Sunday, December 08, 2002

More on John Adams and guns

My friend Tom West, who teaches politics at the University of Dallas, emails with the text of a letter by John Adams, in which Adams lists the four "institutions" that were most important to the success of the Revolution:
The four institutions
intended are:—

1. The towns or districts.

2. The congregations.

3. The schools.

4. The militia.
Adams then defines the four. Here's how he defines the militia:
4. The militia comprehends the whole people. By virtue of the laws of the country, every male inhabitant between sixteen and sixty years of age, is enrolled in a company, and a regiment of militia completely organized with all its officers. He is enjoined to keep always in his house, and at his own expense, a firelock in good order, a powder horn, a pound of powder, twelve flints, four-and-twenty balls of lead, a cartridge box, and a knapsack; so that the whole country is ready to march for its own defence upon the first signal of alarm. These companies and regiments are obliged to assemble at certain times in every year, under the orders of their officers, for the inspection of their arms and ammunition, and to perform their exercises and manoeuvres.

Behold, sir, a little sketch of the four principal sources of that prudence in council and that military valor and ability, which have produced the American Revolution, and which I hope will be sacredly preserved as the foundations of the liberty, happiness, and prosperity of the people.

[Adams, Works, ed. Charles F. Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, 1860), 5:495-6.]
As Tom West puts it, "Note that Adams's idea of gun control is an unfunded mandate that each adult male own a gun and ammo."

Reinhardt's depiction of Adams is looking more and more incomplete.


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