The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms

Ivan R. Dee
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Stephen P. Halbrook's The Founders' Second Amendment is the first book-length account of the origins of the Second Amendment, based on the Founders' own statements as found in newspapers, correspondence, debates, and resolutions. Mr. Halbrook investigates the period from 1768 to 1826, from the last years of British rule and the American Revolution through to the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the passing of the Founders' generation. His book offers the most comprehensive analysis of the arguments behind the drafting and adoption of the Second Amendment, and the intentions of the men who created it.
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About the author

Stephen B. Halbrook is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a Ph.D. in social philosophy from Florida State University. His other books include That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right; Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms; Firearms Law Deskbook; and A Right to Bear Arms.
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Additional Information

Ivan R. Dee
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Published on
Apr 18, 2008
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History / General
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Ron Chernow
A New York Times Bestseller, and the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton!

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

“Nobody has captured Hamilton better than Chernow” —The New York Times Book Review 

Ron Chernow's new biography, Grant, will be published by Penguin Press in October 2017. 
Stephen Halbrook
While surrounded by the Axis powers in World War II, Switzerland remained democratic and, unlike most of Europe, never succumbed to the siren songs and threats of the Nazi goliath.

This book tells the story with emphasis on two voices rarely heard. One voice is that of scores of Swiss who lived in those dark years, told through oral history. They mobilized to defend the country, labored on the farms, and helped refugees. The other voice is that of Nazi Intelligence, those who spied on the Swiss and planned subversion and invasion. Exhaustive documents from the German military archives reveals a chilling rendition of attack plans which would be dissuaded in part by Switzerland's armed populace and Alpine defenses.

Laced with unique maps and photos, the book is organized into four units. The first, A War of Words and Nerves, depicts how the Swiss mobilized an active "spiritual defense" of their country. Chapters describe jokes and slurs the Swiss devised to characterize the "Nazi pigs," the use of the press and cabaret as weapons against totalitarianism, and the role of Swiss newsreels in building the spirit of resistance. German prewar subversion plans are also revealed.

The second unit, To Resist to the Death, concerns military preparations. Swiss soldiers recall an epoch when every day could have been "the day" when all hell would break lose and they would meet the enemy. Blitzkrieg plans against Switzerland devised by the German Wehrmacht in 1940 are described in detail. Switzerland was an armed camp with countless fortifications, against which the Axis could have attempted access with extreme costs in blood. In Switzerland, Jews -- like all other citizens -- were in arms, and Jewish officers served in the highest levels of the Swiss army.

Struggle for Survival: Food, Fuel and Fear, the third unit, presents oral histories of daily life during the war with its shortages, alarms, and rumors. The role of women in the military and the economy are probed. A chapter on the refugee crisis investigates whether Swiss officials played a role in Germany's adoption of the "J" stamp on Jewish passports, how Switzerland became a lifeboat for refugees, and how asylum policies were liberalized as the persecution of Jews escalated.

Espionage and Subversion, the fourth and final unit, covers strategic issues and intelligence activities. German attack plans and bickering in the Gestapo about who would rule a conquered Switzerland persisted. One chapter focuses on Davos, where the Swiss struggled against a Fifth Column and which became a safe haven for American airmen whose crippled bombers made it to Swiss territory. The last chapter profiles Switzerland as America's window on the Reich -- how Allen Dulles and his OSS spied on the Nazis, at times with help from Swiss Intelligence.

Halbrook's other books include the award-winning Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II, which was published in five languages.
Stephen P. Halbrook
Focus sur l'une des mesures les moins connues d'Hitler à l'encontre des Juifs

Un an avant qu’Adolf Hitler ne prenne le pouvoir en 1933, le ministre de l’Intérieur allemand ordonne que les fichiers de recensement des armes à feu soient mis à l’abri afin qu’ils ne tombent pas « aux mains d’éléments radicaux ». Ses efforts vont s’avérer vains : ces listes tombent dans les mains du gouvernement nazi, qui les utilise pour désarmer ses ennemis politiques et les Juifs. En 1938, les nazis ont privé les Juifs de leurs droits de citoyenneté et multiplient les mesures pour les dépouiller de leurs biens – dont les moyens de se défendre eux-mêmes. Les conséquences de ces actions portent des noms qui hantent nos mémoires : la Nuit de cristal et l’Holocauste.
D’innombrables livres ont été écrits sur la dictature d’Hitler, qui ne font pas mention de la politique de désarmement des Juifs et des autres « ennemis de l’Etat ». Stephen P. Halbrook, écrivain et chercheur, comble ce vide avec l’écriture de cet ouvrage original et révélateur.

Le droit des citoyens de nombreux pays de porter, voire simplement de détenir des armes, étant aujourd’hui de plus en plus remis en cause, ce livre vient apporter un éclairage important pour tous ceux qui souhaitent débattre de ce sujet.


Alfred Flatow est un Juif allemand, médaillé d’or en gymnastique aux premiers Jeux olympiques de l’ère moderne en 1896. En 1932, il fait enregistrer la possession de trois armes de poing, conformément à un décret promulgué par la très libérale République de Weimar. Le gouvernement a exigé que la police prenne le plus grand soin de ces listes, craignant qu’un groupe extrémiste ne s’en empare. Cette crainte se réalise pourtant l’année suivante, avec la prise de pouvoir d’un parti politique extrémiste mené par Adolf Hitler, qui fait usage de ces listes pour désarmer ceux qu’il considère comme les « ennemis de l’État ». En 1938, ces listes sont ainsi utilisées pour localiser les Juifs détenteurs d’armes à feu comme Flatow, dont le rapport d’arrestation stipule : « Les armes aux mains de Juifs représentent un danger pour la sécurité publique. » Il mourra en camp de concentration.


Stephen P. Halbrook, avocat et écrivain, est docteur en droit et en philosophie sociale. Gagnant, devant la Cour suprême des Etats-Unis, de plusieurs procédures judiciaires portant sur les garanties offertes par la Déclaration des droits, il a témoigné devant des commissions du Sénat et de la Chambre des représentants sur des questions couvrant le fédéralisme et les droits constitutionnels. Stephen P. Halbrook est l’auteur de plusieurs livres sur le droit de détenir et de porter des armes dans la tradition américaine, notamment pendant la Révolution et la fondation des États-Unis, la période l’abolition de l’esclavage ayant suivi la Guerre civile, ainsi que sous la législation moderne. Il a publié deux autres ouvrages relatifs à l’Allemagne nazie, qui sont également parus en français : La Suisse encerclée (Éditions Slatkine) et La Suisse face aux nazis (Éditions Cabédita).
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