TO THE OFFICERS OF THE FIRST BRIGADE OF THE THIRD
DIVISION OF THE MILITIA OF MASSACHUSETTS
11 October, 1798
I have received from Major-General Hull and Brigadier-General Walker your unanimous address from Lexington, animated with a martial spirit, and expressed with a military dignity becoming your character and the memorable plains on which it was adopted.
While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
An address from the officers commanding two thousand eight hundred men, consisting of such substantial citizens as are able and willing at their own expense completely to arm and clothe themselves in handsome uniforms, does honor to that division of the militia which has done so much honor to its country.
Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken and so solemnly repeated on that venerable spot, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.JOHN ADAMS.
John Adams, Charles Francis Adams. The works of John Adams, second president of the United States: with a life of the author, notes and illustrations, Volume 9. Little, Brown and Company. 1854.
I have given this correspondence much thought in recent times, and again this week. Largely because of the largely inane wishcastings of people such as Professor Louis Michael Seidman, who made the weakest legal and logical pitch for ending what he laughably called “our Constitutional addiction”, at the same time there is much talk from Representatives, Senators, and even the President and Vice President, all of whom have sworn unqualified oaths to protect and defend the Constitution, about imposing new gun controls that would do nothing to prevent the recent events that have allowed these tyrants-in-training to publicly pontificate about their extra Constitutional wank fantasies to regulate an activity that they are plainly and specifically prohibited from infringing upon. While the most malevolent among them will simply refuse to be honest about their reasons for first believing that there is an asterisk and a footnote to the Second Amendment that provides an excuse to disregard the words “…shall not be infringed.”, others will at least admit that it is because they believe that since some clearly cannot be trusted with such liberty, that nearly all should be deprived of it. They don’t phrase it that way, but whether they say things like “You don’t need a gun that shoots 10 bullets to kill a deer.” or they say “No one needs a magazine that holds 30 rounds!”, or “Why does anyone need 7000 rounds of ammunition?”, it is all based on the same implication: If John and Jane Q. Citizen are allowed to be so armed, then they simply won’t be able to control themselves. This ignores the fact that thousands of Americans are armed in precisely this manner every day, and commit no crime, nor go on any shooting spree. Nevertheless, recent massacres committed by people who suffer either from a lack of impulse control, or mental defect have provided all the justification necessary in the little minds that presume that no one but themselves should be trusted with such instrumentalities, and have so fixed themselves to the task of using tragedy to assume authority that was never theirs to wield, which brings me to the reason I have been pondering this letter for quite a while now.
I know that I’m not the only person to wonder why it is we have become an entitlement society. While I do not use the term in direct reference to the expansive, illegal, and immoral expansion of the welfare state to the point where it eclipses many freedoms that should still be taken for granted rather than being endangered as government has grown to envelop spheres of influence that it was never meant to occupy, these entitlements are a symptom of the attitude that has brought us here, and one of the tools that have made it possible. I also know that it is not a coincidence that when the single greatest implement of self-control, which is the best governance of all, has been systematically denigrated, demoted, and pushed from the public square until any public practice of it at all is reduced hollow shell of something that no longer has any significance for a people taught to eschew it. The problem is that when Jefferson’s correspondence was disingenuously cherry-picked into the Constitution, the only possible end result was a bigger government, because there was no longer any large-scale inculcation of the difference between liberty and license, and no incentive for those leading society to continue to instruct people in the distinction between the two. As a result, more and more people became “entitled”. Entitled to freedom without responsibility. Entitled to lead without accountability. Entitled to have government take from others on your behalf. Entitled to have things government permitted promoted to the status of “rights”. Entitled to satisfy every desire and perversion without having others to name these excesses as such. Entitled to the basest contempt for those who refused to surrender their integrity to these practices. Entitled to condemn virtue and rewrite history. Entitled to pervert or ignore the protections conferred upon the rights of the individual by the only true “social contract” that this nation has ever had.
And I’m convinced that it wasn’t an accident. If man will not govern himself, than governments will do it for them, placing the highest priority on maintaining peace, even if the lack of public discord is an illusion. At this point, barring an act of divine providence, I see it as a race. Either government steps up its efforts to consolidate power and rid itself of the concept of consent of the governed, or the excesses and perversions accelerate to the point where society breaks down under the weight of contradiction, and a mass of the people decide they prefer meek servitude to the chaos of chance and the burden of their own safety and commanding their own destinies. Neither picture is a happy one, and frankly, does little to acquit us as a society for what we have done with what better men gave their treasure, their blood, and even their lives to give to us.
Increasingly, all I have left is prayer, and freedom of Christian liberty, because what exists in the physical is an impending nasty, brutish, and shortness that we had in our power to avoid.