in 1814:rnthe hour of emancipation is advancing,rnin the march of time. Itrnwill come; and whether brought onrnby the generous energ)- of our ownrnminds; or by the bloody process ofrnSt Domingo, excited and conductedrnby the power of our present enemyrn[England], if once stationedrnpermanenfly within our Countr)’,rnand offering asylum and arms tornthe oppressed, is a leaf which ourrnhistor)’ has not yet turned over.rnModern gun-prohibition advocatesrnsometimes assert diat guns, while theyrnmight have been all right in Jefferson’srntime, are so often misused today that ordinar)’rncitizens should not be allowed tornhave weapons. The most sophisticatedrnversion of this theory has been developedrnby Indiana University law professorrnDaid Williams in arHcles in the Yale,rnCornell, and New York Uniersity law reviews.rnSince Americans today are nornlonger virtuous and united, they are nornlonger “the people” envisioned by thernSecond Amendment, Williams writes;rnaceordinglv, the Second Amendmentrnright to arms has disappeared.rnJefferson would not have agreed, forrnTHE LU/ENGLISH NEWSLETTERrnAlthough Lagado University in Kafka, South Dakota cannotrnclaim the fame of a Yale, Stanford or Berkeley; its EnglishrnDepartment does claim to stay abreast of every slash, gash andrnlaceration of the Postmodernist cutting edge. Our motto says itrnall: “If it’s bleeding in New Haven, then it’s hemorrhaging inrnKafka, South Dakota.” Subscribers inchoate verblobbage over suchrnto the departmental newsletter will pustules of coherent thought as mayrnfind it an unfailingly reliable entree erupt anywhere in the Americanrnto the outre. Our faculty stand ever- academy. Subscribe now for yourrnalert to decant whole hogsheads of libretto to the Kanondammerung.rnLU/English Newsletter, 11 Llewellyn Place, New Brunswick, NJ 08901rnOne year subscription, four issues of seven pages each. $10.00 I IrnNAME:rnJULY 1999/47rnrnrn